I want to write just briefly about Downtown at this time. It has been proposed that apartments be built downtown. Will apartments work downtown? The very short answer is, "Yes." However, that is not the whole answer.
The first thing one must realize is that the proposed developer and the city have two different sets of standards. The developer is motivated solely by profit. That is okay. That is supposed to be the developer's motivating factor. Therefore, land values, construction costs, rental market studies, and absorption rates are very important to the developer. On the other hand, the city only concerns themselves with the end product, regardless how it got there. The city is interested in sales tax, real estate tax, and city image that furthers additional development. That, too, is okay. If the wooing is successful between the two parties, a marriage is imminent.
Now, is an apartment project going to work in Rowlett? That is a resounding "yes." In fact, an apartment project anywhere on any piece of land in Rowlett will work, neighborhood acceptance permitting. It doesn't make any difference where its located. The apartment market in the DFW area is that strong. The developer already knows the proposed apartment portion of the project will work. A portion of the proposed development seems to be "convertible units." These are ground floor units that can originally be residential units and then convert to office/retail when the market becomes viable. The discussion comes from whether the city is getting what they want, or not. I haven't looked at the plans, yet, but I think it's conceivable that the whole project could become residential rental units. The developer would most certainly plan the project to anticipate a very poor office/retail market and cover his downside risks with residential rental units, given the strength of this market. They could then convert to office/retail as the market permits.
On the city's side of the equation, does a project with only residential rental units fulfill their dream? If the city's dream is to attract additional commerce and downtown traffic from other parts of Rowlett, a downtown apartment project won't do it. It will only serve the tenants of the apartment complex. The city would have an apartment complex that would have worked in any part of the city and receive only real estate taxes for income. Little, if any, lifestyle improvements would be enjoyed by all of Rowlett.
At this point, one has to conjure up what their vision of downtown might be, and whether the proposed development measures up to that image.
I have a vision of preserving the original downtown buildings that originally fronted the railway. I would like to see the gin preserved as some artifact. I think there needs to be some apartments, but also condo type units for those wanting to purchase instead of rent, be within walking distance of DART, and new retail and office, all designed to look as tho it was built in 1880. I would like to see foot traffic, shops, parks, pick up jam sessions, maybe a little "Austin sound," and DART buses bringing other Rowlett citizens into the area.
It's my opinion that our well paid consultants should be advising us, with the facts.....market data........not opinions.......on the feasibility of this type of development. This could be fun and something in which Rowlett could be proud. We have pretty much a clean piece of paper, but it'll take a pretty good juggling act to put it together. There are a lot of land owners, including Rowlett.
I am just now getting into public information about the proposals. I will have more to write as I go along. I am most curious about the business arrangement of the library while the actual construction is underway. I have heard some stories on the street. I don't like some of them. I need to check them out.