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.

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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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Bishop Arts 7th St House12

Source: Google Maps, Jan 2016

The landscape of  the Bishop Arts District is changing quickly — tiny historic Craftsman homes by the dozens are being razed for apartment complexes, half-million dollar condos, and five-story mixed-use developments going up. One developer, once demonized by the community for their rudimentary design out of the gate, just won major Brownie points with the help of Rogers Jr. House Moving.

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Developer builds big project in Anywhere, USA.

If you’ve been following the Bishop Gateway project near the Bishop Arts District in North Oak Cliff, you know it’s been quite a contentious project. If you haven’t been following, here’s an overview along with an update. Either way, take note of the process they’re going through.

The first-pass draft of the project showed hideously sterile five-story blocks, just as the current zoning allows, covering three blocks in three phases.

Planned for both sides of Seventh St. from Zang to Madison and the northwest corner of Zang at Davis, the project would have replaced popular businesses such as Zoli’s Pizza, Local Oak, and Ten Bells. The neighborhood was in an uproar.

The properties had not yet been purchased — as with many large developments, the developers like to get the project details lined up before pulling the trigger on the purchase — so the plans were still somewhat negotiable.

And, luckily, the project is in a TIF (Tax Increment Finance District) and planning to apply for incentive funding. The process for TIF-elligible projects triggers a design review and requires TIF Board approval and City Council approval.

Alamo Manhattan hired former City Council rep Angela Hunt to assist, and held a number of community meetings to gain feedback. The one I attended in May was a bloodbath of criticism. But the developers seemed to have heard what was being said on multiple levels.

At the community meeting in September, all stakeholders seemed to at least accept the proposal as “less objectionable.” The project has been scaled back to two blocks, which takes out fewer beloved buildings and businesses, and the design and project focus seems to be a huge improvement. Some of the highlights:

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BarPolitics-napkin

By Amanda Popken
Special Contributor

It’s only the fifth installment of Bar Politics, so if you have no idea what this is, you’re not that out of the loop. You’ll definitely want to check out this amateur roadshow this month if you’re at all interested in housing, development, real estate, and the gentrification-storm we’re preparing for in North Oak Cliff.

Hosted by Josh Kumlar, the event is formatted similarly to the Late Night Show or the Daily Show. Political news jokes, a skit or two, and interviews with special guests. And music, of course.

Once a month they pick a topic, pick a bar, and start talking smack. Josh is a recent SMU grad, a theatre major. His friends help him with the show’s shenanigans. The interviewed guests are local celebrities, knowledgeable on the issue at hand. As Josh describes it: (more…)

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We knew this day was coming. The day we’d see new construction of high-density, mixed-use projects all over North Oak Cliff. We rezoned less than a year ago to allow the growth we knew was coming, and hopefully have some control over how it transpires.

So here we are, faced with a developer wanting to listen to the community and do a ‘good’ project. Enter: Matt Segrest and Wade Johns of Dallas-based Alamo Manhattan. They’re developing the proposed Bishop Arts Gateway project, three 5-story buildings along Zang Blvd at Davis St and Seventh St. They say they’re in it for the long term, and that they cut their teeth developing in Portland and Seattle so they understand Streetcars and well-built neighborhoods. So they called a meeting with the neighborhood Thursday to get our input.

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It’s all a bit ironic if you think about it – a meeting of past gentrifiers to talk about future gentrification. Granted, not all of us at the meeting moved to O.C. from somewhere else. A couple attendees had a tenure longer than a few decades. The rest of us moved here after the police station storefront opened and closed on Bishop, after the city spent over a million dollars to build great sidewalks and plant trees, after the Texas Theatre and The Kessler were restored…

So what are we really talking about here? The changing character of a neighborhood and its people. The issue isn’t unique to Bishop Arts though, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Some call it gentrification (that dirty word), others progress.

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