Jim Schutze: What Impresses Me About Wick Allison

Our editor in chief. If you work at D, you know this look well.
Our editor in chief. If you work at D, you know this look well.

Jim Schutze swung by D Magazine World Headquarters recently to have a chat with our commander-in-chief, Wick Allison. The muckraker wanted to ask Wick how and why he’d changed his mind on the Trinity toll road project.

In 1998, D Magazine published a special issue touting the ways in which the Trinity River project as a whole would transform Dallas. It was sent to registered voters throughout the city. The road was part of the proposal because the belief was that the money to fund it was what would make the adjacent park possible. But you may heard that in the May issue of D Magazine we declared that the Trinity Parkway is dead.

And now Wick wants to tear down or bury every highway through the city’s central core. Schutze writes in this week’s Dallas Observer:

But here is what impresses me about Allison. At this late date in both of our careers, he’s the one who can still change his mind. Not everybody’s that limber.

Allison: “I learned from the Trinity mistake. Maybe the biggest prejudice of all human beings is presentism. That is to say, what is has always been and will always be.”

I suggest he knows how much neighborhoods can change because he’s had offices in most of them. He laughs.

He paints a picture of a whole new Dallas in which all of the old interstates have been torn down or decked over, in which no Trinity River toll road has been built to cut off downtown from the river and all of the vast spaces once occupied by highways are now covered with wonderful urban neighborhoods.

Allison: “Jim, this can happen. This will happen. It’s inevitable. I’m going to tell you right now, in 20 years Stemmons will be a parkway of four lanes. That whole market center will be a huge urban development, because we tore down Stemmons.”

Me: “I think if somebody tries to tear down Stemmons, the old man [John Stemmons] will return.” He laughs.

Allison: “No, he will love the idea, because it will be a real estate play.”