Saturday, September 25, 2021

Help Southlake By Providing Your Opinions on Development Projects

Residents have a vision for the community they live in. Together, the City of Southlake, residents and businesses can create the best possible Southlake.  

To do this, it requires the implementation of plans and processes that undergo rigorous examination. We need your help in reviewing potential development projects. 

The Southlake Program for the Involvement of Neighborhoods was created in 1993 as a forum of open communication, typically between Southlake residents and applicants with development proposals. Occasionally, the City of Southlake will bring proposals through SPIN, like when the City proposes improvements to a City facility or park. 

SPIN is a first step in the development process. Sometimes items presented during SPIN are still in the concept phase. Though it’s not a required step, City staff encourages developers to present their ideas during SPIN meetings. 

During SPIN meetings, votes are NOT taken. The discussion is purely a learning experience for everyone involved. 

When a developer comes up with a project idea, they are able to present it during a SPIN meeting with an approximate timeline to start the conversation with the community. In many cases, this happens before a developer submits any formal project plans to the City. 

In 2019 alone, there were 39 different ideas presented during SPIN meetings. Many concepts went on to receive final approval and some chose not to continue the development process. 

SPIN is an opportunity for developers and residents to exchange information. Developers gain an understanding for how residents feel about their project and residents can hear ideas and provide feedback early in the development process. 

With the assistance of residents, the City of Southlake can enhance the quality of life for the entire community and achieve the high standards we’ve set for ourselves. 

Interested in attending the next SPIN meeting? It’s scheduled for Tuesday, July 28, 2020 and will be held virtually. Click here to see what’s on the agenda and learn how to watch or participate.

For future meetings, subscribe to the SPIN calendar on the City’s website (“Notify Me”) to be notified when an agenda is posted. 

Watch for announcements on when SPIN meetings are held by following the City of Southlake Facebook pagechecking the calendar on the City of Southlake website or registering to receive SPIN notifications through Alert Southlake. 

Learn more about SPIN here. 

Planning Balances Safety and Simplicity with Virtual Inspections

In March 2020, life as a whole seemed to shut down. While some simply picked up their laptop and continued their jobs in yoga pants on their couch, others set to rethink their work in the age of mask wearing and social distancing.

Before City of Southlake employees transitioned to working from home, the building inspectors of the Planning and Development Services Department met virtually to come up with a plan to continue to provide building inspection services in a safe manner throughout the stay at home order.

“Our inspectors stepped up to the challenge and developed a plan to allow building inspections services to continue in a manner that was safe for the both customer and inspector, while still continuing to maintain our high standards of excellence,” Senior Director of Planning and Development Services Ken Baker said. “They proactively created and implemented a plan and worked together as a team to go above and beyond for our residents and businesses during a very challenging time. The building inspectors continued providing the inspection service uninterrupted throughout this very challenging time and I’m very proud to have each and every one of them as part of the Planning and Development Services team.”

So how did the City plan to continue inspections and maintain newly implemented social distancing guidelines?

“Inspections weren’t going to stop. We came up with solutions so that we could keep residents and ourselves safe and maintain our quality services,” Building Inspector Ernie Aguilar said. “Homeowners appreciated our efforts.”

A virtual process was created for certain types of inspections such as those for water heaters, roofs and HVAC systems. The virtual inspections process allows photos and videos to be submitted to the City in lieu of an inspector physically visiting a home or site to perform the inspection. This results in eliminating the social interaction between the customer and inspector. Other benefits of the virtual inspection is now the homeowner or contractor does not have to stay at home or on the site and wait to meet the inspector. This virtual process also allows the City to improve efficiency and save money by reducing travel time and cost.

The City also created safety protocols for on-site building inspections. This included making sure the building inspector was equipped and wore appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when conducting inspections and that all homeowners and contractors social distanced from the inspector while on site or in the home.

“Our residents and contractors have been very understanding and respectful of the safety and social distancing protocols we have put in place and for that we are very appreciative,” Baker said.

“Any time we had concerns, they were addressed. The City made sure we had the tools to get our jobs done,” Building Inspector Charlie Wright said. “We always had access to PPE and COVID-19 testing if we needed it.”

Access to masks and protective gear was imperative since inspectors would still be required to enter multiple homes and businesses per day for more complex inspections.

“Our supervisors made themselves available anytime we needed them. I felt like this was a team effort,” Aguilar said.

Through our City of Southlake values of Teamwork, Innovation and Commitment to Excellence, our building inspectors were able to achieve the high standards we set for ourselves as employees and meet the expectations of those who live, work and play in Southlake.

“I’ve only worked for the City of Southlake for four months, and it’s evident why there is very little turnover,” Wright said. “Southlake writes the manual every day for what working for a City should be.”

Learn more about the City of Southlake inspection process here.  

The City’s Online Permitting and Inspection System “EnerGov” is Getting an Upgrade!

