Highland Village townhome project to take on new look

Highland Village City Manager Michael Leavitt took the wraps off of the proposed changes to the beleaguered District of Highland Village project at Tuesday evening’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

The unfinished mixed-use project at the northwest corner of FM 407 and Briarhill Boulevard currently includes a smattering of retail shops, office space and townhomes.

Under the proposed changes, a total of 168 one-, two- and three-bedroom upscale apartment units ranging from 774 to 2,448 square feet would take the place of 73 single-family attached townhomes that were in the original approved plans.

Only 12 townhomes were built after the project broke ground in 2008 and just one was sold, with the rest snapped up as rentals.

“The market demands this. There is a shortage throughout North Texas of this kind of housing,” said Leavitt.

Highland Village-based Hawk, Hawk, Silvaggio and Green, LLC, (HHSG) the District’s developer, filed a federal lawsuit against the city last October after city council denied a zoning amendment request to allow the switch from townhomes to apartments. Since that time, both parties have worked behind the scenes to settle their dispute, according to city officials.

The last rezoning plan presented to the city in June 2011 before the suit was filed included 98 apartment units in two-story buildings with a minimum unit size of 750 square feet.

Leavitt said Tuesday that the revised plans call for seven new brick buildings, with several containing first floor retail/restaurant space and a mix of offices and residential lofts above.

Plans show covered parking spaces or garages for many of the residential units.  The existing pool and clubhouse will be enlarged into an amenity center for the tenants.

Outdoor features similar to The Shops at Highland Village will be incorporated into the project, including a restaurant with outside seating and a half-acre plaza with a water feature and park benches.

One unique concept Leavitt touted was the inclusion of home office lofts, which are seven independent storefronts where business owners can live and work in the same unit.

Leavitt said that apartment rental rates are expected to be between $110 and $120 per square foot.

“If approved as presently proposed, this will not be “an apartment complex” as most folks understand that type of development,” said City Councilman Louis Robichaux. “The city and the developer have both worked very hard to create a superior win-win development.”

Ray Thaner, who lives behind the project, expressed his concerns with traffic and property values.

“I don’t see this in my best interest. It’s not a win-win situation. It will be a win for the developer and a lose for the people living directly by the development.”

The presentation was for informational purposes and no action was taken at the meeting. HHSG has not yet submitted an application for rezoning of the property.

“This is still a work in progress. By no means is it a finished project.” said Leavitt.

The meeting, including the presentation, can be viewed on-demand on HVTV on the city’s website here.

City officials said that HHSG is expected to submit a zoning amendment application this coming Monday, Oct. 22.  A public hearing will follow on Nov. 15.

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