Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dart D2 Downtown Rail Alignment - Interview with Council Member Adam Medrano



 "Local's on the Street"

Council Member Adam Medrano

Dart D2 Downtown Rail Alignment

 
 

My interview with District 2 Council Member Adam Medrano about the proposed Dart D2 Rail Line and the importance of saving homes & local businesses.

 
Tomorrow Dallas City Council will vote on the D2 Dart Alignment. It will be a relief to finally get this behind us. The past 12-18 months our neighborhood discussions have revolved around what the latest DART preferred route was.  The secrecy, rumors and lack of information leading up to the Public Meetings was difficult.  Especially, considering the homeowners and local businesses impacted; many of which had moved to the Farmers Market area in the past ten years since DART began the evaluation process.
 
In late June; home owners, local businesses, First Presbyterian Church, etc. met with Dart representatives to discuss possible alternatives to the B4 routes.  More importantly, a possible solution that could save area homes and businesses. During these meetings, the B4 Jackson "Alternative" was born.  Essentially, the same route as B4 Young, except, splitting up Ervay to Jackson and avoiding First Presbyterian Church and the town homes on Canton all together. The community rallied around the new route and deemed it the "preferred" route if a B4 route was favored by the City or Dart Board.  We also supported B7, as an alternative to demolishing homes or businesses. Our community united to support B4 Jackson.
 
In the past week, some opposition has came forward for the B4 Jackson "Alternative".  The oppositions concerns are valid, especially, with such limited information available on the street impact for any of the possible lines.
 
However, what has troubled me the most during the past two weeks leading up to tomorrows City Council vote is the division that I have seen happening. I have witnessed City Council Members bicker and argue, acting like school children. Egos taking front and center instead of listening to the downtown residents and community. I have seen special interest groups weigh in last moment, looking for ways to benefit their "brothers".  Church and religion becoming a point of public debate and hierarchy, when it should be about the future of downtown. Communities not even involved with the discussions, have attacked and criticized the home owners for wanting to save the place they lay their head down at night. If our City becomes a place where everyone argues with no compromise; how will we progress and move forward? Shouldn't there always be a place for compromise? 
 
Whatever happens tomorrow at  Dallas City Council, the most important thing is we need a decision made.  Right or wrong....it needs to happen!  Our thirteen City Council Members and Mayor need to choose a Dart route and move our downtown forward. Don't let this drag out any further and negatively impact our future relationship as a city. 
 
 
Below are Examples of letters sent to City Council Members by home owners, local businesses and church members impacted by the B4 routes explaining why they chose to support the B4 Jackson "Avoidance" D2 route and not the other alternatives.
 

Date:     Sat, 22 Aug 2015 15:24:41 -0500
 
Dear Mr. Rawlings, City Managers, Dallas City Council Representatives, and DART Board,

I've been living in DFW some 35 years or so, in Richardson, Plano, Rockwall, Uptown, and now Downtown with my wife and greyhound.  I believe in this city more than most.  It's hard to believe I've been downtown for 4 years now, and that my Canton town-home neighbors and I stand directly in the cross-hairs of some of the proposed DART D2 alignments.  But I think this can all work out, and as a community with 1st Presby, the FMSA, and others we've worked with DART to find solutions, and bring B4 Avoidance to the light of day.  Ultimately, I believe DART is trying to do the right thing for the city, and as you all very well know that can be an exceptionally hard thing.

 The 10 DART D2 proposals are certainly confusing.  Let's simplify. 

Patrick Kennedy of D Magazine said it best "the most important thing is getting the full thing built."

First, let's consider downtown residents. Throw out B4a, B4b, and C3a because they bulldoze family homes and successful businesses in Farmer's Market.  B4 Elevated divides the neighborhood with 345-style urban division, so that's out too.

Second, let's look at affordability.  The DART Financial Plan accounts for $350M,  the FTA matches up to 50%, for a total of $700M.  Any options under $700M can be built in totality without phasing.  There's no identified source for funding beyond this $700M for subsequent phases.  Which is better: a half-built underground line or a fully functional line?  B7/B7a is just not fiscally responsible.

Third, ridership.  C3 has the lowest projected ridership among all the options, so we'll eliminate that.  We're left with plain B4, which has property issues on the east side. That's why we have B4 Avoidance (not to be confused with B4a) with a section on Jackson St.  B4 Avoidance has similar ridership and cost to plain B4, with routing that makes better use of available land, and provides a superior Farmer's Market station location.

Considering cost, ridership, and making sure the thing actually gets built, B4 Avoidance is a clear choice.