On Thursday, June 25, the City of Southlake Planning and Development Services (PDS) Department will upgrade their online permitting and inspections system called EnerGov, which is specifically designed to automate and centrally connect critical processes, including permitting, planning, inspections, code enforcement, engineering and more. Currently, customers can apply for permits, pay fees and schedule inspections all online.

Click here to connect to the online portal.

The upgrade allows external users to access more information about their specific permits and plans and simplifies the application and registration process. In addition, the upgrade provides a ‘Forgot your Username?’ feature and fixes previous software bugs.

To ensure EnerGov continues to provide simple and streamlined processes for customers, the PDS Department plans to continue upgrading the software to enhance the eReview capability and to allow external users to apply for professional licenses online.

“The upgrade allows the customer to do more from home or the office related to permit and plan applications and eliminate the need for customers to come to Town Hall to conduct business,” Ken Baker, Director of Planning and Development said. “Optimizing this system is key to providing quality customer service by making the permit application process simple.”

The EnerGov system is scheduled to be offline from 12 p.m. – 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 25 to allow for the upgrade and post implementation testing.

Learn more about EnerGov here. For questions about EnerGov or how it functions, please contact the PDS – Building Inspections Division at 817-748-8236 or 817-748-8237.

Building in Southlake? Changes are coming.

The City of Southlake will host an informational meeting for builders, contractors and developers on March 31, 2016 at Southlake Town Hall from 7:45 am to 10:00 am providing an overview on upcoming changes to the City’s building and inspections permitting process as well as changes to the planning and development process.

Construction PhotoThe purpose of this meeting is to provide information on the following topics:

  • Review of the 2015 Building Codes update and adoption by the City of Southlake;
  • Revisions to the permit submittal and inspections application submittal process;
  • Revisions to the Site Plan, rezoning, and plat submittal process; and
  • Revisions to the storm water (SWPPP) submittal process.

Anyone who currently builds or develops in Southlake, or plans to do so in the future, is encouraged to attend the session.

Please RSVP for the meeting by contacting Building Inspections at (817) 748-8237. Visit the City’s Development Activity News Blog to view the meeting notice or learn more about current development projects in Southlake.

Meeting information:

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Southlake Town Hall – Third Floor Training Rooms

1400 Main Street, Southlake, TX 76092

7:45 – 8:30am – Overview of the Economic Development and Tourism Department (information and resources)

8:30 – 10:00am – Presentations over the 2015 Code updates and revisions to the submittal processes

Solana Gets $65 Million Makeover to Attract New Southlake Businesses

In an era of new, state-of-the-art buildings and corporate campuses in north DFW, it can be hard for a 30-year old office complex to compete. Such is the case with Solana, the landmark business park that once stood alone (and out) along State Highway 114. A much needed multimillion-dollar makeover is underway to renovate and re-position the property.

It is anticipated that these massive updates help the owner and the City of Southlake welcome new corporate neighbors to the 380,000 square foot, Class-A office at 1 Kirkwood Blvd.

When it opened in 1988, the colorful business park named Solana – which means “sunny place” in Spanish – quickly got attention of drivers along (then rural) SH 114. The 233-acre project, spanning the highway in the communities of Westlake and Southlake, became home to IBM (one of the developers of the project), a Marriott hotel and eventually Sabre Systems and others.

Unfortunately, IBM terminated its lease in 2003, the 2008 recession hit and Solana’s owner, Maquire Partners, defaulted on its loans in 2009. This finally led to foreclosure of the Solana buildings in 2010. The massive 380,000 square foot building in Southlake, now known as The Vista Building, sat vacant for years until New York-based Blackstone Group purchased the all of the Solana properties out of foreclosure in August 2014 for a reported $180 million.

Fortunately, the Southlake building and those across the highway in Southlake are getting extensive makeovers. In addition, Equity Office Partners, an affiliate of Blackstone, has been retained to tell the story to potential tenants about how the property has been resurrected as one of the finest Class-A office properties in the north DFW area.

Here are just a few of the dramatic changes that are returning Solana to a high profile business address:

  • Buildings repainted with a neutral color scheme
  • Buildings renamed to: The Vista at Solana (in Southlake), The Terrace at Solana (formerly Campus Circle), and The Plaza at Solana (formerly Village Circle)
  • Renovations at Southlake’s Vista Building include a new entrance, lobby, floors, ceilings lights, landscaping, signage, outdoor meeting areas and a new parking garage
  • 10,000 square foot daycare facility added
  • New logo and website unveiled: DiscoverSolana.com
  • Renovations completed to lobby at Solana Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
  • Renovations and new equipment for 38,000 square foot Larry North Fitness Club

“The intention is to keep the integrity of the original architecture, but implement physical updates so it is appealing to new corporate tenants,” explains Jeff Eckert, a managing director for JLL in Dallas, which is leasing Solana’s office space. “Parking is a top priority, which is why we’ve added a new garage,”

Today, the entirety of Solana boasts 1.9 million square feet and 14 buildings. According to Eckert, approximately 1.2 million square feet is currently leased at Solana. The Solana website lists an impressive list of current tenants, including Levi Strauss & Co., Wells Fargo, Phizer, and First American Corporation.

