This issue with the "re-design" of Bayside is very controversial. Previously, something had been promised by developers and held out as highly "desirable" to encourage excitement among future visitors, business owners, apartment builders, condo developers, and other existing residents. There was a lot of ballyhooing. There was some really neat "stuff." Last Thursday, the second developer on site said, "Well, not so fast, Murphy." Since last Thursday's presentation, the email I have received and the Facebook posts I have read clearly demonstrate local concern that Rowlett residents think they have been bamboozled. I think we have been, too.
There are a couple of places that are sources of information supporting my following commentary. They are 1) the developer's website, and 2) the city's website whereby Thursday's meeting is available for viewing.
The link below takes you to the developer's website whereby Frequently Asked Questions seems to draw a lot of attention. Ya think??!! Also, another place to visit is the city's recording of the meeting, and it's found on the city website. Please pack a sandwich if you intend to watch in its entirety. It's on the city's website.
I'm going to comment in order of questions asked on Bayside's website.
1. Q, "Why did the developers change the plans without notifying the City?" The developer said, "We’ve been in regular communication with the Mayor’s office and City Staff about our concerns, our research and these preliminary ideas for a path forward. In fact, we made this same presentation in early July to the Mayor......."
Now Folks, I'm not all knowing. I've been hoodwinked before. However, at the meeting my observation of the first questions out of the Mayor's mouth was that she was surprised and a little angry. I felt no impression that the Mayor knew what was coming. Could I have misdiagnosed what I observed? I suppose, but I don't think so. If I am right, the developer's answer above can not be right. The developer is suggesting that "the mayor and staff" knew what was coming and had implied tentatively approval of the changes. One of us is wrong.
2. Q "Why do you propose eliminating the 8-acre lagoon and fountains?" And the answer was, "Our research shows that the lagoon and fountains would not be a driver for attracting large office and commercial tenants, one of the primary goals of our shared vision."
I'm going to put on my loan officer hat, now. Something is blatantly missing here. Where is the data supporting the developer's answer? In fact, the lagoon would be an eaxcellent visual amenity for office workers, and depending on the "commercial" entity, it would be a huge draw for retail merchants. I can assure you, lagoons and fountains will attract more people than grass and townhouses.
Let me tell you something about their "research." I don't remember the number exactly, but I think the developer said they contacted about 1300 people in their research. I DO remember that they said they contacted 200 people in Rowlett. Folks, I know a little bit about market research sampling. First, they didn't identify their sampling protocol. Who did they ask? Secondly, in a small town like Rowlett, if a market survey is going on, someone will hear about it. I never heard about it. Third, 200 people is too small a sample for the accuracy needed on this question. Let me tell you, if you allowed me the opportunity to select my own 200 people, allow me two hours, and two cases of wine, I'll get you any result you want. Although, I didn't hear about any free wine, either.
"Additionally, we’ve all seen the winds on Lake Ray Hubbard lift kiteboarders 40 feet in the air and test the tacking and jibing skills of local sailors." Folks, I've been a sailor on Lake Ray Hubbard for 40 years. I have forgotten more about the winds on LRH than the developers know. Try this on. If you want to get rid of a lagoon, what do you do with a "left over" fountain? Need a reason. Kite Boarders WANT to be 40 feet in the air instead of 10. Their equipment is designed to accomplish exactly that. As a sailor, I handle jibing and tacking very nicely, thank you. I also handle wing on wing and broad reaches, and sheetlines very nicely, too. Let our developer experts explain what that means. If you don't want your water fountain to shoot water 40 feet into the air, design one that only shoots water 10 feet into the air. The developers are acting as though Rowlett has unusual wind conditions. We do not. West Texas has unusual wind conditions. The developer is full of crap.
