Built in 1946, Casa Linda Plaza ranks as the oldest shopping center in Dallas. It encompasses three of the four corners of Garland Road and Buckner Blvd., and serves the surrounding neighborhoods, which include Casa Linda, Forest Hills, Little Forest Hills, Emerald Isle, and so on. And if there’s one thing that’s sure to set off this committed coterie of conservationists who favor these ‘hoods, it’s trees. Specifically, the removal of trees. And when Edens, the corporation that owns Casa Linda Plaza unveiled a plan to remove five mature cedar elms from the walkway opposite Natural Grocers, let’s just say that it was not a popular decision.
However, thanks to the measured response from District 9 Dallas City Council member Mark Clayton, not only are residents getting a more robust and shady canopy, they’re also in discussions to bring back a neighborhood tradition — the Casa Linda Plaza Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony.
It all started at the beginning of July, when neighbors learned that Edens would be removing five to seven trees from the promenade just in front of Natural Grocers, which is on the southeast corner of Buckner Blvd. and Garland Road. It’s a very visible canopy of trees, offering shade for a short stretch of sidewalk. The trees, which were estimated to be about 70 years old, were tall and full, but the parking lot and surrounding walkways were in bad shape and desperate for a re-do.
But as Clayton advised nearby residents, the owner could do whatever they wanted to their property, as no zoning request was filed, nor necessary. Of course, every dispute is just a negotiation waiting to happen, right?
Original plans called for new landscaping and additional trees throughout the lot, but discussions resulted in Edens promising trees between four to 10 inches caliper, in plantings that would add a significant amount of canopy over time at an additional expense to the company in the range of $50,000 to $75,000:
Of course, it’s sad to lose trees, but it’s a net win for Casa Linda, especially considering the horrible state of the parking lot on the southeast side of the development. Of course, with upgrades this extensive, some neighbors are concerned that Casa Linda Plaza — a cultural icon to East Dallas — will lose its historic flair and great tenant mix.
Edens, however, has redoubled its efforts to engage with the area, which is encouraging. As Clayton pointed out, talks have expanded to include a possible return of the Casa Linda Plaza Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Not bad, considering the alternative.