Big development proposals create stir in Westlake

'European village' at Hwy. 114, subdivision drawing opposition

Plans for a new subdivision in Westlake and a $500 million development along Hwy. 114 that could include water taxis, town hall, an amphitheater, an assisted living center and more have residents flocking to meetings in an effort to stop them — or at least slow them down.

Vocal and sustained opposition from residents who said they chose the town of about 1,000 for its rural atmosphere and upscale homes dampened both proposals and prompted leaders to step back and look at Westlake's comprehensive plan.

One opponent, former Mayor Scott Bradley, said the town originally was planned to accommodate mostly large office campuses like Deloitte University and Solana, which are in the town now.

"If you can attract a corporate campus, they generally agree to buy a large tract and leave the perimeter undeveloped," said Bradley, who was mayor of the town for more than a decade. "It leaves the impression of a rural atmosphere."

Plans for the mixed-use development Vallecito, at FM 1938 and Solana Boulevard extending to Hwy. 114, surfaced in December along with a request to change zoning and add an $89 million housing development called Granada at FM 1938 and Dove Road. Both are from developer Mehrdad Moayedi of Centurion American, who has developed much of nearby Trophy Club.

Growth is coming

Situated as it is along Hwy. 114 between the DFW and Alliance airports, Westlake is going to have to deal with development one way or another, town officials said.

"There are two things you can say about change," Mayor Laura Wheat said at a Jan. 28 council meeting. "One, change is difficult and two, change is inevitable."

Besides Solana Corporate Campus and Deliotte, Fidelity Investments also has an office park in Westlake.

The community also is known for Vaquero, a guard-gated golf course community where luxurious homes rest on manicured, treed lots of well over an acre. The Jonas Brothers and several elite athletes live there.

Eddie Edwards, town planning and development director, said at a joint Town Council-Planning and Zoning commission workshop Feb. 4, that the property proposed for Granada could be used as a corporate campus under current zoning, but it also could be used for a shopping center with a grocery store and large retailers such as furniture stores.

Moayedi is asking to have the zoning changed to residential, so he can put in the 84-lot subdivision with lot sizes averaging 30,000 square feet. Home prices would be $1 million and over.

He has made many changes to the plans after meeting with residents and staff, including reducing the number of lots, agreeing to different roof levels and prohibiting the use of composition roofing material.

A major resident concern was whether a so-called production builder would be constructing the homes rather than a custom homebuilder. Moayedi told those at the Feb. 4 workshop that the new restrictions likely would rule out production builders.

The rezoning request likely will come to the Planning and Zoning Commission again later this month and, if approved, goes to the Town Council.

'European village'

A primary objection frequently voiced by residents about Vallecito was the plans included 137 upscale apartments. The apartments were eliminated by early February.

Neither Westlake nor nearby Southlake has apartments within city limits.

"What I've taken from all the meetings is that most of the residents of Westlake are OK with the concept; however, multifamily was a four-letter word," Moayedi said. "We've done away with rental product, period. We're trying to take the units from 559 to about 300-350 owned town home villas and condos."

Moayedi said he and developer Jeff Blackard are looking for ways to attract exclusive businesses, such as offering incentives to chefs or restaurateurs to be owners/operators of restaurants there. He said a similar strategy in Dallas drew 125 applicants including a sous chef from the Rosewood Mansion at Turtle Creek.

At the end of the Feb. 4 session after the Granada discussion, Blackard said he is willing to sit down with residents and town leaders with pencil and paper.

"I just saw what Mehrdad went through on something that's relatively simple," he said. "I wouldn't be interested unless everybody here is part of the process. This could be the greatest project in Texas, but I can't be fighting the world."

Blackard developed Adriatica, a similar project in McKinney. Council member Rick Rennhack said he drove through it and didn't like what he saw.

"You lose me on this village concept because it seems manufactured," Rennhack said. "All the great cities I've been to evolved over time."

Moayedi and Blackard plan to withdraw the proposal from Planning and Zoning and then resubmit it after conducting a design charrette. Everyone involved in a project, including residents, will study and discuss every aspect.