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Proposed new apartment building near TCU

TCU University Drive New Apartments

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#1 Jimmy

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 10:36 AM

On South University between campus and Bluebonnet Circle, almost (but not quite) directly across the street from the other new apartment building where The Londoner was slated to move in (although I've heard that's not happening now).

 

Interesting that it looks like this would mean tearing down several duplexes that have been built in the past ten years. 

 

FWBP: TCU-area apartment complex plan raises neighborhood concern



#2 John T Roberts

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 12:36 PM

Yes, and this also includes tearing down some historic duplexes and single family homes. 



#3 John T Roberts

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Posted 16 March 2014 - 09:46 AM

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram picked up on this story today.

 

http://www.star-tele...es-default?rh=1



#4 Jimmy

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 01:23 PM

A bit of an update today, but the news is that a decision has been delayed:

 

FWBP: Zoning commission gives TCU-area apartment case a 30-day continuance



#5 RenaissanceMan

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 01:43 PM

Gotta side with the residents on this one (who uncharacteristically are not going full on NIMBY as you typically get in these fights).

A series of row houses with street facing individual entries would be far more appropriate for that particular location (both in design and in terms of market demand looking forward over the next five years, particularly as TCU continues to add on campus residences) than would a "Texas donut" with apartments similar to Grand Marc. It is an underdeveloped product that I believe would do well there and would serve as an excellent gradualization of density between the two urban villages and it's surrounding homes. I recognize that this is a pretty fundamental project change that is being asked of the developer (though not, in my opinion, an unreasonable one), but I am also beginning to feel like the developer is starting to get a little Walmart-ish in these negotiations (pointing to park benches and a deeper setback as a resolution to the concerns presented - which doesn't really address the issue being discussed).

#6 John T Roberts

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 08:04 AM

Here's the latest update after the Zoning Commission vote. This is from the Business Press:

 

http://fwbusinesspre...t-rezoning.aspx



#7 RenaissanceMan

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 09:31 AM

"Developer says 'not likely' to build TCU-area project without rezoning"

 

 

Echos of Walmart...

 

 

Edit:

 

I just noticed that Dunaway is working for the developer on this project and taking a very similar approach with regard to Council that they did when they represented Walmart on Berry. Seems that Dunaway is creating a nice little boutique business for itself in helping clients to run roughshod over the City Zoning Commission and City Council. A lot of tossing out a few crumbs here or there to dress the project up and get it through (hey we added a bike rack!) without showing any real interest in addressing the true nature of the concerns.

 

It would be nice if instead of Dunaway, the developer and their architect trying to make student-oriented apartments look like row houses, that they simply work on actually designing and developing row houses. The amount of energy and creativity that has gone and is going into trying to squeeze this and other projects through Council would be far better applied to finding ways to achieve a similar Internal Rate of Return and overall profitability in a project that is compatible with what the City, the neighborhood and (in this case I'll even say) the market wants. The kind of approach that is now becoming standard operating procedure for development in an urban village is disappointing to say the least.



#8 John T Roberts

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 12:34 PM

Right before the City Council meeting this morning, the developer withdrew the case.  Below is a link to the Business Press article:

http://fwbusinesspre...oning-case.aspx



#9 JBB

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 12:45 PM

The FW Weekly ran an interesting article a few weeks ago about the glut of small apartment complexes/duplexes/quadplexes, etc. in the areas surrounding TCU, rumblings about TCU requiring on campus housing for all students, and what that would do to the rental market and the value of rental properties.

#10 John T Roberts

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 01:02 PM

I also read that article.  I think the construction of the five bedroom houses in the area will lead to a neighborhood that will look much worse in 10 years than it did before the construction of these houses took place.  They are poorly designed and they are incredibly ugly.



#11 RenaissanceMan

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 04:59 PM

There is a serious need/market for actual, true row houses in several neighborhoods in Fort Worth. The problem is that there aren't any developers (or very very few ) that actually "does" row houses and there just aren't that many around to be able to point to and say "there! That is a perfect example of the type of development we're talking about and it was successful."

