As thousands move into North Texas, the need for more housing continues to grow.
That’s often led to contentious conversations about where multi-family housing fits into the equation and what it should look like.
That’s why neighbors from East Dallas’ Lochwood neighborhood came together Thursday evening with tape, string and helium-filled balloons.
“We’re trying to get a visual display, a three-dimensional visual display of what this complex will look like,” said Thomas Buck, communications chair of Lochwood Neighborhood Association.
With a team of volunteers, Buck floated balloons 60 feet into the air where a proposed four-story development would top out along the busy Garland Road corridor and right in Lochwood’s backyard.
“We’re not anti-development or anti-affordable housing. I think we’re anti-four stories,” said Buck.
The proposal by developer Ojala Holdings would replace the old Shoreline City Church, which is relocating, with The Standard at Shoreline, a 300-unit, mixed-use, mixed-income development.
"There's a housing shortage here in town and the rental rates over the last two years have gone up by over 25%. Not only is it an affordable housing crisis for those at the bottom or the middle, it’s crept up so high that middle earners and high earners are feeling it,” said Managing Director Daniel Smith.
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Smith said that’s why Ojala wants to develop a class A luxury complex.
If approved, he said 49% of the units would be rented at the market rate. The other 51% would be reserved for residents who make 80% of the area's median income.
"Those are working-class folks like teachers, city employees, policemen, etc. that earn between $50,000 and $70,000 per year,” he said.
But those pushing back argue, that their opposition is about density.
"It's noise and trash and water runoff, light, and the fact that the height would actually impose on my neighbors,” said Lochwood resident Sher Ladieu.
Ladieu said she’d prefer to see the church building saved, whether for another congregation or a new purpose. But if the site does become apartments, she, like her neighbors, believes a three-story complex, rather than four, would be less intrusive.
Smith said Ojala has already changed its proposal dramatically to appease those who live nearby, including creative art space, a public arts plaza and townhomes that will serve as a buffer for those whose homes back up to the property.
Still, those who’ve called the neighborhood home for years fear the project’s impact on their community in the future.
“It would act like an open-door policy for the rest of Garland Road to be developed, and I think you'd start seeing higher buildings, and we'd start to look like Uptown,” said Brad Rogers.
Ojala is scheduled to present its proposal to Dallas’ Zoning Commission on July 21.
In September, it will go before the city council to see if it can get approval to move forward.
Both Smith and his project’s neighbors said they hope to find a compromise that can serve East Dallas residents today and in the future.