You were just sitting at your desk thinking, “Man, I really need a hug right now.” Well, thanks to the folks at bcWorkshop, you can get one! Head to the parklet at St. Paul, where they’re wrapping up a month of engaging spaces around downtown with the mobile bench unit. There are snacks, music planned by Deep Dallas Music, and, of course, free hugs. They’re there until 4 o’clock.
You’ve got to love the Morning News. It sets up its formula for best neighborhoods, and by golly it is going to follow where the data leads, damn the torpedoes. So on Sunday it announced to the world that Valley Ranch — the place you pass by on LBJ when you’re on your way to the airport — is the best spot in Dallas-Fort Worth for urban living. Think Manhattan, or Chicago, or Portland, and the next words you’ll conjure are… Valley Ranch! Eric Nicholson over at Unfair Park is delighted.
As Jason and Christine mentioned earlier, Beck Ventures made a big announcement today regarding their plans for the redevelopment of Valley View Mall. It features ICONIC! buildings, and TROLLEYS!, and PEDESTRIAN FRIENDLY! retail. It will also feature a big box Sears and JC Penney, all set to the musical equivalent of a dentist’s drill in the eye.
The Beck project has all the markings of how seemingly forward-thinking urban design trends of the 21th century – it has to be walkable, feature public space, mix uses and transportation – turns real estate development conceived with a 20th century financial model – big box anchor, destination shopping, no real access to public transportation – into a scarcely more desirable hybrid, Frankenstein sprawl.
But here’s where I get confused. (more…)
I snapped this picture yesterday afternoon in the plaza at the corner of Saint Paul and Federal streets, where homeless men are known to congregate. Nobody was there to claim all of these products.
Police Need Help Cracking Murder Case Involving Senior: A 79-year-old woman in East Dallas was found slain in her home Saturday, and police are turning to the public for help. There were signs of forced entry, but no word on whether the residence where the woman was found was burglarized. And Bernie Tiede’s locked up, so you can scratch him off the list of suspects.
Should UNT Dallas Open New Law School When Law Grads Can’t Find Jobs? That’s one of the questions put to Ellen Pryor, associate dean for academic affairs at the new UNT Dallas College of Law, which is set to open in the old Dallas City Hall in August 2014. Her answer? Well, yes, of course, but she adds that in the current economic and education environment, UNT Dallas is in a unique position to rethink the value and shape of legal education.
Trends: We Like Driving, Botox: The tranquility of the country and the distance between Dallas and Fort Worth contribute to the percentage of North Texans with “mega-commutes,” daily drives of at least 90 minutes and 50 miles. And all that driving makes the lunch hour one of the few times during the day to take care of little errands, you know, like face-lifts.
Whenever I used to vent to former Arts District executive director Veletta Lill about all the things that frustrate me about the Arts District — its shortage of residences, its orientation towards the high end of the market, its one-dimensional character as a depot for imported art and performances — Lill would remind me that the Arts District as it stands today is only 25 years into a 50-year vision. The things that make a neighborhood a neighborhood (people of all walks of life, services, booze and coffee) will come, she promised optimistically.
Regarding that future vision, Lill always singled-out the parking lot adjacent to Museum Tower as key component in the overall Arts District build-out. Now it looks like the spot could be the location of the most significant development on Flora Street since Rem Koolhaus and Joshua Prince-Ramus decided to perpetually torture any Dallas theater lover with weak knees. Curious what’s going on? Jump.
I live in Oak Cliff, so when I leave our downtown offices I often take the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge home. And, since the bridge opened last year, hundreds of other west-of-the-Trinity residents have done the same thing every night. Traffic backs up on the bridge for commuters heading south on Beckley Avenue, forcing many of us to take Singleton Boulevard home. It’s not that big of a deal.
My route, though, will change starting today. As you can see from that blurry map above, the stretch of Beckley Avenue between Singleton and Commerce will be closed every day, starting, oh, 22 minutes ago. It’s for track repairs the Union Pacific Railroad is performing throughout West Dallas (Full list of detours and closures here). According to city hall, the stretch will be closed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, through WednesdayÂ
no end date has been set.
So, west-of-the-Trinity commuters: find a new route.
