The Point rezoning request by Direct Development for its 35-acre mixed-use development was approved with a 3-2 vote by the Flower Mound Town Council at its meeting Monday night.
The project, located north of Long Prairie (FM 2499), west of Silveron and south of Lakeside, is ultimately meant to attract Class A office space to Flower Mound by creating a work-live-play, walkable urban-like multi-family residential setting for the targeted demographic of professional millennials who will fill the work cubicles inside two proposed multi-storied office buildings fronting FM 2499.
The applicant requested the rezoning from Planned Development District No. 31 (PD-31) with Campus Commercial District (CC) uses to Planned Development District No.156 (PD-156) with both non-residential and residential uses in compliance, with the Campus Commercial land use designation within the Lakeside Business District Area Plan.
The major objection to the project is the overwhelming proportion of residential units to that of commercial square foot space allocated to Phase I in the Development Agreement. The 57,500-square-foot commercial space is dedicated to a Tru brand Hilton Hotel, which is under mixed reviews itself.
Council member Claudio Forest endorsed the less-pricy Tru Hotel saying that, “the term ‘budget’ hotel really bothers me. Companies don’t give their employees $200 per diem for travel expenses.”
The more than five-hour-long meeting got off to a rocky start when Mayor Don McDaniel asked Mayor Tom Hayden to relinquish the mayor’s gavel– related to Hayden’s vocal project opposition– to provide an “equitable hearing” for the applicant. Hayden declined the request.
Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Bryant was the first person to raise the disproportionate resident to office/commercial Phase I issue.
“Where’s the work space in Phase I?” he asked. “To get office, we’ve got [to build] this [urban-style] environment, but I’m trying to see where that ‘work’s’ [segment] is going to be.”
Direct Development Managing Principal David Watson said, “I’m trying to provide the environment to create a Class A office [as the project goal].”
However, that dedicated office/commercial space isn’t addressed until Phase II of the DA.
“Why wasn’t it presented as a residential development, instead of an office development?” asked Bryant. “Is there a chance that we’ll build the first 360 residential and the hotel and then not get any office?”
A long pause followed.
Representing the applicant, Kendra Stephenson of Portmanteau Consultants, answered the question citing a financial impact for the developer in its agreement with the town if the DA goals for Phase II aren’t met: “in 18-months– of either breaking ground to build the building, or prove that we can get the ‘ask gap’ of office space rent of $18-per-foot [the current town price] up to the required $25 to get the Class A [office participant’s commitment].”
Another major sticking-point for the project involved the Park Dedication standards.
The Point leaders proposed using a park dedication option under the mixed-use standards, rather than the town’s existing two options for residential projects; either land dedication or cash. In the case of The Point, that would mean the developer must either dedicate 19.4-acres of land and $800,876 in fees, or cash in the amount of $7.3 million. Mixed-use projects don’t require either of those options.
During the Dec. 7 Park Board meeting, developers requested using the Mixed-Development Ordinance, as a third option for the Board to consider. That formula features paying park fees of $575 per dwelling unit equal to $336,375, plus provide publicly-accessible open space of approximately 15-percent for the residential components.
Although the Park Board ultimately voted to recommend the residential option of cash reimbursement in the amount of $7.3 to $8 million– because the development was then zoned under the Planned Development (PD)-31– the Planning & Zoning Commission recommended the requested PD-156 rezoning and using the Mixed-Use Ordinance formula.
“It’s hard to swallow a $7.6 million park fee difference,” said Council member Jason Webb, who finally voted against the project with Bryant. “It’s like saying I’ll give you $100 and then giving only $3.”
While Hayden has been a vocal opponent of the need to build additional residential units, as well as the Tru brand Hilton Hotel designation as a mid-priced, rather than budget level facility, McDaniel has been a very “passionate” proponent of The Point as a means of making Flower Mound a multi-generational town.
“Nationally, 63-percent of first-time homeowners buy within the place they lived the year prior,” said McDaniel, adding that apartments help accomplish that transition by providing a place for young professionals to land prior to home ownership and beginning their families.
He added that Flower Mound currently has an aging population– pointing to empty classrooms at Bridlewood and Liberty Elementary schools– and that “pipelining” residents is necessary to bring in younger families to fill those classrooms and maintain “vibrancy.”
Over a community’s lifetime, it can see a resident start as single, then marry and start a family to become a first-time homebuyer, then buy a “long-time” home, before finally deciding to downsize at retirement; an example of the impact in school district, town services and amenity use changes through the years.
“We’re not looking at only 577 apartments,” said Forest. “We have to look at it as a whole.”