Monday, January 25, 2021

Owens Farm Redevelopment

It's been seven years since Owens Farm closed. That was plenty of time for the city and neighbors to solve the problem of what would replace it. Why we always wait until a property sells before paying attention to it is frustrating. I blogged about it in 2013. I don't think that post ages all that well (meaning I didn't set my hair on fire sounding the alarm). I guessed that developers would try to build an office building or an apartment building. I didn't guess it would be warehouses. Don't we have a whole warehouse district just to the southwest that we're trying to figure out how to redevelop? Why doesn't the left hand know what the right hand is doing?

The problem is so much bigger than just Owens Farm. It's hinted at in the fact that the city's Comprehensive Plan was last updated in 2009. That is two years before the Bush Turnpike opened. That was another era, back when we couldn't imagine a better use for that gem of a property than a pig slaughterhouse. The city dropped the ball and the neighbors weren't paying attention. So it should be no surprise that a developer took advantage of our negligence and thinks he can get a warehouse complex built there. Remember, while we sleep, developers are awake.


glbeach said...

Hi Mark,
In reality, had the developer not wanted / needed the additional height (45 feet instead of 40) this would have never come before the City of Richardson Planning Commission. The land is and has been zoned "Industrial" for many years meaning a developer could simply get the permits from the city and go to work. As a point of perspective, consider the "nature walk" that runs along Renner Road from Plano Road to the west. The owner of that property had the right to raze it to the ground but the city purchased it instead - to the tune of something like $ 34,000,000. Given the density of parks along Lookout and Plano Road I think it makes it a bit tough to think about the City putting that type of money out there for the Owen's Farm property. I hate to see it go to warehouses too. But then just across Lookout is "Digital Realty" which is essentially a warehouse of computer servers. So is it really that different?

Best Regards,
Gary Beach

Mark Steger said...

On January 25, 2021, the City Council voted 5-2 to deny a request for zoning changes to make a warehouse proposal for the site more practical. That means the current zoning is still in force, allowing for a much, much larger industrial use than the proposal that was denied. This could end up being a case of "be careful what you ask for..."