 -Ed Lopategui

 
From: Rob Robinson
Sent: Sunday, September 06, 2015 12:50 PM
To: Scott Griggs; Adam Medrano; Casey Thomas; Carolyn Arnold; Rick Callahan; Monica Alonzo; Tiffinni Young; Erik Wilson; Mark Clayton; Adam McGough; Lee Kleinman; Sandy Greyson; Jennifer Gates; Philip Kingston
Cc: Mike Rawlings; A C Gonzalez; Evans, Ryan; Tanya Ragan
Subject: DART D2 - CHOOSE B4 AVOIDANCE

 DART D2 - B4 AVOIDANCE is the right choice:

  • It does not tear down family homes and successful businesses.
  • It’s affordable.
  • It has one of the highest projected ridership.

The 10 DART D2 proposals are confusing.  Let's simplify.  

First,  as a resident of downtown B4a, B4b, and C3a are bad choices because they bulldoze my neighbor's homes and successful businesses in Farmer's Market.  B4 Elevated is a poor choice since it divides my neighborhood with unsightly overpasses ripe for crime.

Second, consider affordability.  The DART Financial Plan accounts for $350M,  the FTA matches up to 50%, for a total of $700M.  Any options under $700M can be built in totality without phasing.  There's no identified source for funding beyond this $700M for subsequent phases.  Which is better: a half-built underground line or a fully functional line?  B7/B7a are not fiscally responsible.  

Third, consider ridership.  C3 has the lowest projected ridership among all the options, so eliminate that option.  We're left with plain B4, which has property issues on the east side. That's why we have B4 Avoidance (not to be confused with B4a) with a section on Jackson St.  B4 Avoidance has similar ridership and cost to plain B4, with routing that makes better use of available land, and provides a superior Farmer's Market station location.

Considering cost, ridership, and making sure DART D2 actually gets built, B4 Avoidance is the right choice.

 Rob Robinson

Vice President - Farmers Market Stakeholders Assn.
 

 
Current Maps & Misc. Info on B4 Jackson
 
 


B4 Jackson "Alternative Route.
 

 
First Presbyterian Church property in the path of dart.

 
 
Example of Townhomes in the direct path of dart B4.
 
 
 
 B4 Jackson "Avoidance" Misconceptions.

 
Quotes from Farmers Market Stakeholder's homeowners & businesses explaining why they support B4 Jackson "Alternative" and not other B4 options.
 
 
Photo Credit: Tanya Ragan
Dallas Urbanista
 

Dallas officials zero in on Jackson Street route for new DART tracks 

The downtown skyline is seen through the window of a northbound DART Blue Line train Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Dallas.
The downtown skyline is seen through the window of a northbound DART Blue Line train Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 in Dallas.
 

After years of developing potential paths for a second downtown light-rail route, Dallas Area Rapid Transit officials could be forced to move forward with an alignment that’s been around for only a few weeks.
The Dallas City Council’s transportation committee Monday unanimously recommended seeking federal subsidies for a single alignment whose eastern length runs along Jackson Street, a move meant to avoid a church and several townhouses.
That action ignored DART and city staff recommendations to also leave open a door for a route that runs farther along Young Street. DART also wants that option in case the transit agency or federal officials determine the Jackson route is not feasible.
But DART also wants the full City Council’s buy-in to bolster its request for federal funds. And the transit agency can’t build any route that the council doesn’t approve.
DART’s planning committee meets to discuss its recommended alignment Tuesday. The full DART board will vote on an alignment Sept. 22. The full City Council votes on an alignment Sept. 9.
City Council member Erik Johnson on Monday got no support for submitting both routes as one federal application. Instead, council member Adam Medrano, whose district includes a large part of downtown, successfully amended the proposed recommendation to include only the Jackson route.
Medrano said that downtown has changed dramatically since DART developed the Young Street alignment.
“That alignment will protect our businesses, the church and the residences,” he said.
Support from pastor
The Young route would bisect the campus of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas. It could also require the demolition of its parking garage and abandonment of basement dorms and meeting spaces below. Senior pastor Joe Clifford said he saw Monday’s vote as a good sign but stopped short of declaring victory.
“We’re supportive of the Jackson alignment and are committed to continuing the process,” he said.
DART is seeking as much as $400 million in federal funds for construction of the line. It wants to submit its request to the Federal Transit Administration by Sept. 30. That’s the last date DART can get its project in the federal pipeline before a new president takes office in 2017. A new administration could potentially change transit funding priorities.
The agency has put several potential alignments through preliminary environmental review, but the Jackson alignment is not one of them. DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said that the agency can still request federal funds for that alignment, though, since the route as a concept has been put through an early review process.
Both alignments run at street level from Victory Station, move underground as they enter downtown, rise to street level near Field and Young streets, and then head east along Young near City Hall.
The Young alignment continues east on that street before connecting to existing track in Deep Ellum. To avoid the church and townhouses, the Jackson alignment heads two blocks north just east of City Hall and then runs along Jackson before connecting to the Deep Ellum tracks.
Different scenario
DART officials have said they’d prefer to submit the Young alignment with the Jackson route listed as a potential modification. Under that scenario, the Young alignment would be a fall-back in case further vetting of the Jackson route rules it out as an option. But DART leaders have also said they want to make the Jackson alignment work.
“It looks like it will fit,” rail planning vice president Steve Salin said at an informal meeting last week. “It does not look like it has a fatal flaw.”
Medrano’s resolution also calls for at least four stations along the route, though more could be added. DART’s current plans call for four stations along the Jackson alignment but five on the Young route. DART president and executive director Gary Thomas said too many stations could increase how long it takes to get through downtown.
After the meeting, Thomas said he’s glad no one is debating the need for a second line. But he also admitted there’s a lot of “catching up” to do with the Jackson route.
“Right now, the alignment is a fat line on a map,” he said.