#12 Jimmy

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 10:33 AM

Before I ask, please know that I have no preference one way or the other on this project- I just lived down the street from it while I was in college so I'm curious about the future of my former 'hood.

 

When I read that the master plan of the area calls for:

 

"town homes along University Drive that are two to three stories, have unique facades, with a strong relationship between the building and the street, and promote the pedestrian environment"

 

...and then look at the photos included in yesterday's FWST article, I have to wonder- do those not fit the description?



#13 RenaissanceMan

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 11:43 AM

I think that it's the difference between a development that features actual town homes or row houses and an apartment complex or massive collection of quadplexes that have been designed to look like row houses. It's the difference between somebody asking for a hamburger and being offered a veggie patty that looks like a hamburger and then being told over and over about how they are practically the same thing.

 

Since, as I mentioned above, good examples of row houses (the type that, as I understand it, have been envisioned for this stretch) are really tough to find in Fort Worth (especially since the few we had were bulldozed to make room for the convention center), I've picked out a few photos (note how they are different not only in form but in function from nearby buildings like the GrandMarc and the apartments across the street from the proposed property. The first one, and my personal favorite, is from Greenwich Village in New York (you know... the part of the city that isn't the wall-to-wall skyscrapers that everyone assumes it to be) and the others are in London.

 

image_400.jpg

morrisavenuehouses.jpg

Row-of-Town-Houses-in-London.jpg

xPk8k.jpg



#14 Jimmy

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 11:54 AM

Ah, ok- that makes more sense.  



#15 PeopleAreStrange

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 04:54 PM

Look at all of those cookie-cutter homes. :o

 

Oh wait, I forgot that the cookie-cutter label only applies to homes in suburbia. Nevermind.


- Dylan


#16 Fort Worthology

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 08:12 AM

There have *always* been blocks of similar homes built together.  Depending on the style, the repetition is often visually pleasing.  What's different in these situations is the *scale* of the repetition.  What doesn't show in these photos is context - you can have a row of ten similar/basically identical row houses, but in a classical city setting, they'll be part of a larger whole of other blocks of different (often completely different) styles and designs and construction types and uses.  Around the corner from these row houses, you'll likely find something different, even if just row houses of a different style.  There'll usually be stores mixed in or nearby.  Small apartment buildings.  Churches.  Schools.  Etc.  Different building types and styles in close proximity, breaking up the "cookie cutter" effect.  It's not as though the row houses in the photos above are in a self-contained pod of hundreds of near-identical structures.  Variety occurs over the block scale.


- Architecture/urban planning/transit blogger, Fort Worth Weekly

Fort Worth District 9 Zoning Commissioner


#17 RenaissanceMan

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 09:50 AM

https://www.google.c...XwdS9bxx3eQ!2e0

 

Here's a link to the Google Street View of that first set of row houses. To Kevin's point, and as easily seen in street view, there is a corner cafe just at the end of the block and an Italian restaurant and home goods store around the corner a bit. This is also a reasonable walk to NYU and has good access to several subway stops.

 

What is great about these types of buildings is that they provide the perfect (and sorely needed in Fort Worth) way of gradually deescalating or, alternatively, intensifying levels of density within a given neighborhood, such that you could transition down to more urban single family homes and then larger single family homes (as is the case in parts of Georgetown in Washington, D.C.) and/or scale up to larger 5-10 story mixed use buildings. This is, as I understand it, precisely why the City and the surrounding neighborhoods had planned for and been seeking a developer to provide this kind of a residential product (one that developers gave up on a couple of generations back and have since forgotten how and where to build them). It would help to create a gradual intensification of density from the small single family houses in the Bluebonnet neighborhood to duplexes and row houses on up toward Berry where you'd eventually hit buildings the size of GrandMarc.

 

Oh, and for those who feel the need to inevitably resort to the whole "multifamily inevitably turns into slums" remarks, please note that just one of those buildings (i.e. one stoop) seen in the first picture and in the link above sells for about $19 million and just one unit within it (there are two units in most of these buildings) rents for $8,900 per month. Even for New York, that is pretty steep and shows that there really are people who will throw down good money to live in this kind of a home (built in this case in the late 1800s).

