Part VI: Sub-Area Four Vision: North Urban Center

View of Proposed Sub-Area FourGeneral Intent and Identity 

Sub-Area Four, split by Northwest Highway (Spur-348), covers a vast zone with potentially diverse development vocations. The major attraction south of Northwest Highway will be the future Irving Convention Center, which has the potential to generate a large amount of development in terms of hotel, office and restaurant/retail uses. 

The envisioned Convention Center district has a new major road, “Exposition Boulevard”, connecting the convention facility entry plaza to Las Colinas Transit Mall. Mid-rise office buildings along Exposition Boulevard will have ground floor retail and restaurants, well landscaped sidewalks will feature view corridors to Lake Carolyn, and hotels are anchored to the waterfront.

The area north of Northwest Highway is envisioned as a “Transit Village”, where the light rail station anchors a mid rise, mixed use district with office, residential, retail and service uses. 

Several land use alternatives were considered for this area, including corporate office campus and lower density residential districts. The recommended transit village concept offers the highest and best use of the land, not only by maximizing the potential benefits of light rail but by drawing on the market trends toward mixed use, live/work, pedestrian scaled developments. 

The street framework blends a gridded system with unique geometry that highlights the open space opportunities around the station and along the waterfront of both Lake Carolyn and Hackberry Creek. Generous sidewalks, heavy planting and urban features throughout will add to the community’s attractions.

Physical Plan Recommendations

Proposed Sub-AreaSub-Area Four Site AnalysisThe street network pattern established in the south Urban Center with the introduction of the Transit Mall and a reconfigured Rochelle Boulevard is carried across O’Connor Blvd. into Sub-Area 3. At the north end of Lake Carolyn a new east west street will connect O’Connor Blvd. to the new Las Colinas Boulevard extension. 

Improvements to Spur-348 (Northwest Highway) include the construction of grade separated interchanges at Las Colinas Boulevard and at O’Connor Boulevard North with frontage roads connecting the two diamond interchanges. This improvement to Northwest Highway and the extension of Las Colinas Boulevard are important roadway improvements needed to support the redevelopment of this sub-area in general and specifically the new Irving Convention Center. Currently these improvements are not funded by TxDOT, so discussions between the City of Irving, TxDOT, the North Central Texas Council of Governments and Dallas County should be held. One approach that may be appropriate is to include Spur-348 in the SH-114 project development process. The street pattern established to the south continues into the northern part of the sub-area including the transit mall, although in the context of a transit village rather than an urban center. 

The Las Colinas Boulevard extension will link to the existing Las Colinas Boulevard North which provides a new connection from Las Colinas to the area freeway network via SH-161. Another important regional connection is the extension of Walnut Hill Lane from Dallas westward across the Trinity River and into Sub-Area 4 north of Lake Carolyn. Las Colinas Boulevard North, O’Connor Boulevard, Northwest Highway, Walnut Hill Lane East and SH-114 will give Sub-Area 4 excellent regional arterial access. 

The recommended Sub-Area 4 internal street framework has a straightforward concept that provides connections to all major roads, allowing good access to all potential land parcels within the sub-area. The creation of “Exposition Boulevard” south of Spur-348 (Northwest Highway), connecting the new Irving Convention Center to Las Colinas Boulevard will add Las Colinas Boulevard North, as envisioned with the transit mall, has a clear terminus in a T-intersection with the connector road between O’Connor Boulevard and Las Colinas Boulevard West.

Light Rail Alignment and Station Area 

Proposed Transit Village Station Area PlanProposed Williams Square / Convention Center Station Area PlanThe light rail alignment in Sub-Area 4 also continues the pattern established to the south. The Transit Mall configuration continues north of O’Connor Boulevard with a transit station that serves existing as well as future development in the Urban Center. As the light rail line approaches Northwest Highway it is proposed to go over or under Northwest Highway. The traffic lanes of the transit mall will continue to the eastbound Northwest Highway service roads. Beginning again at the westbound service road, the transit mall median will receive the light rail alignment as it returns to grade. The alignment is centered on the undeveloped parcels north of Lake Carolyn so that the transit station which serves Sub-Area 4 has the maximum accessibility to serve as the centerpiece of this transit village of residential and commercial land uses. The light rail line leaves the sub-area with a rise in grade to clear Hackberry Creek and continue its route to DFW International Airport.

