Mixed-Use Development Still Gets Mixed Reviews

A mixed-use development planned on the Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church campus has won conditional planned development district status, but, unsurprisingly, still draws mixed reviews from neighbors.

The development on Colgate Avenue between Lomo Alto Drive and Douglas Avenue in the southwest part of Preston Center would include an office building on Douglas Avenue and a residential building on the western side of the site, per 2018 plans. The project would also feature a full-service restaurant with a patio and other ground-floor retail opening onto public green space along Douglas Avenue.

Sarah Evans, with Dallas City Council Member Jennifer Gates’ office, said the council would be reviewing the case again shortly after the newspaper went to press to ensure the site plan matched the agreement with the city.

Melanie Walz said she’s concerned about the potential for more traffic to end up flowing through the residential area on Colgate Avenue. The proposed development would generate approximately 4,175 new daily trip ends on weekdays, 300 in the morning peak hour, and 370 in the afternoon peak hour, according to a study.

“We’re already saying OK to them building apartments, a business office, and restaurant. We’re simply asking that they not, in addition to all that, funnel the traffic through our residential street full of families and kids. Funnel it through Weldon Howell Parkway, a business parkway, rather than bringing it through our neighborhood,” Walz said.

To help address traffic concerns, the church supports a variety of measures, Rector Chris Girata said. Those include fixing the light at Sherry Lane and Douglas, continuing to stripe Weldon Howell Parkway to Colgate, installing a right-turn lane at the corner of Douglas and Sherry Lane, and installing no-parking signs south of Weldon Howell to Colgate, but doesn’t agree with aligning Weldon Howell and the private drive because of safety concerns.

“We want to make Douglas safer, and our studies confirm the opinion of city staff that keeping the drives offset is the safest… option for us,” he said.

Steve Stoner of Pacheco Koch said his office prepared the traffic studies for the project, and the church agreed on improvements, including fixing the traffic signal detectors, making pedestrian improvements at the Douglas and Sherry intersection, and re-striping Douglas between Sherry and Colgate.

Gates praised their efforts.

“I wish I could have gotten every concern addressed over the last couple of years that we’ve been working on this case, and I know there is this point of contention related to the Weldon Howell intersection,” she said. ”I’ve worked with the applicant; they’ve conceded to a lot of other requests… many of them included making the traffic flow better.”

The development would add to a mixed-used area that already enjoys high occupancy. Venture Commercial Real Estate managing partner Mike Geisler estimated that Preston Center is at about 98% occupancy.

Geisler said Preston Center’s been among the highest occupied retail centers in the area for 30 years.

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

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