Apartment Proposal Stirs Controversy

Here's a preliminary landscape plan for Transwestern's proposed multifamily development at Preston Road and Northwest Highway.
Here’s a preliminary landscape plan for Transwestern’s proposed multifamily development near Preston Center.

Both sides agree that the northeast corner of Preston Road and Northwest Highway needs a new development.

What developers and homeowners can’t agree on, however, is what that development should look like.

Real-estate firm Transwestern is under contract to buy about three acres at the site, where the company hopes to build a high-end apartment complex to replace an aging collection of existing condominiums and townhomes.

Yet the scope of the proposed project has upset members of the Preston Hollow East Homeowners Association, whose issues include a proposed height of six stories for one building in the development, as well as an increased density of units that would bring added traffic to an already congested area.

“For the people living close to there, you’re going to be looking out your window into a six-story building,” said Preston Hollow homeowner Russ Corby. “The traffic is already unbearable, and this creates a lot of pass-through traffic. Those general intersections are already a problem.”

The PHEHA has started a petition opposing the development and will hold a community rally — they call it an “information session” — on Saturday at 2:22 p.m. at Preston Hollow Park.

Transwestern officials said they have already met several times with homeowners groups in the area during the past few months to address their concerns. For example, the company reduced the height of its tallest structure from eight to six stories under its latest concept (most of the buildings are 3-4 stories), and reduced the total number of units from 296 to 225.

“It’s an iconic location, one that deserves respectful consideration and treatment,” said Mark Culwell, managing director of multifamily development for Transwestern Dallas. “We’ve always intended for it to be a collaborative process. We want to try and come up with a size and scale that the community can support.”

Although there are multifamily developments currently at the site, Transwestern would need a zoning variance from the city of Dallas for the increased height and density of the proposed buildings.

Corby said he’s afraid such a variance could set a precedent for other multifamily developments in the same area that could have further negative impacts on traffic and eventually property values.

So the PHEHA has mobilized several of its members to combat such a request before it reaches the agenda of the Dallas Plan Commission or the City Council.

“We’d love to have that area developed,” said PHEHA president Ashley Parks. “They can do something really nice under the current zoning. It’s not just about money. This is our neighborhood, and we want to keep the character of it.”

Culwell said the proposal would include mostly 2-3 bedroom units of about 1,400 square feet each, along with underground parking and significant landscaping. The company has not filed any applications with the city, and has not set any timetable to do so.

“We feel like this would appeal to a higher demographic than one might typically think of with apartments,” Culwell said. “We’re wanting to build a higher quality, which requires a greater density in order to make it work financially.”

The PHEHA isn’t getting any support from District 11 Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates, who has already recused herself from any discussions about the project because of a business transaction involving her husband’s company and the development.

But Corby said other council members and neighborhood leaders have shown an interest in hearing their concerns and resolving the impasse.

“Our suggestion is to take a step back, look at this and build a master plan. We have a chance to do something pretty great here,” Corby said. “Let’s not rush to take the first offer on the table. We think we can develop it, but we need to be picky and choose the right project for everybody.”

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