As thousands move to North Texas, the need for more housing continues to grow.
That often leads to contentious conversations about where multi-family housing fits into the equation and what it should look like.
That’s why residents of the Lochwood neighborhood of East Dallas gathered Thursday night with duct tape, yarn and helium-filled balloons.
“We’re trying to get a visual representation, a three-dimensional visual representation of what this complex is going to look like,” said Thomas Buck, president of communications for the Lochwood Neighborhood Association.
With a team of volunteers, Buck floated balloons 60 feet in the air where a proposed four-story development would culminate along the busy Garland Road corridor and right in Lochwood’s backyard.
“We are not against development or against affordable housing. I think we’re anti-four stories,” Buck said.
Developer Ojala Holdings’ proposal would replace the old Shoreline City Church, which is being relocated, with The Standard at Shoreline, a 300-unit, mixed-use, mixed-income development.
“There is a housing shortage here in the city and rental rates in the last two years have increased more than 25%. It is not only an affordable housing crisis for those at the bottom or in the middle, but it has increased so much that middle income and high income people are feeling it,” said CEO Daniel Smith.
Smith said that’s why Ojala wants to develop a class A luxury resort.
If approved, he said 49% of the units would be rented at market rate. The other 51% would be reserved for residents earning 80% of the area median income.
“That’s working class people like teachers, city employees, police officers, etc. who make between $50,000 and $70,000 a year,” he said.
But those who back down argue that their opposition has to do with density.
“It’s the noise, the garbage and the water runoff, the light and the fact that the height would really tax my neighbours,” said Lochwood resident Sher Ladieu.
Ladieu said he would prefer the church building be saved, either for another congregation or for a new purpose. But if the site is converted to apartments, she, like her neighbors, believes a three-story complex, rather than four, would be less intrusive.
Smith said Ojala has already drastically changed its proposal to appease those who live nearby, including a creative art space, a public art plaza and townhouses that will serve as a buffer for those whose homes are behind the property.
Still, those who have called the neighborhood home for years fear the project’s impact on their community in the future.
“It would act as an open door policy for the rest of Garland Road to develop, and I think you would start to see taller buildings, and we would start to look like Uptown,” said Brad Rogers.
Ojala is scheduled to present his proposal to the Dallas Zoning Commission on July 21.
In September, it will go before the city council to see if it can get approval to move forward.
Both Smith and neighbors from his project said they hope to find a compromise that can serve East Dallas residents today and in the future.