Property owners using the university’s name to develop a building aimed for student housing could cause some confusion among the neighborhoods surrounding campus, a university official said.
Don Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs, said the university notified the city and neighborhood through an e-mail to let them know that the property owners, TCU Development Partners LLC, is not connected with the university.
“We don’t want people to use our name when it causes confusion,” Mills said. “And since it’s a housing project it could cause some confusion.”
The university has no plans to pursue legal action against the property owners, Mills said.
Todd Miller, chairman of the Bluebonnet Place Neighborhood Association who is in opposition to the development, said the company’s use of the TCU name is misleading because it has no affiliation with university.
“They’re using that wording as trickery, in my opinion, to make it feel like university development, even though it’s not a part of the school,” Miller said.
According to a city document, the property owners are in the process of designing a mixed-use building, including retail and student housing, slated to go on the southeast corner of Devitt Street and University Drive in the Bluebonnet Place neighborhood south of campus.
A representative of the TCU Development Partners LLC said in a phone interview that the plans for the building were speculative and that there was nothing to report. Several attempts to contact the property owners regarding the use of the university’s name were unsuccessful.
Mills said a large mixed-use building on a small piece of property would ultimately be a problem and would diminish the value of the neighborhood.
“I don’t think it really is a good fit for the neighborhood or for University Drive,” Mills said.
Sandra Dennehy, president of the Berry Street Initiative, a community organization representing several neighborhoods within the immediate area with an interest in revitalizing Berry Street, said the issue is that the building is said to be five stories tall and will back up directly to single-family housing.
“(Residents) don’t want a five-story building looming over their backyard(s),” Dennehy said.
Instead of pushing the higher density residential developments into single family neighborhoods, the Berry Street Initiative would like those developments to be built on Berry Street, Dennehy said.
Miller said the neighborhood is concerned about high density living and fears that the building will be detrimental to property values.
However, the building is approved by the city as long as it fits within the mixed-use zoning of the land, Miller said.
“So it can be as ugly as they want it to be, or as beautiful as they want it to be,” Miller said.
Dennehy said in order for the development to be approved, it must be mixed-use, meaning 10 percent of the development must be either retail or office space.
Miller said the property owners have not made any contact with the neighborhood association regarding the plans of the building.
“We feel that they’re very unprofessional and very unneighborly,” Miller said. “But nobody in the world says that you have to build neighborly.”
Mills said the development process works a lot better when the property owners make contact with the neighborhood associations about their plans.
Miller said the property owners say that they currently do not have any plans finalized, “which I think is a little bit absurd if you’re this far into the process and you bought that land,” Miller said.
According to a city document, the property owners filed an application on Aug. 4 for a variance request for an additional four feet of land because the loss of building area created functional and financial challenges to develop the property into a mixed-use project. The city document states that the request was approved on Sept. 3.
In the city document the property owners reported that the status of the project is existing and that they are currently in the process of designing a mixed-use building, which would include retail and student housing.