Crescent-placeholder rendering

Just as our trolley track construction wraps up and the Bishop Arts stop comes online, expect the building construction to begin.

Developer Alamo Manhattan has made headlines with their infamous Bishop Arts project, hopefully designed a bit better now than at first. Their Phase 1 plans would create a five-story full city block with residential above ground-floor retail right at the newly minted trolley stop along Zang, at two corners of the Zang-Davis intersection.

Details are now coming together on the Crescent Communities development at the third northeast corner of Zang-Davis, scheduled for construction to begin December 2016 with a 22-month buildout.

Currently a Dallas County Schools property, the Crescent project would span two blocks east across Beckley Ave to Crawford St, and north just past Neely St. It could be another massive block of a project, but it appears the folks at Crescent understand “good” walkable design and what makes a place work for people. One example, since they own both sides of Beckley, is their focus on making the street feel like a real Avenue — emphasizing the importance of the way the buildings relate to the pedestrian realm along the street.

Site map

Phase 1 in red and just north of Neely. Phase 2 between Beckley Ave and Crawford St.

All that’s been made public is the site plan below, but an off-the-record conversation with the Crescent’s regional director and a handful of North Oak Cliff neighbors revealed a masterplan with an attention to detail. Oh, and the President & CEO, Todd Mansfield was Executive VP of Disney real estate worldwide. If Disney can be lauded for doing something right, it’s creating a pedestrian environment that, though fake, scores high on the principals of great walkable commercial environments. He “gets it,” and the company has a decent track record. And they quote Jane Jacobs, the mother of great urbanism.

 

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The site plan here is a bit different from the placeholder project image on their website — the project’s clearly still in development.

But it’s about ready for Prime Time, and I think we’re going to like what we see. They’ve enlisted design firm Lake-Flato, and you can see a few architectural elements in the site plan — a “flatiron” building corner comes to Zang and Davis where a  3,800-square-foot “gateway” plaza leads you from historic Bishop Arts and the trolley stop into a larger plaza between the fivee-story building along Davis and the five- and six-story building behind it.

First life. Then places. Then buildings.  – Jane Jacobs

At some point a developer’s vision is in the hands of its tenants — the goal is to flank the larger plaza with restaurants and great patios spilling into the plaza. They’re still on the hunt for the right tenant mix. More details coming soon, but I’ll leave you with: makers space (and other unique retail uses), boutique retail spaces, walk-up brownstone condos (as well as an emphasis on more affordable rental units), boutique hotel (inspired by the lobby of the renowned historic Ace Hotel in Portland), brewery, and grocer. Fingers crossed! It’s an ambitious vision.

Ace Hotel in Portland. By Kari Sullivan via Wiki Media

The historic Ace Hotel in Portland. By Kari Sullivan via Wiki Media

 

HalfPriceBooksNorthwestHighway

In this rendering from Cunningham Architects, you can see the 34,000-square-foot REI campus that will open this spring across from the Half Price Books flagship store on Northwest Highway and Shadybrook.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should go ahead and say that my husband works for Half Price Books. But honestly, I’d be a fan of the company regardless. I’ve always been interested in how Pat Anderson grew a company from a 1,000-square-foot laundromat into a national brand, all without relinquishing the used bookstore feel that makes the brand so familiar and cool. And while the company knows how to run a successful chain of paperback-filled, nostalgia-laden stores, is it ready for the world of real estate?

As you may know, Half Price Books is developing the lot opposite of its flagship store at Shadybrook and Northwest Highway. Outdoor retailer REI has already committed to anchoring the development with a 34,000-square-foot store set to open March 3, and there is an additional 13,000 square feet for other retail. Designed by Cunningham Architects, the center will definitely stand out with a cool modern facade.

It’s all in a very unique part of Dallas, Vickery Meadow, which is mostly dense apartment communities roughly bounded by Greenville Avenue on the west, Northwest Highway on the south, Park Lane to the north, and Skillman on the east. It’s a very ethnically diverse area that is sorely lacking quality retail, and is yet over-populated with bodegas, check-cashing stores, and sketchy corner stores.

“Half Price Books has always had a great relationship with Vickery Meadow residents, and we’re excited to help bring more retail options to the area,” said Half Price Books Executive Vice President Kathy Doyle Thomas. “Every Sunday this fall, we hosted the Vickery Meadow Local Market in the parking lot of our Half Price Books Flagship store. Our neighbors, businesses in the area, and the city of Dallas are very excited about our new development.”

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