How To Develop

Interested developers are encouraged to contact the Trinity River Vision Authority to begin the development process. TRVA staff will provide you with the information you need to get your project on the ground (and by the water!).

Below is the Trinity River Vision Authority's development review process.

Projects Subject to Review

All private construction projects, with the exception of interior construction or exterior in-kind replacement work, are subject to review by the Trinity River Vision Authority Review Committee (which includes the Planning and Development Department) and/or the Urban Design Commission (UDC) for compliance with the Panther Island Standards and Guidelines. All buildings, streets, and public spaces by public entities are also subject to review. In accordance with their civic role, public buildings should reflect exceptional design quality.

Administrative Review vs. UDC Review

Projects that are supported by the Trinity River Vision Authority and are clearly consistent with all applicable development principles and clearly conform to all standards may be approved administratively by the Planning and Development Director or his/her designee without UDC review. The UDC shall review all other projects that require interpretation or discretionary judgment with respect to the project’s compliance with standards and guidelines.

Urban Design Commission

The UDC is a nine-member body appointed by the City Council and charged with the administration of urban design districts. The Zoning Ordinance specifies that UDC appointees should be knowledgeable about fundamental principles of urban design. Furthermore, at least six of the nine appointees shall be practicing professionals from the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design or planning, real estate, or law. The Planning and Development Director or his/her designee serves as staff advisor to the UDC.

Exceptional Design

The TRVA may recommend for UDC approval public buildings of exceptional designs that do not comply with certain standards or guidelines provided that the buildings conform to the Intent and General Development Principles. Parks, plazas, sidewalks, waterfront paths, and all other publicly accessible spaces should also reflect exceptional design quality and are subject to review for compliance with the Panther Island Development Standards and Guidelines.

Conceptual Phase Discussion

One of TRVA’s most important roles is to provide informal guidance to developers of significant projects during the conceptual design phase. These discussions take place during informal work sessions, and provide an opportunity for early TRVA and Planning and Development staff input that should facilitate timely design review and approval of the final design phase. All public and private developers of significant projects are encouraged to present their conceptual plans to TRVA for informal review.

Variances to Zoning Ordinance Property Development Standards

The UDC is authorized to approve appropriate exceptions to the vast majority of the Panther Island Standards and Guidelines. The UDC may allow additional flexibility for projects of exceptional civic or environmental design. Any waiver of basic property development standards related to building heights or setbacks, however, requires a variance approved by the Board of Adjustment.