 

I very rarely use the term cookie cutter to describe the suburbs, but I think that in most cases, people who use that term are commenting as much on the perceived quality of the buildings as the uniformity or blandness of the environment. You can have very consistent architectural design that repeats patterns, materials and formats (see Paris or even Rivercrest or Fairmont for that matter) without approaching the type of development issues that most people are driving at when labeling the latest suburban exurb as "cookie cutter."

 

Edit: By the way, there are places where developers have gone in and tried to put in self-contained pods of nothing but the same set of townhomes or row houses that sit pretty much off on their own without any other uses mixed in and fairly divided from any surrounding development (see Fairfax, VA or parts of Houston), and they just don't work (or at least, not nearly as well as they could). You really need to use them as one ingredient among several that make up a good urban or near-urban neighborhood.



#18 JBB

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 12:28 PM

The neighborhood around NYU is outstanding and there are neighborhoods like that all over NYC - Morningside Heights, Hell's Kitchen, Brooklyn Heights. I don't think FW can or needs to have that kind of magic pop up everywhere, but seeing small pockets of that in certain places would be great - TCU area is a prime location for that, Panther Island, Southside.

#19 John T Roberts

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 02:31 PM

RenaissanceMan, if I haven't walked down that street, I definitely walked down some of the adjacent ones.  I followed your Google Maps link to see where the photograph was taken. 

 

There is some really good discussion going on here.   I have been enjoying the reading.



#20 Russ Graham

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 03:30 PM

There is a serious need/market for actual, true row houses in several neighborhoods in Fort Worth. The problem is that there aren't any developers (or very very few ) that actually "does" row houses and there just aren't that many around to be able to point to and say "there! That is a perfect example of the type of development we're talking about and it was successful."

 

What do you make of the townhouses around say, Oleander walk?  Also I think there are some townhouses in and around North Hi Mount.   My perception is that there are several very successful recent developments in these neighborhoods.  What are you looking for that's not there?



#21 urbancowboy

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 09:24 PM

Oleander Walk is pretty awesome.  It's by far one of the best examples of rowhouse development in the state.  I just wish there was more of it.



#22 Austin55

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Posted 05 June 2014 - 09:28 PM

 

There is a serious need/market for actual, true row houses in several neighborhoods in Fort Worth. The problem is that there aren't any developers (or very very few ) that actually "does" row houses and there just aren't that many around to be able to point to and say "there! That is a perfect example of the type of development we're talking about and it was successful."

 

What do you make of the townhouses around say, Oleander walk?  Also I think there are some townhouses in and around North Hi Mount.   My perception is that there are several very successful recent developments in these neighborhoods.  What are you looking for that's not there?

 

 

Also, south Samuels Ave. There seems to be a pretty nice gradient from downtown to the historic homes further up the road. But I guess they aren't technically row homes?



#23 RenaissanceMan

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 12:09 AM


There is a serious need/market for actual, true row houses in several neighborhoods in Fort Worth. The problem is that there aren't any developers (or very very few ) that actually "does" row houses and there just aren't that many around to be able to point to and say "there! That is a perfect example of the type of development we're talking about and it was successful."

 
What do you make of the townhouses around say, Oleander walk?  Also I think there are some townhouses in and around North Hi Mount.   My perception is that there are several very successful recent developments in these neighborhoods.  What are you looking for that's not there?
Oleander Place is an excellent development and one that serves it's location perfectly. There are also other good town homes to find in the city ranging from several 1920s/30s buildings scattered about to Le Bijou (for all of its individual market-related issues) downtown. But as a whole, town homes in general and row houses in particular are very few and far between and there are countless opportunities to add them. One area in particular that I think could be a really good spot for them is the Upper West Side area of Downtown, especially if you strategically mixed in a small bit of Mixed Use to go along with it.

