Southlake Planning and Zoning gives approval for additional Town Square lofts

Posted Monday, Aug. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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For rent lofts are one step closer to becoming a reality in a city without apartments.

The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approving a 40-unit condominium in Southlake Town Square by a vote of 4-2 at a recent meeting.

The City Council is expected to review plans for the rental units and additional brownstones and other housing on Sept. 3.

“The best downtowns in the world have people living in them,” said Frank Bliss, president of Cooper and Stebbins. “This is downtown. It is walkable, it is appropriate and it is value adding.”

Cooper and Stebbins developed and owns the popular Southlake Town Square.

The developer plans to open the high-end condominium with units available for rent or sale, with the ultimate goal of selling all the units.

Larry Corson, director of residential development and sales, said offering units two ways avoids financial risk in terms of leasing and financing. He said the company wants to avoid initial problems with financial and appraisal markets, and dependance on presales.

“We don’t want to take that approach of doing presales,” he said. “We think that is risky.”

The Residences condominiums will include 1-3 bedroom units that the developer estimates can be rented from $3,000-6,000 a month or bought for $500,000 to $1 million.

Commissioners Kate Smith and Shawn McCaskill opposed recommending the project to Council.

McCaskill said he was concerned about opening the building with intentions to rent.

“What if they don’t rent at $3,000-$6,000? Do we lower the rent? There’s no control over that,” he said. “We’re opening the gate and the City has no control of what might happen.”

Smith said she preferred that the developer finish the already approved housing before taking on a new project. Cooper and Stebbins plans to begin construction on The Residences when 18 of the proposed 33 new brownstones have been sold.

Chariman Robert Hudson, who was absent the first time the project was seen by the Commission, was in favor of the building.

“There’s no mechanism for this anywhere else in town,” he said. “I think that it’s absolutely necessary for the downtown to remain vibrant and have people that live here.”

Several citizens spoke for and against the condominium, including current brownstone owners and residents outside of the Town Square.

Southlake resident Kenneth Horne said this could impact how businesses decide to come to Southlake.

“We’re talking about rents from $3,000-$6,000. That’s not going to be a slum anytime soon,” Horne said.

Southlake resident Patti Rafa opposed the decision and plans to share her opposition when City Council reviews the plan.

Rafa was one of 14 people who turned in cards opposing the project but did not wish to speak.

“I feel distrust for Planning and Zoning,” she said. “It feels like citizens’ voices are not being heard from P and Z.”

Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770

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