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Leading Off (6/23/16)

Valley view center will officially be torn down. Dallas City Council members voted yesterday to tear down the 43-year-old Valley View Center at LBJ and Preston around the end of the year. Only the Sears store will survive. The Dallas Midtown development will be built in place of the mall, which has been struggling to survive for quite some time. Dallas Midtown will include features like a new-and-improved AMC mulitplex, a park, office buildings, a 250-room hotel, and a grocery store.

there might be a deck park above I-35E by the dallas zoo. The City Council approved a resolution that would endorse a Klyde Warren-esque deck park near the zoo as part of the Southern Gateway project. Some council members liked the idea. Carolyn King Arnold called it “lipstick on a pig.”

North texas areas to be sprayed for west nile. Mosquito traps in Cedar Hill, Duncanville, Richardson, and Lancaster tested positive for the virus. Crews plan to spray overnight Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday in Lancaster; overnight Thursday, Friday, and Sunday in Cedar Hill and Duncanville; and overnight Thursday and Friday in Richardson. Use that insect repellent, people.

Thanksgiving tower bomb threat determined to be hoax. Yesterday around 6 p.m. police and fire crews responded to a bomb threat at Thanksgiving Tower downtown. A disgruntled client on the phone with someone who worked in the building threatened to set off a bomb. The entire building was evacuated. The threat was determined to be a bluff, but it’s still being investigated.

Southbound I-35E to close Friday night. From 10 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday, the southbound lanes of the highway by downtown will all be closed for construction. Heavy traffic will also affect Woodall Rodgers and I-30, but drivers on I-35E will still be able to get on westbound I-30. So if you’re planning to drive through this area during that time, you’ve been warned.

Why You Should Care About the Closing of Tent City Even If You Live in East Dallas

The homeless may not live in your Lakewood backyard, but you should still care. The recent closure of Tent City under I-45 near downtown and limits on affordable housing density mean that there are plenty of people looking for new places to camp. They’re people; you’re people. Let’s talk about solutions that can make us all feel better, safer, and get a roof over our heads.

The Dallas Commission on Homelessness is hosting two community meetings next week in an attempt to gather feedback for City Council come budget time in August. The first will be Monday night from 6 to 8 at Dallas City Hall in L1F1 Auditorium. The second will be on Tuesday from 6 to 8 at the Harry Stone Recreation Center. That’s the one I’ll be moderating.

Tuesday’s panelists include: Mark Clayton, Councilmember, District 9; Larry James, Chief Executive Officer, CitySquare; Ikenna Mogbo, Housing Outpatient Operations Manager, Metrocare Services; and Jesse Moreno, a community advocate. Krista Nightengale, a former managing editor of D Magazine and current managing director at Better Block Foundation, will also be there. Please bring questions and comments. I don’t plan to talk too much; I’m really hoping to learn.

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Leading Off (6/14/16)

two orlando shooting victims had ties to texas. At least two of the people who lost their lives in the horrific shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando Sunday were connected to Texas. Luis Vielma lived in Sanford, Florida, but one of his siblings lived in North Texas, and his godmother—with whom he shared a love of the Dallas Cowboys—was born in Dallas. Frank Hernandez, who went by Frank Escalante, was a Rio Grande Valley native.

Man shot at love field is now in jail. 29-year-old Shawn Diamond, who was shot by a police officer last week outside of Love Field, has now moved from the hospital to jail. Diamond had traveled from Maryland to his ex-girlfriend’s Dallas home. She told police he had gotten upset on the way to Love Field, and when they got out of the car, he smashed the car’s rear windshield with a traffic cone and threw rocks at its windows. An officer tried to get him to stop, but Diamond ran toward him, and the officer fired shots. Diamond is being held at the Dallas County Jail on charges of aggravated assault against a public servant and assault—family violence.

Celebrations mark Dart’s 20th anniversary. Starting today, celebrations will take place to mark the 20th anniversary of DART’s first 11 miles of light rail. In 1996, when it first launched, the expectation was that light rail would reach 53 miles. But now, it’s expanded to 90 miles, the longest system of its kind in the U.S. Celebrations will include customer appreciation events, music, and giveaways.

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Leading Off (6/13/16)

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Condemned For Gospel Verse Tweet: Dan Patrick’s campaign claims the Sunday morning quotation he shared on Twitter from Galatians 6:7 – “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”– had been scheduled for several days, and was not a reaction to the horrible attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning. That’s either extraordinarily bad timing or a complete lie. The tweet was deleted, though some are now calling for Patrick’s resignation. There will be a vigil held in Dallas for the Orlando victims.

