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March 31, 2008


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Triple Wildcat

I can't believe what I'm reading. There are plenty of affordable, single-family homes in Lake Highlands. Just look in the Lake Highlands Elementary and Wallace Elementary areas. We did. So did friends of ours. And there are bargains in all areas of Lake Highlands if you can live in a home that wasn't recently remodeled.

By forcing a broadening of choices, the city is changing the very identity Ms. O'Donnell is boasting about. Is the city asking Preston Hollow to broaden its identity? What would be so bad about developing and enhancing Lake Highlands' identity as a great place to raise a family? Instead, we're re-zoning areas and offering developer deals so we can have an inevitable glut of townhomes and condos.

The new Town Center should take care of most empty-nesters who want to stay in Lake Highlands and not have the upkeep of a house and yard. The question is, what is the city doing to enhance the retail and restaurant options in Lake Highlands? If you want people to give up their yards and cars to make room for new families, where are these people supposed to eat and shop? If we had confirmation of just one - just one! - appealing tenant in the Town Center, it would make people feel a lot better about the future.


Do some research and interview a Realtor. As a young LH resident in the L Streets I can personally attest that LH is affordable. I could have paid $100,000 more for the same size and aged house in Lakewood but I couldn't find a good reason. What maybe isn’t affordable or really necessary is a 3,500 SF 4.5 bedroom 3.5 bath with media room house for a family of three.


There are condo's in Preston Hollow, triple wildcat.They're on Northwest Highway and Walnut Hill for the most part.

Some people might want a bedroom with granite counter tops and no yard to take care of. If those people want to be in LH why prevent them? After all we're talking about your dad selling the family home, or your sister wanting to be near the family. Why should they have to live on a highway or in Oak Lawn?

AMF, not everyone wants a house and a yard and all that entails, that doesn't mean they cant be a part of the community. Not everyone wants a single family detached home, if Dallas had more ownership options we'd have higher ownership rates and that would be better for everyone. Plus, I've yet to see a condo with 4 bedrooms and a media room.


I have kept up with the many passionate opinions on both sides of all the Lake Highlands development issues via this blog - and other publications. And I've attended a few meetings with 'experts' at the helm in an attempt to get a better understanding of what's happening where.

It wasn't until I read Siegel's article yesterday that I got it. Once again, he's managed to take all the pieces from all the players and lay them out so someone not familiar with the terminology and the politics finally, finally has some clarification.

Thanks for the nice piece, Mr. Siegel. I now feel confident enough to participate more.

Triple Wildcat

Alex: There are already condo and townhome options in Lake Highlands. As I said, when the Town Center is built, there will be lots of condos in Lake Highlands for mom and pop and sis to move into. Then we will add the Shoreview condos, then the Skillman-Church retirement village/tower...And those are just the ones we know about.

It doesn't make sense to boast about the pride and loyalty of LH's single-family home dwellers on one hand, then completely change the personality of the neighborhood with a glut of condos and townhomes on the other.

No, not "everyone" wants a house with a yard. But if you're trying to make a neighborhood affordable for families, condos aren't the way to go. Most young families WANT a house with a yard - that's why places like Frisco and Rockwall are booming. If choosing between a condo in Lake Highlands and a house with a yard in the suburbs, what do you think the majority of young families would choose?

If the city wants to improve LH density and ownership, take the empty shopping centers in the area, re-zone them for lower-priced, single-family detached homes and offer home builders the same sweetheart deals they're giving the condo developers. You'd get rid of some major eyesores, enhance LH's reputation as a great place to raise a family and bring more young families into the area.


Triple Wildcat,

You are proposing rezoning commercial shopping centers into Single Family? I appreciate your time and efforts to comment on the topic, but that isn’t a feasible solution. And your comment to offer them for lower priced?

So you want an investor to 1. buy a run down shopping center, 2. rezone it to Single Family, 3. tear down the shopping center and pay for that cost and 4. then build low cost single family homes? If you find an investor that will do that, let me know – I have some Ocean Front Property in Arizona to sell them too…

Triple Wildcat

Hey, I'm just thinking out loud here. Obviously, profit motive is the key to any development. I said the city could offer sweetheart deals to a builder/investor to get it done. Do it with TIFs or whatever. Didn't I just read on this blog that public money is being used to build the Town Center? Doesn't the federal government help build and finance lower income housing?

Again, just thinking out loud here, but there's always money out there if somebody really wants to get something done. I hear they're going to build a toll road between the levees of the Trinity River. Crazy, huh? You can bet somebody is going to make a bundle off that deal. If they can put a toll road in the Trinity, they can turn empty shopping centers into affordable homes.

