Growing pains for Lake Highlands development

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on June 21, 2011 at 2:19 AM

DALLAS — The Dallas City Council will vote Wednesday on a plan to jump-start the Lake Highlands Town Center development.

The project stalled when the economy soured.

Food for thought for the Council, developer Prescott Realty and nearby residents is the size of the grocery store that will anchor the retail component.

After the 2007 demolition of 1,300 aging apartments, new streets and the DART station went in at Lake Highlands Town Center. But most of what remained at the Skillman and Walnut Hill site was dirt.

Now City Hall has a plan to try and get the dirt flying — a plan that is supported by City Council member Jerry Allen.

"We added just a little bit more fuel to keep this alive, keep it going, but the wait will be worth it," he said.

The city staff wants to increase the city money in the deal from $27 million to $40 million to cover additional infrastructure (like parking) to lure recession wary private dollars to build at least 200 new apartment units.

Condos, office buildings and retail are also envisioned.

But as planning starts moving forward again, one of the biggest issues to chew on is what kind of grocery store should go in.

Large grocers such as Tom Thumb and Kroger expressed interest building big stores in the development, according to the city, but they already have stores nearby. And a new Walmart is under construction at Northwest Highway and Skillman.

Nearby residents want something different.

"We need something that makes Lake Highlands Town Center unique... a specialty grocery store would be a key anchor for that center,” said Win Evans, president of the Lake Highlands North Homeowners Association.

They want the developer to consider a smaller store, like a Sprouts Farmers Market or a Trader Joe's specialty grocer that is moving into North Texas.

A consultant hired by the developer will study what would work best over the next three to four months. The city hopes dirt can start flying this year.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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