Report on Dog Attack Details Just How Inept Dallas’ City Services Are: A report released Friday reveals the grisly details of the death of Antoinette Brown, who was attacked and killed by a pack of wild dogs in South Dallas on May 2. The details of the attack are difficult to read, even in summary. That it happened on a street in a major American city is just dumbfounding. As horrifying is the ineptitude demonstrated by police and city hall. Neighbors repeatedly reported the pack of dogs that killed Brown roaming the neighborhood for days after the attack and received no response.

Dallas, Meet Your Newest Political Football: As we mentioned Friday, TxDOT released its much-anticipated study of various reworkings of Dallas’ downtown highway system, an issue we here at D Magazine have been writing about for some time. Perhaps the best thing I’ve read about the report so far is Brandon Formby’s piece over the weekend about how the report will fit within Dallas’ political landscape, essentially becoming another Trinity, Fair Park-style splitter, breaking right down the middle of the plate:

But the report lands at City Hall at a time when the council struggles to keep up with subpar city streets and grapples a $19 million budget shortfall. At the same time, council members must replace their outgoing city manager and decide the fate of how Fair Park is managed.

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UTA Draws Up New-ish Plan For Fair Park

Via the Morning News, we see a new design for what the future of Fair Park could look like: much more green space and far less acreage devoted to parking, for one.

The plan, grandly dubbed “Fair Park :The Reinvigoration of a National Treasure,” comes from the University of Texas at Arlington’s Institute of Urban Studies and was financially supported by the Foundation for Community Empowerment. That organization’s chief backer, former Trammell Crow chairman Don Williams, was also the force behind last year’s Di Mambro Plan, which also sought to put more “park” into Fair Park by limiting the space used by the State Fair of Texas.

The key recommendations from the UTA plan are:

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Mark Lamster on Fair Park at 80: ‘A Very Dallas Story’

To honor the 80th anniversary of the Texas Centennial Exhibition, Dallas Morning News architecture critic Mark Lamster penned a piece worth highlighting about the complicated, paradoxical history of Fair Park, our city’s favorite neglected stepchild. Even from its inception, Lamster writes, Fair Park was shaped by confounding political forces which muddled the commissioning process for its now beloved art deco structures:

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What Do You Think of the New Plan for the Trinity River?

A few weeks ago, the mayor hosted an event that unveiled a new, $250 million vision for the Trinity River Project. Before offering some reservations, Mark Lamster practically swooned over the initial designs, which, on the surface, seem to internalize some of the criticisms of previous incarnations of the plan. Like Lamster, when I looked at the latest Trinity River Project watercolors, I recognized what looks like a gesture towards compromise. The floodplain is depicted as a more dynamic, natural setting, designed to participate in — and not resist — the regular flooding events that are the heartbeat of the ecology of the river.

Now a website has been set up by the two nonprofits that have long been pushing forward the Trinity River Project, The Trinity Trust and the Trinity Commons Foundation. Reading the brief description of the new park on that site, I found the kind of language that should surround any attempt at re-imagining the Trinity River. I also saw some questionable assertions.

First, here’s the good:

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A New Plan For a Park Between the Trinity River Levees

Architecture critic Mark Lamster of the Morning News has taken a look at a new design by New York-based landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates for a park between the levees of the Trinity River downtown, and he says Dallas “finally has a serious plan” for the space:

If realized, it would stand as an urban landscape of unrivaled scale, a lush green sash that would reorient the essential polarity of the city, pointing it decisively inward toward the core.

The breakout success of Klyde Warren Park should stand as an example of just how desperate the city is for a unifying public space of recreation, entertainment and civic celebration. A reinvented Trinity would be exponentially more consequential in the suturing of a divided city.

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Leading Off (5/17/16)

Urban farm coming to downtown. There’s a vacant lot located between Deep Ellum and the Dallas Farmers Market that will likely become an urban farm by next year. Yesterday, the City Council’s Economic Development Committee concurred that this is a good idea. The urban farm will help returning veterans learn how to work the land and will provide fresh produce that people can purchase.

Wrong apartment set on fire, woman dies. 58-year-old Debra Williams died at Parkland from fire-related burns at her southeast Dallas apartment. The fire was set as revenge for a gang-related shooting, except it was meant for someone else. The gunman in the shooting was Christopher Deon Shaw, and police sources believe that someone set the fire thinking one of Shaw’s friends lived at the apartment.

I-30 Cedars exit to be closed for months. Eastbound I-30’s exit for Lamar Street, which takes drivers to downtown and The Cedars neighborhood, will close this Friday evening and will be closed until the fall. This closure is part of the Horseshoe Project, which aims to revamp where I-30 and I-35E meet.

Hail expected today. It’s been a hail-heavy rainy season. Today’s storms could bring quarter-sized hail to North Texas. And of course, a whole lot of rain.

