Anchor neighborhoods zoned MF2, made up of architecturally significant modern townhouses, condominiums, attached single-family, and single-family homes, are being threatened by the shifting downtown Dallas density and proposed mid-rise and high-rise zoning.
Downtown Dallas Density Keeps Moving Towards Our MF2 Anchor Neighborhoods
Downtown Dallas keeps creeping away from the original Central Business District on Main Street towards our residential anchor neighborhoods. This is not because the occupancy has outgrown the Central Business District. In fact, many buildings are empty or are being repurposed. The reason for this drift of the Central Business District away from the original heart of downtown is human nature.
People Gravitate to Nature and the Low Density Vibrancy of Shops, Stores, Restaurants and Residential MF2 Zoned Residential Anchor Neighborhoods
People like the vibrancy of big cities but are not particularly attracted to cold canyon-like streets of tall buildings with little trace of humanity. More than the density of cities, people love the combination of nature combined with stores, restaurants and low-density inner city neighborhoods. There have been many more popular bars and restaurants in uptown Turtle Creek residential neighborhoods than downtown Dallas.
Dallas Central Business District First Moved from Main Street to Ross Avenue, the Arts District, Klyde Warren Park, and then Jumped to Uptown
We saw the core density of the Dallas Central Business District moving away from Main Street to Ross Avenue, the Arts District, Klyde Warren Park, and then jumping across Woodall Rogers Expressway to Uptown, where, currently, the most expensive office space in Dallas is found. Downtown high-rise density continues to expand towards the greenest neighborhoods and goes along Turtle Creek and the Katy Trail – MF2 zoned anchor neighborhoods of architecturally significant homes. These Katy Trail neighborhoods are found in Planned Development (PD193) including the architecturally significant residential core of this area defined by Haskell Avenue to the south and Armstrong Avenue to the north, along the Katy Trail, including Buena Vista Street, Travis and Cole Avenues.
All of the Katy Trail should be protected from high-rise zoning and development that will make the sun-filled and treelined Katy Trail a visual alley for high-rises. However, most important, is protecting the sacrosanct boundaries of the MF2 zoned area of architecturally significant townhouses, condominiums, single-family attached, and single-family homes between Haskell and Armstrong in PD193. This area has the largest collection of architect-designed midcentury modern homes in Dallas. These residential Katy Trail neighborhoods of Northern Heights, Travis Street, and Buena Vista comprised of midcentury and late 20th century architecturally significant homes are as important as Swiss Avenue, which has the largest collection of early 20th century architecturally significant homes in Dallas.
Swiss Avenue was Threatened with High-Rise Development in the 1970s – The Katy Trail Neighborhoods are Threatened by High-Rise Development Now
Just as the historic and architecturally significant homes on Swiss Avenue were threatened by a proposed zoning change to high-rise zoning in the 1970s, now, 50 years later, historic and architecturally significant homes along the Katy Trail area being threatened by proposed high-rise zoning.
Swiss Avenue has the Best Early 20th Century Architect-Designed Mansions
The finest architects in the early 1900s designed the homes on Swiss Avenue Boulevard in Munger Place. These architects included Hal Thomson, who many consider the godfather of eclectic architecture in Dallas, and other great architects like Lang and Witchell, Bertram Hill, C.P. Sites and many others.
Katy Trail MF2 Zoned Anchor Neighborhoods have Mid and Late 1900s Modern Townhouses, Condominiums, Attached Single-Family by the Finest Architects
The Katy Trail MF2 zoned anchor neighborhood of PD193 included the finest architecture of the mid 1900s and late 1900s. These architects included Frank Welch and Bud Oglesby, who trained, influenced and mentored a whole generation of modern architects. They also invented the Dallas modern urban townhouse in the 1970s and created inspired low-density modern condominiums. Architect Lionel Morrison created with his client, Steve Levine, the first modern attached single-family residences in the Northern Heights neighborhood of Dallas. Architect Ron Wommack, who worked with both Frank Welch and Bud Oglesby, elevated the design of modern townhouses built by City Homes. The wealth of architectural talent and award-winning architects who designed modern residences in this MF2 zoned area is astounding. These architects also include Gary Cunningham, Brent Brown, John Mullen, Bruce Bernbaum, David Stocker, E.G. Hamilton, the architect of NorthPark Center, Max Levy, who has won the most Dallas AIA residential design awards, Cliff Welch, Joe McCall, Oglesby-Greene, Truitt Roberts, and Gail Adams.
Katy Trail MF2 Area is Architectural Attraction and Neighborhood Anchor
These Katy Trail MF2 zoned neighborhoods are an architectural attraction and neighborhood anchor that link the single-family neighborhoods including the Northern Hills Conservation District, Turtle Creek Park, and the Township of Highland Park.
