Articles by

Amanda Popken

Amanda is a community strategist & economic development specialist focused on incremental urbanism: promoting, inspiring, teaching & engaging communities to grow their own social capital. She can be found at amandapopken.com

03/06/17 1:24pm
Under the Houston St Viaduct. Taken by Amanda Popken

Kayaking Under the Houston St Viaduct, 2013. (Photo: Amanda Popken)

This Wednesday you’re invited to join a discussion about the Trinity.
A river that has defined our city for over a century.
Yet its place in our lives still remains little more than afterthought.

Millions of taxpayer dollars funded a very extensive plan:
To build, beautify, and manage this park — has anyone actually read it?
Years have passed applying for approvals, securing bonds, political wars, a design contest, expert opinions and decades later we have:
A few more trails, fewer trees, stunning bridges, and a death-defying rapid.

(more…)

03/03/17 12:05pm
trees

The Oak Cliff Nature Preserve, one of the gems of living in Oak Cliff.          Canine Model: Big Turkey

Oak Cliff covers about one third of Dallas, with a lot of variety throughout. You’re probably familiar with the small craftsman homes around Bishop Arts, the historic homesteads of Winnetka Heights, and the eclectic estates of the Kessler neighborhoods. A little further west near Hampton and south of Jefferson you’ll find many neighborhoods like the North Cliff Conservation District: adorable homes with classic architectural details and three key amenities close by.

(more…)

02/07/17 2:13pm
Source: Google Map

Eagle Ford Elementary School.  Source: Google Maps

On Monday, preservationists launched the process of designating the Eagle Ford School building as a historic landmark. If you’ve driven down Chalk Hill Road just south of Interstate 30, you may have wondered about the rather small, oddly out-of-place concrete building, brightly colored with lavish details at the entry. Above the front entrance is inscribed “Eagle Ford District 49.”

The almost-forgotten Gothic revival building at 1601 Chalk Hill Road was at risk of being demolished. The road was recently closed due to construction, but neighborhood historic groups had been talking to the owner for years about plans for the building.

From 1916 through 1963, the school served the many immigrant families living in Cement City, Arcadia Park, and other nearby neighborhoods.

Bonnie Parker, of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde, is the most well-known attendant of the Eagle Ford elementary school — her report card was found in its basement.

(more…)

01/19/17 2:37pm
Bishop Arts 7th St House12

Source: Google Maps, Jan 2016

The landscape of  the Bishop Arts District is changing quickly — tiny historic Craftsman homes by the dozens are being razed for apartment complexes, half-million dollar condos, and five-story mixed-use developments going up. One developer, once demonized by the community for their rudimentary design out of the gate, just won major Brownie points with the help of Rogers Jr. House Moving.

(more…)

12/14/16 9:37am
Exxir - Bishop Arts - Interior

Rendering of interior plazas of the Bishop Arts Village project   (Source bishoparts.com)

Update 12/16/16 from yesterday’s Plan Commission meeting: after much conversation, commissioners voted to hold the motion until the January 19th meeting. Neighbors will be meeting with Rob Baldwin, the developer’s zoning rep after the New Year to clarify recent changes to the zoning amendment request.

Arts Village, LLC (aka Exxir Capital, aka the Nazarian family) will be going before the Dallas City Plan Commission Board this week to amend the zoning for Planned Development District No. 830, just south of the Bishop Arts District in North Oak Cliff.

Nazerian Subdistrict Map

In September, I reported on this zoning change request, and since then the developers have held at least one community meeting. Yet they failed to include two of the most important requests I heard at that meeting:

1) To word the 15,000-square-foot market use to prohibit one singular tenant, and …

2) To limit hotel and entertainment uses to the portion of the 11 acre site south of 9th Street, where these uses are currently planned to be built — away from the residential neighborhood north of 9th and surrounding the development site.

We must remember that in this PD, zoning change requests are not subject to a specific development plan. Once uses are allowed by right in an area, plans can change, even owners can change. And although the Nazerians have proven to have great ideas for this development, these changes effect the land use allowances for the indefinite future, regardless of who the owner is.

At Thursday’s meeting, their zoning request will include the changes listed below, to be applicable within this one new subdistrict which will cover the entire 11 acre site resting between Melba Street, Madison Street, 10th Street, and Bishop Ave.

(more…)

11/30/16 9:55am

Video courtesy of Uptown Dallas, Inc.

Something has to be done. Uptown is beginning to feel a bit like Greenville Ave. did a few years back. Remember? The late night crime and violence, residential streets overrun with youthful overindulgence, and uninvited visitors parking in front of residences … to put it nicely.  Uptown is on the cusp of being known as similarly problematic area — unless we can do something now to curb that trajectory. As Uptown Dallas, Inc. works diligently to attract more young families, improve the schools, and focus on great parks, the late night bar scene is (literally) spilling into the streets and driving a higher police presence.

Two potential solutions have surfaced and exploration began last night at a formal community input session hosted by the City of Dallas Department of Sustainable Development and Construction:

(more…)

10/31/16 5:19pm

ULIFall2016

The Urban Land Institute held its 2016 Fall Meeting in Dallas last week with a tizzy of tours, sessions, networking events, and dinners. In my experience, the biggest benefit of a conference is in the networking. But the content at this one also covered a large array of subjects, from community engagement to redeveloping skyscrapers, to global trends, to niche discussions like “To Sell or To Hold,” and “The Fundamentals of Attracting and Keeping Companies North Texas Style.”

Tuesday I led a tour of the seven new development projects going up in the Bishop Arts District for the Colorado ULI chapter through the North Central Texas Congress for New Urbanism (more on that to come!) Wednesday and Thursday I got to catch a few sessions.

Highlights from the sessions included:

  • new metrics to qualify which dense urban cities are the best investment opportunities
  • innovative ideas for community engagement (from Detroit, of course)
  • the argument for building wood frame apartments above concrete podium parking.

And one topic repeatedly came up in each session — whether in the presentation,  in conversations with attendees, or by Q&A with audiences — affordable housing.

(more…)

09/28/16 1:32pm
Alamo -Streetcar Plaza Rendering

Alamo Manhattan’s Bishop Arts Streetcar Stop

Yesterday’s meeting of the Oak Cliff Gateway Tax Incremental Finance District (TIF) Board included few action items. However, it included important updates on the three biggest development projects happening in the Bishop Arts District and a few Board’s discussions of upcoming items.

(more…)