Work begins on biggest project yet in Oak Lawn

Posted on 06 Dec 2007 at 11:01pm
By John Wright Staff Writer

Oak Park to include more than 800 housing units



The Hidden Door, a 28-year-old gay bar, can be seen behind construction equipment Monday, Dec. 3, at the site of Oak Park, the biggest redevelopment project yet in Oak Lawn. The owner of the Hidden Door , Tony Bobrow, said he refused an offer to sell his land for the project. The developer owns property on both sides of the bar. (John Wright/DV)

Construction is under way on Oak Lawn’s biggest redevelopment project yet.

The project, called Oak Park, will occupy roughly seven city blocks and include more than 800 housing units northeast of Lemmon Avenue near the Dallas North Tollway, according to John Allums with developer Inland American Communities.

Crews recently began work on the first phase of the project, which covers the two blocks between Lemmon and Holland avenues, and Mahanna and Wheeler streets, Allums said. The first phase 378 housing units and 18,500 square feet of ground-floor retail will take about 18 months to complete.

All told, Oak Park will include 650 apartment units and as many as 190 for-sale townhomes to be built over the next five years, Allums said. Buildings will taper in height from five stories along Lemmon Avenue to three stories on the back side of the project.

“It’s a good neighborhood plan that will fit with the Oak Lawn area,” Allums said. “It’s going to be a walkable neighborhood with open spaces spread throughout.”

Allums said Inland American has taken over the project from longtime Dallas developer FirstWorthing, which began assembling property for Oak Park in 2005.

Since then, the aging retail and apartment structures that previously occupied the land have been demolished.

Michael Milliken, president of the Oak Lawn Committee, said his group has endorsed the Oak Park project. OLC is a volunteer organization that addresses quality of life issues in the city of Dallas’15-square-mile Oak Lawn Special Purpose District.

“We look forward to the improvements,” Milliken said. “It brings better-quality housing to the area. What was there was rather antiquated and in some cases not-well-kept older apartment buildings.”

Oak Park will be the biggest of the many redevelopment projects throughout Oak Lawn in recent years.

Milliken said while some have lamented the resulting decline in affordable housing, the committee is powerless to stop projects from going forward if they are approved by the city.

“Unfortunately, it’s because the land on which they sit is so desirable because of its location,” Milliken said. “The best we can hope for is to work with the developer to try to get the best possible project built.”

One fixture that will survive the Oak Park project at least for now is the Hidden Door, a 28-year-old gay bar at 5025 Bowser Ave.

Inland American owns land on two sides of the Hidden Door, but bar owner Tony Bobrow said he turned down the company’s offer for his property.

The Hidden Door will celebrate its 28th anniversary Dec. 13.
“Our business is still good here,” Bobrow said. “We’re cranking like crazy, and I don’t want to give it up.”

E-mail wright@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 7, 2007

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