According to The Dallas Morning News, "Alta Terra Real Estate wants to build a combination of student housing, apartments and a small hotel on the property located just north of the UTD campus. Up to 19,000 square feet of retail space would also be included in the plans." There you have it: the three legs of housing, retail, and hotel.
Richardson City Council, while offering support for such developments in the past, has balked at approving this particular project for various reasons. The latest argument seems to be distrust that all three legs of the stool will get built. For example, the City Council might try to impose conditions on its approval requiring the hotel to be built before any student housing. While this may sound like a reasonable guarantee against a bait-and-switch by the developer, it overlooks the nature of real estate development.
The hotel developer won't build his hotel unless assured of nearby restaurant/retail to make their hotel attractive to travelers. The restaurant/retail developer won't build unless assured of nearby people to patronize their businesses. The student housing component doesn't have such prerequisites. It is the obvious choice to lead this phased development, as there is, and has been, pent up demand for more student housing at UT-Dallas. Build it and they will come. With students next door, the restaurant developers will come. With restaurants next door, the hotel developer will commit. Put conditions on the order things get built, and maybe nothing will.
The City Council says they like this kind of development, especially near DART stations, as this one is. It's understandable that they are concerned about the whole thing coming together. But the best way to ensure it *doesn't* come together is to insist on building this three-legged stool in the wrong order. Approval of the student housing component can't be held out as a prize for the developer at the end of the process. It's the leader of this parade of development.
Monday night, the City Council has a chance to demonstrate that they understand this by approving Zoning File 22-11.