Site plan

Site plan

At the northwest corner of Forest and Inwood, developers want to replace the 40-year-old Forestwood Townhouse Community with a walkable mixed-use development, including apartments, retail and a grocer. A zoning change is needed to allow for mixed-use at the historically residential site.

But, still in its early planning stages, the proposal lacks answers to some critical questions.

The two biggest concerns? Traffic and the future of the northeast corner of Forest and Inwood. You know, that aged retail shopping center that clearly is ripe for redevelopment. (It’s home to Liberty Burger, Forestwood Antique Mall and the recently shuttered Kel’s Kitchen.)

There is no traffic study yet, and there is no correlation between the new project and whatever might happen across the street, says Bill Dalstrom, a land-use attorney with Jackson Walker LLP, representing the Daniel family, which has owned the land for 165 years.

Other descendants and extended relatives of the family own the northeast corner but operate as completely separate entities, says John Daniel, an owner of the northwest corner. “I cannot speak for that entity,” he told neighbors during a meeting Wednesday night at Jesuit.

If re-zoning is approved, the existing 208 townhomes would be razed for up to 350 three-story apartments and townhomes, 85,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, and two athletic fields, plus a parking lot for Jesuit. The grocer would be around 50,000 square feet, about the size of the Whole Foods at Preston and Forest.

Matt Booth of Regency Centers, which is handling the retail side of things, says that the grocers they’ve been talks with see a demand for another grocery store at that corner. “It’s a fantastic trade area, very community-oriented,” Booth says.

The idea has been in the works for about two years. One of the landowners, Max Daniel, says he mentioned a general concept to members of the city planning staff a year ago, and they liked it. The proposal in its current form has not yet been to City Hall.

“Traffic is definitely a concern, and we’re going to have to address that,” he says.

Duke Nelson, a board member of Schreiber Manor, is keeping an open mind about the project. He wants better access to services.

“I was very excited about it, if it’s done properly with the appropriate type of restrictions and the appropriate type of support,” he says. “The plans have to be buttoned-up.”

The area is not pedestrian-friendly, so if the plan is going to be “walkable,” street improvements are needed. Willow, the street on the north side of the property, doesn’t even have sidewalks.

While there is plenty of retail within a few blocks’ driving distance, Nelson says, “Folks would love to have an easy walk. I think walkability is important for the newest group of homeowners coming up.”

The existing townhomes have provided affordable housing to people who want to send their children to the nearby schools as well as transitional housing for those renovating or getting ready to move into a new home. John Wilson, who has lived in the area 23 years, says they’ve been great neighbors. Greystar, the company that would manage the new townhomes and apartments, has a good reputation, Wilson says, but the additional retail is worrisome.

“Why do we need more retail on the west side of Inwood?” he asks, when we already have it on the east side.

While some neighbors want to maintain the residential feel on the west, other welcome the change. Neighbor Katie Riley says she’s “100-percent in support of the project,” and that it will have a great impact on the neighborhood, especially since the completion of the LBJ Express will alleviate some of the current congestion.

The proposal still is several weeks away from becoming official at City Hall. A traffic study is required for a zoning change. Check back for more updates.

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