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

01/25/19 11:00am

The historic Winnetka Heights neighborhood in North Oak Cliff had a big win this Wednesday at City Hall. The city’s thoroughfare plan was amended to take away the 12th St. Connector, knitting the neighborhood back together with parks and open space. It was a change 40 years in the making, with some of the original residents still part of the fight.

When cars became big in Oak Cliff and everywhere else, Tyler and Polk streets were made into a one-way couplet, and this connector, installed in 1967, allowed northbound traffic to reach West Jefferson Road by skipping the Jefferson St commercial core. More importantly it has allowed first responders (located at Polk and 12th streets) to access the neighborhood to the north more quickly.

The election of Dallas City Council member and mayoral hopeful Scott Griggs to the District 1 seat in 2011 is a big reason we’re seeing this change.

“The project got legs when Scott joined council” says Lee Ruiz, president of the Winnetka Heights Neighborhood Association. “He understands the new urbanist feel of how neighborhoods should be.”

Conversations began with City of Dallas staff and elected officials in 1981 when the neighborhood association formed and work began to dedicate the area as a Conservation District. But the project wasn’t a priority.

“Our neighborhood is known for its tenaciousness,” says Ruiz. (more…)

01/22/19 9:55am

Windmass Capital’s Vision for Colorado Blvd at Marsalis Ave in North Oak Cliff

After over a year of meeting with neighbors, stakeholders, and City of Dallas staff, the WindMass Capital development team has thrown in the towel just before this Wednesday’s City Council meeting where they would have been on the agenda to move forward on a very complicated deal.

WindMass owns the Founders Square Apartments. Over the decades the building became surrounded on three sides by Oak Cliff‘s Founders Park. Long story short, they hoped to swap their 1.37 acres for the adjacent 1.37 acres on the corner of Colorado Blvd. and Marsalis Ave., build a new mixed-use apartment building with retail on the ground floor, then demolish their old building, give it to the city all cleaned up like park land should be, and give a half million dollars to the city for additional park improvements. Sounds pretty crazy amazing, doesn’t it?

As Willis Winters, Director of the Park Department, said at the last Park Board meeting, the city has tried to purchase this property for years to make Founders Park more contiguous, but hasn’t been able to afford it.  This project would essentially accomplish that goal for the Parks Department.

Even neighbors and stakeholders were in support, a rare feat in itself!

(more…)

08/22/18 9:00am

A playground in the middle of a pedestrian street in Historic Downtown Boulder, Colorado, is only this desolate at 8 a.m. on a Sunday. Photo by Staff

The recent D Magazine special edition on Walkable New Urbanism has us all thinking about how Dallas could, or will game this trend. As real estate and design professionals, we all have an opinion, and likely some education we paid good money on for this topic. It’s not, however, easy to see where our skills translate to “making a difference.”

Cue the American Institute for Architecture and their “Architecture On Tap” series. Last month’s event focused on how we can go about impacting our communities, with a panel of experts to discuss: Zaida Basora, VP of Huitt Zollar and former Assistant Director of Public Works at the City of Dallas; John Hetzel, real estate broker with Madison Partners and Deep Ellum Foundation Board Member; and Evan Sheets, Senior Planner with the City of Dallas Design Studio.

From this diverse group of professionals we heard one rallying call: Show up.

(more…)

07/02/18 7:30am

This is about to become a common sight in our beloved Bishop Arts District neighborhood. In fact this sight is just off Bishop, across from the Laughing Willow. There are demo’d vacant lots in the middle of neighborhoods all over North Oak Cliff’s most popular entertainment district. I’ve found three new ones within the last week. Here’s the skinny on the last 10 projects under construction now, for a grand total of 27 individual projects.

“How did this happen?” you might ask. Perhaps it was the local option election that made North Oak Cliff “wet” in 2010? Or the nearby Trinity Groves’ explosion into Dallas’ culinary scene? Or Bishop Arts’ own explosion onto the ‘great neighborhood’ scene? Maybe the Bishop/Davis Rezoning Plan in 2010 or the Oak Cliff Gateway zoning changes in 2014 (and then updated in 2015)? Or did it all start in 2002 with the Bishop Street reconstruction? Maybe it’s a bit of all of this — and great neighbors who throw great, big annual events. For sure, that.

