Newly Opened Novel Bishop Arts is Setting a High Bar

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The street-level experience provided by the Novel Bishop Arts building is unlike anything else that developers are creating, with fancy brick patterns and quirky-yet-functional bike racks.

With all the new development around the Bishop Arts District, there’s some steep competition coming online in the apartment market.

From the get-go, Crescent Communities has worked hard to set themselves apart. I remember sitting in Rob Shearer’s living room probably two years ago with a handful of other neighborhood residents, to meet with Michael Blackwell, Managing Director at Crescent Communities, and discuss their proposed project.

Unlike some developers in the North Oak Cliff area, Crescent Communities came out of the gate with more community support than expected. They brought in longtime Oak Cliff resident Andrew Howard of Team Better Block to consult on design and look into creative tenanting, then he built them the coolest Christmas Tree you’ve ever seen in a real estate development.

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas-inspired Christmas tree at Novel Bishop Arts. (Installation and photo by Andrew Howard)

Then they brought in local restauranteur Shane Spillers, owner of Eno’s (now open in Bishop Arts and Downtown Forney), to open a coffee shop in the residential lobby. (Full disclosure, my sister designed the apron uniforms for this adorable coffee shop.)

Did I mention the murals by local Oak Cliff artists Haylee Ryan and Steve Hunter referencing local history and lore? Last week’s ribbon cutting and grand opening event featured music by local John Tipton, drinks from Bishop Cider Co, and bites from Cretia’s, Emporium Pie Shop, Joy Macaroons, and other local shops. This Crescent Communities team has the Local Flavor formula down.

The Crescent Communities team looks on as Councilman Casey Thomas and Councilman-elect Chad West ceremoniously cut the ribbon.

Months ago, as construction neared completion, neighbors began to see the project’s design and attention to detail come to life. The unique brick patterns, the architectural articulation of the balconies, the retail space window facings along the sidewalk, and the slight differentiation between what appear to almost be separate buildings along Davis Street — many of the very specific architectural details that make a place like Bishop Arts special because of the way it was built, organically, by many developers over many years. Most developers don’t strive for this level of detail.

Crescent Communities clearly worked hard to achieve this. You can see the difference between other nearby developments, and you feel the difference when you walk between the buildings. The development has a narrow inner courtyard between the five-plus-story buildings that creates a space like you would expect to find along the cobblestone streets of Italy: interesting, cozy, protected from the summer heat, and away from the bustle of car traffic. As soon as the retail spaces are leased, this will be its own little hub of socializing. I hear the coffee shop becomes a neighborhood pub in the evening.

A resident and his dog in front of Brewed.

Touring the development, it becomes evident that the thought they put into the exterior carried throughout the interior of the complex as well. The apartments are well-appointed with trendy yet quality fixtures and details. The balconies are front porches. Literally. Wherever there’s a cavity, the architects put something useful. A desk, a ‘mud room’ space, built-in shelving.

Did anyone else see the Pool Deck on the second floor? I stayed the whole time on the sixth floor gazing at this:

The sixth-floor view from the Lake Cliff Terrace community space.

I’m told by Instagram this is what the pool looks like:

Planning to verify this summer.

Novel Bishop Arts is now open. With 302 units, two dog parks, killer amenities, well-designed community spaces, and interesting people already moving in (I met a few of them — and their dogs.) If you’re lucky you can snag one of the Flat Iron units with wrap-around window views. There’s only one unit per floor and five floors.

Novel Bishop Arts, across from the Bishop Arts Trolly Stop
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Amanda Popken

Amanda is a community strategist & economic development specialist focused on placemaking and urban design promoting, inspiring, teaching & engaging communities to grow their own social capital. She is President of Congress for the New Urbanism North Texas and can be found at

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