Developer wants land swap at Founders Park

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The owner of Founders Square Apartments wants to redevelop them into a high-rise apartment building with ground-floor retail if neighbors and the city will agree to a land swap with Founders Park.

WindMass Capital has a plan to build a five-to-seven story apartment building at Founders Park, either on the site of the existing apartments or on an adjacent tract on Colorado at Marsalis.

The 65-unit apartment complex at 929 N. Marsalis sits on 1.37 acres surrounded by Founders Park. WindMass wants to swap that site for an adjacent 1.37 acres on the corner of Colorado and Marsalis. They would then demolish the existing apartments and turn that acreage back into parkland.

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The swap would nearly double the property’s roadway frontage. The current site has about 250 feet along Marsalis. The new site would give the developer more like 475 feet of frontage on Colorado and Marsalis, which would make retail development feasible.

They also would want a zoning change to be able to build seven stories instead of five on that corner, with 223 apartments.

Without a land swap, the developer could, by right, tear down the old apartments and build a six-story, 250-unit apartment building on that site with no retail component.

With the the land swap, they would build an underground parking garage. To build on the current site, they would construct podium or “donut” parking where apartments surround an above-ground parking garage.

In exchange for the land swap, the developer would do about $500,000 worth of work to Founders Park, including brush removal, tree remediation and lighting and safety improvements. WindMass also has plans to seek future tax reimbursements for the project.

Mitch Voss of WindMass gave a presentation to Lake Cliff Park-area neighbors Wednesday night. The Dallas-based commercial real estate investment and development company has hired Kevin Sloan Studio landscape architect of Oak Cliff and Wilder Belshaw, an architect with offices in Dallas and Austin, who grew up in Oak Cliff.

So far there are no specific plans, but Voss says their vision is to design an articulated building front, wide sidewalks and facades that face the street and the park.

Construction on a new building would take about two years. With the land swap, they could keep the old apartments open while the new ones are under construction.

Voss said WindMass would offer new apartments to the approximately 100 current residents of Founders Square at prices close to what they pay now, although their units would be smaller. If the developer receives future tax reimbursements from the city, they would be required to offer 20 percent of the units as affordable for 15 years.

Rent at Founders Square currently costs about $925-$1,100 for one- and two-bedroom apartments with all bills paid. That’s about $1.50 per square foot.

The new apartments, averaged with the affordable rents, would net about $2 per square foot, Voss says.

The land swap must be approved by the city’s Park Board and City Council. WindMass is planning several more meetings with neighbors before deciding which path to pursue.

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