Last night, District 14 council member David Blewett held the first community meeting of an authorized hearing involving the Arts District. The purpose is two-fold:

First to update the original Arts District plan (known as the Sasaki Plan) adopted by the city in 1981 – no surprise that urban planning has changed.

Secondly, the desire to expand one of two Planned Development Districts (PDs) to grow the district one block south to San Jacinto Street from the DMA to One Arts Plaza and unofficially encompassing Klyde Warren Park.

So far so good, nothing too odd here. But …

An authorized hearing is called when the city needs to decide on appropriate zoning (changes) in a specified area and in certain instances (i.e. all authorized hearings are zoning cases, but not all zoning cases are authorized hearings). But off the bat, we heard that Dallas Arts District representatives have been working on the Sasaki rewrite for roughly five years. They presented full-blown-and-baked renderings of their proposed streetscapes and appeared to have the new PD verbiage captured. We also saw that 90 to 100 percent of the stakeholders were already in agreement.

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Alex Gavin Yale

I don’t know about you, but when I have to make a pretty vital decision, I try to get as many opinions as possible. As many educated opinions from people far smarter than I. Maybe we need to do this on the Trinity Parkway/Tollway/Parkway?



Thursday night in New York City (where I am attending Inman Connect NYC), I attended a lecture by Alexander Garvin, a noted American urban planner, educator, and author. He has a private architectural practice at Alexander Garvin & Associates in New York City, and is an adjunct professor at the Yale School of Architecture. He also happens to be the man responsible for Atlanta’s greenbelt system. We saw the system in action at NAREE a year and a half ago when the conference was held in Atlanta. Basically, Atlanta had this railroad track running almost a circle around the city, and it was Garvin who suggested turning it into a connected greenbelt. When I told him how we had toured the Ponce City Market (an old Sears Roebuck warehouse turned multi-use foodie nirvana), he was charmed. I told him how I saw joggers utilizing those trails and how they were inspiring private development real estate projects. He, in turn, told me that his book, The Planning Game: Lessons From Great Cities, has a picture of our own Katy Trail in Dallas, which he admires. That too, I told him, is stimulating development.

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The Cedars

The Cedars is quickly transforming into an urban hot spot, with 11 new real estate developments in the pipeline. But how will this neighborhood just south of downtown Dallas work to capitalize on this energy?

One of Dallas’ huge strengths is its neighborhoods, and one of the most unique is downtown. Make that Downtown with a capital D. With its walkable blocks, great density, and mix of classic and modern architecture, Downtown is similar to the nearby Uptown neighborhood. But at Wednesday night’s community roundtable hosted by the Dallas Homeowners League, Downtown was commiserating and collaborating with Deep Ellum, the Cedars and the Farmers Market neighborhoods. Why so glum? All are trying to poke their heads up as residential nirvanas for a new style of living.

As Peter Simek, last night’s roundtable moderator, put it, all areas “suffered the effects of de-economization of the core in the 60s, and are now coming into their own.”

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