Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
The new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is due to open next week, but some residents in the La Bajada neighborhood are concerned plans to bring new development to the area could change their way of life.
Residents of a West Dallas neighborhood at the end of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge are fighting to save their homes from developers who they say want their land.
A group including restaurant magnet Phil Romano is planning to open a restaurant attraction this summer called Trinity Groves at the edge of the La Bajada neighborhood on Singleton Boulevard.
The investors also plan mid-rise residential and commercial development in the future on land they have already purchased along Singleton.
The bridge is scheduled to open to drivers on March 29.
Several homes on the old residential streets adjacent to the investors land have not-for-sale signs.
Frank DeLeon grew up in the home he occupies on Herbert Street.
"The businesses are going to come, that's great," he said. "I welcome all this development, but we're just trying to keep this neighborhood for single-family residents, and that's the bottom line."
DeLeon said many longtime residents want to stay and enjoy the property value increases the bridge could bring to their homes, as well.
"Why can't we have some of the cake, too? That's how I look at it," resident Eva Elvove said.
Residents are circulating petitions in favor of a Neighborhood Stabilization Overlay soon to go before the City Council.
The Dallas Plan Commission has already approved the NSO, which would restrict construction height in the single-family home area to 27 feet.
That would permit new home construction up to two stories tall but forbid taller townhomes or condominiums that many neighbors oppose.
"You cannot avoid progress, but why can't we coexist?" Elvove asked.
The residents are 50 short of the 248 signatures they want on their petition to carry the most weight at City Hall.
They said they hope to gain the 50 additional property owners at a community meeting Saturday where Elvove said she would make her case to neighbors.
"The bulldozers are here, and the bridge is here," she said. "What are you going to do about it?"
Butch McGregor with West Dallas Investments, the developer of the Trinity Groves Project, said his group has expressed interest in just 4 lots in La Bajada.
But McGregor said the owners did now want to sell so the group has backed off.
Romano and McGregor have said they will work with the existing neighborhood residents.
“Some of the neighbors are using scare tactics to get people to sign the petitions,” McGregor said.
The added height restriction would reduce future options for the use of the property and McGregor said owners would be making a mistake to accept it.
“That immediately devalues their property,” McGregor said.