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Let’s Take the NCTCOG’s Mobility 2040 Transportation Survey!

The North Central Texas Council of Governments has launched a survey to help gather information from the public and inform the completion of their Mobility 2040 transportation plan. Always willing to throw in my two cents about things like like transportation master plans, I clicked through the link in the email I received eager to click some boxes and hit submit. The survey is simple enough, just 6 little questions. Only when I went to answer them I noticed that the answers I wanted to submit weren’t options. Bah. Oh well. I figured I’d just post my survey on FrontBurner instead so that I can add-in the answers I want to send to the COG. Here we go:

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When Does Our Confederacy Conversation Target Street Names in Oak Cliff?

I don’t need to say it: in the wake of the Charleston shooting, there has been a lot of talk about the Civil War and what the various ways in which we remember, honor, or commemorate its history say about a legacy of racism in America. Alabama has removed a Confederate flag from a memorial at the state capitol. There are calls to take down a Jefferson Davis statue in Kentucky. Dallas’ Lee Park has come under scrutiny. I could go on.

At this point in the conversation, the momentum seems to point towards a gradual, though thorough washing-out of Confederate memorials throughout the nation. But how far will it go? How sublimated do references or symbols of the Confederacy have to be before they are deemed inappropriate? Statues and flags are one thing, but what about the more subtle reminders.

I found myself wondering this driving down oh-so-topical Davis St. in Oak Cliff.

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The Link Between Failed Housing Policies and Segregation in Texas

Just before summer, the Dallas City Plan Commission discussed a new affordable housing policy. The idea was relatively simple. When a developer comes to the city and asks it to change the zoning on a piece of property, he or she is essentially asking the city to make the land more valuable. In exchange for that value, the city would ask a developer to ensure that the property will include units accessible for people with a variety of incomes.

The assumption is that it is a good thing to have neighborhoods and buildings with mixed incomes, but the proposal was, understandably, very unpopular with real estate community. The plan commission voted overwhelmingly against it.

Why would it be in the city’s best interest to want more mixed-income neighborhoods?

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Adam McGough Returned Citizens Council Cash After Changing Positions on Trinity Toll Road

Over on the Lake Highlands Advocate, Sam Gillespie deep dives newly sworn-in Lake Highlands council member Adam McGough’s road to victory in the run-off earlier this month. His election day began at 5:30 a.m., Gillespie reports, with McGough planting signs at voting locations because during the general election signs placed the night before disappeared by morning. The day ended with a victory party that featured quite the local political motley crew, including Jerry Allen, Bill Blaydes, Angela Hunt, James White and Mayor Mike Rawlings. Here’s the most interesting bit. When McGough swapped positions on the Trinity, he had to give back some skrilla:

How did it happen? The current conventional wisdom is that James White’s endorsement made the difference. Yes, McGough got White’s endorsement but he got some shoe leather to go along with it. “James’ people organized walks on my behalf in their neighborhoods, “ said McGough, “ His work for me wasn’t expected but it was very much appreciated.”

White’s endorsement came from McGough’s reconsideration of a toll road inside the Trinity levee. McGough accepted White’s endorsement but sent back the contribution from the Dallas Citizen’s Council they demanded be returned after he changed positions.

 

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And Speaking of the Arts District, Cultural Area Seeks New Master Plan

On the wind of the news of encroaching development on the fringes of the Arts District, the organization that oversees the architectural menagerie and collection of arts organizations has announced it will seek proposals for revisions to its community development plan.

The plan could use some updating. Originally created by Sasaki way back in the early-1980s, the area has changed dramatically over the years, and a booming local real estate economy necessitates readdressing the purpose and functional design of the Arts District.

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Say Goodbye to the Dallas Symphony’s di Suvero, Hello to Office Box

Well, it was bound to happen eventually. As the general building boom in and around downtown and Uptown continues, and Klyde Warren Park’s popularity transforms what were once undesirable lots abutting a freeway into the hottest plots of land in the region, someone noticed that there’s a well-located little parcel doing nothing more than housing a giant sculpture. And so, yesterday Steve Brown reported that the land at the southeast corner of Pearl St. and Woodall Rodgers Freeway will be sold by the Dallas Symphony to make way for a new office tower.

It makes perfect sense. A spokesperson with the symphony said the proceeds from the sale (estimated at $7.2 million, one of the highest prices ever for the Arts District) will go to fund symphony operations. And while the symphony has pushed through their own rocky financial times, the financial world around orchestras is ever an uneasy one. So from a symphony perspective, it’s fortuitous that the DSO had a little land to flip to shore up their operations. Bravo.

