I'm working on a little research. Bear with me. It might be worthy of the wait. In any event, we either have a problem to look into, and there is something seriously wrong with our City Hall, or things are better than I fear.
Just re-read some initial news articles on the announcement of the start of construction of Terra Lago apartments on Scenic Drive. The projected date of completion was August 17, 2017. To make that date, about $20 million of "touch up" will be needed in the next four days. Of course, that won't happen. An extension to March 31, 2018, was requested from the city. To make that date, somebody is going to have to go to work, preferably every day.
On March 31, it will have been 2 1/2 years in construction. I believe Trammell Crow or Lincoln Property would have been a tad faster.
Been thinking thru some things. It looks like apartments are coming back into the life of Rowlett. It looks like the NIMBYs will be apoplectic, again.
Pedcor is re-opening it's request for zoning on their apartment project on Rowlett Road. This is the project that was denied by City Council over the recommendation of the Director of Development. It is still a terrible location for a project. Yes, there's a green area........which will be promptly surrounded by concrete paving.
The Pedcor project was in competition with the Chiesa Road project for the State of Texas funding. I wrote a 10 point email to City Council setting out why Chiesa Road site was a higher and better use of the land. The Pedcor site is in a commercial area and eventually any tenants would be surrounded by concrete. How delightful.
The NIMBYs have now gotten the "20% rule" into effect on the Chiesa Road project. That means it has to pass City Council by a "super majority." It will take 6 of the 7 votes to achieve a "super majority." I don't think it has a chance for passage. There are too many politicians on City Council, none of which have any real estate analytical experience. A tool and die maker would do just as well.
There is a lot of noise coming from people that don't have a clue what they're talking about. Of course, all of them have experience in real estate analysis, right? I have no doubt that some of the NIMBYs can spell it. Some probably can't.
They are totally against apartments, no matter the need that the apartments serve. They spew out definitive statements about apartments causing a decline in surrounding real estate values. That is an urban myth. It is not true. They claim that apartments bring crime into the neighborhood. That, too, is an urban myth. There are new apartments all over the east end of downtown Dallas (Elm Street) that actually increased the value of surrounding properties. Don't take my word for it. Go look. It is said crime increases. I doubt that. Can it be present in bad neighborhoods? Probably, but I don't consider Rowlett a bad neighborhood. The same economic forces that effect a residential neighborhood effect the apartments at the same time. If you have a lousy neighborhood, you have lousy apartment projects nearby. If you have upscale neighborhoods, you have upscale apartments.
Another complaint is traffic. I heard horror stories about taking 40 minutes to take the kids to school. I don't believe that. Many paint the picture that maybe one should pack food and water before entering Chiesa Road each morning. You may have to be rescued, and it will take a while.
Folks, let me clue you in to a little secret. Every street and road in the DFW metroplex is very, very, very, busy at 7:00 in the morning and 6:00 in the evening. However, I have lived on Chiesa Road for 42 years. You can still play stick ball in the middle of Chiesa Road in mid day with ample time to get out of the way if you hear a car approaching. The 114 unit apartment project proposed for Chiesa Road will be about 50% seniors and about 50% workforce families. If one car trip per day is generated by seniors and two car trips per day is generated by workforce families, there would be 171 car trips per day from the project. The NIMBYs say there are 10,000 cars per day on Chiesa Road. Folks, just stop and think for a minute. Get your head back out into the sunshine and take a deep breath. The math says that the traffic generated by the apartments would be .017 % of the daily traffic. That is less than 2% or hardly noticeable. That is a far cry from the horror stories being told. However, one must be a little smart to understand that. Some think that if you yell loud enough at a doorknob, that doorknob will vote the way you want it. Of course, all my readers know that doorknobs don't think. Sometimes "officialdom" doesn't either.
Another interesting thought about apartments; a voice coursing thru our daily discourse is "no more apartments......period." I just love such informative and in depth analysis of real estate development........you know, the stuff that makes cities become great places to live. Clearly, we are fortunate to have such leadership. They already know that there are four distinct markets that apartments serve and they already know that all needs are met. Or, so we are led to believe. In the case of the Chiesa Road project, it is apparently already known that none of the senior tenants need any help to relocate. That must be so, because the P&Z rejected the zoning that would have required the developer to provide aid to the tenants, as per federal guidelines, and as determined by a federally approved consultant.
Speaking of voting, soon, one of our leaders will breathe a sigh of relief. They would now be a mayor. Three other leaders will be looking for the bathrooms. Probably our mayor will have been on Council, however three Council members will be brand new, one will be aboard for about three months, one will be in their first term, and only one will have finished one term and now serving on the second term. Most people would probably characterize our leadership as "inexperienced."
