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Jill Jordan Explains the Highway Spaghetti Planned for the Continental Pedestrian Bridge

This morning Rudy Bush tweeted that there was an interesting Trinity toll road conversation going on during the open microphone section of the Dallas City Council meeting, so I decided to head on over to the city’s handy online video section and check it out. A trio of speakers, including a property owner in the Design District, talked about the value of that neighborhood’s proximity to the Trinity River park and how the proposed toll road could negatively affect the potential for the Design District to become even more of a premier neighborhood and destination.

The highlight of the open microphone session came at the tail end. During his remarks, the property owner expressed concern about the contradictions apparent in multiple Trinity toll road renderings produced by different agencies, like the NTTA and TxDOT, which show exit ramps from the proposed road swamping the Continental Pedestrian Bridge and even depicting cars driving on the pedestrian bridge. The owner asked for some clarification, and when he was finished, council member Sandy Greyson called Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan to the microphone to sort out the confusion.

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How a Subway Could Transform Downtown Dallas

A downtown Dallas brimming with street life, and under-street life, with shops and churches and schools, and much more affordable rents? Jim Schutze waxes on about how a subway line built beneath Elm Street could help make this fantasy a reality, leaning heavily on the vision of real estate developer John Tatum. But we’ve got choices ahead:

The tragedy Tatum sees about to unfold downtown is that Dallas is about to make two decisions — the second downtown DART rail alignment and the Trinity River toll road — that will seriously cripple if not kill the chances for achieving Fantasy Downtown. A decision to build the toll road would waste a huge sum of money, $1 billion to $2 billion, that the city should spend on rail instead. With that kind of money to spend on itself, Dallas could achieve some all-important independence of suburban DART board members who have always fought any concentration of resources downtown.

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Dallas’ Evolving Tech Community Offers Model for Successful Regional Growth

This article in GeekWire has been circulating on the interwebs. It talks about the strides made by Dallas’ startup community in recent years to build the sense of identity and community that is necessary in any entrepreneurial tech scene hoping to thrive on sharing, synergy, co-mingling, and all that other mumbo jumbo stuff they blabber on about in Austin every March.

Admittedly, I don’t know much about Dallas tech, so I can’t attest to how accurate this portrayal is (it appears in GeekWire ahead of a GeekWire-sponsored Startup Week in Dallas next Month), however it does ring true with D CEO’s latest cover story. I bring it up because there is much in GeekWire’s portrayal of Dallas’ tech world that suggests a model for how we should be thinking about city-building and regional growth.

First off, while DFW has never been a stranger to tech success stories, from Texas Instruments to Mark Cuban, what the area has lacked is a sense of cohesion and identity. Why? In part, sprawl:

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Does Downtown Dallas Need Another Skycraper?

You know how liquor stores and other places will hang up bounced checks to shame customers who tried to swindle them? I think Dallas City Hall should have a similar “Wall of Shame” for developers with particularly bad track records. When these characters come back with new ideas, staff should look over their shoulder, point, and say, “Hey, wait, you’re the guy who did that.”

Two names on my imaginary wall of shame: the Trammell Crow Company and Ross Perot Jr.

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Grocery or Big Box In Downtown Dallas? Or, Why Inequality Needs to be Part of Urbanism Conversation.

There’s an interesting tidbit on Unfair Park this morning about the possibility of a new, large-scale retailer coming to the ground floor of 1401 Elm, the largest vacant building in the Central Business District.  The Observer’s Stephen Young makes a heads-up observation. Back in January 2014, the developer of 1401 Elm requested TIF funds from the city, and the request said the project would include 25,000 square feet of retail or restaurant space and 40,000 square feet of office. Now, the developer has come back to the city with a revised outlook: how about just 65,000 square feet of commercial space? That, according to city staff, would allow the developer more flexibility for things like bringing in an upscale grocer to take over the building’s 50,000 square feet of ground floor retail.

But wait. Young points to a Dallas Business Journal article from December in which Jack Gosnell, who is brokering the retail for the site, suggests that the same space might be good for a “big box retailer or a department store.”

