Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
Las Colinas residents will see more restaurants and development as the City starts work on a $125 million project near the City’s Mustangs of Las Colinas sculpture.
“Construction at Lake Carolyn is expected to start in the spring,” said Katie Slate, development director for Gables Residential, the project’s developer.
The Irving City Council voted unanimously last week for the Water Street project’s site plan.
The plan’s first phase over the site’s 14 acre area includes three 5-story apartment buildings, shops and about four restaurants. Another acre will be dedicated as an open space area.
Some of the restaurants will also include waterfront dining, and the second phase of the project includes opening at least two more restaurants.
“We have needed more restaurants and retail,” councilmember Rose Cannaday said. “I’ve heard that many times over from our citizens. Everyone I talk to asks me about this project. They’re ready for it. The quality of it is very high and it really enhances that whole area, and it’s going to increase our tax base.”
The proposed Water Street development is scheduled to begin in early 2013. New development will cater to Irving residents, visitors and the Las Colinas Urban Center’s large daytime population of office workers.
"We have been talking about developing this property for years, and the project that Gables brought forward provides retail and restaurants that offer beautiful water views," said Mayor Beth Van Duyne. "It was rewarding to work with a developer who brought financing capacity to the table and can deliver on it. As a team, with city staff, Las Colinas Association and Gables working together, we think we hit this one out of the park and can't wait for this project to break ground."
Previously, the City considered developing the area to include a boutique hotel, movie theater and office space. Unfortunately, a tough economy stalled the project.
The new plans call for a large surface parking lot with extensive landscaping at the intersection of North O’Connor Road and E. Las Colinas Boulevard.
“Later, the lot could be redeveloped to include a garage for parking,” Slate said.
The project will be privately financed, according to Van Duyne.
“I want to make sure people understand what we’re doing,” she said, addressing the developer. “You’re opening up restaurants. You guys are bringing in an experience, what we’ve asked for, and you’re bringing the financing.
“You’re bringing us exactly what we want, what the citizens and residents want.”
Residents have complained about the area’s lack of entertainment.
“We’ve heard from many residents who have expressed a desire for new dining options in Irving, and we anticipate the new waterside amenities planned for Water Street will impress residents and visitors alike,” said City Manager Tommy Gonzalez. “The Water Street project is proof that that the investments we’re making at the Lake Carolyn Promenade and all across the Irving community will allow us to better market our city, attract private developers, and provide more local attractions.”
The City has already spent about $37 million developing a Las Colinas entertainment center, but that project shut down when the City failed to approve a development agreement and the development partner of the center
Some information provided by the City of Irving