Of course there are concerns about the development — there always are.

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Why Central Expressway Doesn’t Flood During Torrential Rain

Here’s a little Dallas infrastructure secret that we missed in our Hidden Dallas edition: the Cole Park Storm Water Detention Vault. It’s an un-sexy name for an un-sexy facility that performs a rather un-sexy function. And yet, there’s something evocative and mysterious about watching this video (below) of a Dallas city worker descending in a steel grid-ed elevator into unknown cavernous depths beneath Uptown. The video follows the man into chambers that were carved out 100 feet beneath Uptown in the early-1990s during the construction of the new Central Expressway.

The statistics on the vault are staggering: the 13 chambers with 40-foot ceilings stretch a length of two football fields with the capacity of holding upwards of 71 million gallons of water. In the instance of massive rainfall, these vast basins collect rainwater that would otherwise overwhelm Central Expressway’s storm drainage system and flood the highway.

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Programming Note: Talking Urbanization and Gentrification With DW Gibson Tonight at The Wild Detectives

One of the better books about urbanism to come out in recent years is DW Gibson’s new The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the Twenty-First Century. In it, Gibson uses the stories of a cross section of New Yorkers — Brooklynites, mostly — to get at a broad picture of the workings of gentrification, arguing that rather than being a “myth”, gentrification is a very real, if an extremely complicated and nuanced phenomenon. Here’s one of my favorite passages:

Gentrification is often saddled with an us vs. them framework, with “us” and “them”redefined ad infinitum — no two people ever talking about the exact same thing when it comes down to what “we” want and what “they” are doing wrong. Most of the time this idiosyncratic bifurcation is . . . about class: wealthy vs. poor with everyone on either side of a centerline. But the contradictory spaces [we] live in obliterate that clear line. As Neil Smith puts it in The New Urban Frontier, “Many people occupy ‘contradictory class’ positions; the source of contradiction . . . might involve anything from the occupation of an individual, in the level of class struggle in a given period. Classes are always in the process of constitution.”

You might think I’m pulling this quote to tee-up a revisiting of some of the issues swirling around new development in Oak Cliff.

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Will Oak Cliff Be Able to Control Its Own Urban Destiny?

Over the weekend at the Oak Cliff Film Festival, in between the usual party chatter about new films and filmmakers, there was much talk of real estate development. Things are heating up south of the Trinity as angry neighbors begin to line up against the new development plans that are arriving in the neighborhood on cue. Tomorrow evening there will be public discussion of it all at the Texas Theatre organized by Go Oak Cliff, an attempt to stave off the initial combustion.

Oak Cliff is rapidly shaping up as a case study in a particular problem of urban redevelopment. What is going on in Oak Cliff is not simply NIMBY-ism, or a Custer’s-last-stand by those who are trying to hold onto a vision of their neighborhood that is inevitably going to get caught in the undertow of redevelopment. Rather, this latest neighborhood controversy is a demonstration of a very complicated urban problem, one that reveals a fundamental disconnect between the kind of development that has driven Oak Cliff’s renewal and the forces that are driving its imminent redevelopment.

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Why Dallas Can’t Follow Wisconsin’s Lead and Sue to Stop the Trinity Toll Road

A remarkable ruling came down from the Eastern District Court of Wisconsin last week. A federal judge ruled in favor of an anti-highway advocacy group that sued the United States Department of Transportation to stop the expansion of a 19-mile segment of Wisconsin State Highway 23 from a two-lane to a four-lane roadway. In his decision, Judge Lynn Adelman agreed with the advocacy group, called 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, that the motivation for expanding the road was based on flawed traffic projections.

City Lab goes over the entire controversy and ruling in depth, but anyone following the debate over the Trinity Toll Road will be familiar with many of the issues at stake. Local officials in Wisconsin have pushed to expand a rural road for years, since way back in 1999, arguing that expansion was necessary because traffic projection models showed increased usage and eventual congestion along the road. Citizens doubted those traffic projection models, and fought the expansion because they believed tax dollars were better spent on more pressing needs. Citizens sued, and they won.