On Saturday and Sunday, there were traffic jams in the Arts District, and for once they weren’t caused by cars. They were the result of hundreds of people flowing from Klyde Warren Park and wandering across streets with the leisurely attitude park-goers have. These hundreds of people had no place to sit and settle, to imbibe an adult beverage, enjoy brunch, or just people-watch over a cup of coffee.
That’s because the Arts District seems doctrinally opposed to restaurants, even though every venue was losing money by not providing space outside to serve alcohol, cappuccinos, and food. Contrast that to Buenos Aires, a city that understands human beings. Across from almost every park in that robust, people-friendly city, space has been reserved for restaurants — as many as seven or eight lined up together with large umbrellas sheltering diners from heat and rain. In Dallas, if there is any restaurant at all, it is commissioned to one provider, just as Klyde Warren has done with its soon-to-be-finished place. In Buenos Aires, the attitude is to let a hundred umbrellas bloom — Italian, French, Argentine, pizzerias, sushi, anything your heart desires. Why do we insist on one brand, one style, one menu? Let the park’s restaurant be only one of many scattered around the Arts District so that wanderers have a place to wander to.
Oh, beloved Arts District people, how many times do I have to say it: alcohol and coffeeÂ are your friends. Embrace them. Use food and drink as welcoming arms to invite people to your mini-fortresses of Art. Klyde Warren Park has given you the gift of people. Open up your gates to them!
Today Art Place America, a collaboration of 13 national and regional foundations (including groups like the National Endowment for the Arts, The Ford Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation), released its list of “America’s Top ArtPlaces 2013”Â – an “art place” being a neighborhood “where the arts are central to creating places where people–residents and visitors–want to be.”
And, yes, Dallas made the list that includes places like part of Brooklyn, the Mission District in San Francisco, Hollywood, CA, and others.
In fact, the neighborhood of Dallas identified as a top “art place” was number two on the list, ranking just below Brooklyn and just above HollywoodÂ (CORRECTION: The top 12 cities were not ranked, the neighborhoods with the top 12 scores were just listed alphabetically.) What Dallas neighborhood, you ask? Well, the Arts District, but also Deep Ellum and Exposition Park thrown in for good measure. And that broadly-defined definition of our great arts neighborhood as three not-so-connected individual neighborhoods should send up the first red flag about the report.
Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week show that Dallas County children, on whole, are poorer than not only most other Texas children, but mostÂ otherÂ children in America’s largest cities.
Close to 30 percent of children in Dallas County between the ages of five and 17 live in poverty, the numbers show, nearly a five percent increase since 2007. The below chart shows the poverty rates for those aged children, in Dallas-area counties:
Jump for even more disturbing news, and a few bright spots.
Golf Courses Are the Ultimate Cure-All For Urban Poverty: Here’s another article (paywall) that talks about how Mayor Mike Rawlings is really jazzed about how great that golf course is going to be for South Dallas. But you don’t need to click through. You already know how huge this deal is going to be. Just think about what a major boom Dallas National has been for Cockrell Hill. I mean, can you think of a more affluent and booming neighborhood in North Texas than the island city of Cockrell Hill? It’s like a second Highland Park, which also has a golf course in it. Coincidence? I think not.
Man Tries to Steal $269 Worth of Meat: In order to really appreciate this story about Rodney Johnson’s attempt to make off from a Kroger with $269 worth of meat shoved up under his coat, you have to try and picture just what $269 worth of meat looks like. Then read how he was first tackled by police and then struck in the back of the head before officers finally managed to arrest the hungry thief.
Michael Young Is No Longer a Texas Ranger: Drop your head to your chest, raise your right arm, extend your fingers, and drop a final claw on Michael Young as he heads out the door to Philadelphia. “If there was crying in baseball, I guess I’d cry,” Wash said. But we all know Wash cried.
Cowboys Win Game, Josh Brent Just Loses: What do you say about Josh Brent? Over the weekend he lost his best friend, he lost his career, and he quite possibly lost his freedom for up to the next 20 years (the maximum sentence for intoxication manslaughter). He was released from jail after posting bail that was $10,000 more than his $490,000 2012 salary. “It’s not a good moment for anyone right now,” Brent’s attorney said. I guess that’s all you really can say.
