1) What is this proposed zoning change about?
- Potential changes to the Winnetka Heights Ordinance allowing commercial use on a specific property.
2) Why is it important?
- Since the Winnetka Heights Ordinance was enacted in 1975, no residential property has been rezoned for commercial use.
- If approved by the Dallas City Council, an amendment to the Winnetka Heights Ordinance could cause other owners to seek additional amendments for different properties in the historic district.
3) What do you ask of me?
- Please take the time to read this detailed information, and then let us hear your voice on the proposed changes.
As many of you may know, the structure once used as the Winnetka Congregational Church at 410 S. Windomere (Windomere and Twelfth) was sold last year to an entity known as Nostalgic Habitats, LLC. At the time, the new owners announced plans to convert the structure for use as an instructional arts studio, with a focus on providing arts programs for children.
When the new owners bought the property, they were aware that the property was zoned only for residential or church use. In order for the owners to operate the facility as proposed, the City of Dallas will have to change the zoning to allow for commercial use. Earlier this year, the owners submitted an application to change the zoning with City of Dallas Department of Sustainable Development and Construction (Zoning Case Z156-219). The application is pending. We do not yet know when the case will be heard by the City Plan Commission or the City Council. Please visit the City Plan Commission website for more information. If possible, we will send another email when we know the firm dates for the hearings.
Download the application (pdf)
The zoning change application will require that the PD 87 (often referred to as “The Winnetka Heights Ordinance”) be amended. The Winnetka Heights Ordinance is the ordinance enacted by the City of Dallas in in 1975 to clarify the allowable land uses and to change the residential zoning in Winnetka Heights from multifamily to single family, grandfathering in the existing duplex and multifamily structures and certain commercial buildings. Six years later the historic overlay was added to preserve and protect the architectural integrity of our neighborhood. The ordinance and the overlay address both the look of the structures in the historic district and the use of the structures. The applicants are working through the Landmark Commission process to make improvements to the exterior of the building. The zoning application addresses the use of the property.
The amendment to the Winnetka Heights Ordinance would be permanent, even if the proposed business is not sustainable or if the property is sold. The change could only be reversed by another amendment to the ordinance.
The applicants are seeking to permit the conversion of the church building to a newly defined “Professional Arts Instruction Studio”. The new use will permit the adaptive reuse of the historic church building for instructional arts uses, visual arts display, community meeting space and private event space for weddings, birthdays and similar celebrations on a limited basis. In addition, the applicants seek to use the structure for theatrical and other performances, children’s after-school programs and a community garden. These additional uses would be subject to a Specific Use Permit, which means that after some period of time (currently undetermined), the city would review how those uses affected the neighborhood, and if the use did not meet the stated objectives or interfered with the quality of life in the neighborhood (all such standards are currently undefined), the permit for those uses could be withdrawn.
The applicants intend to operate the facility on a for-profit basis. Its hours would be Monday-Wednesday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Thursday-Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Sunday by special arrangements but no earlier than 9:00 a.m. or later than 5:00 p.m. The operating hours do not include setup and take-down time and could be extended by exception on two occurrences of two consecutive nights per calendar month (i.e. twice per month, the hours could be extended). Outdoor amplified music will not be permitted and the applicants would have to take reasonable steps to minimize the impact of pick-up and drop-off traffic of the after school and summer camp programs.
The full details of the use are in the application, which we encourage you to review.
Neighbors have commented on the application as follows:
- The adaptive reuse of the church building would help preserve an important historic structure in our neighborhood, such preservation being an important mission of the neighborhood.
- The availability of community-oriented arts instructional studio within walking distance would also be a benefit for many of our families.
- The facility would be used for community events and provide space for community arts organizations.
However, neighbors have also voiced the following concerns:
- Winnetka Heights is a successful residential neighborhood. There is no pressing need to begin allowing the rezoning of our properties from residential to commercial.
- The benefits of preserving the history of a neighborhood are generational in scope. We, therefore, should be patient and encourage the adaption of the space within the allowed zoning.
- It is currently understood that the facility will only have 20 parking spaces. The applicants intend to work with DISD to use the parking lot at Greiner for overflow parking, but that use would be under an informal arrangement, with no guaranty that the school spaces would be available. The applicants have stated that the main room in the facility will hold at least 150 guests. The effect on parking on Windomere and Edgefield will be significant.
- There are already considerable traffic concerns on Edgefield, Windomere and Twelfth. This facility may make things worse.
- Large performances or events will create noise and activity on an otherwise quiet residential street.
Request for Input
The WHNA has not yet taken a position on this matter. This is why we want to hear from you. The application has been reviewed and discussed by the WHNA Board of Directors at several of its meetings this year, including a meeting with the applicants in February. The application was also discussed at the WHNA General Membership Meeting in March.
Winnetka Heights residents who desire to have their voices heard on this matter are encouraged to
- Attend the City Plan Commission meeting;
- Send comments to the WHNA c/o firstname.lastname@example.org. (include your name and contact information so that we may discuss the matter with you if necessary)
- Discuss the matter with any WHNA Board member. View the list of board members and their contact information here.
The WHNA Board of Directors will review all of the comments, along with the feedback it has already received from neighbors, prior to taking any formal position on this matter.
We look forward to hearing from you.
The WHNA Board of Directors.