Wednesday, July 10, 2013

State Farm Accident in the Making

Along with the three office towers, KDC's initial phase of the mixed-use development includes 1,000 multi-family residential units, an 150-room select service hotel, a health clinic and fitness facility, a specialty anchored grocery store and more than 75,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space.
After the jump, why this is all so damned depressing.

Dallas Business Journal says the details are "still scarce" until Thursday's groundbreaking. Keeping plans secret until long after actual construction is underway (which it is) can mean only one thing: the reality is going to be nothing like the promise of a mixed-use, transit-oriented development (TOD). But it will be too late to do anything about it.

Help me out here. How is it that if a property owner wants to build a gas station or add a drive-through lane to a fast food restaurant, the city council pores over the plans with a magnifying glass, but if someone wants to develop 186 acres of prime real estate, the city council allows him to withhold blueprints and drawings until well after construction is underway? What am I missing?

From the skimpy details available, it sounds like a typical 1980s style development: a few isolated office towers, a few isolated apartment buildings, and some isolated stores. 186 acres is big enough to accommodate three traditional uses without any of them truly integrated with the others. And it sounds like that is just what KDC and the City of Richardson is about to give us, despite all the years of promising talk of TOD. That's not mixed use.

Expect Richardson's City Council to be out in force Thursday to celebrate the so-called groundbreaking with a photo op. Expect me to mourn this accident in the making.


Mark Steger said...

The accident is as bad as I feared. The Dallas Morning News has the story.

"KDC also will build apartments, retail space and a hotel."

Only ten words devoted to anything other than office towers, followed immediately by more talk of office buildings:

"'We are talking to businesses about a couple of office buildings across the street,' said KDC’s Toby Grove."

Oops, that pushes retail (one of the necessary uses in "mixed-use") even farther away from those 8,000 State Farm employees, if any retail ever gets built in the end, anyway. They promised only 75,000 square feet. For comparison, that Walmart at Coit and Arapaho will be 90,000 square feet. This massive new development will have less retail than a single store in the tiny Spanish Village shopping center. I think Richardson has been sold a bill of goods.

I'm beginning to hope that if the Cotton Belt Line ever gets built, it'll connect to a new station in Plano. Maybe Plano will do it right.

Mark Steger said...

And when I say Richardson residents were sold a bill of goods, this is the bill of goods I mean. Go back and read that two-and-a-half year-old blog post. Spoiler alert: what we were sold was compared to "Watters Creek in Allen, West Village in Dallas or Legacy Town Center in Plano." Instead, we get another isolated, cookie cutter office tower.