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

09/08/17 7:00am

 

Last night’s community meeting with Huffines Communities at the Golf Club of Dallas on Redbird Lane felt like a bad setup. The room was at capacity with literally hundreds more still standing in line, out to the middle of the parking lot, when the presentation began.

“I hope all these people are against the project” said one woman in front of me. Everyone seemed to be talking about how the proposed small lots and low price point were a bad fit for the neighborhood. It was a very diverse crowd – a cross-section of the diversity that people love about Oak Cliff, from very young to very old and all types and kinds of ethnicities of people. Even Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price was there.

When Donald Huffines — who is also a Texas state senator — got to the mic. he began by showing images of developments he’s built in his 30 years of experience. Water parks, waterfalls into lakes, Cape Cod-inspired town homes, and ‘no brick facades’ – so homeowners are able to paint their exteriors … Demonstrating in pictures what their website says about another project they planned, “This community will offer residents the signature Huffines Communities lifestyle along with traditional resort-style amenities, several highly regarded builders, and year-round resident activities.”

The neighbors didn’t want slick pictures of other places — they wanted to hear what was planned for their neighborhood. The presentation was cut short and the crowd got rowdy. Dallas City Council Member Casey Thomas did his best to calm the crowd. Eventually we heard, “There is no plan yet. We’re here tonight to hear what the neighborhood wants.” With over 500 people in a jam-packed audience that was a tall order. (more…)

08/14/17 9:00am

Conceptual rendering for Site A at Allen Street and McKinney Avenue

Businesses and residents in Uptown have been discussing making two-way streets from the currently one-way Cole Ave., Carlisle St., and McKinney Ave. You may have seen the plans already, maybe you’ve attended one of the many community meetings.

However, you may not have heard much about the three public spaces this plan will create. As the streets change, excess right-of-way will be left vacant. And Uptown, Inc. has plans for landscaping and hardscaping these small public spaces. More than the direction we drive, these public spaces will fundamentally change our experience in Uptown and could be the most impactful part of this re-design plan.

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07/27/17 5:59pm

This morning’s panel discussion on Oak Cliff: Challenges + Opportunities for the Urban Neighborhood was a strikingly honest — almost uncomfortably honest — conversation, both between the panelists and in the Q&A. The panel brought together two well-established Oak Cliff developers — David Spence of Good Space and Monte Anderson of Options Real Estate — and two newer developers — Michael Nazerian of Exxir Capital and Wade Johns of Alamo Manhattan. The DFW REimagined breakfast seminar was hosted by one of Munsch, Hardt, Kopf, & Harr’s recent additions to their law team, Angela Hunt, who is overseeing zoning and development regulations.

Conversation cues were well-curated. We learned of Anderson’s “gentle-fication” process, Nazerian’s pivotal “ah-ha!” moment in the West Village, and the stark contrast in development processes Johns has experienced in Seattle and Portland versus Dallas.

They all seemed to agree that “Developers create the canvas for people to bring the place alive,” as Nazerian put it. And that even developers with good intentions can get “pushed around by the market,” Anderson said.

The agreement began to unravel when Hunt started asking about gentrification, which resulted in one of the most educated discussions on this topic as I’ve ever heard. Many who think of developing in Oak Cliff imagine the pushback from engaged citizen activists, such as those who attended the first community meeting with Alamo Manhattan in the Second story of Eno’s years ago.

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04/20/17 3:11pm
ribbon cutting

Ribbon Cutting for the new playground at Griggs Park. Nolan Marshall stands with Katy Slade, Philip Kingston, Paul Simms and his daughter.

“Griggs Park is one of the features that makes Uptown more sustainable. Uptown has a tendency to over-invest in private infrastructure and under-invest in public infrastructure,”noted District 14 Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston at the Tuesday ribbon cutting of Griggs Park’s new playground. “This will soften the hard edges that tend to be created in high-density neighborhoods.” 

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04/07/17 12:50pm

Logo Sign - PRINT 16x16

If you like the idea of having a home on the range but can’t imagine living in the middle of nowhere, you might take a look at Corsicana. The first oil boom town in Texas, it was founded in 1848 and by the early 1900s it was one of the top 10 cities in the nation with the most millionaires. It’s stuck to its small-town roots ever since.

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03/06/17 1:24pm
Under the Houston St Viaduct. Taken by Amanda Popken

Kayaking Under the Houston St Viaduct, 2013. (Photo: Amanda Popken)

This Wednesday you’re invited to join a discussion about the Trinity.
A river that has defined our city for over a century.
Yet its place in our lives still remains little more than afterthought.

Millions of taxpayer dollars funded a very extensive plan:
To build, beautify, and manage this park — has anyone actually read it?
Years have passed applying for approvals, securing bonds, political wars, a design contest, expert opinions and decades later we have:
A few more trails, fewer trees, stunning bridges, and a death-defying rapid.

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03/03/17 12:05pm
trees

The Oak Cliff Nature Preserve, one of the gems of living in Oak Cliff.          Canine Model: Big Turkey

Oak Cliff covers about one third of Dallas, with a lot of variety throughout. You’re probably familiar with the small craftsman homes around Bishop Arts, the historic homesteads of Winnetka Heights, and the eclectic estates of the Kessler neighborhoods. A little further west near Hampton and south of Jefferson you’ll find many neighborhoods like the North Cliff Conservation District: adorable homes with classic architectural details and three key amenities close by.

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02/07/17 2:13pm
Source: Google Map

Eagle Ford Elementary School.  Source: Google Maps

On Monday, preservationists launched the process of designating the Eagle Ford School building as a historic landmark. If you’ve driven down Chalk Hill Road just south of Interstate 30, you may have wondered about the rather small, oddly out-of-place concrete building, brightly colored with lavish details at the entry. Above the front entrance is inscribed “Eagle Ford District 49.”

The almost-forgotten Gothic revival building at 1601 Chalk Hill Road was at risk of being demolished. The road was recently closed due to construction, but neighborhood historic groups had been talking to the owner for years about plans for the building.

From 1916 through 1963, the school served the many immigrant families living in Cement City, Arcadia Park, and other nearby neighborhoods.

Bonnie Parker, of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde, is the most well-known attendant of the Eagle Ford elementary school — her report card was found in its basement.

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