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

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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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08/18/16 4:14pm
Bishop-High-Line-website

Preliminary design for 70 apartments on the 400 block of Melba St., looking east from Adams St.

As soon as the rain lets up, demolition will begin on the four homes where 70 apartments will be under construction in November. Urban Genesis spoke with the Bishop Arts Neighborhood Association Tuesday night about the Bishop High Line project and the other 50 apartments they have planned just a block away. The projects are planned along Melba Street between Madison St. and Adams St. The site on the 300 block of Melba St., near Madison St., has been cleared. (Full disclosure: my sister owns the two-story brick home on the corner between their property and Madison.)

The building will extend west to the Nazarian family’s corner properties at Bishop Ave. Further west, their properties on the 400 block of Melba St. will form the corner at Adams St., as above. The two projects will be designed similarly, with minor differences.

Urban Genesis - 400 block rendering view

The 400 block of Melba, today. From the same corner perspective as the rendering. Though I don’t see the two enormous oaks in the right-of-way here in the rendering.

Urban Genesis is a merchant builder, planning to keep their investment for between 5 and 20 years, so they’re invested in spending more on characteristics that will pay out over the long term, such as conditioned interior halls and elevators. Also, the secured parking behind will have eight-foot, board-on-board fence along the back, with open gates on the side. “It’s not going to be ugly,” says Matt Shafiezadeh, one of the developers with Urban Genesis.

But judging by the recent state of neglect of the properties and a few serious issues of neglect with the homes on the 300 block before they were torn down, neighbors aren’t convinced their word is as solid as Urban Genesis developers would like.

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08/03/16 10:07am

Panel 8.1.16

[Editor’s Note: We’re hosting a robust conversation about the future of Fair Park here on CandysDirt.com ahead of the 8:30 a.m., Aug. 4 City of Dallas Park Board meeting that could help decide the iconic landmark’s fate.]

UPDATE: We have the entire agenda, including the unabridged version of the Walt Humann proposal for managing Fair Park, embedded at the end of this piece.

If you care about the fate of Fair Park, you may want to show up to the Park Board meeting this Thursday. Or at least read the 20-year, $12 million management contract that the Park Board will be voting on.

Park Board Agenda

Monday night’s panel discussion on Fair Park and the potential Park Board vote on Walt Humann’s management contract filled the Hall of State (around 300 attendees.) Despite Mayor Mike Rawlings’ last-minute press conference Monday afternoon to “make sure everybody knows the exact truth of what’s happened,” that everyone’s behind this approach (a private firm managing Fair Park), that the Park Board has been talking to Walt for two years, and “now it’s time to vote.” It was all too dismissive of the community meeting scheduled for later in the day.

The community meeting was organized in less than 1 week, in response to the July 21st Park Board special work session meeting where board members walked out (see about minute 31 of the meeting) in objection to the truncated meeting agenda which limited a thorough discussion on the proposed management contract.  They are expected to vote on the management contract at the upcoming meeting at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, which would then set it up for a city council vote. To enact the management contract for the next fiscal year, the agreement would need to be passed through council before next year’s budget is approved in September. These boards meet once a month, and the council meets twice a month with time required to put items on the agendas … you see the rush.

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08/02/16 12:01pm
Vision - Ground Level & Overall Site Plan-2

Site Plan (top is West), courtesy of Crescent Communities

Crescent Communities released more details about its project planned at Zang and Davis near the Bishop Arts District. The residential components offer a variety of types and sizes to appeal to a range of budgets and lifestyles.

Most controversially, the second phase North Site plan includes a set of 30-38 brownstones with single units — each three to three-and-a-half stories high, made of high quality materials, and with walk-out roof terraces. The Towns on Zang product would likely be a great addition to the neighborhood if the front entrance stoops weren’t so devoid of character, but the question is whether Crescent would develop the property themselves, or sell to another developer. Their portfolio doesn’t include multi-level brownstones currently, and according to neighborhood watchdog Councilman Scott Griggs, their plan is to change the overlay to allow residential, then sell.

The current zoning overlay requires one-story retail frontage all along Zang Blvd. Removing the requirement for retail frontage would allow even dingy apartments to be built. Griggs insists upon including stipulations for street-access units if/when changing the zoning overlay. If this is the plan, let’s just make it part of the plans! But Crescent seems unwilling to make that concession. All we have is their word — and better pictures promised in a few months.

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07/18/16 5:19pm

Crescent-placeholder rendering

Just as our trolley track construction wraps up and the Bishop Arts stop comes online, expect the building construction to begin.

Developer Alamo Manhattan has made headlines with their infamous Bishop Arts project, hopefully designed a bit better now than at first. Their Phase 1 plans would create a five-story full city block with residential above ground-floor retail right at the newly minted trolley stop along Zang, at two corners of the Zang-Davis intersection.

Details are now coming together on the Crescent Communities development at the third northeast corner of Zang-Davis, scheduled for construction to begin December 2016 with a 22-month buildout.

Currently a Dallas County Schools property, the Crescent project would span two blocks east across Beckley Ave to Crawford St, and north just past Neely St. It could be another massive block of a project, but it appears the folks at Crescent understand “good” walkable design and what makes a place work for people. One example, since they own both sides of Beckley, is their focus on making the street feel like a real Avenue — emphasizing the importance of the way the buildings relate to the pedestrian realm along the street.

Site map

Phase 1 in red and just north of Neely. Phase 2 between Beckley Ave and Crawford St.

All that’s been made public is the site plan below, but an off-the-record conversation with the Crescent’s regional director and a handful of North Oak Cliff neighbors revealed a masterplan with an attention to detail. Oh, and the President & CEO, Todd Mansfield was Executive VP of Disney real estate worldwide. If Disney can be lauded for doing something right, it’s creating a pedestrian environment that, though fake, scores high on the principals of great walkable commercial environments. He “gets it,” and the company has a decent track record. And they quote Jane Jacobs, the mother of great urbanism.

 

Z156-222 DEV2-small

 

The site plan here is a bit different from the placeholder project image on their website — the project’s clearly still in development.

But it’s about ready for Prime Time, and I think we’re going to like what we see. They’ve enlisted design firm Lake-Flato, and you can see a few architectural elements in the site plan — a “flatiron” building corner comes to Zang and Davis where a  3,800-square-foot “gateway” plaza leads you from historic Bishop Arts and the trolley stop into a larger plaza between the fivee-story building along Davis and the five- and six-story building behind it.

First life. Then places. Then buildings.  – Jane Jacobs

At some point a developer’s vision is in the hands of its tenants — the goal is to flank the larger plaza with restaurants and great patios spilling into the plaza. They’re still on the hunt for the right tenant mix. More details coming soon, but I’ll leave you with: makers space (and other unique retail uses), boutique retail spaces, walk-up brownstone condos (as well as an emphasis on more affordable rental units), boutique hotel (inspired by the lobby of the renowned historic Ace Hotel in Portland), brewery, and grocer. Fingers crossed! It’s an ambitious vision.

Ace Hotel in Portland. By Kari Sullivan via Wiki Media

The historic Ace Hotel in Portland. By Kari Sullivan via Wiki Media