"We’ve also learned that there are as many as 50 similar lagoons currently in the works throughout the state of Texas." Lender question again. Where are the lagoons? With such a dramatic statement, you would think data would be submitted to prove such a colossal statement. I only know of one in the DFW area. It is the largest metro area in Texas, with Houston close behind. Add in San Antonio and Austin and you have most of the people in Texas. Are they putting in 12.5 lagoons in each of these four metro areas? Where in the hell are they!! I don't know about you, but I don't like being taken for a fool. Tell me where they are!!
Now, if you add up all the above, do you think they built a provable case for eliminating the lagoon? Or, do you think the developer built a weak-kneed case for eliminating costs of a lagoon and securing more land for buildings?
3. Q "We were excited to swim in the lagoon. What are you proposing instead as similar civic amenity?"
"The lagoon was never planned to be open to the general public for swimming. Only smaller portions on either end would have allowed swimming as an amenity exclusively for hotel guests and owners living in the condominium tower."
It was this writer's opinion all along that the lagoon was not exclusive to hotel residents. If it was, it was never explained in my presence........and I was present at a lot of meetings. If it was exclusive, it should have been so noted. If the general Rowlett population was banned and could not pay a fee and participate, we should have been told. I feel this was an after thought. Either that, or we were deceived.
"In our new proposal, we’ve incorporated an 8-acre kayak basin, where the marina currently floats, that allows visitors to rent kayaks and paddle boards to enjoy the lake, while their friends and family watch from nearby cafes and engaging public spaces. We’ve also added a splash park designed with natural stone waterfalls and shallow pools for families with children of all ages to enjoy."
That's a horrible design and location for kayak, unless it's only somewhere to occupy kids. the City of Rowlett has a much better location for kayak, canoe, paddleboats, and dagger board shallow draft sailboats. Kayaks and canoes need to be in quiet water with places to explore. The developer is proposing bouncing around with a rubber ducky. As far as bragging about building an 8 acre site for kayaks, it's already there. The developer is just moving boat slips around to incorporate a larger area. It's just part of the existing Lake Ray Hubbard. That costs only moving the slips, which isn't that expensive.......no matter what the developer says. "Tom" was not quite accurate (by a whole bunch) in the meeting when he said that it cost as much to move the slips as to build the lagoon. He probably thought no one in the meeting would know the real costs. I do. The previous owner moved the slips all the time during droughts to keep his slips in deeper water. He didn't like to spend money, either, but did to accommodate his boat tenants. The "splash park" isn't much if you can't get into the water (as prohibited by City of Dallas). Just another flim flam.
4. Q "Are there more apartments?"
"No, there is no increase in apartments. The City’s zoning places a 20% cap on residential uses and we have always been comfortable with that."
"In fact, within the new plan, rental apartments have decreased in favor of owner-occupied, resort community-style townhomes. Further, the apartments have been broken up and spread out into lower structures throughout the mixed-use core rather than larger, taller, more prominent blocks as originally proposed."
I've got no comment here. Other than I think I like this.
5. Q Did you propose eliminating the trolley?
No, we still regard the trolley as a transportation amenity. Remember this. I would not at all be surprised if this is on the chopping block.
6. Q Why did you reduce the amount of retail space?
It’s no secret that the retail environment has changed dramatically over the past five years. Retailers nationwide are closing or reducing the size of their locations as more consumers are choosing to shop online. We are proposing that more space will be dedicated to restaurants and entertainment than traditional retail.
We intend to build the maximum amount of retail that the market will absorb. Our team has extensive, national retail experience on large scale and believes we can create an extremely vibrant retail experience. It is a critical part of our design. It is in our best interest to maximize the retail space, but only to the extent it is market-driven.
Little bit of a head fake, here. It's the "big box" stores that are the main stores to close. Amazon is the cause. I do not believe Bayside ever intended to have "big box" stores. If they are such experts, they ought to know that. This was just a coverup to increase more restaurant and entertainment, a higher revenue producing venue. I'm okay with that. I just wish they would tell the truth instead of lying or covering up logical rationale. It just seems like they can't tell the truth, even if their lives depended on it.
( I am now going to close and post this episode. There are four more questions I want to address, however I will do that in my next post.)