Leading Off (5/10/16)

Southern Dallas woman who was mauled by dogs has died. 52-year-old Antoinette Brown was mauled on Rutledge Street by a pack of dogs on May 2 and was bitten more than 100 times. She died last night after being removed from life support. This truly horrific attack is yet another indicator that Dallas needs to get its loose-dog problem under control.

Continental avenue bridge might actually be renamed for ron kirk. The proposal to name the Continental Avenue bridge for former mayor Ron Kirk is getting closer to fruition. Yesterday, the City Council’s Transportation and Trinity River Project Committee voted (unanimously, no less) to bring the proposal to the entire council May 25.

Frisco woman has zika virus. She traveled outside the United States and has tested positive for the virus, which is spread by infected mosquitoes. This is the first confirmed case for Collin County, while Dallas County has had six confirmed cases this year. Zika’s most common symptoms include fever, joint pain, rash, and conjunctivitis.

Stars win to force game 7. They pulled out a 3-2 win against the Blues, which means Game 7 will actually happen. It will be the first Game 7 here at home since 2000 and the first overall Game 7 since 2007.

Queen Bey is flawless at Arlington show. I didn’t even attend, but that’s just a given. Seems like the Formation Tour is her best one yet.

Why It Is Not Enough for Fair Park Leadership to Merely ‘Cheer’ for South Dallas

Amidst all the hubbub over homelessness that has erupted over the past few days, I feel like an important article by Robert Wilonsky about Fair Park hasn’t received the attention it deserves. On Tuesday, Wilonsky wrote about the many parcels of land that the State Fair of Texas owns outside the boundaries of Fair Park. These lots are dispersed through the community of South Dallas. Some are unkempt, others vacant, and others used to enforce arbitrary parking restrictions. Like the moats of parking around Fair Park, these lots remain a real, active agent of disinvestment in a community that has been the victim of a bully neighbor for decades:

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The Triumph of Dallas-Fort Worth Regionalism

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is following a group of about 100 leaders from the Atlanta metropolitan area who are in North Texas this week to see how we do business. Mayor Mike Rawlings addressed them last night at the Nasher:

“I’m a competitive guy – I played football,” said Rawlings. “And you are my main competition.”

He also made it clear he can make the argument that in the tussle between the two, he thinks the upper hand belongs to the 6.7 million person metro region known as DFW – for Dallas-Ft. Worth.

“We are basically one market now and DFW is the fourth-largest in market in the United States,” he said. “There’s New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and then there’s DFW.”

Earlier they’d met Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who told them “What is good for Fort Worth is good for Dallas, and vice versa.” And during that same visit:

Much of the change in Dallas and Fort Worth is a bow to reality, said Mike Eastland, executive director of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. “The world has forced us to act regionally.”

Is Anyone Else a Little Creeped Out By the Idea of a Homeless Concentration Camp?

Let’s get this out straight away: I don’t really know anything about homelessness. I haven’t read much of the literature. I haven’t studied initiatives in various cities around the country. And I tend to trust that most of the people who are engaged in all aspects of the fight against homelessness have their hearts in the right place. I think that places like City Square, Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, and others are doing good work. I’d like to think the Bridge, which downtown residents love to hate, is also trying to do good work, even if it is easy to point to all of the problems Bridge residents create and see the Bridge as a magnet for trouble.

I also respect the neighbors downtown and in the Cedars who are faced with the brunt of what homelessness brings to a neighborhood: crime, petty theft, vagrancy, drugs, prostitution, irritating panhandling, and random ridiculousness like guys throwing rocks off overpasses. Those are the kinds of little crimes that can kill large scale, long term efforts to revitalize neighborhoods. And  I appreciate that neighbors can often feel at war with the very people who are trying to alleviate homelessness, like church-run soup kitchens that draw people through neighborhoods, creating makeshift pedestrian highways characterized by trash, petty theft, or worse.

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Dallas Street Stories Hopes to Give Voice to the City’s Homeless

Yasef was the first person we spoke to. After meeting him, I scribbled in my notes: “sad guy; red hat.” He was soft-spoken, downtrodden, and defeated. When I asked what he needed, the 6-foot-8-inch man said one thing: “clothes that fit me.”

We visited with a handful of other people in Tent City that day. And, when we left, Yasef and his group of friends called to us as we walked away. “Are you leaving?” one of the guys asked. “Yeah, but we’ll be back,” we promised. And then they all waved as we walked out.

I’ve lived and worked downtown for nearly six years. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of social media chatter about the homeless in my neighborhood. The homeless have been called aggressive, carpetbaggers, and freeloaders. This all led to a crackdown on panhandling.

That hasn’t been my experience with the homeless downtown.

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