High incomes and high density make Preston Hollow desirable for developers — which is why over the next several years, we’ll begin to see some major changes in and around our neighborhood. This month, we examine the key projects that are taking shape.
Midtown/North Central Expressway | Commuter-friendly: Midtown Park
The Midtown Park development, 80 acres of vacant land just east of Central Expressway at Meadow, has been delayed because of the recession. Earlier this summer, however, real estate investor Commodore Partners bought about 12 acres of the site from Kroenke Holdings with plans for a transit-oriented, mixed-use project.
Back story | Starting in 2005, investors bought almost nine blocks with more than 2,500 aging apartments at the site just north of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the Dallas Morning News reported. After tearing down the apartments, the owners planned to market the property for an $800 million urban-style mixed-use development. The city invested $10 million in public funds for new streets, sidewalks and landscaping at the site. The recession halted the project and left property owners $85 million in debt. Kroenke Holdings, which also owns Preston Hollow Village (see next page), bought the land in 2011.
The latest | This summer, Commodore Partners requested to rezone the site to allow new retail and multifamily housing. The plan for an “urban neighborhood” features a predominantly residential area convenient to retail and public transportation since there is a DART rail line to the east. If zoning is approved, the council still must sign off on the final development plan before construction begins.
Walnut Hill/Central | Prime property: Preston Hollow Village
Forty-two acres of undeveloped land at the northwest corner of Walnut Hill and Central Expressway, the most visible piece of real estate in Dallas, will develop into upscale retail, office buildings and restaurants over the next several years.
Back story | The land had been barren since the teardown of the aging Willow Creek apartments about five years ago. A previously planned mixed-use development stalled during the recession. In November 2010, Missouri-based Kroenke Holdings bought the site, and partner Provident Realty finally moved forward with the plans.
The latest | Construction has begun on the 14,000-square-foot anchor tenant, Trader Joe’s, along with 46,000 square feet of office space and more than 60,000 square feet of restaurants.
Leon Backes of Provident Realty says he has worked with neighbors for years to meet their requirements for the mixed-use development.
Resident Shannon Summers says she’s concerned about safety and hopes that a plan is put in place to prevent cars from cutting through the residential areas.
“While one of the things I love about Preston Hollow is the convenience to shopping, I fear that Preston Hollow Village will bring increased crime and traffic,” she said, in an email.
The second phase of the project will begin in 2014 with the construction of three seven-story residential towers.
Preston/Northwest Hwy | New blood: The Plaza at Preston Center
Developers expanded one of our neighborhood’s hottest shopping centers by building up.
Back story | The Plaza at Preston Center was built in 1950 and was home to Neiman Marcus’ first suburban location in Dallas. Recently, a building was demolished to make way for a new five-story, mixed-use development that opened earlier this year, along with a 450-space parking deck.
The latest | Mike Geisler, founding partner of Venture Commercial and broker of the shopping center, says the building has filled up with tenants. It’s called the Cambridge Building because Cambridge Holdings Inc. leased the entire top floor and half of the third floor in May. The second floor houses University Park’s first public library. Morgan Stanley took about 14,300 square feet of office space on the fourth floor.
The new health food spot True Food Kitchen is slated to open this month.
Forest/inwood | New restaurants: Forest and Inwood
Back story | In 2011, Lowe’s applied for a zoning change to build a Murphy Express gas station and convenience store at the site, but the city denied the request following neighborhood opposition over the sale of alcohol so close to Jesuit Preparatory and St. Rita Catholic schools.
The latest | The city council unanimously approved plans to build the new restaurants without a drive-thru after a parking study of the area. Hermansen Land Development, the real east developer behind the project, needed a zoning change to identify off-street parking separate from Lowe’s.
Construction for Rusty Taco and Einstein Bros. Bagels begins this fall and will finish in early 2014. The “green” building features high-efficiency lighting, native drought-tolerant plant materials, reclaimed construction materials and recycled waste management.
Inwood/lovers | Making way for Trader Joe’s: Inwood Village
Trader Joe’s will open in the Inwood Village shopping center in 2014.
Back story | The Inwood Village shopping center opened in 1949, and an El Chico was one of the original tenants in the space that will soon be Trader Joe’s. Over the years, El Chico became Casa Rosa and, most recently, a Cantina Laredo. Cantina Laredo and neighbor Turtletique closed earlier this year to make way for the new grocer.
The latest | Plans for the new Trader Joe’s became official on Aug. 14 when the city council approved a variance allowing Trader Joe’s to sell beer and wine within 300 feet of Henry W. Longfellow Middle School on Inwood just south of Lovers. Trader Joe’s spokesperson Alison Mochizuki says the store will open sometime in 2014.
Jack Breard, United Commercial Realty president and Inwood Village broker, says construction on the space has begun. Although there is sufficient parking according to city code, Breard suggests that Trader Joe’s may be looking into additional parking in the area. The traditionally tight-lipped Trader Joe’s spokespeople have no comment about parking.
Also, an unnamed restaurant is coming to Inwood Village, but no lease has been signed yet, Breard says.
“If it works out, I think the neighborhood will be really excited about this restaurant.”
LBJ Express update
The reconstruction of LBJ Freeway is approaching a milestone: The first phase, a three-mile stretch between Greenville and Preston, opens in December.
That means six new lanes, three in each direction, known as managed toll lanes. They’ll have a 50 mph minimum speed with rates varying from 15 to 95 cents during low- or high-traffic-volume periods.
After a six-month trial period, the toll rates could change, depending on supply and demand. More cars equal higher fees.
The $3.2 billion, 13-mile-long LBJ Express project broke ground in 2011, having been more than 20 years in the making. It’s funded through a public-private partnership between TxDOT and Trinity Infrastructure.
Built in 1969, the freeway was designed to carry 180,000 vehicles per day. But by 2009, it held 270,000. In 2020, it’s projected to reach more than 500,000 vehicles per day.
The project is scheduled for completion by 2016.
Click to sign up for the Advocate’s weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Preston Hollow.