We have leadership that is apparently "spooked" by noisy NIMBY's that seem to think they are the majority of Rowlett (which they aren't by a few thousand), Clearly, some of leadership can't distinguish between the four classes of apartment needs since they are rejecting all. Therefore, there is no need for seniors housing aid. Neither is there any need for families making $90,000 per year (low income?) because they can't afford to buy an average house in Rowlett and can't afford to pay $1,700/ month for a two bedroom, two bath apartment. They apparantly think the affluent upscale market of Bayside is part of the Rowlett market........which it isn't. It is only technically within the city limits of Rowlett. Their market area runs all the way to Kansas City. There is only one market being served in Rowlett and that is the "market rate" apartments. The other three aren't even mentioned. What about the mobile home tenants? Aw, they can fend for themselves. Does our leadership know whether Rowlett is processing too many apartments? Nope. Not even close by half. The national average is double the amount proposed for Rowlett. Some experts say we have too many. No facts. There are facts on this blog site that say they don't know what the hell they're talking about.
Let's talk about the election. I have some concrete thoughts about the mayoral race, but I'm still thinking about the Council races.
I think the mayoral race will become a run off between Tammy Dana-Bashion and Bruce Hargrave. They are both qualified, but have different qualities. Tammy is very bright. She's a numbers person, which I like. She's a CPA, which is good. She works hard, which is also very good. Todd has given her plenty of experience by sitting in for him. That is good. However, Tammy is a control freak. She wants to control everything. That is CPA training and typically good, unless you're talking about running a city. Tammy is blunt, brusk, abrasive. Yes, Martha Brown. Tammy is "combative." Tammy would be, and probably is, a very good administrator. In the lending business, she would make a superb back room administrative officer.
However, Tammy's excellent skills are the very thing that is a negative for Rowlett's needs. By training and experience, Tammy would be "reactive" to issues confronting Rowlett. Rowlett has been victim to "reaction" far too long. We have not been "pro-active" enough. We have the tools to make Rowlett a superb town with something for everyone. However, we are not performing as needed to accomplish such excellence. Desire to live in a area drives up real estate values, as well as encouraging millions of outside dollars to invest in Rowlett each year. The absence of "pro-active" government discourages such investment in the future. If offers a poor future to a lender or investor. It is the formula for slow, or non existent, poor growth. It would be Balch Springs on steroids.
Do you want some examples? It's not far away. You have an image of Rowlett in your mind. Now, compare that image to Murphy, Sachse, Wylie, Rockwall. These towns are growing and prospering at an enormous rate. They don't have near the assets that Rowlett has. With the exception of the lake and Rockwall, the other towns have no DART, no turnpike, and no Interstate system.
Bayside is something that contradicts everything I have just said. Bayside is an excellent example of "pro-active" behavior. The Rowlett people that worked on Bayside should be congratulated. The problem is that Bayside is an aberration. We need more of such innovative development acumen on mainland Rowlett..
Tammy is a control freak.......a good one. However, in my opinion, she will carry us back to the days of Lynda Humble, which I consider a very dark time for Rowlett. There were some dreadful real estate decisions made during this time.
I think a better fit for Rowlett's needs is Bruce Hargrave. Bruce has an excellent education, a successful businessman, owning two tree farms, provides a counseling service for troubled patients, and is a very good listener. I have never heard him "talk down" to anyone. Tammy seems to do this with regularity. However, Bruce's strong suite is his compatibility and comfort level with notable personages outside of Rowlett. He is at ease with powerful political allies. He has served as the opening pastor for the US Congress three times. Bruce moves easily and well with these outside, and potential benefactors of Rowlett. This is the kind of leader Rowlett needs if they are to adapt to a "pro-active" community. Otherwise, Rowlett stagnates as the engine that never was. Bruce is the best candidate for this need and Rowlett's mayor.
Now, I have another concern for Rowlett. I have concern about the 61,500 Rowlett citizens that seem to not exist. Where are they? Driving around town, they seem to be here. The signs say they are here (if you can find any signs). Murphy, Sachse, and Wylie have signs on GBTW. Rowlett has none. How about that for recognition? The world doesn't even know we exist. We have an exit labeled Main Street. There are 27 Main Streets in the DFW metroplex.
Where are our people? They don't vote. They don't write City Council. Apparently, they have no opinion, or simply don't give a flip. The "other" population of a noisy 500, or so, are running the lives of the 61,500 "no shows." That is sad. I have even placed email addresses of City Council on this blog. They were "live." One could write City Council without leaving the blog page. It was a waste of time.
So here we are. We have no history of forward thinking. Nearly all previous development seems to be "reactive." Other than Bayside, not much has been done to help seniors (except Evergreen) and workforce, even tho we have known for years the need exists. Evergreen's unbelievable success should serve as an example of senior need. We have elected officials that are against all apartments with little, if any, thought about the needs of citizens. As far as dislocated tenants, they can fend for themselves. We have a loud group of people that have not done any real estate study in their entire lives providing us with misinformation about apartments, crime, traffic, and the soon to be falling sky. I heard the same stories in Balch Springs 45 years ago. Our growth logic is using the same formula as Balch Springs of some time past.
We have an pending election in which there is a possibility we will have an inexperienced mayor and three City Council persons. Pam Bell has been on the job three months. Martha Brown is on her first term. Only Debby Bobbit is on her second term. The current Council is scared to death of the loud NIMBYs. To hell with tenants, seniors, workforce, and the sky. There are 37,000 registered voters in Rowlett that are bored with city issues.