This one just broke news in Grand Prairie, an adjacent ex-urb.
Builder thinking big with lakeside project
Council is considering upscale development with shops, apartments
05:41 PM CST on Saturday, December 13, 2003
By STEPHANIE SANDOVAL / The Dallas Morning News
When developer Marcus McNamara looks across the bare flatland prairie next to Joe Pool Lake, he envisions a complex of high-rise buildings with penthouse views of the lake and the Dallas and Fort Worth skylines.
The project, which is to feature upscale apartments, executive offices, boutiques, specialty food shops and a penthouse restaurant, could be under construction next year if City Council members approve zoning for it on Tuesday.
Lakeview Development Group LLC is proposing to build three 13- or 14-story structures on a 17.8-acre site on the east side of Lake Ridge Parkway, on the lower end of the Estes Peninsula.
Some city officials say the project, called Blue Prairie, would make the Estes Peninsula a destination place, catering to upper-income clients and visitors from across the Dallas area.
"We had never thought of anything of that magnitude out there, that height," Mayor Charles England said. "But that kind of development – that's very upscale; that is going to bring a lot of high-income people to live and shop there – is a great asset for the whole peninsula."
But it's a project the developer acknowledges probably couldn't happen in a few years, as new home construction and other development encroaches upon the site.
"We couldn't do this in five or 10 years," said Mr. McNamara, acknowledging that the current lack of development in the area makes it easier to get approval for a project that would be among the tallest lakeside developments in the Dallas region.
Though a star atop the atrium of the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center (formerly known as Opryland Texas) under construction near Grapevine Lake will stand 165 feet high, the hotel itself will have only nine floors.
There is no formal opposition to the Blue Prairie plan, perhaps in part because as of yet there are no neighbors. The closest developments are to the northwest, in the Grand Peninsula subdivision, and south of the lake in the Lake Ridge community.
Immediately north, developers have yet to start construction on a proposed golf resort hotel and city conference center. And though there are plans for a large residential community and some smaller commercial and retail uses immediately west, construction hasn't started there.
Getting the Blue Prairie project approved before the area develops much further is also a simple real estate issue.
"We couldn't find the land in a few years," Mr. McNamara said. And even if it were available, the cost will have skyrocketed, he added.
The height is needed to obtain the scenic views that will be the chief selling point for clients, Mr. McNamara said.
The project is targeted toward empty nesters and executives who want to live, work, dine and shop in one upscale location with amenities such as a fitness club, concierge service and a lake view.
But the shops and restaurants would also cater to residents in the Lake Ridge custom-built luxury home community and shoppers and diners from elsewhere, he said.
"I want the snobs of Plano to come down – to attract that kind of people who go, 'You should go down to the shops of Blue Prairie and see the views from there,' " Mr. McNamara said.
The $60 million to $65 million project would take about two years to complete, he said.
The developers have already purchased the site, the only privately owned acreage on the east side of the Estes Peninsula. The rest is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and leased by the city.
"I used to live out at Lake Ridge years ago and fell in love with the views in the area and would just scratch my head and go, 'Why isn't there something down there?' " Mr. McNamara said.
The architectural design for the development would follow the "Prairie modern" style the city established for commercial development in the lake area.
"This is a real sharp-looking property," said City Council member Ron Jensen, whose District 6 includes the lake area. "This is just the type of project I would like to see out there."
City Planning and Zoning Commission members unanimously recommended approval of the zoning case. </smallfont>