It feels like forever ago that we began discussing Uplift Education's plans to open Laureate Preparatory in Deep Ellum, in the old Baylor offices on Elm Street; but, no, it was only a few weeks ago. And we found out about it, in part, because Uplift had filed with the Zoning Board of Adjustment documents requesting permission to shed 49 of the 229 off-street parking spaces the city requires for that site. As the school and its real-estate reps told the city, "Given the land use patterns, our location in proximity to a DART station and the abundance of free on-street parking during school hours, this request will not negatively affect neighboring property."
But at its meeting this afternoon the board denied that request without prejudice, meaning: Uplift can come back to the board of adjustment with another request in April, at the earliest. Messages have been left for the charter school's higher-ups, who will be at City Hall tomorrow for that bond briefing, but a PR rep for the school tells Unfair Park that a statement is forthcoming and that "Uplift has no plans to give up on the students who would attend the Deep Ellum school." They'll now have to submit an application redo.
And there's much work left to do.
Uplift is short the spaces it needs to open the school. And those opposed to Uplift's request, which is completely separate from that bar-and-property-line fuss, point to plans to two-way Elm Street -- a proposal that goes before the City Plan Commission on Thursday, matter of fact -- as one among many reasons they'd hoped the board would deny the request.
"They couldn't claim the 16 spaces on Indiana, because they aren't marked and the city could come in and put in no-parking zones -- and they aren't adjacent to the main use," says Audra Buckley, who reps, among others Club Dada, Elm Street Bar and the across-the-street Anvil Pub. "And Elm's going two ways. We just don't know where the queuing will go, where parents will park and pick up and drop off their kids. We've not seen anything along those lines. And when they first started talking about making Elm two ways, when Deep Ellum bar owners began talking about it, they said, beer and food trucks come between 2 and 5 p.m., which will block up Elm. The city came back and said, 'You can use July Alley for loading and unloading.' And we said, 'We need to see their circulation plan.'" Which nobody has yet seen.
Like I said: Calls are out following today's hour-long hearing. But we'll probably hear all about it tomorrow anyhow. One thing to keep in mind: Uplift's hoping to begin issuing bonds for its expansion into Deep Ellum and Fort Worth on April 29.
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