Brian LaCroix

Changing zoning from Retail to Residential and building would lower taxable value, which would actually go against all things TIF. After all, the T and I stand for TAX INCREMENT.

Purely speaking from a for profit perspective, rezoning into single family really doesn't financially make sense. The zoning commission has also clearly stated that higher density is the direction they want.

Lets look at what LH has today:

- The L-Streets is chock-full of wonderfully priced single family homes that are IMO in the "affordable" range for single family. Plenty of stock in our area of this option.

- There are many neighborhoods with larger, more expensive single family homes ranging from 2000-4000 sq ft, anywhere from $250K on up to well over a million. So we're covered on the larger home front and the luxury home front (again, in my opinion).

- There are obviously many, many affordable apartments. While this number has obviously been coming down with the rash of tear downs, the fact is that there is still a very large number of very affordable apartment units.

- I don't know exact numbers, but there seems to be a decent number of affordable condo conversions that are in the $40-70K range. Granted, I do think these are going to be targets in the next 5-10 years... but today, there is a decent #. Many will argue that they are not desirable due to crime within the complex, but the fact remains that this particular size/price exists today.

Now, let's look at some of the proposed and/or in-progress developments:

The town center is obviously going to be bringing to the mix a set of townhomes and condos for sale that are in the medium-to-high end price range. It is also going to bring higher end rental units. This will help to diversify our neighborhood (socio-economically), but certainly is not the only step that needs to be taken. And since SOME of the units will be for-sale - this will increase ownership - as EVERYTHING in the three previous properties were strictly rental. I consider this progress toward socio-economic diversity and increasing ownership rates.

I haven't seen size/pricing for the Shoreview/Ferndale property, so I don't know what that project brings to the table - and honestly, since the current owner has an established history of selling to the final developer, wouldn't put too much credibility into #'s if they were provided. Same with the property at Skillman/NW Highway. While from a statistical perspective, leveling rental units and putting in a Walmart will actually increase the % of owned homes (by way of decreasing absolute # of units and removing only rental) - IMO, this doesn't really create forward progress.

The Skillman/Church property, if it changes zoning from single family to multifamily (even age restricted) will absolutely take a step backward toward increasing home ownership. While it does offer retired folks a nice option, it certainly does nothing for increasing home ownership on an absolute level (statistically, it takes a step backwards). It does offer retirees a way to stay in the neighborhood, so from that perspective, the development offers something the area needs. I merely question the particular location.

Prescott is also buying two 2-story apartments south of the town center. They are increasing them to 4-story. This will increase rental density - again, taking a further step backwards on the goal of increasing home ownership. On the bright side, it does remove some affordable housing options, which are very available in LH, and replaces it with some form of mid-level luxury apartment - which is something (IMO) is lacking in LH.

In my opinion, Lake Highlands is a wonderful place to live because the people that own homes have maintained their homes, kept active with the local schools and just generally love their area. Many renters love the area as well and have been here a long time, stay active in the schools and love their area.

How do we encourage thes people to STAY in the neighborhood and attract more people? Increase ownership and offer ways for people to stay that are already here. I do feel we need more options for ownership. I do feel we need more rungs on the ownership ladder. I feel LH is lacking mid-priced options for ownership, with the exception of the L-Streets (which is purely single family and of 70's vintage). We don't offer any new, mid-priced options. No options of mid priced condos or town homes. I personally think this is the area that LH is uniquely positioned to capitalize on. I hope developers, city council and the planning commission agrees and is actively pursuing these options.


PS: Sorry for the book - I had a lot on my mind. :)


Another affordability factor is that a certain percentage of LHTC units have to be set aside because of the TIF as affordable housing for tenants making 60% of the area median income and possibly 50% of the area median income. It’s probably a mix with rental rates dictated by the local housing authority.

L Streets are circa 1950's and range from +-180 K to +-250 K for 1300 to 1800 SF with recent new builds going for 450 K to 480 K for +-3500 SF.

LH Resident

Fortunately the Town Center is going to cater to the younger audience, but we need to encourage more development that invites younger singles and couples to buy a home and stick around to start a family. They are starting to come in droves and they want things that appeal to their tastes too. They bring the value of homes up because they create demand, and when that happens, the crime stays away because it's not living next door. To me, that's great. And I'm sorry, but the apartments and townhomes currently available in Lake Highlands are horrible and they don't attract residents. Whoever said they were adequate for our community is nuts. If development is going to happen anyways, build nicer, attractive apartments and townhomes and stick a starbucks or a nice restaurant with a patio on the lower levels. Make this an urban, safe, neighbor-friendly, walking community!

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