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What a ‘Lost’ 1967 Film Can Teach Us About How To Build Dallas’ Future

Yesterday evening the Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects screened a lost film about Dallas entitled “The Walls Are Rising.” Originally produced in 1967 by the AIA, the film attempts to diagnose the city’s urban ills and suggests solutions. At the time of its production, it was screened all over Dallas to community groups and other organizations, and covered extensively in the Dallas Morning News. Nearly 50 years later, interest in the unearthed film is still strong. The event drew a crowd that approached 200 people to the seventh floor of the Sixth Floor Museum, an oddly appropriate setting for a film intimately tied to the civic reaction to the aftermath of the JFK assassination.

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Friday Afternoon Time Kill: Interactive Urban Decay

If you’re looking for a way to squander the next couple hours or so of late Friday productivity, I have an idea for you. Head over to the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for Quality Communities’ blog where they have put together a tool to help visualize 60 years of urban decay in Texas and Oklahoma. An interactive image slider graphic, not unlike the one we use in our “Ghosts of Dallas” series, allows you to toggle back and forth between aerial photographs taken 60 or so years apart of the city centers of Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City. You can see in an instant how an era driven by new highways, new parking codes and lots, new building styles like the skyscraper, housing projects, and public facilities like convention centers dramatically — and rather quickly — transformed the American urban landscape. It’s interesting, but a bit depressing — another reason to look forward to happy hour.

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News Flash: There Is Too Much Parking in American Cities

Next time you hear someone complaining about trying to find parking in Bishop Arts, pass them this story. It is a report on a new report released yesterday that shows that cities in the United States greatly oversupply parking. How much? Well, in the 27 districts studied, researches found that:

The oversupply ranged from 6 percent up to 253 percent across the study areas (below, the highest over-suppliers). And in the nine areas that had believed parking to be scarce, the oversupply ranged from 6 percent to 82 percent.

The key here is in many of the oversupplied area, the general perception was that parking was scare. I think Eric Jaffe, who writes about the report for City Lab, nails it with his lead:

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Forget Highways. Here’s What Development in Southern Dallas Should Look Like

Late last week, Dallas Morning News editorial board member Rodger Jones penned a post about highways and development that I’ve been trying to ignore. After all, people like Wylie H. and Patrick Kennedy do a good job taking apart Jones’ argument in the comments. But the piece reminded me of a particular development not unrelated to a highway that I’ve been looking for an excuse to write about for some time. And so, I’ve founded my excuse.

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New Task Force Will Study City’s Teardown Policy

There’s a new mayoral task force in town. Yes, we all know about the so-called “Dream Team” task force that is studying the Trinity River Toll Way. Today the mayor and City Councilmember Philip Kingston announced the creation of another task force to look at the city’s current historic preservation policy. The task force is being created in response to the recent demolition of a 19th century Romanesque Revival building on Main St. in Downtown Dallas. The Headington Company demolished 1611 Main Street back in September to make way for the construction of a new building that will house a Forty Five Ten boutique. At the time, there was much gnashing of teeth and confusion over the destruction of one of the oldest buildings in Dallas (even if those surprised by the event missed the long lead up). The Headington Company has said they tried to avoid demolition but couldn’t make the building work.

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Vice Reports on South Dallas’ ‘Revolutionary Gun Clubs’

In Vice, Aaron Lake Smith writes about the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, a newly formed collection of five black and brown paramilitary organizations that has been staging regular armed patrols of the Dixon Circle neighborhood of South Dallas. The patrols were organized in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, though the neighborhood is also where James Harper was shot in 2012, another unarmed African American youth killed by police. In fact, according to a report cited in the article, of the 185 people killed by Dallas police since 2002, 74 percent have been black or Hispanic.

Huey P. Newton Gun Club members see themselves as armed protectors of a community no one else will serve or fight for. In the piece, the writer chats with Jim Schutze and Peter Johnson about Dallas’ civil rights history (in short, there wasn’t much of one), and delves into the friction between open carry advocates and these semi-related Black Panther-inspired groups as well as the history of the Black Panthers. The article ends with a Kafka-esque scene of futile hope and stifling bureaucracy. It’s worth a read. Here’s a highlight:

But despite the New Black Panther Party’s dismal reputation, in Dallas its members are, at least, the most thoughtful and professional revolutionaries around. They have a platform, an ideology, work as barbers and electricians, and are serious about their politics and the importance of being armed. “What you see in the media relates to them on a national level, but their organization is a lot different here on a local level,” [club co-founder Charles] Goodson tells me.