 
 


I think my associate Craig Melde put it best.

 

"This would make a great reality show"

- Craig Melde 

 
 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Downtown Dallas Panhandling - Solutions and Suggestions


"Local's on the Street"

My 411 on the History of the Dallas Panhandling Ordinance, Concerns for Public Safety & Need for Stronger Downtown Enforcement


 

A group of 10 men entered the 7-Eleven in Downtown Dallas, West End at 11:15pm on 8-11-15. Within minutes they exited the 7-Eleven with the Manager chasing after them for shoplifting.  One of the individuals stole a 40 oz. and a verbal argument ensued. The individuals continued walking to the nearby West End Dart Station to loiter.

 
What the general public and community need to understand is this is business too. We have families, children and new residents moving downtown Dallas and we need to make our downtown safer. The panhandling, mental illness and vagrancy is impacting the businesses investing in our downtown.  We need to address these issues head on, talk about it, and hold businesses and religious groups who enable the problem responsible.  Each dollar you give the panhandler standing outside 7-Eleven,....you just bought them one more hour, day, week, month, etc on the street.
 
 
The individuals entering the 7-Eleven in Downtown Dallas, West End to shoplift.


In 2007, the City Council passed an ordinance making it illegal to solicit between sunset and sunrise. It was intended to give Dallas Police more authority to write tickets and address the loitering and panhandling problem Downtown. Read the full ordinance here.

In 2009, with panhandling still a major problem; Downtown Dallas Inc decided to try and help from their end by implementing a “zero tolerance” policy that applied to panhandling, as well as other minor offenses such as public intoxication , urination and sleeping in public. The Dallas Morning News described the situation in the following article.

With the homeless population increasing daily and out-of-state transients relocating to Dallas & The Bridge Homeless Shelter; area's such as Deep Ellum, Farmers Market & The Cedars became more depressed and isolated.  The issues with loitering, panhandling, mental illness, and quality of life continued to escalate....bringing with it crime, drugs, increased dependency, and general neglect.

In 2010, the Farmers Market Stakeholder's Association and neighborhood advocates like myself worked with the Dallas Police Department to raise donations to open a storefront police station in the Dallas Farmers Market District to help address the quality of life, neighborhood crimes and public safety issues as a result of the nearby The Bridge Homeless Shelter. Farmers Market Stakeholder's even paid for a billboard in the neighborhood to educate the public on the need for stronger police presence. The old CBD substation in the West End District was closing, and area stakeholders saw an opportunity to move the station to the Farmers Market District.  A donor even came forward with a $250K donation, however, City Management decided to localize the Central Business District Police Station at Lamar Headquarters and move DPD away from the "substation" model.

In 2013, after years of battling Permanent Supportive Housing, Social Services, The Bridge and general neglect the Southeastern side of downtown shifted. The Farmers Market Stakeholder's Association, The Cedars & Deep Ellum formed a coalition called CBD Neighborhood Coalition to work with city staff, city leaders and to take on quality of life issues together. No longer working solo, the neighborhoods organized to revitalize their communities together to address shared concerns (crime, public safety, quality of life, etc).  As a result, in 2013 the Dallas Farmers Market was privatized and the Farmers Market District began to transition to a neighborhood with residents, local businesses and positive economic development possibilities. 

Most recently, there have been some setbacks with our revitalization efforts; including the announcement last week that 7-Eleven is proposing a convenience store/gas station location next to The Bridge homeless shelter, a proposed Verizon Cell Tower on a walkable street and increased incidents in the area related to quality of life issues.  Peter Simek of D Magazine wrote an article in February, 2015 asking if it was time to consider relocating The Bridge Homeless Shelter out of downtown to better serve the homeless and mentally ill.

Two weeks ago, Downtown Dallas Inc submitted a formal request to Dallas Police Department & Chief Brown asking for increased police presence, increased visibility on foot & bicycle and recommendations for a First Watch Shift from 12am-7am.  The Downtown Safety Patrol observed 19,234 nuisance crime offenses in 2014, but Dallas Police issued only 4,649 tickets.  Dallas Police must witness panhandling in order to issue a citation and write a ticket for the offense, making response times critical.

In the past few months the Downtown Dallas Social Media platforms have ignited with complaints and concerns from pissed off residents & local businesses about the increased loitering, panhandling, aggressive behavior, harassment and growing homeless & mentally ill population in Downtown Dallas.

