Condo Fire Rekindles Density Debate


DSC_9203As cleanup efforts continue at the site of a Northwest Highway condo fire that left one dead and approximately 100 displaced, attention is now focused on the future of the prime real estate.
The Preston Place Condominiums were nestled between two of the neighborhood’s tallest buildings. Owners have vowed to rebuild. What exactly they plan to construct remains a mystery.

In 1947, the Dallas City Council created a special district called PD-15 to regulate development in the 14.2-acre area bordered by Northwest highway, Pickwick Lane, and Baltimore Avenue. This area includes the 29-story Preston Tower Condominiums, the 22-story Athena Condominiums, and several smaller residential buildings.

The Preston Place condos were built in 1979 in a section designated as “tract 3” of the special district. Developers originally intended to make it a high-rise as well. Neighborhood opposition eventually convinced them to reduce the height to three stories.

Under the guidelines of PD-15, which was last updated in 1980, development density of the area is limited to “present-day density plus the density of a proposed tower on tract 3.” With property demand in the area near all-time highs, owners may be motivated to build something larger.

Any new construction would be subject to a public hearing and a traffic study. PD-15 also mandates a rate of 1.22 parking spaces per unit as well as additional parking options if the total number of units reaches 318.

“I don’t know what I want them to do with the place,” said Mable Davis, who lives about four blocks away from the towers. “The buildings may have looked a little dated, but I thought it added some charm and character to the neighborhood.”

Davis said she heard a commotion the night of the fire, but didn’t appreciate the sheer extent of the damage until the following morning.

“Lord have mercy,” she said. “I feel so bad for all of those people.”

Nearly 200 firefighters fought the seven-alarm blaze that started shortly before midnight March 3. Crews remained on the scene for nearly a week battling hot spots and occasional flare-ups.
Firefighters found a body early March 6, and the medical examiner later confirmed it to be the remains of Jacqueline McDonald, an 89-year-old resident who was reported missing after the fire started, according Dallas Fire-Rescue.

Due to fire-code regulations at the time it was constructed, the building was not equipped with a modern sprinkler system.

“The cause of the fire is still undetermined, and will most likely stay as such due to the limited access investigators will have as a result of the extensive damage left behind,” Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesperson Jason Evans said.

Included in the damage are a number of cars in a garage under the building. Water used to fight the fire flooded much of that area. The instability of the building may prevent many if not most of them from being salvaged.

American Red Cross of North Texas spokesperson Taelor Duckworth said the fire was the biggest incident she has worked during her time with the organization.

When she first arrived on the scene, there were only around 20 people standing on the curb as firefighters worked to control the blaze. One hour later, fire consumed all of the units.
While some Preston Place residents were families with small children, many were elderly. Consequently, some of the biggest initial needs on the scene were for medications, glasses, and mobility devices and wheelchairs and walkers.

“Luckily most of them had family or friends in the area so there was no need to open a shelter.” Duckworth said.

Dallas ISD Announces New Chief of Transformation and Innovation


Billy Snow

The Dallas Independent School District named Louisiana educator Billy Snow its new chief of transformation and innovation. He will replace Mike Koprowski, who left the district in February.

A veteran of 21 years in public education, Snow most recently served as the transformation and innovation officer for Caddo Parish Public Schools in Shreveport, LA. He also has central Texas roots and has served in Mansfield, Corsicana, and Mesquite ISDs as area superintendent, principal, assistant principal and teacher.

Snow has received a number of accolades. His accomplishments include being named the Texas Elementary Principal of the Year in 2008 and National Distinguished Principal Finalist from Texas in 2011. His work with Title One schools earned him recognition by the University of Texas Center for Student Success.

Dallas ISD Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa said he welcomes Snow’s broad base of expertise in transforming campus academic climate and culture.

“Mr. Snow’s extensive background in public education and his work in school transformation and innovation will prove valuable to our district as we expand our offerings and provide our students and parents with more choices,” Hinojosa said. “We look forward to adding his significant depth of experience to our leadership team.”

Snow holds a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Texas A&M University-Commerce and a Bachelor of Science degree from East Texas State University. He is currently working on his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Tarleton State University.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the students, staff and community of Dallas ISD,” Snow said. “I look forward to continuing the work of providing our students and parents with more public school choice through the transformation and innovation of our campuses.”

Soccer Playoffs Kick Off This Week

The W.T. White girls will meet state power Sachse in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Region II playoffs.

The W.T. White girls will meet state power Sachse in the bi-district round of the Class 6A Region II playoffs.

After earning a share of its eighth UIL district title during the regular season, Jesuit will begin its playoff run this week.

The Rangers (15-3-1), who tied with Coppell for the District 9-6A crown, will play a Region II bi-district game against Rowlett at 6 p.m. Thursday at Homer B. Johnson Stadium in Garland.

On the girls side, W.T. White will make its second straight playoff appearance, and will face perennial power Sachse in the Class 6A Region II bi-district round at 6 p.m. Friday, also in Garland. The Longhorns were fourth in the 9-6A standings during the regular season.

In Class 5A, the Hillcrest boys and girls will each open postseason play against Sunset as part of a Region II bi-district doubleheader on Friday at Sprague Stadium. The girls will kick off at 6 p.m., followed by the boys at 7:30 p.m.

Bob Stone joins Veritex Community Bank


Texas banking veteran and real estate executive Bob Stone has joined Veritex Community Bank as Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Commercial Real Estate Lending.

Stone has over 35 years of banking and real estate experience. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma, and began his banking career at First Republic Bank in Dallas.  

Police Reports: March 13-19



At 1:43 p.m. March 18, someone threw unknown liquid on a vehicle in the 5100 block of Forest Lane.


13 Monday
At 6:25 p.m. March 13, someone cut a security cable and took clothing from Neiman Marcus at NorthPark Center.

14 Tuesday
At 3 p.m. March 14, someone stole clothing from the Gap at NorthPark Center.

15 Wednesday
Between 2 and 3 a.m. March 15, a robber took property from a man at a store in the 6000 block of Berkshire Lane.

Between 8:35 and 8:40 a.m. March 15, someone removed property from an unlocked vehicle parked at the Preston-Royal Office Park.

Police Reports: March 6-12



At 10 a.m. March 6, someone stole cable boxes from The Renaissance At Preston Hollow apartment complex at 8600 Thackery St.


Between 9 and 11:15 p.m. March 6, someone broke a window to get into a vehicle parked outside the Neighborhood Services restaurant at 5027 W Lovers Lane and removed property.

Between 8 a.m. March 6 and 10:30 a.m. March 7, a burglar broke the glass of a sliding door, entered vacant house in the 6000 block of Burgundy Road and removed property.