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It’s a New Year, And We Still Don’t Know How to Pay for the Trinity Toll Road

If you have been a little tuned out over the last few weeks like we have, then what better way to kick-off the New Year than brushing up on some Trinity Toll Road news? Let’s start with Wick’s masterful take down of Mayor Mike Rawlings’ latest position on the road. Then brief yourself on the all star mega-meeting Sen. Royce West is hosting this week to try to hash out just where he stands on the road (attendees are slightly skewed pro-toll road by my reading of the list, but let’s hope our man Patrick Kennedy gets time to speak his mind).

Of course the elephant in the room—after we’ve yammered on and on about planning and cities and economics and transportation equality—is that we still don’t know how to fund the blasted road. Brandon Formby brings us up to date on that ever elusive question by peeking into Michael Morris’ magical cabinet of financial wonders to see how the COG man is fudging the numbers of late. In short, the plan is still essentially the same: find enough cash in the couch cushions to get cement in the floodway, then bully taxpayer-funded government agencies to scale it up later.

Happy New Year.

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The General, The Cog, and That Other Zombie Toll Road

File this under “variations in the key of lying.” No one knows how the “Blacklands” toll road — you know, the road that was so hated by the burbs that residents flooded public meetings to shut it down — is still alive, not even TxDOT. Jim Schutze tries to peel the onion to figure how after much resistance and promises from officials that the road was dead, it suddenly ended up on the Texas Department of Transportation’s to-build list. It’s another journey though the deep machinations of the region’s municipal planning organization, the North Central Texas Council of Governments, affectionately known as “The Cog.”

Even without heading over to the Observer story, you know how it made it on that list. I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with Bichael Boris. But here’s why you should click over to Schutze’s piece. When State Representative Cindy Burkett, a Sunnyvale Republican who very much doesn’t want that road on the to-build list, asked TxDOT Executive Director Lieutenant General Joe F. Weber how it got there, The General refused to put his answer in writing. Maybe The General’s keyboard is missing an “M,” I don’t know. You can read both Burkett’s letter and the General’s wiggly response here.

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Why Young People Like Denver More Than Dallas

Stumbled on this interesting report from a few of months ago that looks at what cities attract college graduates. According to data assembled by the think tank City Observatory, “The number of college-educated people age 25 to 34 living within three miles of city centers has surged, up 37 percent since 2000, even as the total population of these neighborhoods has slightly shrunk.” Why is this significant? Well, because the movement of young people and the places that attract them can help provide “a map of the cities that have a chance to be the economic powerhouses of the future,” the article asserts.

The economic effects reach beyond the work the young people do, according to Enrico Moretti, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of “The New Geography of Jobs.” For every college graduate who takes a job in an innovation industry, he found, five additional jobs are eventually created in that city, such as for waiters, carpenters, doctors, architects and teachers.

“It’s a type of growth that feeds on itself — the more young workers you have, the more companies are interested in locating their operations in that area and the more young people are going to move there,” he said.

So what cities will be the economic powerhouses of the future?  Not Dallas, apparently.

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A Toll Road To the Trinity Paved With Good Deceptions

So we have this little thing we make every month here at D Magazine that we refer to as the print edition, and we are currently in the midst of trying to put together February’s issue. As a result, I’m neck deep in a feature story about art, success, love, suffering, life, death, Dallas, Europe, markets, art worlds, champagne, smoked haddock, race cars, and superheroes. If I can pull it off, it might be a decent read. But you don’t care about that right now. What you care about — what everyone cares about, again — is the Trinity Bleeping Toll Road. But I mention this pesky little article because it has prevented me from giving you an adequate update on the road in the wake of last week’s remarkable revelation that those who are in support of the toll road are dirty, rotten liars. Well, they are not really liars. I’ll explain why.