The announcement of a ninth Downtown 7-Eleven location planned for the Farmers Market, prompted strategies online about how to enforce and stop additional 7-Eleven locations from opening Downtown and how to deal with the panhandling, loitering and general harassment around both 7-Eleven & Dart stations. 7-Eleven has not historically done a good job enforcing panhandling and often customers are harassed and heckled just walking in the front door or walking down the public street....add on the liquor sales & loitering and you have a nightmare for local businesses and residents located around it.  

7-Eleven responded to the social media outpour with a request for all complainants to take a survey: http://survey.medallia.com/?711-gr&channel=6


 
This panhandler was at the 7-Eleven in Downtown Dallas, Ross location on both 8-10-15 & 8-11-15 at 11:30pm.  Four people gave him money within two minutes.  When he saw us videotaping him he covered his face. He was so aggressive that he approached customers as they were getting out of their vehicles.
 
 
The following response from 7-Eleven was forwarded to me by a concerned Downtown worker who filled out the 7-Eleven Survey.
 
From: Jennette Bowers <7Eleven@app.medallia.com>
Date: August 6, 2015 at 9:23:59 PM CDT
To: Brian Gaddis
Subject: Your recent feedback about 7-Eleven
Reply-To: Jennette Bowers <reply-45.e65p8fnf783m9bhdczd@express.medallia.com>

Dear Brian,
Brian we work with our Franchises and the local police department to make our stores as safe and free of the homeless as possible. As the heat in downtown rises this becomes more challenging. I wanted you to know that we take your feedback very serious and will work to make our store fronts as safe as possible.
Sincerely,
Jennette Bowers        

 
 
The 7-Eleven Manager asked this panhandler to leave. He walked away and returned to the same spot 5 minutes later. A policeman walked by him and ignored him. 7-Eleven in Downtown Dallas, Deep Ellum location at 11pm on 8-12-15.

 
A group of panhandlers gathered at the 7-Eleven in Downtown Dallas, Deep Ellum location at 10pm on 8-11-15. The same individuals were back asking customers for money the same time on 8-12-15.
 
Photo Credit: Tanya Ragan
Dallas Urbanista
 
What can you do to help?
  1. Contact your City Council Members Adam Medrano & Philip Kingston, Mayor Mike Rawlings, City Manager, 7-Eleven, Dart, Downtown Dallas Inc, Dallas Police Department and share your concerns and personal stories. Tell your neighbors, local businesses, etc to do the same.
  2. Take pictures, video, Tweet and Share on Social media.  Be sure to tag the appropriate parties so they see it.
  3. Fill out the above 7-Eleven Survey and voice your concerns about panhandling & safety.
  4. Get involved with your Neighborhood Associations, Crime Watch & Community.
  5. Don't just talk about it on Facebook; Actively SHOW UP to meetings and participate!
  6. Call 911 to report panhandling, petty crimes and loitering.  Don't ignore it! We are all busy, but the way to enforce zero tolerance is to break the habit.
  7. NEVER give money to panhandlers. Donate or volunteer your time to a local charity that helps the homeless. Suggestions:  Dallas Life, Salvation Army, Family Gateway, Austin Street Shelter & Stewpot. Ask questions and find out the facts about where your money goes. Don't base your donation choice solely on religion.
  8. Advocate for stronger mental health assistance & housing for homeless who work.

 
Example of a service announcement used in another city to discourage giving to panhandlers.  Thank you Veronica Simmons for forwarding this suggestion.
     
Michael Sitarzewski, a Cedar's Neighborhood Leader, wrote a DMN Editorial recently on how to address The Bridge Homeless Shelter challenges. Although, I don't agree with all of his opinions, he brings up some excellent discussion points. As many of you know, I am an advocate for relocating The Bridge out of Downtown, to a larger facility that would include housing, shelter and be closer to resources the homeless need; such as Parkland Hospital, Salvation Army, transit, etc. This would allow all the social services and counseling necessities be housed together and not reassigned when the homeless graduate from a shelter to permanent supportive housing.


Dallas Observer detailed Downtown Dallas Inc's request for increased police presence in the following article:

Downtown Dallas Inc. Says There Aren't Enough Cops Downtown, Asks For More

Whatever else you do, pal, don't fall asleep.
Whatever else you do, pal, don't fall asleep.
 
Downtown Dallas Inc. says residents, workers and business owners downtown are dealing with too much crime and too few cops. To fix things, the nonprofit advocacy group is petitioning the Dallas Police Department to add a first watch to its patrols downtown. As things are now, calls received between 2:30 and 6:30 a.m. are handled through DPD Central Division dispatch, leading to response times DDI believes are too long.
 