Your favorite restaurants and shops need your support more than ever before — with all the construction, sales are down about 30 percent across the board.  Seventeen (and counting) separate construction sites are underway within a half-mile of the district! From now on you need to make weekly trips — to gauge progress on these, have a bite to eat, and find something you can’t live without. There are some GREAT new shops opening too — ALL owned by Dallas and Oak Cliff locals. Legit.

Click to enlarge

In Part 1 we covered the big development projects under construction immediately around the Bishop Arts District (projects numbered 1-8 on the map.) Part 2 covered the projects mostly west of Bishop Arts (projects 9-16.) Here are projects numbered 17-26 below. (Yes! 26! Though more like 28 actually….) Note that project numbers correspond to the map above.

(more…)

06/25/18 8:45am

A new familiar sight in North Oak Cliff.

In the first part of this overview we covered the big development projects under construction immediately around the Bishop Arts District (projects numbered 1-8 on the map below.) Driving through the neighborhood, it’s unbelievable how much construction is occurring simultaneously. Over $330 million according to my calculations. Not to mention all the road work and utility work: the extension of parallel parking further south on Bishop Ave has wrapped up, Adams Street has been widened, Melba and Madison will get a facelift as soon as the utility work is complete, and Jefferson’s having new brick crosswalks and beautified medians constructed.

Real Estate projects under construction or in development in North Oak Cliff.

The road reconstruction in North Oak Cliff isn’t over yet though: soon the Tyler-Polk Two-Way conversion will be under construction (planned completion in 2019) and a “complete streets” redesign of Davis Street was on the agenda in 2014 when the City Design Studio completed a thoroughfare study. Who knows when that will get funded. Hopefully not for a while — we’re all getting a bit of construction-fatigue.

Here’s the skinny on the development projects sprinkled all over the North Oak Cliff neighborhood, in various phases of development. Note the project numbers corresponding to the map above.

(more…)

Photo by Simon Luna photography

Corsicana invites you into their booming downtown and onto the porches of their historic Carriage District this weekend with their Inaugural Porchfest and Crafternoon. You may have heard of the Porchfest craze sweeping the nation musicians playing on grand porches of neighborhood homes for a family-friendly afternoon of socializing and entertainment. (more…)

06/01/18 7:30am

 

Davis St looking west to N. Zang Blvd. from the CVS sidewalk.

If it’s been a few months since you last drove through the Davis/Zang intersection near the Bishop Arts District, you likely wouldn’t recognize where you are now. Buildings five stories tall are going up on three of the four corners, and a new CVS stands where El Corazón was. Melba St., on the other side of the district, is beginning to feel like the State Thomas neighborhood of Uptown: mid-rise apartments and town homes on all sides with a small historic home here or there.

Not only are the streets torn up from increasing utility sizes to accommodate the growth and reconstructing complete streets, but there are about 20 large-scale residential and commercial projects currently under construction in North Oak Cliff, totaling more than a quarter of a billion dollars of investment and adding more than 1,200 units.

(more…)

01/31/18 8:31am

Reinvestment Fund’s Market Value Analysis of Dallas neighborhoods.

On Monday, the City of Dallas hosted the first of four virtual town hall meetings to gather community input for updates to its Affordable Housing Strategy. It comes less than two weeks after the Jan. 17 Dallas City Council briefing on a Market Value Analysis report by Reinvestment Fund, a nonprofit conducting this research and analysis for cities across the U.S. The data tool is playing a leading role in the development of the City’s new 3-year rolling strategy.

The technology used for the meeting was especially impressive. I’m a little concerned how the city had my number to begin with, but once I opted in by text, it was seamless. I received a call at the appointed time, watched at dallascitynews.net or on Facebook live, could easily ask questions, indicate I wanted calls for future meetings, and even submit my email for followup info – they hired the right consultants to put this together.

The three upcoming meetings will go a little more in-depth than the first topic, “How Residential Development Gets Financed”, or what I’d call “Introduction to the Housing Market.” (more…)