Amid rezoning battles, it looks like neighbors are getting what they wanted — a new Preston Center study

The latest rendering from Transwestern
The latest rendering from Transwestern

First: Transwestern has again scaled back its luxury apartment proposal to 164 units (down from the original 296) and redesigned the north side of the property to cap at three stories and be set back 70 feet from its side of the alley. The south side, facing Northwest Highway, is down to four stories (originally, eight stories). Mark Culwell plans to amend the  application submitted to the City Plan Commission and continue forward. The move came after an emotional town-hall meeting back in May.

“Sometimes you listen and you listen, and the message doesn’t penetrate,” Culwell says. “Your ego gets tired, and you see things a little differently. Hopefully, we’ve proven to be good listeners and have responded in an appropriate way.”

You can see the new rendering above; stay tuned for more details about the updated development plan.

But wait: It appears Preston Center may be getting that study Laura Miller pushed for after all.

“I think it’s the right thing to do. I know we’re in an economic boom right now, but I don’t think it’s fair to pass re-zoning under a study done in 1989. We need current data.”

Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates says she is in the early stages of creating a master plan for the area. Nothing is official yet; we don’t even know the boundaries of the study, but Gates says they will be different than those of the previous study done in 1989.

Gates says there will be a lot of focus on transportation — looking at streets, sidewalks and walkability — since traffic has been the biggest concern in these debates. They also will examine density behind the pink wall.

Right now, there’s no plan to actually re-zone the area as a whole, it’s simply to “have a better understanding of what’s there and what we want to allow there in the future,” Gates says.

There’s no price tag for the study yet, but Gates says it will cost “several hundred thousand.” She’s in talks with Michael Morris of the North Central Texas Council of Governments, from which she hopes to receive some funding for the study. The rest will have to come from private stakeholders. The plan will not receive any city funding.

The study would take about a year and any re-zoning in that area would be discouraged during that time. Although, developers still have the right to apply, Gates says. Crosland Group already withdrew its re-zoning application for Highland House, anticipating a study like this. Gates, of course, can’t speak about the Transwestern project, which appears to be moving ahead.

Transwestern says in a statement over the phone that since the study hasn’t formally been announced, there’s no reason to believe their project will be a part of it. The proposal at the northeast corner of Preston and Northwest Highway has been underway for more than year.

Gates says her decision to initiate a study “wasn’t so much influenced by Laura” but the need to have community support. Otherwise, re-zoning applications will continue to come up, and neighbors will keep saying “no.”

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Gates says. “I know we’re in an economic boom right now, but I don’t think it’s fair to pass re-zoning under a study done in 1989. We need current data.”


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