Station Design 

The platform area will be located at the center of the envisioned “village green” public open space, with crosswalks extending through the “green” and connecting with street sidewalks. The detailing of both station and open space should be consistent, with detail design enhancements in seating, trash bins, light fixtures, signage and artwork that will reflect the identity of the Transit Village development around the station. It is envisioned that this station should utilize DART’s vaulting canopy design.

Technical Aspects 

The DART Design Criteria Manual Volume 1 -- Facilities Design shall be used to determine the appropriate site development layouts and access to platforms. This at grade station will be approximately 300 feet long, capable of handling a three-car train with provision for expansion to a four-car train. A side or center loaded platform configuration could be used in this location with a roof canopy approximately one-third the length of each platform. Both covered and uncovered portions of the platform will be lighted.
Special Features

A Public “Village Green” Adjacent to the Light Rail Platform
Proposed "Transit Village" Station Area View on Sub-Area 4
Proposed Williams Square / Convention Center Station Area ViewThe Transit Village district has a “village green” located at the heart of the development as a central community gathering space. Buildings in a mixed-use context in compact settings to clearly define the open space edges surround this public open space. A view corridor is intended between the village green and Lake Carolyn. A landscape easement is recommended as the “village green” implementation tool; design guidelines should be prepared for the village green and its abutting buildings.

An Entry Plaza to the New Irving Convention Center

A public plaza is envisioned in front of the new convention center main public entry as an entry event to anchor the identity of the facility to its context. It also terminates the proposed Exhibition Boulevard connecting Las Colinas and O’Connor Boulevards. Surrounding buildings will be complementary in use with the convention center as entertainment retail and restaurants. Landscape design is envisioned to be mostly hardscaped with accent planting on the edges. The hardscape design crosses over the street to visually integrate the development parcels and provide for a safe path for pedestrians.

Streetscape and Building Forms

The street framework and overall building massing continues the gridded pattern established in the South Urban Center but in a less dense fashion. Mid-rise buildings are envisioned around the station area, along West Las Colinas Boulevard and along Northwest Highway. 2 to 3-story residential buildings would face Hackberry Creek and the zone between the station and West Las Colinas Boulevard. 

A Continuous Lansdcaped Pedestrian Promenade Along the Waterfront 

A Pedestrian Bridge Between Hotel Sites and Williams Square

Land Use and Zoning

Land Use Vision

Sub-Area 4 presents an opportunity to create a mixed use employment center and residential neighborhood. Uses around the station should be primarily office with a minimum height of 5 stories. The Sub-Area has no currently established character. Accordingly, an opportunity exists to establish and promote a character for this area as a technology center. Around the office core, a full range of housing options, from single family attached townhouses to residential towers should be permitted. Neighborhood serving retail should also be permitted throughout out the Sub-Area.

Existing Zoning: Uses 

The property in this Sub-Area is zoned primarily M-FW with the Urban Business Overlay (UBO). Accordingly, uses currently permitted in this sub-area under the existing zoning are generally the same as those uses permitted for Sub-Area 3. The chart below compares from a use standpoint the existing zoning and the uses desirable to promote the vision for this Sub-Area. The chart varies somewhat from the chart for Sub-Area 3 due to the desire to have a range of residential options and no concentration of larger retail or entertainment venues.
Sub Area 4 Existing Zoning and Uses
Land Use and Zoning

Existing Zoning: Form 

As previously discussed, the Urban Business overlay district modifies the underlying M-FW zoning in many ways that are more conducive to the form appropriate to an urban neighborhood. 

However, further modifications are appropriate to organize development around the light rail station and to promote the particular vision for this Sub-Area. Analysis of form is set forth in the chart below.
Sub-Area 3 Existing Zoning and Physical Form

Economic Analysis and Recommendations

Introduction to Sub-Area Analysis

About 80% of the land area in Sub-Area 4 is in the Irving ISD, but the northwest 20% is in the Carollton-Farmers Branch ISD. The Preferred Plan rail alignment through the sub-area remains east of Lake Carolyn, while a West Branch Alternative travels west toward the convention center site, sharing a common alignment with the Preferred Plan south of O’Connor Boulevard and immediately north of Sub-Area Four. There are separate volume, value and revenue estimates for each of two projections. 

