All posts by Jack Fiedler

Projects in the News: Jefferson Woodlands

New year, new developments! Masterplan has been assisting Irving-based JPI with approvals for a major apartment project in Garland near the Telecom Corridor.

The property will have 364 units ranging from 600 – 1,600 square feet. Situated near Spring Creek Forest Preserve, the apartments will overlook a small lake. The opportunity for outdoor activities is expected to be a highly appealing feature for prospective renters, with the community highlighting “‘the convenience of a beautiful home that is equally close to work as it is to nature.'”

Located near Firewheel Town Center and the CityLine development, the new apartments have won strong support from the city. As Garland City Council member Scott LeMay said, “‘Jefferson Woodlands will embody the best that Garland has to offer: sustainability, nature and commerce with a hometown feel.'”

Construction is underway, and the project is set to open in Spring 2019.

SOURCE: Dallas Morning News.

A Celebration of Life: Ed Simons

Masterplan recently held a Celebration of Life for our much-loved colleague, Ed Simons, who passed away on November 18.


Around a hundred people gathered at Katy Trail Ice House to talk about Ed, share favorite stories, and come together to honor his life.

On both a professional and a personal level, Ed was a wonderful part of the Masterplan family. We are all so thankful to have known him, and he is greatly missed every day.

Remembering Ed Simons

Statement from Dallas Cothrum, Masterplan CEO:

Ed Simons
Ed Simons

Masterplan lost one its finest colleagues on Saturday, November 18, following a fall in his home. Ed brought a special vitality to the office every day.  His endless good cheer for his colleagues and clients will be missed.

The Dallas native was a graduate of Lake Highlands High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Southern Methodist University.

Ed worked for the City of Dallas in a number of positions in Building Inspection before joining Masterplan.  Ed had a total mastery of the Development Code and used it to zealously represent his clients.  Clients and colleagues delighted in spending time with Ed.  He could (and often did) discuss building code requirements and Marcel Proust in the same conversation.  His quirkiness and true caring for others cannot be replaced.

Please join me and all his colleagues by adopting his trademark optimism about life.  We plan to permanently adopt what he told us every day before he would leave:  “Tomorrow’s going to be great.”

Case Spotlights: Recent Masterplan Wins

Toll Brothers 
With Masterplan representing their interests, the developer obtained approval at City Council to build a better high-rise at Welborn/Oak Lawn than what was originally allowed by right. The objective of the case was to grant a better setback for neighbors, improve traffic control, and overall to create a plan that best fit the Oak Lawn neighborhood. Improvements for the client included the addition of amenities such as inside parking and Uber parking, as well as the ability to offer larger unit sizes. For more than two years, Masterplan helped the client work through conflicts with the neighbors of the property, finally achieving a mutually agreeable resolution that allowed them to move forward.

Case won by Dallas Cothrum & Beth D’Arcy.

United Tow 
Thanks to our consultants’ efforts, the company was granted a Specific Use Permit (SUP) for two years for a large towing station in the South Dallas area.

Case won by Dallas Cothrum & Beth D’Arcy.

Richard Florida – The New Urban Crisis

Fifteen years ago, urbanist Richard Florida published The Rise of the Creative Class. Much to his surprise, it became a bestseller. But it was also heavily criticized by academics and professionals from a number of disciplines. Florida has now published The New Urban Crisis, which to an extent belongs in that rarest of genres, the mea culpa. After this many years, he is now willing to formally address his critics, and to demonstrate how his thinking has continued to evolve. It’s a surprising turn for this polarizing figure, but at his recent book launch at the London School of Economics, he deftly explained his choices.

Florida began by launching into an incredibly cohesive personal mythology, emphasizing his personal connection to his field and the fact that he only wrote Rise after around 20 years of study. He stated that the first book was an attempt to create a new empirical assessment of class structure, and said he still considers himself part of the neo-Marxist movement that conceives of mental labor as the means of production. He initially intended to focus solely on the 3 Ts: technology, talent, and trade, but once he began investigating quality of place, the concept of the “creative class” was born (interestingly, he emphasized several times that his editor came up with that now-famous term, and that he has little attachment to the label).


Florida then began to discuss the extent to which he underestimated the scale of the urban revival that began around 2000. He also pointed to the election of Rob Ford as the mayor of Toronto (where he lives) as a wake up call, a sign of a backlash against tolerant, creative communities that he didn’t anticipate. In searching for an explanation for this political phenomenon, he calculated the amount each class (knowledge workers, blue collar workers, service workers) had leftover after paying for housing, and discovered that the service class was really suffering. This research insight prompted the new book.

Florida stated that he tries to marry Marx/Schumpeter to Jane Jacobs, in a framework where the city is the platform for new capitalism. He noted that the clustering effect in cities discussed in Rise also causes the deep inequalities that result in backlash. Winner-take-all urbanism, in which super cities control a disproportionate share of the 3 Ts, creates a highly problematic divide. Spatial inequality entrenches financial inequality, leading to the concept that the new urban crisis is a crisis of success. The reality he failed to notice in his first book is that the very things that increase economic dynamism also result in the decline of the middle class, and place limits on upward mobility. In a number of cities, there are now higher levels of poverty in the suburbs than inner cities, although more broadly, there are always concentrations of poverty, just not in the same place in every city.

Richard Florida & Ricky Burdett at LSE.

He chose to close by talking through some of his thoughts on solutions. One key point was that cities must convince anchor institutions (universities, hospitals, major corporations) to buy in on a local level. Ultimately, Florida stated that he now sees the nation-state itself as the problem because of how much authority is invested in a central figure. He also emphasized that cities ought to be experimenting with many different solutions to  housing issues, with transit and job upgrading integrated as part of the strategy. He believes advances in transportation are going to increase clustering, and that the concentration of wealth and space is going to get worse. Florida then tried to end on a positive, admonishing the audience to look for ways to merge growth and equity, and work toward inclusive prosperity.

Overall, the evening produced an very interesting conversation. Dallas, too, is affected by many of the issues Florida’s work touches on, so the new book is highly recommended. On a final note, when asked about the Amazon HQ2 competition (a recent hot topic across the metroplex), Florida had nothing but disdain for the process and anger over the way it pits cities against each other. These days, he’s much more focused on unifying communities, and perhaps we should be too.