Thursday, September 18, 2008

Developer seeks zoning OK for East Dallas complex

A developer who built a successful condo project south of downtown Dallas is looking at a new deal on Gaston Avenue near White Rock Lake.

Zad Roumaya hopes to construct a retail and residential complex at Gaston, East Grand Avenue and Garland Road if he can get zoning approval.

The property is now mostly occupied by a 20-year-old shopping center.

"I'm hoping that the market tells us this is the place to build a great live-work project," said Mr. Roumaya, who built the Buzz condominiums complex in Dallas' Cedars neighborhood.

But before he can start the Gaston Avenue project, he must get city approval for the combination of apartments and new commercial space.

"We don't own any of it yet," Mr. Roumaya said. "We have the property under contract with a rezoning contingency.

"If we can't get the density we want, we don't want to own the land," he said. "We hope the neighborhoods will work with us."

He is about to begin the city planning process, which could take several months.

The busy intersection of Gaston and Garland Road has been on city planners' radar for several years as a location that's ready for a makeover.

The older commercial buildings at the corner form the entrance to one of Dallas' most popular recreation and residential areas. White Rock Lake Park, the Dallas Arboretum and the affluent Forest Hills and Lakewood neighborhoods are nearby.

"There is a unique gateway opportunity there if it will be allowed to get moving," Mr. Roumaya said. "We conservatively estimate we'd have a construction start in summer or fall of '09."

Preliminary plans call for between 200 and 400 residential units and about 40,000 square feet of retail space.

Around 60,000 square feet of commercial buildings now occupy the 5.2-acre property, which has a lower level fronting on Gaston.