It isn't that downtown is dealing with a higher proportion of crime, DDI President John Crawford says, it's just that there are more people living and working in the area. 
"Because of all this increased activity and the fact that we don't have a so-called first watch, that's the impetus for writing the letter [to DPD]," he says. "What we don't want to see is more stress on the police department and the residents."
Essentially, as reported in the white paper DDI included with its letter to DPD, downtown residents, workers and business owners are tired of the small property and nuisance crimes that are often associated with chronic homelessness. The first challenge listed by DDI is "vagrancy."
 
Downtown's vagrancy problem, as evaluated by DDI, stems from changes made at The Bridge and Austin Street homeless shelters that reduced the shelters' overnight capacities and led to more people sleeping outdoors downtown. Sleeping in public is illegal in Dallas thanks to controversial law passed in the 1990s, but DDI complains that the ordinance against it, and those against other crimes like panhandling, aren't enforced often enough. The Downtown Safety Patrol observed 19,234 nuisance crime offenses in 2014, according to DDI, but Dallas Police issued only 4,649 tickets. Because the cops have to witness panhandling to issue a citation, response times are critical DDI says.
"Without a police presence overnight, we just get a lot of folks that, whether they're homeless or just passing through, that with no police presence, they feel they can have an open container, that they can lay down in the parks and sleep. Last week, for instance, we woke up 129 people in a five-day period that, through that overnight period, were just laying around sleeping. That's a violation of a city ordinance, but there's no one present to enforce it," Martin Cramer, DDI's vice president for public safety says.
Jim Truitt, a vice president at Forest City, the management company that owns The Continental, Wilson, Element and Mercantile apartment buildings downtown, says some of his residents are scared to go Main Street Garden after dark, according to the white paper.
 
(Note: I live in The Wilson. I've never been frightened in the park after dark, nor have any of the neighbors I asked)
None of that's to say that DDI wants to criminalize homelessness, Crawford says. Panhandlers specifically, Cramer and Crawford say, aren't typically homeless.
"The vast majority of those panhandlers are not actually homeless. They're people that come downtown, predominantly on DART Rail and the bus line, to make their income," Cramer says. "That's how they make their living. That's their job," Crawford added.
After a meeting with Dallas police Chief David Brown last week, Crawford says he's hopeful downtown will get the cops, and the first watch, he and DDI want. DDI is gathering signatures from downtown stakeholders as part of a letter writing campaign to Brown.
 
Read the full Formal Letter from Downtown Dallas Inc below:
 
 
 
 
Robert Wilonsky covered the proposed 7-Eleven next to The Bridge Homeless Shelter on his City Hall Blog.  

7-Eleven wants to build convenience store, gas station blocks from farmers market, The Bridge




 

The would-be 7-Eleven near the Dallas Farmers Market and The Bridge
The would-be 7-Eleven near the Dallas Farmers Market and The Bridge
At the moment there are eight 7-Elevens in downtown Dallas, but according to development plans filed at Dallas City Hall a ninth is planned on South St. Paul Street between Canton and Cadiz — between Dallas City Hall and Dallas Farmers Market and a couple of blocks from The Bridge, the homeless recovery center. Early reviews for the proposed convenience store-gas station are decidedly mixed.
Ryan Evans, the assistant city manager who oversees economic development for the city of Dallas, says neighborhood residents and developers are concerned about two things: the potential for loitering around the 7-Eleven, and 7-Eleven’s desire to raze 1808 Canton Street, which is among the 90 structures listed as part of the Dallas Downtown National Register Historic District. That circa-1935 building would be torn down and replaced with a dumpster. Evans says no demolition or building permits have been pulled, and that 7-Eleven has asked for a pre-development meeting with building inspectors within the next couple of weeks.
Evans says Tanya Ragan, president of the Dallas Farmers Market Stakeholders Association and a downtown developer responsible for opening the nearby Green Door Public House at 600 S. Harwood, contacted him Thursday about her concerns — “liquor sales and loitering.” He says she’s not alone. Says Evans, this 7-Eleven would be “one of the first ones to move into the neighborhood, and I would hate for it to have problems both for itself and its users. I’d hate to see that.”

Crime around The Bridge has long been a hot button, and just last year Dallas police started rounding up the homeless sleeping around the farmers market. As council member Philip Kingston himself noted in a Facebook post Friday morning concerning crime in downtown, “The Bridge is in the wrong place — sited for the convenience of a few service organizations rather than for the needs of its clients — and too small — a victim of underinvestment by both the city and state. And now so many of the most antisocial homeless are excluded from even going to the Bridge owing to their previous behavior there, it’s less a solution every day.”
Then again, that’s not stopping Shannon Wynne — a Bridge board member — from opening a bar and restaurant at the farmers market, Mudhen, which is due in October. As he wrote in these very (virtual) pages just weeks ago:
I have lived here my entire life, and the people who know me know I am very conservative in business. But because I know The Bridge and I know Dallas, I have no fear whatsoever about raising and spending a great deal of money right next door to The Bridge. The energy spent by the people who want to see The Bridge moved from its beautiful campus should realize that energy would not be wasted if they instead embraced this facility that cities nationwide wish they had in their own backyard.
But it’s likely the need to demolish the Canton building will delay 7-Eleven’s plans for several months: The Dallas City Attorney’s Office is putting the finishing touches on a demolition delay ordinance as proposed by the mayor’s Downtown Historic Preservation Task Force formed following The Joule’s demolition of several downtown blocks to make room for Forty Five Ten on Main Street. As a matter of fact, says Evans, the Canton building “may be the first to go through that process.”
We’ve left messages for a host of folks, including Ragan and 7-Eleven, and will update if and when someone responds.

