Forest-Inwood development rendering: Courtesy of Dodd Communications

Forest-Inwood development rendering: Courtesy of Dodd Communications

Last night’s meeting about the Forestwood development proposal ran roughly 45 minutes longer than expected as Dick Daniel, whose family owns the contested property, spent the evening listening to neighbor’s concerns. Some in attendance left early, but the majority stayed put, proving this issue is being closely followed by the Schreiber Volunteer Neighborhood Association, which hosted the meeting.

To recap, developers want to raze the 40-year-old Forestwood Townhomes at the northwest corner of Forest and Inwood to make way for a new mixed-use center. Their initial plan has evolved in response to significant community concerns over protecting the residents and one of the few affordable housing options in Preston Hollow.

As the Advocate reported in June, “It now calls for increased setbacks, a smaller grocer, fewer apartment units and a lower height for the apartments abutting the neighborhood. In two areas along the back of the property at the creek line, the current setbacks would increase by 47 and 26 feet, respectively, and in another spot remain the same. The apartments on that end of the property have gone from three stories to two. The grocer dropped from 50,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet (the size of, say, a Trader Joe’s or Fresh Market). The number of proposed apartment units went from 350 to 325.”

In order for any mixed-use development to move forward, the developers must get the City Plan Commission and then the City Council to approve a zoning change. Daniel, whose family has owned the property for more than 160 years, was present at last night’s meeting. He said he’s still interested in hearing feedback from neighbors and is open to revising the plan further before giving the developers the go ahead to submit a re-zoning application.

“We’re here tonight to listen,” he explained.

Robert Hart, the panel member representing Forestcrest Estates, the neighborhood that would be most directly affected by the development, said he hasn’t yet “seen any compromises the neighborhood would accept.”

Several residents of the Forestwood Townhomes sat in the audience. All of them will be displaced if the development comes to fruition. A few of the tenants expressed their hope that the Daniel family would refrain from razing the property. With limited affordable housing options in Preston Hollow, they say they’re worried they’ll be pushed out of their neighborhood.

Sandy Laber, who lives on Nashwood, the street that backs up to the property under discussion, is against the proposed development. She said she likes living near the Forestwood Townhomes because the residents there are friendly and peaceful.

“This is not a place we want to get rid of,” she told me. “This is a gem in our neighborhood.”

Many of those in favor of the proposed development cited increased walkability as their primary motivation.

Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates has not yet taken a stance on the issue.

“I’m your advocate,” she told the audience. “I’m here to represent the neighborhood.”

Gates said she has received more than 100 emails from Preston Hollow residents with various opinions on the proposal. She and her team are currently “mapping out support and opposition.”

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