After months of discussion with neighbors, developers on Thursday officially filed the zoning application to build a six-story luxury apartment community at the northeast corner of Preston and Northwest Highway. The project would replace the existing apartment complex of 24 units along with the 12 town homes behind it. (see the pitch in the video above)

The property is zoned MF-1, which allows for only three stories. Transwestern needs a zoning change to create a planned development district that would allow for increased height and density as well as other details that will help “create something of much higher quality,” said the developers’ land use attorney Bill Dalstrom, at a neighborhood meeting back in January.

The original plans included almost 300 units, reaching eight stories high, prompting many concerned neighbors to question whether the high-traffic area can support such an increase in density.

In response, Transwestern scaled back the proposal to include 220 units — 100 more than what the current zoning would allow. The two buildings would reach six stories instead of eight, the majority being three, four and five stories on the south side that backs up to the residential neighborhood.

The application states the project features, “… structures ranging in height from three stories on the north and four stories facing Preston Road, gradually increasing to six stories transitioning to the south and east closer to Northwest Highway facing Averill Way, away from lower density residential uses.”

To address privacy concerns, the building would not include functioning balconies on the east side. All parking will be underground (that’s not allowed under the current zoning); none will be allowed on Averill Way.

Transwestern is required to provide its own traffic study with the zoning application. The firm Kimley-Horn concluded that, “The proposed development at Preston Road can be successfully incorporated into the surrounding roadway network,” although we don’t have our hands on the actual numbers yet.

Developers plan to reserve part of the property for TxDOT to install a right-turn lane into the apartments from Northwest Highway. In addition, the developers propose to fund construction of a left turn lane from southbound Preston to eastbound
Averill Way to help with traffic flow.

The PD that Transwestern seeks would allow them to provide wider sidewalks (six feet, instead of the required four), a public park, and public art to adorn the exterior.

Units would have a minimum of 1,000 square feet and go up from there. Rent prices would range from $2,000 to $5,000.

Many neighbors around the proposed development — in Preston Hollow East and behind the pink wall — have vocally opposed the project, even with the height and density reductions. (And it didn’t help that District 13 Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates recused herself from the process over a conflict of interest). The issue recently drew the attention of some influential Preston Hollow residents who called on Councilman Lee Kleinman (who is sitting in for Gates on this one) to host a wider discussion (he declined).

Kleinman hasn’t taken an official stance on the proposal yet but told neighbors at a February rally, “We’re always torn in what’s in the best interest of the neighborhoods and what’s in the best interest of the City of Dallas. Clearly a change-out of the housing stock on that corner would be an improvement not only in the look and feel but an improvement in the taxable values,  which means we could provide more services to the city. That’s kind of the balancing act.”

Pamela Smith, president of the Townhouse Row HOA that unanimously agreed to sell their 12 properties to Transwestern for the development, has said the proposal would be an upgrade compared to what could be done under the current zoning.

Update: I just received a letter sent out to neighbors by Preston Hollow East and Preston Hollow South in response to Transwestern’s decision to move forward with the plans:

“Preston Hollow is a jewel in the city. Whether you live in a condominium “Behind the Pink Wall” or you live in the single family homes to the North or West, this is where we all call “home.” This is our community. If a neighbor wants to build on their property, they have rights as property owners to do so under what current zoning allows. If they choose to develop their land outside of what their property rights allow, we as neighbors get a say so because those changes affect us. It affects the character of the neighborhood as well as our property values. It’s important that you fully understand what Transwestern is selling. We’ve looked at all the facts. We’ve had multiple meetings and asked questions. We’ve let them know we’d support a development that was within current zoning. “It’s not economically feasible” was their answer. “Why can’t you sell us a product that protects our quality of life?” Answer? “We won’t make as much money.” As the zoning process begins, we ask that you ask the tough questions and be a part of shaping what the future of Preston Hollow holds. We promise that we will.”

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