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Surprising No One, Oak Cliff-ers Angry About Planned Uptown-Style Development

A Change.org petition protesting Alamo Manhattan’s planned “Bishop Arts Gateway” development has garnered more than 300 signatures in just 3 hours. Signers oppose plans for a five-story, mixed-use development that would be constructed near the intersection of Zang and Davis St., at the site of the terminus of the future phase 2 extension of the Oak Cliff Streetcar. Those plans don’t share the neighborhood’s “vibe,” the petition says, and signers “believe that the ‘locally owned “organic” businesses’, as you put it, are happy where they are currently located, do not need to be displaced, and do not want to be your tenants.”

As I reported in the April edition of D Magazine, the neighborhood has been bracing itself for this moment.

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An Open Letter to Tim Headington, RE: Forty Five Ten

Dear Mr. Headington:

I read in the paper that you would like to receive nearly $1 million in public funding (TIF incentives) from the city of Dallas to use towards the development of a new location for upscale retailer Forty Five Ten in downtown Dallas.

I also read that your request has already prompted some backlash. The Dallas Morning NewsMark Lamster called it “chutzpah” on Twitter to ask for public funds to replace the historic buildings your company razed to make way for the new store. Then the DMN’s Tod Robberson wrote a column reiterating how terrible it was that you destroyed the historic buildings. Even on this blog, Krista, a downtown resident, expressed her concerns that your little four story building is going to block light, and City Councilman Philip Kingston chimed in with his desire to advance regulations about residential adjacency.

I know you are a very private guy, and I know that you really don’t like this kind of attention. You were not happy about catching so much flak for destroying those historic buildings in the first place. After all, you followed all of the correct procedures and got all the right approvals. The press even knew months in advance. And yet, as your TIF application begins to make its way through the approval process, it looks like you’re going to have to brace yourself for another round of criticism all because of some crumby old buildings that, let’s face it, weren’t exactly on par with the Parthenon.

What happened? You were the darling of downtown, like, 10 minutes ago.

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The Dallas Morning News Still Can’t Tell Dallas Apart From Dallas-Fort Worth

It’s the kind of rosy economic news we’re used to reading, an article proclaiming Dallas as the “nation’s most business friendly city.” Typically, I’d gloss over such a headline because I already know what’s in store. The story will probably contain a link to some study that uses vaguely scientific metrics to create a clickable list. You post, sit back, and let the internet work its magic.

But after spending much of the weekend at the tax-funded Omni, explaining to a bunch of editors from other cities just how “business friendly” Dallas’ political culture is, that phrase jumped-out at me. I wanted to see how they attempted to quantify “friendliness,” so I clicked through.

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Waitin’ Around For the Trinity Toll Road to Die

Over the next month or so, the City of Dallas will host numerous public meetings to present the Dream Team’s vision for the Trinity River Toll Road and receive community feedback about those plans.

I attended the second meeting, which was held in an area of Dallas about as far from the river as you can get and still technically be in the city of Dallas. Parkhill Junior High School is in the middle of a neighborhood of low slung 1970s ranch houses not too far from the Prestonwood Country Club and the city of Addison. It’s a staggeringly bucolic setting. Walking from the car to the school, the air was still and quiet — nearly silent — and the only sound was the chirping of birds and the muffled chattering of a few students far off by the sports fields.

Despite the distance between this part of Dallas and the center of the city, more than 60 people showed up to the meeting and many brought with them strong opinions about what should — or should not — happen in the floodway.

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The DMA Will Open Its North Entrance to Klyde Warren Park

The Dallas Museum of Art announced today the receipt of a $3 million grant from the Eagle Family to fund the renovation of the museum’s north entrance, which faces Klyde Warren Park.

Paired with an additional $1.3 million from the Hamon Charitable Foundation, the plans will transform the area outside of the museum’s Atrium Cafe into a plaza with outdoor seating for the restaurant. In addition, the driveways allowing access to the museum’s underground parking garage will be reconfigured, making room for wider sidewalks and new landscaping that are intended to create improved pedestrian access and flow between the park and the front of the DMA.  Henry Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 3 , which has been sitting in small traffic roundabout for years, will be mercifully relocated to the sculpture garden, though Miguel Covarrubias’ mosaic, Genesis, The Gift of Life, will remain in place. Construction begins in August.

It’s certainly looks like an improvement over what’s there today, though not as much of an improvement as completely eliminating the driveway could have been. Still, that’s likely an unrealistic solution, not only because of the logistics of the parking garage layout, but also because that garage must now be quite the cash cow thanks to the thousands of people flocking to Klyde Warren Park.

Here’s the full release:

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