Tuesday, January 21, 2014

21 January Council Meeting

This evening two items of significance were approved.

The first item was the Arlington Lofts.  This is a student housing project that will be located on the north side of Abrams street.  Greystar is the company that constructs student housing all over the US in various College/University settings.  Lance Hana is their representative, and he has done an exemplary job in representing this project.  Essentially the vote this evening was 6-3 in favor.  I was a no vote because I felt that the development was located in the wrong place.  Its current location did not benefit the school, nor did it benefit the city, since it was four blocks from downtown Arlington.  I have ridden around the project area with John Hall, Lance Hana, Lana Wolf, and Michael Glasby.  I have even talked to the President of the University, Dr. Vistasp Karbhari.  Most agreed that there were several different locations that could have been utilized, but this was the easiest solution for Greystar.  So they picked the low hanging fruit instead of doing what I felt was best for the community as a whole.

The second item had to do with the Lamar Apartment project, currently called the Arlington Commons.  Zoning was changed from Multi Use to a PD for multi family with a density of no more than 60 per acre.  Then, the 380 agreement was modified in conjunction with procurement financing.  John David Moritz will now front the financing for the procurement of the first 3 apartment complexes.  What this all means is that this program is a go.  We have waited 8 years for something to happen in the overlay, and we are off to the races.  Mr. Kembel will engaged lawyers and architects in an effort to close on the first three properties by February 10th.  After that date the city will write the check for 2.0 million for demolition and a 1.5 million incentive.  It is time for this project to get its wings.  I can tell you without hesitation that if it was not for the hard work and diligence of Trey Yelverton and Bruce Payne, we would be living with those deteriorating establishments for the next 8 years.  I must say that it has been a long road, and this project currently has the unanimous support of council and staff.  It was a good evening

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

7 January

Last nights Council Meeting had a few interesting twists.  The first was the unanimous approval of the Flight Deck Trampoline facility.  This new business will be located behind the Macaroni Grill on the Southeast corner of I-20 and Cooper.  The business is essentially a wall to wall trampoline and the facility looks like it will be fun for the whole family to bounce around together and enjoy some physical activity.  Fundamentally, this is a good re-utilization of an existing structure.  Their first Flight Deck was constructed over near the Joint Use Military Base in Ft. Worth.  It has been open for 7 months and has been hugely successful.  It was a pleasure to welcome their new venture to Arlington.

Five years in the making, the afternoon session was introduced to a final version of the UDC (Unified Development Code) revision.  Staff has taken all the building codes of the city of Arlington and streamlined them into one go-to manual.  This sets forth the improved standards that will take into consideration improvements in materials, efficiency, and building standards.  It will set the guidelines for builders, and improve the quality of construction throughout our city.  This has been a long time in coming and Clayton Husband and Jim Parajon should be commended for their efforts.

Lastly, the evening session approved the final version of the Auto Related Business ordinance.  There has been some back and forth concerning the final wording in one section of the ordinance.  Due mostly to Councilman Robert Shepard’s efforts, the concerns of existing auto business owners have been calmed.  In my opinion, the onslaught of 260 auto related businesses in the last two years posed concern going forward.  This ordinance allows the city a seat at the table when considering NEW auto related businesses in the future, while grandfathering current auto related use property.

On another note this blog has recieved over 22,000 views since it was started, a little over a year ago.  Thanks for your interest and staying informed.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 in Review

Wow, it seems like 2013 has flown by and now we have the opportunity to look back and see if there has been any improvement or progress in our community.  I wouldn’t go out on a limb and say that our healthcare system has gotten better.  I’m fortunate enough not be part of that endeavor, so the national problems don’t seem to be getting solved.  But here on the home front, I can say that things are improving:

  1. The Lamar Apartment issue is moving in the right direction and I am very hopeful that we will see that portion of our community be resurrected in 2014.  Mr. Kembel is working very hard to try and bring this project on line.  Both he and city staff are working tirelessly and if the last piece of the financial puzzle falls into place this next week, I am told you will see dozers by June.
  2. We have seen tremendous improvement in the performance of our North Arlington Schools.  The School Board, lead by Dr. Cavazos, has made personnel changes that are showing remarkable results in the improvement of the education of our children.  I am always impressed by the principals and faculty, for their sincere dedication and commitment to our children’s future.  This is huge for our community.
  3. I am fortunate to have been able to align my views with those of city staff.  Therefore, it is easy to see results sooner rather than later.  “Welcome to Arlington” signage is coming to I30.  These signs have already been allocated in the 2013 budget and will be installed during 2014.  They are beautiful and will let our visitors know that they are entering our city along our main east/west corridor.  Game On Arlington!
  4. We have seen Lamar west of Collins paved, we have seen Collins paved north of Lamar, and now we are seeing Lamar east of Collins going through an expansion and repaving.  Keith Melton, Director of Public Works has been very busy in the north.
  5. Thanks to Chief Leland Strickland and his commitment to reducing crime in North Arlington.  He and his officers have worked tirelessly, and I must say that crime has gone down in our neighborhoods.  We are much safer today than we were last year.  I am always impressed with the results of the APD.
  6. The Arlington Tomorrow Foundation has been reorganized in an effort to be able to invest in our city with funds that don’t have to be on a bond election.  With these funds being available, the city and its citizenry will benefit in projects annually and in a more streamlined fashion.
  7. We have seen a new Neighborhood Wal-Mart store established in the old Albertson’s space.
  8. Viridian has multiplied into a thriving community of its own during this past year.  Housing starts and elementary school construction are all in progress, and expanding rapidly.  Mr. Kembel’s vision of this flourshing addition to our community has been astounding to watch. 

These are just a few of the major accomplishments that I have seen happen in 2013.  I look forward to seeing these and other projects come to fruition in 2014.  We are very fortunate to be able to live in a city that is forward thinking in its views.  Arlington continues to strive to be a better place to live and work.  Today, our children have a better opportunity to grow and contribute to this upwardly mobile society.  I am very proud of the Council and City Staff for accomplishing these and many other projects.