Support the Emerald Isle Development
As a Dallas resident for over 30 years, including the last 8 in the Lake Park Estates neighborhood of east Dallas (I am the Treasurer for Lake Park Estates Neighborhood Association), I am extremely excited about the potential development that the Emerald Isle mixed-use will bring to our neighborhoods, White Rock Lake and East Dallas. Like many others, I was originally concerned with the initial 25-story plan for the development, but over the past few months I have become a strong proponent for this project. The developers and designers are listening to sensible, yet progressive voices in the community. Mark Miller, in particular, is an east Dallas resident, knows the tremendous assets this part of Dallas has, and I am sure he does not wish to destroy a community and lake he so richly enjoys. With positive community input, the design for this project could make Emerald Isle an icon that further defines our city and what it means to live in east Dallas.
East Dallas along Garland Road is SLOWLY crawling out of 20-30 years of neglect. We should be mindful that the things we complain about the most - crime, roadways, and a short supply of quality restaurants and retail - may not be addressed without the large infusion of capital being planted into this seed project. Emerald Isle will not be a panacea, but with community support and direction it could be the start of something truly wonderful for our neighborhoods. With the success of Emerald Isle, we have the ability to effect change in a way that best suits our neighborhoods, city, and region.
Unfortunately, the negative voices always seem to get the most press on issues like this, so I would like to respond to some of the erroneous banter flying around -- emails and letters that twist and skew the facts of what this project is about. It may be that people are letting their passions get the better part of their sensibilities. Specifically:
- The developer is asking for 180 feet of occupied space, not 200 feet as has been implied. Note that the facility height may extend an additional 15 feet - if required - by penthouse screens, chimneys, and other rooftop elements. This is typical of most code requirements dictating building height restrictions. It does not mean the building design will require these elements to be an additional 15-feet above the roof or that major components of the building would reach that height.
- The height reduction from 25 stories to 13 stories is a 52% floor-height reduction. Statements that the original 25 stories would have been 250 feet are incorrect (only 10' floor-to-floor height would more likely be 12-13 feet) and more likely would have been closer to 300', thus your 60% number is, in fact, correct. The development team has heard the concerns from the residents and responded with a building in the range of those in the Turtle Creek neighborhood.
- The parking reduction is not requested due to the fact that the building accommodations can't support it, but based on the facts that studies show mixed-use developments do not require the same amount of non-residential parking that typical retail developments require. This is because a large portion of the users of the retail areas are, in fact, residents of the development and have their parking accounted for elsewhere in the facility. The 20% reduction of required parking -- only for the pedestrian/retail accommodations -- reflects this pattern.
- The reduction does not request putting any off-site parking onto adjacent properties or business centers. It also does not request sending 20% of its traffic through surrounding neighborhoods. There actually is no connection into the residential neighborhood allowing this type of connection, and anyone driving through to White Rock Lake Park or Lawther Drive will have to turn around and head out the same Emerald Isle drive. I would anticipate that the Emerald Isle Drive and Garland Road intersection will require a signal. As a frequenter of Barbecs, I would welcome this signal since it is oftentimes dangerous pulling onto Garland Road from the restaurant.
- Lot coverage of 80% is typical for condo and mixed-use development and the proposed PDD is generous in its landscape requirements of trees and shrubs per linear foot of frontage, matching comments from the forwardDallas! constituencies. Also, it should be noted that this area is NOT in a conservation district. While Little Forest Hills has plans to become one, little else along Garland Road carries the significance in design or character at this time to warrant such.
- The lot coverage will not change the storm water runoff for the area. Note that this parcel of land is currently covered by concrete drives and buildings that promote runoff in the same fashion as the development. In fact, one could argue that the development will improve the issue through better design. The current lot only has about 5 trees on it. This development could add as many as 50-100 trees plus 100-200 shrubs and bushes along the streetscape edges, plus additional trees in the inner rooftop courtyard and pool.
- I have seen no engineering reports that indicate that the City infrastructure cannot support the development. If this is indeed the case, the development/developers will be required to work with the City to provide the appropriate levels of sanitary and water capacity so as not to burden the surrounding neighborhoods.
- I believe TXDOT has plans for Garland Road that are outside of the District 9 funding that may also address some of the traffic concerns.
- The assumptions that this type of development is not good city planning are certainly opinion and not fact. The development strives to meet many of the goals of fowardDallas! with an effort that is inclusive of the community - improving the livability of the city by creating places residents will be proud to call home and places that visitors will want to return to again and again is the vision our city embraces. Emerald isle can create just such a place.
Additionally, but equally as important to the revitalization of east Dallas, is the redevelopment of Casa Linda. The potential for these two projects, while not hand-in-hand, brings the possibility of close to $100,000,000 being spent on the Garland Road corridor from Casa Linda to the Spillway. That type of money and effort, with proper community guidance, brings improvements to east Dallas on unprecedented levels... it may even help with the Arboretum's fundraising efforts to alleviate its parking shortage!
Joshua A. Theodore
Senior Vice President
We own a house in Little Forrest Hills that we lived in for a couple years and now keep it as a rental property. We now live on the other side of the lake in a conservation district built of houses that warrant being conserved.
My wife and I were tired of seeing dollar stores and nail salons popping up while the neighborhood resisted any changes. We also did not believe in Little Forrest Hills becoming a conservation district. There are very few houses in the neighborhood that warrant conservation. We do believe the neighborhood might be one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Dallas , but the houses do not contribute to this beauty in any way.
It boggles my mind how people in this area are so against positive changes.
We are nature lovers and utilize the lake just about every weekend. I would oppose this project if the building was ugly and did not blend in with the surroundings from an architectural stand point, but this doesn’t seem to be the case with the new drawings.
The Emerald development would bring so many positive things to the east side.
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Copyright © 2006 Aren Cambre.
All original thoughts expressed on this site are my own. This site is not affiliated with any other organization and has not received any financial support from any party besides Aren Cambre's time and wallet.