In addition to luring corporate tenants, new retail stores and restaurants are being recruited to Solana by CBRE/UCR.  A new Tex-Mex restaurant, MarCosina, will open in April.

For more information about Solana, visit www.DiscoverSolana.com or contact the City of Southlake Economic Development Department at 817-748-8039.

Sources: Blackstone Group, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Morning News, Dallas Business Journal, Jones Lang LaSalle, Equity Office Partners.

 

Track the Granite Office Project on Time-lapse Camera

Granite Properties, the developer of a 160,000 square-foot office building near Town Square, has been given permission from the adjacent Southlake Hilton to mount a time-lapse camera on the hotel to capture the progress of the construction project.

The web link (http://oxblue.com/open/ridgemont/graniteplace) provides up-to-date video images of construction at the site and will remain active until the building is complete. Ridgemont Commercial Construction is working with the OxBlue Corporation to manage the camera.

The construction site is just south of SH 114 (which is seen to the top right of the photo) and to the east of the Southlake DPS Headquarters. Southlake resident David Cunningham, who is also Director of Development and Construction of Granite Properties, said that the time lapse video will be an interesting way to track a year’s worth of hustle and bustle.

“A great deal of work will be taking place at the site,” Cunningham said. “This will be a fun way for residents to click the link to observe how a building is constructed over a whole year’s time.” Cunningham also said that individual photos of each day would be viewable by clicking on a specific calendar date.

Southlake Mayor Laura Hill said, “The Granite building is a tremendous project for the City. It really is beginning the transformation of the SH 114 corridor into an upscale office environment. The employees in this building will greatly support our Town Square retailers and restaurants on a daily basis.”

According to Southlake Economic Development and Tourism Director Shannon Hamons, the completed building is expected to bring several companies and more than 400 jobs to the community. He also stated that the traffic impact will be minimal since entry and exit from the garage will be from the adjacent service road and not through the Town Square area.

Granite’s Class-A office building and parking deck are expected to be completed in December 2016.

City Hosts Understanding Development Town Hall Forum

On September 29, 2015, The City’s Community Engagement Committee (CEC) hosted the Understanding Development Town Hall Forum.

The evening started with an open house which then lead into a panel discussion featuring Frank Bliss with Cooper and Stebbins,  Paul Spain with Terra Land Management, Ken Baker, Planning and Development Services Senior Director with the City of Southlake and Shannon Hamons, the City’s Economic Development Director.

The panel, moderated by CEC Chairman Craig Rothmeier, touched on a variety of development items including commercial and residential development and what it takes to build in Southlake. They then took questions from the audience.

If you missed the forum it is available below or on the City’s Video on Demand page.  If you have questions regarding development within the City please click here: http://bit.ly/1OVa1Xa.

Understanding Development – Join the City for a Southlake Town Hall Forum

The most visible impact to a community is the development that occurs within it. For Southlake residents it is evident that development is happening today. It can be troubling to think, how much development is too much? What are the rules that dictate how development occurs? Who is keeping track of all this development? How does development begin in Southlake?

The answers to all of these questions are an important part of the long-term sustainability of Southlake and the quality of life for the community. Because of this, a Town Hall Forum is scheduled to be held at Southlake Town Hall. Information will be provided on economic development, the planning (entitlement) process, Southlake 2030, regional growth outside of Southlake and community engagement. A panel discussion followed by time for questions and answers by local experts on these topics will be featured at the forum.

Tuesday, September, 29, 2015, 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM Southlake Town Hall, 1400 Main Street, Southlake, TX

If you are interested in anything in particular, questions can be submitted prior to or after the forum by clicking here. Please note that similar questions will be consolidated and answered as one and questions are categorized based on their subject.

 

 

Town and Country Items Tabled at February 3, 2015 City Council Meeting

The Southlake City Council voted to table the items 6G and 6H at the February 3, 2015 City Council meeting. The items tabled were ZA14-099 and ZA14-100 also known as Southlake Town and Country.

The action came after an application was submitted appealing three parts of the case to the City’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA)

The appeal asks if the proper version of the City’s tree preservation ordinance, (585-B) is applicable to this case; if the proposed uses with the application are consistent with C-3 zoning; and if the site plan conforms with the concept plan submitted for zoning.

City Attorney Allen Taylor explained the events which led up to the tabling and a possible time table for the ZBA to determine whether the appeal can be heard and proceed through the ZBA process.

Mr. Taylor’s explanation to the Council can be found in the video clip below. The staff reports for planning case number ZA14-099 and ZA14-100 (These are large files and may take a minute to load) can be found on the Development Activity News page.  For more information about development related ordinances please visit the City’s Planning and Zoning Ordinances webpage on CityofSouthlake.com.