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Flower Mound neighbors voice concerns on apartment, townhome proposal

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Residents near proposed apartments and town homes voiced their concerns about a plan slated for land at Rippy Road and FM 2499 in Flower Mound during a recent neighborhood meeting with the developer.

David Watson, managing principal with Direct Development, outlined plans for 765 units on 32.3 acres in what he called a resort style development catering to millennials looking for high-end apartments with easy access to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and baby boomers hoping to downsize into smaller homes with a homeowners association and amenities.

The land, currently outlined for retail use in the town’s master plan, sits vacant with pecan and other trees and wildlife near the neighborhoods of $350,000 to $400,000 homes.

“We feel like the zoning is a bit misguided,” Watson said. “It’s not the highest and best use of this specific property.”

One side of the property is currently slated to be bordered by an extension of College Parkway to a four-lane road as currently on the city’s master thoroughfare plan. The project would include a road from the extended College Parkway to Rippy Road — a plan Watson said would possibly veer traffic away from the nearby neighborhoods.

Watson, who has not yet submitted an application on the proposed Alexan Highland Court to town officials, said he hoped to meet with neighbors first to garner their input for the proposal.

“We’re truly appreciative the homeowners came out and voiced their concerns,” he said in a telephone interview on Thursday.

A Dallas-based commercial developer who has worked on a number of major projects in Flower Mound for the past 12 years including Highland Ranch and Robertson’s Creek on FM 2499, Watson told the crowd of about 50 residents in the second of two meetings Wednesday that he envisioned the change in the proposed master plan because the retail value of the property was considered less than what top retailers would want. He said the retail property, if left as is, would likely attract lesser tenants such as dollar stores as opposed to higher end retail normally attracted to Flower Mound.

“It is a secondary retail location, not a primary retail location,” he said.

Watson and former Flower Mound council member Kendra Stephenson, working as a consultant on the project, described the complex as a buffer zone between residents and the traffic and retail along FM 2499.

“I think there is a lot of misunderstanding of what we’re doing,” Stephenson said. “We want to make sure we have a good conversation.”

Watson and Stephenson said they believed a demand existed in Flower Mound for upscale apartments and brownstone-style townhomes, adding the properties would differ from what is currently planned in Lakeside DFW and the River Walk at Central Park – two properties with mixed-use development currently under construction.

“My concern is that we’re third in line,” said resident Doris Zacco. “We have too much of good projects coming into Flower Mound.”

Zacco added she believed town officials should wait to see how the River Walk and Lakeside DFW work out before adding additional apartment or town home development.

“We need to stick to the master plan and let it work itself out,” she said.

A dozen residents first met with the developer on Sept. 11 and later asked for more time to study the issue and organize neighbors to address their concerns with the development. A planned Sept. 25th meeting was delayed until the two meetings Wednesday at the Bridlewood Golf Club.

Watson said he opted to work with Trammel Crow, a residential development company known in the Dallas area for high-end apartment complexes, since his company was not experienced in residential development. The project is estimated to cost up to $90 million if approved by town officials.

“I want what’s best for Flower Mound,” he said adding that he would handle the town homes for sale while Trammel Crow would oversee the apartments for rent.

The 720 apartments would be in three-story complexes with an average of 850 square feet at a cost of $150 per square foot.  About 55 percent would be one bedroom, 45 percent with two bedrooms and 5 to 10 percent offering 3 bedrooms, Watson said, adding the figures were close to what he projects in the development. 

The amenities of a 2.7-acre park, fire pit and open space among other extras would be a draw to both age groups, he said. The 45 town homes, ranging from a smaller footprint up to 2,500 square feet, are projected to cost between $350,000 and $425,000. Of those, 22 would be cottage-style homes at 1,200 square feet geared to seniors with extras ranging from wider doorways to one-story development for potential mobility challenges.

Several residents voiced concerns about whether the apartment and town homes would flood an already growing market showing an estimated 3,000 apartments either existing or currently under development. Others were concerned about losing the natural look and feel of the property with its grove of trees and wildlife such as deer, squirrels, ducks, roadrunners, foxes and even snakes.

At one point, John Pearson stood up and asked the developer, “Do you really think any one of us is going to sign off on this?”  Residents responded by clapping. Another queried whether millennials would want to be in the same complex as baby boomers.

“We’re not getting anything out of this except more traffic,” Pearson said. “This is not why we moved out here.”

Residents said the apartments would generate about 1,500 additional cars traveling in an area already seeing traffic growth.

Several suggested millennials would move into southern Flower Mound or nearby Lewisville where apartment complexes are plentiful.

“Why don’t they leave it as it is? It doesn’t hurt anyone,” Pearson said, adding the undeveloped property is an amenity neighbors enjoy because it is quiet. Watson replied that growth is coming to Flower Mound and development is inevitable.

Zacco, who said neighbors have been meeting under the organization of Nick Strittmatter, are working to stop the proposed apartment and town home development.

“I think we’re pretty hopeful that we can stop this,” she said.

Watson, on Thursday morning, said his next step was to take time to review residents’ concerns.

“The good thing is the plan has some flexibility,” he said.

 

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