Cue panic. Could Sam’s Club be invading downtown too?

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How the Mayor Should Handle Ethics Complaints About His Well-Stocked ‘Officeholder Account’

Mayor Rawlings pinky swears he won’t touch money in his officerholder account that came in before he announced his re-election bid in December. He also said that he became aware of the loophole that allows incumbents to receive unlimited contributions back in 2011, and believes we “gotta change that,” but, you know, hasn’t gotten around to it. Now he will, at some point in the next six months, which sounds like after the election.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t find that response terribly satisfying. Here’s a better idea.

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Mike Rawlings’ Kangaroo COG: Who Deserves Blame for the Wasteful Toll Road Planning Charade?

From the beginning, we knew the entire thing was a set-up, orchestrated to produce precisely this conclusion. We wrote that it was all an attempt to allow Rawlings a way to distance himself politically from the Toll Road ahead of the May election (From Formby’s story: “I believe the leaders of the city will make that appropriate decision [to expand the road to six-lanes] at that point,” [Rawlings] said. “I will not be one of them.”) This wasn’t the “dream team.” It was the urban planning equivalent of a kangaroo court. The dream team was actually the Kangaroo COG.

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A Little History for the Dallas Citizens Council and Alice Murray

Alice Murray, president of the Dallas Citizens Council, recently wrote a piece in support of the Trinity toll road. Peter did a pretty thorough job destroying her weak arguments. One point that Murray tried to make was this: DFW Airport, DART, Victory Park, and Klyde Warren Park were all big public improvement projects that wise leaders supported and naysayers fought. Never mind that DART is one of the worst performing public transit systems in the country and Victory Park was a huge financial failure. Murray’s point is that wise leaders, like the sort who belong to the Dallas Citizens Council, will carry the day.

This got artist, author, environmentalist, and sometime D Magazine contributor Laray Polk thinking. Because she remembers that in the early 1970s, the Dallas Citizens Council supported turning the Trinity River into a navigable canal that would bring ships from the Gulf to the port of Dallas. Oh, and James Hoffa’s people were part of the deal. Laray reminds us:

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Trinity Toll Road Backers Launch Misinformation Campaign

This morning the Dallas Business Journal ran a commentary piece by Alice Murray, President of the Dallas Citizens Council, and I couldn’t help but wonder that if this had been 2006, the article would have appeared in the Dallas Morning News. Regardless, in the DBJ, Murray argues that we should build the Trinity Toll Road. Why? Well, because Dallas:

Quick: What do DFW Airport, DART, Victory Park and Klyde Warren Park have in common?

Give up?

Answer: All began as major public improvement projects that Dallas leaders were wise enough to support, and all have paid off big time in providing massive economic, social and cultural benefits to Dallas and the surrounding region.

And here’s another thing that they all have in common: All had vocal opponents who predicted all sorts of doom and gloom if these projects went forward.

Okay, so, you get that? Here we go.

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How Should the City Respond to the Uptown Sam’s Club? Establish a Parking Levy to Fund Public Transit

This morning Tim pointed out that the new Richards Group building includes 10 stories of parking. That building is located across Central Expressway from the planned Sam’s Club that those lazy, unethical developers at Trammell Crow, enabled by their less-than admirable financial backers, MetLife, are shoving down our throats. Together, just these two developments are providing space for a lot of cars in what is supposed to be the growing cluster of Dallas’ most dense and urban environment. They are going to attract more cars to the area, and those cars are going to make traffic problems on Central Expressway even worse. That’s going to make the imaginary number counters at the NCTCOG claim that we need more lanes and roads and the sky is falling and toll roads and blah, blah, blah. It all fits together.

Meanwhile, last week the DMN reported that during DART’s board retreat, in which the heads of our public transit agency stepped back to take a look at long range ideas to make public transit in Dallas better, these transit geniuses came up with “toll road.” I know. I know. Insanity. More that tomorrow.

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