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More construction on Yale

It’s Alexan Heights II: Midrise Boogaloo.

The first Alexan Heights on Yale

For residents near Yale and 6th street, Independence Day fireworks were nothing compared to the sparks flying when news of another proposed apartment complex came to light July 5.

A heads-up notification from District C Council Member Ellen Cohen’s office to various residents, land use groups and neighborhood organizations told of Trammell Crow Residential’s proposed plan to build a second upscale apartment complex in the area. Reportedly dubbed “Alexan Yale,” the development would be located on Yale between 5th and 6th streets.

The 4.9-acre site is currently home to Fixtures International and is a block south of TCR’s further-along luxury apartment project, Alexan Heights, which fronts Yale St. at 6th and 7th streets.

TCR did not respond to requests for information on the proposed Alexan Yale.

As described in Cohen’s letter, however, the new project is “expected to include four stories of units over two levels of parking, with one level of parking below grade. TCR has the site under contract and is currently performing preliminary due diligence, and they expect to close the purchase of the property by the end of the year. Once TCR establishes a site plan and unit count, they will perform a new traffic study that will include roadways and intersections included in their previous TIA, while also including new intersections on Yale St., Heights Boulevard, and I-10, as well as pedestrian counts.”

See here and here for some background. As you might imagine, neighborhood residents as a whole aren’t particularly thrilled by this. But there’s only so much that can be done about this, and there’s only so much that should be done about it. Dense development is coming, to the Heights and other desirable neighborhoods. It’s where people want to live, and there’s a lot more demand than there is supply. Condo and apartment developments like these help to fill the gap. Unlike the Ashby highrise, this is an appropriate location for a multi-story structure – Yale is basically a thoroughfare, and it’s right near a highway. If you can’t build a six-story complex there, where can you build them?

(Yes, I saw that Chron story yesterday about the five-story development on Morrison Street in my neighborhood that has my neighbors up in arms. I’ll have more on that tomorrow. That’s a completely different situation, since Morrison is a little side street and there are houses all around the property, while Yale is a thoroughfare and these lots are not close to many houses.)

I get why people are concerned about this. My advice would be not to fight this with the intent of trying to prevent it from being built, because that’s at best a longshot. I mean, if Ashby can get built, what reason is there to disallow this? What neighborhood folks could do, and should do, is engage with the developer and the city to push for some specific improvements that would make the overall development better and would help mitigate the traffic impact. For example:

– Good, sufficiently wide sidewalks running along Yale from at least I-10 to the bike trail at 7th. This is still a sore point from the Wal-Mart development, so let’s not make the same mistakes here.

– Install that pedestrian-controlled traffic light where the bike trail crosses Yale, which Trammel Crow has previously said they’d be willing to pay for.

– Talk to TxDOT about adding that dedicated right turn lane on Yale to I-10 westbound, which should help a bit with traffic flow at that light.

– Longer term, engage with Metro and Super Neighborhood 22 to ensure that the area will have suitable bus service as Metro redesigns its bus routes, and that when and if a rail or streetcar line is designed for the Washington Avenue corridor that this high-density cluster between Heights and Yale, and Koehler and 6th is taken into account as well.

This is unlikely to have a large effect in the immediate term, but it will be better than nothing, and it will position the area for future growth, since surely this is not the last such project to be planned – I mean, no one expects that orange juice distribution warehouse on the east side of Yale to be there forever, right? As I see it, it’s this or be forced to react to the announcement of the next project. You tell me which is preferable. Swamplot has photos of the development area, and Hair Balls has more.

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6 Comments

  1. […] that Chron story that I mentioned yesterday, which talks about increasing neighborhood resistance to multi-story residential projects in areas […]

  2. J Sparks says:

    So you bring up good suggestions. The residents nearby have suggested many of the ideas above. And we are actually for development, just on a much smaller scale. But our requests have fallen on deaf ears and lying mouthes. The only idea Trammell Crow agrees to was a crossing at Yale and bike path…only because they knew the city wouldn’t agree to it. Please feel free to contact me if you need more up to date facts. Thanks.

  3. Steve Colvin says:

    In order to engage with the developer and city, they have to be willing to sit down at the table to discuss. So far, neither seems inclined to do so.

  4. Mel says:

    It also requires transparency from a developer.

  5. Alan Jackson says:

    I think the neighborhood would be happy to sit down with the developer. So far the developer seems to not be interested in sitting down with us. And the city seems supremely uninterested in facilitating anything. All Council does is whine about there not being any legal leverage, and then wash their hands of engagement. I thought we elected people to Council so that they could write new laws when necessary. But apparently we elected the wrong people.

  6. Laura says:

    Cohen doesn’t care about the Heights. Period. I agree with Jarrod; smaller scale is appropriate. Due to the only only exit to Yale being just 1 block of 6th, st., the traffic will clearly feed to the smaller neighborhood streets of Allston, Tulane and Rutland to 8th. You can’t dead end 6th, turn 7th into hike and bike, sell 5th, and then put 800-1100 people on two blocks. They will have no other route to Yale without creating a traffic nightmare by heading north on the small streets. Many of these streets vary from 13-17 feet wide and are packed with parallel parked cars already.