 

"Dallas is the only major city in Texas without police presence 24/7 Downtown."

-John Crawford, Downtown Dallas Inc 

 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Historical Liberty State Bank - Farmers Market One Year Later

Historical Liberty State Bank Building

One Year Anniversary  - Farmers Market District 

Finding Perspective........
 

I describe in my video the disassembly and relocation of the Historical Liberty State Bank Building to the Farmers Market District.


Perspective: What a difference a year makes.  24 months ago this month my team was overcoming hurdles to disassemble and relocate the oldest downtown commercial building built in the late 1890's from Cesar Chavez & Elm to 600 S. Harwood in the Farmers Market District.

The relocation project was a major undertaking and one that only local neighborhood advocates would be crazy enough to sign up for. However, I was amazed at the immediate impact this single project had on the neighborhood revitalization efforts as a whole. I believed in it and truly thought the community would get behind it, but didn't know how long it would take with the Dallas Farmers Market redevelopment still in question and several years off from completion.  I remember a month after we finished and pulling out of my office parking lot across the street. Cars were parked along Canton St and pedestrians were walking down the sidewalk to the new Green Door Public House restaurant. In my almost nine years in the neighborhood....I had never witnessed this kind of positive activity. I called my partner Craig Melde all excited to tell him about the people I saw moving on the street. This was the moment that I became sold on the idea of local developments and small projects in transitional neighborhoods.  Local developers who believe in these neighborhoods and are willing to take the risk where a large regional or national might be afraid to take the risk in such a "transitional" area. Smaller projects can be completed faster and are easier to finance, meaning the results and impact are seen quicker.  Instead of a $100M project that takes 5-7 years to maybe see the light of day.....let's focus on $2-$5M projects and do more of them SOONER.  Also, these smaller projects engage the community, preserve the culture, create activity on the streets and promote socialization and interaction. Resulting in a truly dynamic and unique neighborhood experience.

Two weeks ago Green Door Public House celebrated their One Year Anniversary with a Burlesque, Prohibition themed party and a packed house full of community leaders from the Farmers Market, The Cedar's, Deep Ellum and Downtown.  The community came out in force to celebrate their success and support their one year milestone in the Farmers Market District.  A transitional neighborhood still in the midst of a revitalization. Today, the Liberty State Bank Building houses our first Dallas Farmers Market stand alone neighborhood restaurant Green Door Public House & V12 Yoga Studio.

In retrospect, in looking back; I would like to thank the following people for all their support of the Liberty State Bank Relocation Project. Our D2 City Council Leader Adam Medrano and his incredible staff who are regulars at the restaurant and our neighborhoods biggest supporters. Council Member Philip Kingston, Council Member Scott Griggs & Council Member Sandy Greyson.  These four amazing city leader's believed this project could be done and voiced their support to save this historical building and saw the revitalization significance in bringing it to the Farmers Market District. City of Dallas Office of Economic Development - Karl Stundins & Tamara Leaks who worked through all the details on this complicated project.  Asst. City Manager Ryan Evans who saw the economic potential with both the Farmers Market Privatization and the Liberty State Bank Project. Downtown Dallas Inc for supporting both this historical project and our new local businesses. Craig Melde of Architexas, my friend and associate who taught me the importance of preserving history.  Mike Ruibal of  Ruibals Plants of Texas who sold us the land so we could save these buildings, without this specific land site the project wouldn't have happened. Farmers Market Stakeholder's Association, The Cedar's & surrounding community who supported our new businesses Green Door & V12 Yoga day one to ensure they succeeded.  Preservation Dallas & City of Dallas Historic Preservation who supported our relocation and preservation efforts. City Planning, Permitting, City Attorney's Office and all the various departments who didn't let the fact that this had never been done before stand in the way of seeing it succeed.  Thank you!



 
 
 
 
Liberty State Bank "Before" Relocation - November, 2013.
 
 
 
 
Liberty State Bank "During" Relocation - March, 2014.
 
 
 

 

Liberty State Bank "After" Relocation - July, 2014.
 
 
 
 
City Council Member Adam Medrano & Me at the Ribbon Cutting - July, 2014.


