Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sylvan:Thirty Reimagined as Catalyst for Something Bigger

For friends on the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group, I put together a couple of concepts this week (on my own time/dime) to elaborate on my previously expressed opinion of the Sylvan:Thirty project and the West Dallas plan in general, found here. Where that was polemical, high on rhetoric if only to entertain myself syntactically, these concepts are more serious, dedicated to envisioning a plan that is viable from day 1, but also can lead to implementation of further phases, whether by the hands of the same developer or multiple parties.

As you'll see, I'm only counting square footages of development within the "limits of construction" of the Sylvan Thirty property line. This is considered "Phase 1." From there, I created two options, both of which I believe to be viable, that is if a parking garage works there. Since they're already showing a garage, I chose to include one in each scheme. Furthermore, since a certain portion of the garage would be dedicated to retail, the public segment of the garage can be funded via TIF. In option A, I'm using the garage and connected density of 4-story stick residential over ground floor retail as the buffer from the highway.

In option B, I allow the grocery to face the freeway to be 2-faced, towards the freeway and its surface parking fronting the "going home" side of the highway, then have cafe/bookstore/coffee shop/etc facing the mixed-use street. Also, in option B I chose to pursue a more logically ideal scenario that pushes density towards the "main and main" intersection of Fort Worth & Sylvan. This of course envisions a truly improved Fort Worth Avenue (which coincidentally only moves the same amount of vehicular traffic as Main Street in downtown which is one lane each way). So on Fort Worth Ave, I'm showing 4-lanes of traffic, parallel parking, and copenhagen style cycle tracks.

When you net out the new public street from the traffic signal on Sylvan, both schemes have an FAR of about 1.2.

The other things accomplished by these schemes, besides creating the first piece of a larger puzzle, the essence of urban design and development, where the pieces all complement each other, contributing to a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Placemaking 101.

One of the fundamental failings of Sun Belt real estate markets and their inherent understanding of something notionally known as "property rights" is the distinction between self-interest and enlightened self-interest. Isolated puzzle pieces fall apart. And given the interest that went into the West Dallas Plan, there is a lot at stake with the first phase. Therefore, it is in the interest of the citizens of Dallas to get some return out of the Sylvan:Thirty project. That being, a great place. And no great place exists in a vacuum. It will take at the minimum all of the parcels I'm showing below.

And this is how the city needs to be approaching the project, bringing carrots and sticks to the table in order to achieve something that spreads like fire. If fire was less burn-y and a bit more user-friendly form of investment. Ultimately, the carrot might be first dibs at the development rights of the future phases, or just increased profits by the insurances that neighboring development will raise value and sense of place, rather than diminish it, or worse yet be wholly unknown.

Quick side note, the graphic detail mirrors the thought that went into each phase. The later phases are meant to be abstractions connoting intent rather than specific development product in that at this point it is rather fruitless to take a reading of the market and product types of a future development well down the road. Whereas, phase 1 is here and now.

Click to embiggenate (sic):

Option B

Option A:


Examples of drive lane/parking/bike lane/sidewalk/building interface: