Monday, December 28, 2009

The Fry Street Saga: Here We Go Again?

It's been a while since I blogged anything about Fry Street, because there hasn't been much to say; the out-of-town owners, United Equities, have been sitting on the project ever since their request for a drive-thru for the CVS drugstore that was to be bulit on the footprint of the Tomato at Hickory and Fry had been denied, and a lot of us were hoping that they would eventually sell to someone who would create a development that was more appropriate to its location across from campus (i.e. things very similar to the stuff that was torn down in the first place).

Well, we may have been half right, as it appears the property may be sold, or at least a development may be going up on the site. This time, somebody wants to build...wait for it...more student apartments:
The Dinerstein Companies of Houston and Winkelmann & Associates Inc. of Dallas filed a pre-application with Denton city officials on Monday to build 210 student apartments with 586 beds in a four-story complex split by a multistory parking garage. Attempts to contact spokesmen from both companies were unsuccessful.

Mike Cochran, a former City Council member who lives in the nearby Oak-Hickory Historic District, criticized the proposal. Cochran, a vocal opponent of the Fry Street Village project in 2007, said the new project would have the same disturbing result: increased traffic on roads already stressed beyond their capacity.

“The only way to get to it is through residential neighborhoods,” Cochran said.

Cochran also called the proposal a waste of prime commercial land.

“It just seems a shame to almost squander the commercial potential for that property with apartments when there’s so much other land around that would be excellent for students,” he said. “It is, of course, completely incompatible with the neighborhood as well.
Well said, Mr. Cochran. So maybe this isn't quite as bad as a generic chain drugstore, but it's still not the best use for the site. For one thing, there are already plenty of new, upscale student apartments near UNT (go a few blocks up Fry Street itself and you'll dead-end into some). Student apartments aren't special, and this corner is special, because of its heritage--a heritage that may have been sullied at times, but it's there nonetheless. Go to nearly any university and there'll be a little mini-downtown across the street, in buildings that are about 80 years old and filled with student-friendly businesses. That's the part that United Equities took away, and it's time to bring it back.

So why not split the difference here: Since New Urbanism is all the rage, how about a mixed-use development with businesses on the ground floor and apartments above it? Cochran is right--apartments would be a waste of prime commercial land, so that might as well be included in the plan. How about it, folks?

I'm sure there will be more on this in the weeks ahead; in the meantime, I'm going to go leave the previous paragraph in the comments to the DRC story.

Down on the Farm: Check out music from James Farm, Joshua Redman's new band. Very cool stuff. (And yes, there's a Denton angle to this, as Redman has played the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival in the past.)

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