Feature Photo (above): The intersection of McKinney Avenue and Lemmon Avenue East. The shuttered Albertson’s can be seen in the distance. KDC and Hanover Company have partnered to construct a high-density, mixed-use development. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Dallas (Dallas County) — KDC recently obtained the City Plan Commission’s approval on a 1.1 million square foot mixed-use development in Uptown that will be anchored by an HEB Central Market.
Walter Mountford, executive vice president at KDC, told the commissioners at the May 2 meeting that the project will include officer, residential and hotel towers, in addition to the Central Market grocery with a height of 110 feet that will be located at the northeast corner of McKinney Avenue and Lemmon Avenue.
The main floor of the Central Market will have 94,000 square feet. It will include a mezzanine level and “cooking school” for a total area of 113,000 square feet, Mountford said. Customers will be able to access the grocery by car via a two-level parking structure located above the store.
The office building is to have 487,000 square feet and will be topped off with a sky lobby, he said. There will be 3 1/2 levels of underground parking that will be shared between the office building, the residents and the hotel.
“We have 328 high-end, high-rise residential units planned,” Mountford said of the residential tower. KDC partnered with Hanover Company to be the developer of the residential component.
“They’ve crafted an L-shaped building that maximizes views of downtown which will maximize our rents,” Mountford said of Hanover. “It’s a strong conceptual design at this point. The rest of the project has attained the schematic design, which is the next level.”
KDC is working with Marriott for the purpose of bringing in a select service AC Hotel that will have 180 guest rooms.
The project site is just under 4.9 acres. Most of the property was formerly an Albertson’s grocery. The boundary streets are McKinney Avenue, Oak Grove Avenue, Lemmon Avenue East and Lemmon Avenue.
The development plan proposes a 360-foot residential tower (with mixed-income housing) at the northwest corner of Lemmon Avenue and Oak Grove Avenue, and a Central Market next to it. Courtesy: KDC.
KDC was requesting of the commission an amended and expanded planned development within the Oak Lawn Special Purpose District. The Oak Lawn Committee had already agreed to the proposal and there was no public opposition. However, city staff was opposed to the lot coverage request.
KDC asked to reduce the setback on McKinney from 10-25 feet to five feet and a variety of other setback encroachment along the other streets and property lines. They asked for an increased height on the residential tower from the allowed 240 feet to up to 360 feet, and an increase in lot coverage from 80 percent to 92 percent.
Staff recommended 90 percent, instead of the requested 92. Mountford reasoned that a planned above-ground 40,000 square foot public amenity deck should count as an open space substitute for the difference in lot coverage.
The vote was 9 to 3 in favor of the development. The nay votes were the result of three commissioners standing with city staff over the issue of the percentage of affordable mixed-income housing being offered. KDC claimed the additional height on the residential tower was justified because this will be a transit-oriented development, and the developer was offering eight units as mixed-income. But staff asked for 17 units (5% of 328) for tenants earning less than 80% of the area median family income.
City Planner Jennifer Muñoz said, “There should be flexibility on both sides and at this point it’s all been on the city side. We’ve definitely given more than plenty to take just 5 percent mixed income housing as a bonus for everything that they’re asking for.”
As was frequently point out, Dallas and no quid pro quo mechanism in its toolbox to use as an incentive to get more affordable housing. Developers have repeatedly suggested their willingness to use a fee-in-lieu system. This is common in other cities, such as Austin, and involves a cash contribution that the city can then accrue into a revolving fund to develop affordable housing projects elsewhere.
Early concept by Omniplan of the mixed-use development at McKinney and Lemmon Avenues in Uptown. Courtesy: Omniplan.
Commissioner Paul Ridley prepared the motion to approve the project.
“I think this is going to be a brilliant project. It is a huge increase in density on a site that really demands it. Its’ a site that’s served by both trolley and DART rail. It’s two blocks from Central Expressway. They’re providing for parking for the higher density through underground and above ground parking instead of the surface parking that’s there now,” Ridley said.
“They’re providing public amenities in terms of the activated sidewalk and pedestrian realm, also the rooftop deck above the grocery store.”
Ridley added that while the mixed-income housing portion was less than what they would prefer, KDC was under no obligation to provide any.
“I’m reasonably satisfied that this is the most they can do and make this a viable project,” he concluded.
KDC’s architects on the project are Dallas-based Omniplan and San Antonio-based Lake|Flato.
The Dallas City Council is scheduled to hear the application at its June 12 session.