Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It Gets Worse

I'm talking CityLine of course. Every time I think it couldn't get worse, Richardson's city planners prove me wrong. Two months ago, it was "Residential Uses Not Allowed in Mixed-Use". That was the decision "to build 32 single-family, detached homes in back of a CVS." That a zoning change was even needed to build residential in a so-called mixed-use, transit-oriented urban community was just a small sign that something is very wrong with the planning of this whole area. Worse, the desire was to build a compound of single-family homes walled-off from a traditional suburban strip shopping center. The ad hoc Frankenstein's monster that CityLine is evolving into is something to behold.

Now it gets worse. The latest news is a request by KDC (the mad doctor in this tale of Frankenstein's monster) to build a movie theater. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, a movie theater in a mixed-use, residential/retail/office development is an OK addition. They don't even need permission. It's already zoned for entertainment. No, the scary part of the plan is they want to build a huge surface parking lot to serve the movie theater instead of building the parking into multi-story buildings like some of the other buildings in CityLine (except for that strip shopping center along Renner Rd). And the developer wants us to overlook the obvious mismatch between surface parking lots and a mixed-use, transit-oriented development.
The developer anticipates the tract to be developed in the future, possibly with a multi-story building with an incorporated parking garage. At such time, the surface lot would likely be incorporated as the ground floor of the parking structure. However, the timing of such development is uncertain at this time, and the applicant is requesting the surface parking lot be allowed without a time limit.
So, maybe, just maybe, a multi-story building with parking will replace the surface parking lot, but KDC doesn't want to commit to anything time certain. The request is that "the surface parking lot be allowed without a time limit." I could go on. KDC is also requesting approval to build up to three "temporary" asphalt parking lots with room for up to 500 cars each. Let's leave it at that.

Once again, Richardson's urban planning is opportunistic, not strategic. We're making deals, not making a city. Planned development descends into ad hoc development. Frankenstein's monster has escaped.

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