The areas where they are needed most sit right between any number of single-family residential neighborhoods and their nearest commercial center/strip (as is the case with S. University). Unfortunately, the M.O. in Texas and the broader Sunbelt (if not all places not called New York, Chicago, or San Francisco) has been to address the problem of what to do when retail meets residential by separating it with the retail's service/delivery area and a 10-12 foot fence (the idea being to help shield the adjacent homes from the daily activity of the retailer even if it means making it a practical impossibility for anyone living in the adjacent neighborhood to walk there and therefore encouraging them to get in their cars and drive around the block to park in the parking lot - the one that has so many spots because nobody does/can walk there). An alternative in many of these cases would be to reconfigure this setup in part by incorporating row houses and/or mixed use apartments to gradually work your way up in density/activity.

But anyway , to answer your question, I think that there are several key neighborhoods in and around downtown as well as several locations among key corridors outside of downtown that would make a lot of sense for row houses.

#24 cberen1

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 10:14 AM

100% agree about the Upper West Side of Downtown.  I think that could be a really vibrant, walkable, awesome part of town.



#25 Austin55

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 10:29 AM

With all those hills to! It'd be a bit like Seattle or Pittsburgh. What it's really missing is just some good retail. There's already a fair bit of both office and residential density, but no where to really go besides downtown if you want to eat or shop. Most of UWS's (or, all of the area between roughly lamar and the river) retail is fast food, drive through banks, car shops, or bail bond places. 



#26 cberen1

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Posted 06 June 2014 - 12:12 PM

I've often imagined that area full of townhomes with a couple of corner cafes and a small grocery store.



#27 elpingüino

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Posted 08 October 2014 - 08:31 AM

The Star-Telegram had a report this week about the proposed ordinance to place limits on unrelated adults (i.e. TCU students) living in houses near campus: Proposal to restrict ‘stealth dorms’ faces opposition

 

(Earlier report from June: Residents hope overlay will preserve TCU-area neighborhoods)

 

It seems that both sides have valid points. The neighbors are rightfully concerned about partying, trash, noise, unsafe driving, etc. The property owners - who built these properties specifically to rent to students - are rightfully concerned that changing the rules would torpedo the value of their investment.

 

Perhaps a good compromise would be better enforcement of the lawbreaking that makes some college students bad neighbors? This could ease the neighbors' concerns more effectively by getting to the root issue - behavior, not numbers. Anecdotal cases to make my point: I've known a group of eight guys who shared a house when they were in college, and they were model citizens, while some of the worst neighbors I've had were just two students who were roommates and threw rowdy parties all the time.



#28 JBB

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Posted 08 October 2014 - 12:16 PM

a good compromise


I have to think that compromise is the only way that this can end. I have a hard time seeing how they could crater the value of so many properties in the area and get away with it.

#29 Russ Graham

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 07:10 AM

 I have a hard time seeing how they could crater the value of so many properties in the area and get away with it.

 

This could apply to either side of the argument though, right?  From the developer's point of view, passing the ordinance craters the value of their rental properties.  The residents think that not passing the ordinance would lead to loss of property value.

 

Here's another article on the same topic, from FWBP:

 

http://fwbusinesspre...-dorm-case.aspx


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#30 JBB

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 08:27 AM

Good point. Going forward, I could see concerns about property value, especially if the trend of building these large rentals continues. In the short term, given the current residential real estate market, I doubt anyone is losing money on sales in that area. The university's desire to build more on campus housing is going to slow down the rental conversions sooner or later.

#31 elpingüino

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Posted 22 October 2014 - 07:59 AM

Here's the latest, a moratorium while the city and stakeholders study the matter.

 

Fort Worth OKs temporary ban on building permits near TCU (Star-Telegram)



#32 pelligrini

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Posted 05 December 2014 - 02:47 PM

Looks like the homeowners won, mostly. The council also exempted property owners already renting to more than three unrelated people from the new ordinance if they register their properties by March 31st. It sounds like a decent compromise for the existing investors/owners. 

 

Erik France






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