 
 
 Liberty State Bank "Dedication" and Ribbon Cutting with City Council Member Adam Medrano, V12 Yoga, Green Door Public House, Craig Melde, Mike Ruibal & Me - July, 2014.
 
 
 
 
I spoke to this awesome crowd gathered for the Ribbon Cutting!
 
 
 
 
City Council Member Adam Medrano gives "Special Recognition" to Me, Mike Ruibal & Craig Melde for our collaborative efforts to preserve and save the Liberty State Bank Building.
 
 Photo Credit: Tanya Ragan
Dallas Urbanista
 
 
The Dallas Morning News followed the preservation efforts and relocation of the Liberty State Bank Building to the Farmers Market District.  Including, the Public-Private Partnership with the City of Dallas and the Grand Opening, Ribbon Cutting and Ceremonies article below.  
 

Historic bank building reopens after 'brick-by-brick' move in downtown Dallas

The 115-year-old Liberty State Bank Building was taken apart brick-by-brick and reassembled and restored at 600 S. Harwood St. in the Dallas Farmers Market District.
Amid the chatter and cheers of Dallas residents and officials, the Liberty State Bank Building is breathing new life.
The historic building was saved from demolition more than a year ago by Craig Melde, a preservation architect and founding principal of ArchiTexas. Now, after being taken down, relocated and reassembled twice, the building was unveiled Friday ahead of the formal grand opening on July 7.
The building was moved to 600 S. Harwood St. in the Dallas Farmers Market District near the Scottish Rite Cathedral. It already houses a restaurant, the Green Door Public House, and a yoga studio, V12 Yoga & Pilates.
“What a journey — metaphorically and literally,” Melde said Friday.
Dallas City Council member Adam Medrano was on hand Friday to give special recognition to the preservation.
“I thought the idea was crazy, but I knew that if anyone was going to be able to get it done, they were going to be able to do it,” Medrano said, motioning to Melde and other project leaders, Mike Ruibal, owner of Plants of Texas, and Tanya Ragan, president of Wildcat Management.
The two-story Italianate building, constructed in 1899, retains its original red brick and exterior black column. Ruibal described the process of relocating the building as a “big puzzle.”
“We had to take everything down brick-by-brick,” Ruibal said. “We got the building back to the way it was originally, even the original color of the brick. We just took it apart and put it back together.”
Throughout the process, the developers discovered certain parts of the building that were hidden by renovations, including the original color of the brick, which had been painted, and the column.
Ragan said that despite the multitude of hurdles she and the team encountered, the building is more like the original design than before.
 
 

 “You can't rely on bringing people downtown, you have to put them there.”

- Jane Jacobs

 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Opposition to 80ft Cell Tower in the Farmers Market District - Zoning Change Z145-282

 "Local's on the Street"

Neighbors Oppose 80ft Verizon Cell Tower

Farmers Market District

 
 

Stakeholder's and property owners Craig Melde, Principal of Architexas & Buddy Jordan, Chair of Encore Park voice their opposition to the proposed Verizon Cell Tower at 1824 Canton Z145-282.


Neighbors are fired up about a rezoning that would allow a 80ft cell tower to go smack in the middle of recent economic development and revitalization plans. The proposed cell tower would be visible from new townhomes, new local businesses and the Encore Community Garden.

What can you do to help?  Write letters, make phone calls and send similar emails as shown below.  Not one Farmers Market Neighbor was contacted about the proposed rezoning until they inquired about the zoning change signs that had been posted.  When neighbors met with the Verizon Lobbyist they were told that City Hall, 500 S Ervay and nearby parking lot owners had already denied them because they didn't want it on their property.  No other buildings in the immediate area were contacted by Verizon as a rooftop alternative. Several stakeholder's have stepped forward to offer their buildings as a rooftop alternative to keep the tower off  the street level.  The Farmers Market Stakeholder's  & Community have worked hard to improve and revitalize their neighborhood with significant investment of time and resources, this would be a major setback.

Below are Examples of the Opposition letters sent by Farmers Market Stakeholder's (residents, businesses & property owners) to all City Planning Commissioners, Council Member Adam Medrano, Assistant City Manager Ryan Evans & Planner Sarah May opposing the Verizon Cell Tower in the Farmers Market District.


From: Rob Robinson [mailto:gjrobinson3@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2015 11:04 AM
To: mwanglin@gmail.com; neilcpc2@gmail.com; bettyculbreath@gmail.com; shididcpc5@gmail.com; jed.cpc@gmail.com; bagleycpc7@gmail.com; gloriamtarpley@gmail.com; jschultz@dallascpc.com; margotmurphycpc13@gmail.com; pridley017@gmail.com; robert.abtahi@gmail.com
Cc: sarah.may@dallascityhall.com; Adam Medrano; Evans, Ryan; Ragan Tanya
Subject: Zoning case Z145-282 (1824 Canton)

Commissioners:

I am opposed to the proposed 80-foot Verizon cell tower on the street level at 1824 Canton Street.  As a resident in the Farmers Market District and an officer and board member of the Farmers Market Stakeholders Association the growing revitalization of the neighborhood is important to me. This cell tower would be a set back to that progress!

