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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The Katy at Victory Park facing down the opening edge of the Katy Trail

From the American Airlines Center and before even turning the corner and passing over the Tollway, the Katy Trail is lined with new apartment buildings towering over it.  From Victory Place, Camden Victory Park, The Alexan, and the latest — Magnolia Station and The Katy at Victory Park — walking at this end of the trail is something less than peaceful. Bleu Ciel will almost complete the curtain.  I’m pretty sure I can hold my breath long enough to see Little Mexico Village and the Magnolia condos fall to development to completely encase this end of the trail.

Of course these apartments have the manufactured hipster vibe residents have self-deluded themselves into thinking they possess.  Magnolia Station talks about apartments that evoke a “Modern Spirit” or “Vintage Soul” while The Katy at Victory Park harkens for residents who “live with intention,” whose “best friend” is their pet, and who want to “live inspired on the trail.”

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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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Ryan Rankin and Travis McCann_Edited

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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