High-Rise Rezoning of the Architecturally Significant MF2 Zoned Katy Trail Neighborhoods Would Eliminate Affordable Housing
The avant-garde goal of Dallas is to provide more affordable housing. Yet, the push is to rezone areas of affordable homes, townhouses, attached single-family homes and condominiums for the most expensive per square foot construction – mid and high-rise residential buildings. It is also quite apparent that mixed use high-rise and mid-rise buildings also eliminate affordable housing.
Developers Tout Affordable Housing Component of Dense Developments that Replace Affordable Neighborhoods.
Developers building the most expensive per square foot category of residences – high-rises – does not provide affordable housing. Developers argue that they are providing affordable units with their dense developments. Maybe a new 400 square foot studio apartment costs the same as the old 1,400 square foot apartment that it replaces, but this small 400 square foot unit does not provide affordable space for a family. If the city is subsidizing developers or granting extra density and height so developers can subsidize the rent on a few units for a few years, this is not providing long-term affordable housing for our neighborhoods or for the city of Dallas.
Dallas Should Not Follow the Path of Chicago, St. Louis or Detroit
For 70 years, Dallas planners have pushed density for our low-density residential Dallas neighborhoods so Dallas can be more like the nation’s older cities. These older Rust Belt cities are hemorrhaging population and hemorrhaging middle class population. Still planners are promoting and subsidizing apartments and denser development. Why would a city with a shrinking population, which includes Dallas, want to add residential density?
Many Architects Still Tout a “New Model” of Denser Development
For a hundred years, every generation of architects comes up with a trendy argument for why apartments need to replace single-family homes and why high density needs to replace low density residential homes. Architect Le Corbusier wanted to replace streets with his Moscow style modern block housing. Social reformers and many architects pushed for uniform government housing to replace walk-up tenement housing or dilapidated housing in Dallas.
One architectural fad was dense government apartment housing that opened to backyard courtyards, which created private zones for criminal activity not visible from the street. One of the most popular arguments for apartment density is that it will help fixed-rail mass transit. Fixed-rail mass transit is now as functionally obsolete as fixed-line telephone booths. Often architects will argue that the denser the residential development, the less the carbon footprint and the greener the development is. Tearing down existing housing that allows breezes, trees, nature and sunlight to build new denser developments does not create a friendly carbon footprint.
Dallas is Not Farmland Being Developed from Scratch
When there is a blank slate of land for a new community, I agree there should be a mix of residential densities. This is good for the long- and short-term health of the community. Existing cities have an abundance of affordable housing and the residents of affordable neighborhoods do not want any more apartment development. Not every neighborhood can be or should be saved. However, if density is going to be added, it should be first added downtown or on the edge of downtown.
The Architecturally Significant MF2 Neighborhoods Along the Katy Trail are Essential to Every Inner City Dallas Neighborhood
Our MF2 architecturally significant neighborhoods protect the sunlight and nature of the Katy Trail. They also provide the protective scale and architectural significance that creates value for the adjacent historic and conservation districts and every inner city neighborhood linked by the Katy Trail and the rest of the bike and running trail system in Dallas. If the Katy Trail becomes in essence a visual alley behind tall high-rises that block the sunlight and kill the trees, our entire bike and running trail system is diminished. The biking and running trails that run through our neighborhoods connecting White Rock Lake and the Trinity Forest is only as enticing as its weakest link. The Katy Trail should be one of the prettiest stretches, not a section of a trail to be avoided.
Our Dallas Modern Architectural Legacy is Rooted in the Katy Trail MF2 Neighborhoods
Every city has an architectural legacy. Some cities are bland and generic, some are vibrant and city specific. Dallas has a wonderful 20th century architectural legacy that was laid in the mid and late 20th century. To understand the evolution and character of Dallas, we need these historic and architecturally significant neighborhoods to survive. Katy Trail high-rise zoning will kill them.
Dallas has an Abundance of Opportunity for Additional High-Rise Development that does not Demolish Our Architecturally Significant Homes
Dallas still has an abundance of opportunities for high-rise development in downtown Dallas. There are also some neighborhoods surrounding what will be the new Entertainment District of Fair Park after the current bond proposition passes. The southern and western side of the Trinity River is ripe for high-rise density to balance the economic viability of both sides of the river. High-rise density should not go in the architecturally significant lower density neighborhoods that are already contributing in a meaningful way to Dallas. Dallas needs to encourage development where development is a benefit, not allow developers to profit on the backs of homeowners in the neighborhoods they have already made their own and shared with the city.