The cell tower would have a negative and adverse effect visually on the neighborhood.  Their are over 100 town homes occupied or under construction 2 blocks from this proposed tower. The current prices for these homes start at over $500,000. Street level towers are typically placed in blight areas.  My neighborhood in the Farmers Market District is NOT a blight area! 

The maximum height requirement for construction in this neighborhood is 50 feet. The tower should be placed on a rooftop and not on the street level and in an area that allows structures of 80 feet.

The Farmers Market community and stakeholders have worked hard over the past few years to revitalize our neighborhood with significant financial and manpower investments. It would be a slap in the face to the business owners and residents of the Farmers Market neighborhood to have the cell tower on the street level in our area. 

 I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to learning that it is resolved in a way that respect our neighborhood and its advancements.

Rob Robinson

 

From: Craig Melde
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2015 11:45 AM
To: 'mwanglin@gmail.com'; Neil Emmons (neilcpc2@gmail.com); 'jed.cpc@gmail.com'; 'shididcpc5@gmail.com'; 'bettyculbreath@gmail.com'; 'gloriamtarpley@gmail.com'; 'bagleycpc7@gmail.com'; 'jschultz@dallascpc.com'; 'robert.abtahi@gmail.com'; 'pridley017@gmail.com'; 'margotmurphycpc13@gmail.com'
Cc: Adam Medrano (adam.medrano@dallascityhall.com); 'Evans, Ryan'; 'sarah.may@dallascityhall.com'
Subject: Zoning case Z145-282 (1824 Canton) -Cell Tower



Dear Commission Members


I am writing to you to voice my strong OPPOSITION to the zoning change request to allow an 80 foot tall cell tower to be placed at the corner of Marilla and Park Street in the Farmer’s Market

Area. The introduction of this cell tower will have a significant adverse visual effect on our neighborhood.  

I have been a business owner in this area since 1983 and have re- developed two historic properties in the area for retail and housing. The community has worked very hard to revitalize our area. Our area is on the rebound and it is gaining momentum with redevelopment. The DDI 360 Plan which was adopted by City Council has envisioned this area to be a residential “neighborhood” which is becoming a reality. In addition, the Parks and Recreation Department envisions Marilla to become a major landscaped pedestrian connector, connecting the Convention Center with the Farmer’s Market. The proposed cell tower will be on this pedestrian way.
I have seen the proposer’s ideas to mitigate the adverse effect of this tower which is not acceptable.
There is nothing that can mitigate the adverse effect of an 80 foot tall cell tower.
The most appropriate location for this cell tower is on top of an existing building and not at street level in an emerging area.
Please DO NOT APPROVE THIS ZONING CASE.
Thank you for your service.
Craig Melde, AIA
Senior Principal
A R C H I T E X A S
Architecture, Planning, and Historic Preservation, Inc.

1907 Marilla, 2nd Floor
Dallas, Texas 75201
214.748.4561 (p)
214.748.4241 (f)
  

 

 

 
 

See above examples of what a 80ft Cell Tower looks like from the Street Level.  The above cell tower location is adjacent to a Dart track and next to a highway overpass.  See one of our residents standing in the background for size comparisons.  These photos show the negative and adverse effect the cell tower will have visually on our neighborhood.  Farmers Market District is NOT a blighted area. We oppose the street level location.


 

 

 

Photo taken from the Green Door Public House showing the direct view of Canton Street and the proposed Verizon Cell Tower on left side.



Verizon Cell Tower Rezoning Application Z145-282 (1824 Canton).

 
 

Verizon Cell Tower Rezoning Signage at 1824 Canton.

 
 

Photo taken from Encore Community Garden showing the direct view of Canton St and the proposed Verizon Cell Tower directly in front.


 

Photo taken from Encore Community Garden on Canton Street towards S. Harwood and the Dallas Farmers Market.

 
Photo Credit: Tanya Ragan
Dallas Urbanista
 
 

See the plans for Encore Park Community Garden below and find out more information about the garden on their website.

 

Community Garden

Encore Park Community Garden will enhance the quality of urban life in downtown Dallas by fostering community through mentoring, volunteer participation, education and environmental stewardship. 

 
 
 
Encore Park Community Garden (EPCG) is a place where people of all ages, abilities, backgrounds and cultures will come together around an innate connection to nature and a basic right to healthy food.  It will provide Stewpot guests opportunities for employment as well as garden-sourced meals at The Second Chance CafĂ©.  The garden will be available to the 500 children reached through programming at The Stewpot and First Presbyterian Church.  Wheelchair accessible plots ensure that gardeners, regardless of ability, are able to garden independently.  
 
 

"We must do more to protect our neighborhoods and give integrity to our community plans."

- Alan Autry