Preston Center Plan in Place after Two Years of Negotiation

New parking garage is major feature

A new plan for future growth of the Dallas Preston Center area is now in place after two years of sometimes angry negotiations between neighbors and property owners.

A new parking garage is a centerpiece of the plan.

The shopping and business district at the corner of Northwest Highway and Preston Road is surrounded by residential neighborhoods of North Dallas and University Park.

“I think it's a great spot,” said visitor Brooke Ball. “It's close to Highland Park, so a lot of people are coming here.”

Stores and restaurants are so popular, traffic crawls through the business district side streets and the old two-level parking garage is always jammed, even on the roof.

Businessman Sean Howard walks to lunch from his office.

“There's no place to park in the first place,” he said. “That's why we walk over here. Any time you try to drive, it's not worth it.”

Additional high rise office space is under construction now and property owners want to build high rise apartments on vacant land in the area.

Busy Northwest Highway already carries more than 50,000 vehicles a day through the neighborhood.

“Making it bigger and bringing more people is not really a good idea,” said neighbor Jennifer Parker.

Regional planners helped a task force of neighbors and property owners negotiate a compromise plan for the area which was approved by the Dallas City Council on January 25.

“By protecting the residential neighborhoods the way the residents wanted it protected, they were willing to step up and support increased density in Preston Center,” said Force Member Peter Kline.

The most ambitious feature is replacing the old garage with an underground parking structure with direct ramp connections to Northwest Highway and a signature park on top at surface level.

“That would be cool. That would look way better than this,” visitor Brooke Ball said.

Neighborhood Council Member Jennifer Gates hopes commercial property owners who want to expand will help provide money.

“We're going to be challenged as to how we're going to pay for that,” Gates said.

Money could also come from a November 2017 public improvement bond referendum if the city holds one.

Construction of a new garage in the existing garage location could be an enormous complication for the busy commercial district.

“It's going to hurt the businesses if they don't do it right,” Howard said.

Existing residents still have concerns about allowing increased density in the area.

“I would be very cautious about high rise,” said neighbor Pat Parker. “I just think it would be too easy to overwhelm the roads.”

Even after it approved the new Preston Center plan, the Dallas City Council will still get to review each zoning change needed for big developments in the area.

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