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Trinity Toll Road Town Hall Backs Pro-Roaders Against the Ropes

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 500 people packed the auditorium at Rosemont Elementary in Oak Cliff yesterday evening for what was perhaps the most honest, open debate about the Trinity Toll Road ever to take place in this city.

The event, organized by State Representative Rafael Anchia, pitted the most outspoken representatives of the pro- and anti-toll road debate in a town hall-style discussion about the controversial plans to build a high-speed traffic artery through the Trinity River floodway. The crowd was overwhelmingly against the road and at times cheered for comments made by anti-road flag wavers Scott Griggs, Patrick Kennedy, and Bob Meckfessel and laughed –- and at one point hissed –- at remarks made by North Central Texas Council of Government transportation director Michael Morris. But the event was largely well-mannered, thanks in part to able moderating by the state rep, who reminded everyone at the outset that they were sitting in an elementary school.

“If we were parents, and children were acting up, we would frown on it,” Anchia said.

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Who’s Ready to Talk Some Trinity Toll Road?

What would we do in Dallas if we didn’t have the Trinity Toll Road to talk about? The “zombie road,” which is back from the dead and suddenly, once again, topic du jour in our fair burg will get a roll-em-out, sock-em, rock-em, run-em-dry, spitfire, conversational whooping this evening at the Charles Semos Campus of Rosemont Elementary in Oak Cliff. The public event in Scott Griggs’ council district promises to be the debate that the Stemmons Corridor Business Association luncheon wasn’t. In the pro-road corner: Michael Morris, director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments; Mary Suhm, former city manager of the city of Dallas; and Craig Holcomb, former city councilman and current executive director of the Trinity Commons Foundation. In the no-road corner, Griggs, urban planner and designer and StreetSmart‘s Patrick Kennedy, and architect and Trinity Trust member Bob Meckfessel. I’m hoping State Representative Rafael Anchia, who is hosting the event, wears a referee uniform. A drop down mic would be fun. Double Dare-style post-Q&A round would be ideal.

If you want to brush up on your Toll Road facts, check out Brendon Formby’s run down of the ten things to know about the zombie road. If you’re looking for some pregame analysis, check out Schutze’s thoughts on why this event is unlike anything that happened in the lead up to the 2007 referendum. Here’s some more info about tonight’s event.

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So What’s the Mayor’s Trinity Toll Road Task Force Actually Going to Do?

After the mayor announced his Trinity Toll Road task force, I was left wondering about these smart urban guys he picked to rethink the design of the road. Sure, they’re all likely getting a nice pay check for their efforts, which may be motivation enough to stick their noses in this business. And they all have deep experience parachuting into controversy and knowing how to blast their way back out of town. But what are their marching orders? What – or how much – are they were expected to do in Dallas? Would they join a task force that was little more than a political charade or which couldn’t actually suggest any changes that were meaningful?

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Ron Kirk Joins Company That Wants to Bring High Speed Rail to Dallas

Former Dallas Mayor and former U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk is now a senior advisor to Texas Central Railway, the private company that hopes to bring high speed rail to Texas. The news comes via a statement Kirk posted on the company’s website:

I have seen just about all of the high-speed rail systems throughout Europe and Asia, and the competitive part of me feels that if the rest of the world can do this, why can’t we right here in the United States? This along with the practical attraction to having an alternative transportation mode between two of the fastest growing economic zones in the country sparked my interest and compelled me to join the Texas Central Railway team.

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Will Art Prize Change Dallas’ Cultural Scene Forever?

Big local art news news hit yesterday: the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Art Prize — nicknamed the American Idol of art — will expand to Dallas in 2016. Why should you care? Well, in the December issue, I write about how there are a ton of people who see Art Prize, which hands out $500,000 in cash awards to artists and attracts huge numbers of visitors to little Grand Rapids, as a huge financial boost both for artists and the local tourism industry. On the other hand, many of this city’s artists, administrators, and curators are concerned that the art exhibit famous for Surfer Jesus paintings and giant dog sculptures is going to clutter our city with middlebrow art schlock and brand us as a provincial backwater. Then there’s that whole connection between Art Prize, Amway, and all sorts of evangelical action groups. You can read the piece over on FrontRow.

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