Adam and Alicia Rico are trendsetters of sorts, and quick to spot an opportunity when it comes to expanding their business reach.
The Brooklyn couple relocated to Dallas and opened a floral shop, Bows and Arrows Flowers, on Lower Greenville in 2009. Their gorgeous bouquets and arrangements quickly became one of the must-have wedding details for many Dallas brides.
They moved their shop to Bryan Street in old East Dallas in 2011. Last July, the pair spotted a dilapidated mansion in the neighborhood that, to their eye, would make a perfect wedding chapel once renovated, replete with the kind of stylish, high-end details they already offer with their flowers.
They live nearby at N. Fitzhugh Avenue and Live Oak Street and know the area well, so they purchased the property and spent months renovating the space and clearing trash and debris from neighboring lots. They built a new outdoor courtyard, added new exterior features, and were at work on the interior, as well.
But to make the wedding chapel legal, they needed to rezone to property from residential to commercial. And that’s where they ran into problems, Adam said.
“We knew that the process of zoning takes a while to go through, so we estimated four to five months, knowing that it could be challenging at any point,” said Adam. “But we didn’t expect to run into so much opposition from a few neighborhood associations.” Jump to read more!
The opposition to rezoning the property commercial is historic in nature. Gaston Avenue and Live Oak Street used to look a lot like nearby Swiss Avenue: big, attractive mansions with single tenants in each one. But zoning changes in the 1960s made it possible for people to break up the mansions into apartments or rebuild on the land, and altered the entire personality of the neighborhood. Drive by that area today and you’ll see a lot of run-down residential properties in need of TLC.
Neighborhood associations were afraid a commercial zoning of the Rico’s mansion could open the floodgates for other commercial requests.
“With one rezoning request, it has the potential to destabilize that whole one-mile stretch of Live Oak,” neighborhood leader Joanna Hampton told WFAA. “It introduces a higher-intensity use in an area that didn’t anticipate it.”
The associations took their concerns to the city and earlier this month, the City Plan Commissioners rejected the Rico’s request to rezone.
The couple could appeal the decision, but have decided the hassle is not worth it.
“We’re new at this and this seems like it’s a big headache and a really political situation that we didn’t want to get involved in,” Adam said. “We’re not going to appeal. We’ll probably just sell the property to whoever wants and it will probably be a developer who will probably tear it down.”
But this is not the end of the story for the Ricos, who are still considering creating a wedding chapel elsewhere.
“We’ll possibly keep our eyes open for another opportunity,” Adam said.
So was the reaction of the neighborhood associations reasonable, or did they miss out on a chance to welcome a business that would have turned a run-down mansion into something good for the area? Would business zoning in that area be a blight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.