Envisioned Development Program

The West Branch Alternative projection assumes 5.9 million square feet of new floor area from 2001 through 2030 for Sub-Area Four. More floor are is for office space than any other use, followed by hotel and residential space. The high volume of hotel space depends on the convention center and continuing expansions of the center and office uses.

The Preferred Plan projection assumes Sub-Area 4 will have 9.1 million square feet of new floor area from 2001 through 2030. It assumes more office and residential use than the West Branch Alternative. Rail transit is expected to activate development of the northeast quadrant, which may otherwise be the least used part of the Urban Center. The same hotel floor area volume is assumed for both projections, as hotel volume is more linked to the convention center and highway access than to transit. 
These estimated new construction volumes compare with the TIF Projection’s estimated addition of 6.7 million square feet for the Irving ISD part of Sub-Area 4 (about 80% of Sub-Area 4) and all Sub-Area 3 combined (from Schedule CVV-1-IISD-north, adjusted to exclude 2000 appraisal). A reasonable guess about the TIF Projection’s allowance for Sub-Area 4 growth might be 3 million to 4 million square feet, decidedly less than either variant of the Preferred Plan. 

Economic Yields

Realization of the Preferred Plan projection variants could mean estimated 2030 appraised values of Sub-Area Four new real property from 2001 through 2030 between $1,150 million and $1,790 million. Estimated total tax to the City (net of contributions to the TIF through 2018) could be $124 to $161 million. Hotel occupancy tax is anticipated as a major revenue stream, accounting for the high total revenue of this Sub-Area compared to all others. 

Directly corresponding TIF Projection values are not available by sub-area. If half the new development volume in the Irving ISD part of the TIF were in Sub-Area 4, perhaps the appraised value of new real property development with the TIF Projection might be $500 to $700 million in 2030.

Implementation Recommendations

Transportation and Utilities

The implementation of the street, highway, utility, and transit improvements in Sub-Area 4 will be no less challenging than in the other sub-areas. The future configuration of Spur-348 is a significant feature which affects many other facilities in the sub-area. For this reason, it is recommended that the development of Spur-348 should be accelerated by incorporating it into the planning and design for SH-114 by TxDOT. The modifications will include reconstruction of the SH-114/Spur-348 Interchange and the Elm Fork Bridge over the Trinity River. The short distance between SH-114 and the Trinity River makes the necessary arterial access an engineering challenge, especially regarding the provision of the on and off ramps needed to serve both O’Connor Boulevard and Las Colinas Boulevard. 

Another important link is the construction of Walnut Hill Lane from Las Colinas Boulevard, across O’Connor, over the Trinity River to connect to Walnut Hill Lane in the City of Dallas. This arterial link is on the NCTCOG 2000 Regional Thoroughfare Plan and it may require funding and implementation coordination by the City of Irving, NCTCOG, the City of Dallas, Dallas County, and TxDOT. As noted previously, special cooperative planning efforts for utilities and transportation infrastructure are needed to realize the effective implementation of the transportation and land use vision in the Study Area.

An implementation technique that may be appropriate is the cooperative development of a comprehensive utility needs plan, dealing with ultimate and phased needs, joint development and facility concepts such as utility duct banks which may lower overall implementation costs.

Land Use/Zoning

The following is a list of issues that should be addressed by the City when implementing the recommended land use vision for Sub-Area 4:

a) Land use functions appropriate to implement desired character for the area.

b) Physical forms appropriate to the various land use functions.

c) Discrepancies between desired functions and functions permitted by current regulations.
Appropriate uses currently not permitted.
Inappropriate uses currently permitted.

d) Discrepancies between desired form of development and existing regulations. 
Desired forms currently prohibited.
Inappropriate forms currently permitted. 

f) Other impediments to desired form and function.

g) Strategies for resolving discrepancies and impediments.

Economic Analysis/Phasing

The Preferred Plan projection produces the greatest estimated revenue of three alternative projections. The West Branch Alternative projection produces vastly more than the TIF projection. 

Early development will contribute more revenue to the TIF and the City than significantly delayed development. If markets do not exist for desired development types or densities, Irving might do well economically to facilitate building well for existing markets than to wait indefinitely for a market vision that is too narrow.