Take a spin through Google Maps – that democratizing, interconnecting beast – and one thing is immediately apparent: no people. Well there are people, they just lack faces. (See: Lost Ark, Raiders of the)
Now some brainiacs at Rutgers are trying to fix that. According to The Atlantic:
But what Google delivers in breadth, it loses in depth. The nature of the car camera technology means that all we see are exteriors passed by. Faces are blurred. We don’t really see people living their lives, so much as the backdrop against which they do so.
Which is what makesÂ The Beat, a new project from the RutgersÂ Social Media Information Lab, so interesting. It mashes up geolocated, hashtagged Instagram photos with the Google Street View locations from which they were posed. In doing so, it provides the human foreground for these locations.
I took it for a whirl through Dallas this morning, and found the above screenshot. And the below screenshot. Try it for yourself, using #Dallas in the search box at the top. Here are the #Dallas results.
Ann Margolin Will Not Seek Reelection: The last time the district 13 city council seat was vacant, Ann Margolin beat-out Brint Ryan in what was the most expensive campaign for a single council seat in city history. Now Margolin, a respected voice on the council, has suddenly and surprisingly decided to not seek an additional term in 2013, citing “personal obligations.”
Arlington Gym Teacher Sued By Student: The student in question, Alyssa White, has a medical condition. She is also a star soccer goalie. When she was late for gym class one day at Ferguson Junior High, her gym teacher punished the student by making her run strenuous exercises. A lawsuit now claims that those exercises landed White in theÂ hospitalÂ andÂ jeopardizedÂ the student’sÂ potential soccer career.
Another Piece of Dallas History Destroyed: The 88-year-old Thomas building was imploded Sunday. As we learned awhile back, the building, described as a “relic of when cotton was king,” was razed, its Charlotte-based owners said, because of the high cost of asbestos and disrepair.
As Austin Mulls Council Districts, Dallas Displays Pros and Cons of System: The capital city is considering switching away from citywide council representation, and Dallas shows that district-elected representatives can lead to more responsiveness and greater diversity in city government, while also creating a tendency towards a fiefdom-like system. One interesting stat sticks out: over the past two decades, three Dallas council members have been convicted of criminal charges stemming from the abuse of power, while in Austin during that time there have been no such charges.
Will Tougher Zoning Produce Better Businesses in South Dallas? That’s what council member Caroyln Davis hopes. A revised Planned Development District will try to weed out car washes, check cashing businesses, and other non-desirables, while opening the doors for community gardens and other warm and fuzzy ideas like that. But city staff fears some of the new ordinance is unenforceable and say it may discourage new small businesses.
Another Falling Death in Downtown Dallas: Last month when a 25-year-old woman accidentally fell from the 19th floor of a downtown building, we wondered what the deal was with the sudden spike in falling deaths downtown. Tim said he thought it was because Dallasites aren’t yet used to living in high rise apartments. Krista and I wondered if it was a statistics thing. Zac Googled-around trying to find the percentage of New Yorkers who fall every year. This highly speculative conversation will likely continue today now that another man has fallen to his death from a downtown Dallas building.
Broken Ride at State Fair Strands 24 Riders 200 Feet in Air: Yes, State Fair organizers believe that this year’s event, which closed yesterday, may bring in more money than ever before, but it will be remembered for Burning Tex and the malfunctioning Stratosphere, which stranded riders for two hours Friday night, suspending them 200 feet in the air. Before coming to Texas, the ride was at fairs in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and in both locations it also stalled. Paige Gomez was trying to conquer her fear of heights when she got on the ill-fated ride. “I was so scared it was just going to drop,” she told CBSDFW.com.
Guitars Acquired By Dallas Crooks in Ponzi Scheme Up For Auction: The lot going up for sale at Heritage Auction includes a rare left-handed 1958 Gibson Les Paul, believed to be one of only four like it ever made. The guitar, Forbes reports, is one of a number of rare instruments collected by a Dallas family that swindled $68 million out of unsuspecting investors in a Ponzi scheme masked as an oil and gas operation.
Mad Dash To Finish Deck Park: The grand opening of the Klyde Warren/Woodall Rodgers Deck Park is this coming weekend, and crews are working overtime to finish in time for the opening.
Thanks-Giving Square Founder Honored by United Nations: Peter Stewart will receive the Spirit of the United Nations Award today for his foundation’s work soliciting essays about gratitude from students across the country.