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Mural by Ryan Rankin and Travis McCann (Photos: Rachel Stone)

The Nazerian family just broke ground on their mixed-use development in the Bishop Arts District, and to celebrate they are hosting a pop-up gallery from 5:30 to 8:30 tomorrow night. Brothers Michael and Farrokh Nazerian, heads of Exxir Capital, wanted to create a microcosm of the artistic spirit and talent that will be the heart of their 500,000-square-foot project.

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Rendering: Good Fulton & Farrell Architects

The proposed Bishop Arts Gateway project on one of the hottest corners in North Oak Cliff fueled quite the quibble between Dallas City Council members Lee Kleinman and Scott Griggs today, as the city of Dallas economic development committee voted to approve Alamo Manhattan’s request for more than $11 million in Oak Cliff Gateway tax increment finance (TIF) district funds for the site on Davis and Zang.

According to Rachel Stone at the Oak Cliff Advocate, the TIF district money is contingent on Alamo Manhattan making at least 20 percent of the project’s 209 apartments “affordable.” The 42 or so apartments would be available only to those making no more than 80 percent of the area’s median income, which is $45,000 for a family of four.

Alamo Manhattan Bishop Arts Gateway

The $57 million project will also include a streetcar plaza for the Oak Cliff streetcar line, 25,200 square feet for retail and restaurant space, and underground parking. So what will we get for the $11.25 million in TIF funds? Here’s what Wilonsky says:

City staff says about half that money will go toward, among other things, clearing and remediating the existing buildings along Zang and Davis, widening the sidewalks, planting trees, creating that open plaza and dealing with utility issues. The other half — approximately $5,846,400 — will act as an affordable housing grant, unless the city hears otherwise from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in coming weeks.

You’ll recall, after initial drawings for the Bishop Arts Gateway project were made public last year, there was quite the foofaraw from nearby residents over the building design. It was too out of character for the neighborhood and wasn’t particularly pedestrian friendly, some argued. But after a trip back to the drawing board, the revised development plans were widely lauded.

Of course, that didn’t stop Kleinman, who called Oak Cliff “the North Dallas of South Dallas,” from squabbling with colleagues over TIF money.

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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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