New Oak Lawn Starbucks Brings The Problems We Knew It Would

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Landscaping at home in Phoenix, Arizona

Back in April 2017, I wrote about the then proposed Starbucks at Oak Lawn and Congress Avenues. I called out the traffic that would be generated, the circuitous routes it would take and a neighborhood that didn’t seem to care.

Here we are.

Before we get to traffic, let’s look at the landscaping – what was presented and what little there is. Granted it’s February, but the tiny patches of grass seen from the corner are all the grass there is. The remaining “ground cover” areas surrounding the property are filled with rock punctuated by the odd tree or small plant – similar to the rock bed seen beyond the putting green above.

The rendering above was presented by the developer’s representative Angela Hunt and shows a green belt surrounding the building. It also shows seating along Oak Lawn Avenue. And while the page shows a plethora of bikes, the bike racks have never been installed.

The picture above shows the current rocky belt along Oak Lawn Avenue and the now-vanished seating which gave way for a ramp. While I’m all for ADA requirements, surely this wasn’t a surprise to experienced developers of cookie-cutter Starbucks? Instead of the inviting green belt sold, we have concrete and a dry riverbed punctuated by “the least we could” greenery

In fact, instead of the bevy of trees and greenery in the pretty pictures, we are treated to tons and tons of rocks. What greenery exists is small and underwhelming. They’re the plantings you expect to see after a devastating fire poking through the scorched rubble. This desert-scape is simply a place for dogs to pee without killing the grass.

The third car I saw Sunday afternoon exited left

Traffic Control

The original proposal swore up and down they had enough stacking space for drive-thru operations so that cars wouldn’t block Oak Lawn Avenue. That lie is proven every rush hour. Frankly, I think our scantily-funded city should post a police officer at these traffic-blocking businesses to hand out coffee, tea, and tickets (Starbucks at Hall and Central is another).

Also, the proposal called for only allowing right-hand turns in and out of the property. Of course, that was another lie with left-turners routinely entering and exiting (above). The reason left turns were to have been banned is because the entrance/exit on Oak Lawn Avenue is pretty close to the corner and would make a mess of Oak Lawn traffic.

The developer’s plan showed pavement marked with “Right Turn Only” wording and an arrow. As you can see, no such marking exists. Similarly, there was to have been a sign in the middle of Oak Lawn that said, “No Left Turn From Oak Lawn.” It doesn’t exist.

That raised platform (called a pork chop) was to have been elongated and more curved to the right to encourage right turns. Instead, it mirrors the other side giving no indication of its true purpose, instead only ensuring exiting cars don’t block future customers from entering.

In fact, the only arrows that exist are set back from the intersection and show a straight line to the exit. (A straight line pointing to Oak Lawn’s other dismal project of late – the Total Wine booze bunker.)

In addition to the sign in Oak Lawn Avenue, there were to have been city tittles (bumps) to further discourage left-hand turns (as ineffectual as I think they are). They don’t exist.

Essentially the neighborhood was promised all manner of left-turn suppressors by developers.

And don’t get me started on lighting that’s twice as tall as allowed and that didn’t even show on the development plan.

Why has this happened?

How is it that Starbucks is open without meeting their development plan?  A lazy city. Inspectors who don’t carefully review development plans before issuing a certificate of occupancy and developers who know it’s cheaper to fix something later if they’re ever (rarely) caught.

Who knew the whiff of municipal bogus smelled so much like coffee?


Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jose Avila says

    Not to mention how there’s inadequate seating on the inside not enough parking and the whole drive through is a total mess. Great articlen

  2. Sheryl E Dial says

    You stated Angela Hunt was the developer’s agent–she knows how to get around the Dallas City Departments….basically Oak Lawn was hoodwinked.

  3. Craig McDaniel says

    Unfortunately, the pretty pictures and prose sell the project during the approval process but unless the language is written into the permit the developers don’t have to deliver.

    Council members and board appointees have a modest amount of influence by using the power of the pulpit. They just have to yell louder. That and taking aim at any other cases Starbucks may have in the pipeline.

  4. Ed says

    The Kroger on Haskell has four car spaces near the main entrance that have bike racks instead. I have been there probably 50 times over the years – and never seen a single bike. Complete waste of space. So complaining about lack of bike racks just sounds like a solution in search of a problem.

    Lighten up Francis….

    • mmJon Anderson says

      The point is they were one of many things in the development plan that weren’t done.
      Drink your juice, Shelby. 🙂

  5. Stoneshare says

    “Lazy” is a nice term for what the city council/CPC is. Try “corrupt”
    , “dishonest” & “greedy”.
    No surprise here.

  6. Brenda Marks says

    When this came to OLC (more than once) all sorts of promises were made by Angela Hunt on behalf of the developer, Barry Hancock (an OLC member), including street intersection improvements to go along with the “right turn only” stuff. None of them were done. I voted no, and stand strongly by that no vote. Drive-thrus are suburban, not urban. Hate to see my old neighborhood continue to get hoodwinked.

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