Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ruibal's Plants of TX celebrates 31 years at Dallas Farmers Market - Interview with Mark Ruibal

"Local's on the Street" 

Farmers Market District

Tanya Ragan interviews Mark Ruibal of Ruibal's Plants of TX about their 31 year family history at the Dallas Farmers Market.

Ruibal's Plants started out in a stall at the Dallas Farmers Market and grew their family business into a free standing store where they grow and produce their own plants within 10 miles of Downtown Dallas.  Mark Ruibal shares with us the importance of supporting local businesses in the Farmers Market community.  Ruibal's Plants is the Farmers Market District's very own landscaped garden in the City of Dallas.  Check out the Dallas Skyline view from Ruibal's & Dallas Farmers Market. Can you say perfect Photo Op?
Ruibal's Plants has four Dallas locations with the Dallas Farmers Market being their original location.

View of Ruibal's Plants of TX from S Pearl Expressway 


  View of Ruibal's Plants of TX from Marilla St

Photo Credit: Tanya Ragan
Dallas Urbanista

In May of 2015 David Flick of the Dallas Morning News wrote an article about the Revitalization of the Farmers Market District and our transformation into a true Urban Neighborhood.  

Farmers Market blossoming as downtown Dallas neighborhood  

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer
Tsuki Brooks, a jewelry maker, walks her dog, Aziz, in the Farmers Market neighborhood near the townhome she moved into in January. “I enjoy walking everywhere,” she says.

Hays, a health and fitness coach, moved from McKinney to the Farmers Market neighborhood in 2009. From the start, he loved the urban feel, the friendly neighbors and the proximity to freeways and mass transportation.
Those advantages, he said, outweighed the downside, such as the lack of nearby retail stores, the scarcity of green space and the robberies and break-ins that plagued the area in his first few years.
“It’s kind of like moving from Mayberry to New York,” he said. “When you’re in an urban area, you realize it’s all just part of being in the big city.”
The neighborhood, which has grown steadily for several years, is set to boom. Downtown Dallas Inc. estimates that about 1,800 residents live in the 1,300 apartments and condos in the southeast part of the central business district. Plans call for the number of units to double in the next few years, according to the nonprofit organization.
The change was not unforeseen.
In 2011, Downtown Dallas Inc., in partnership with private stakeholders, city officials and urban experts, produced a study of the city’s center, called the Downtown Dallas 360 plan. It concluded that the Farmers Market area had “the potential to become downtown’s true urban neighborhood.” In particular, the report singled out the area as potentially “the primary location for family living inside the Loop in Downtown Dallas.”
At the time, that seemed unlikely. Though people had been moving into downtown for a decade, most homes were expensive units in repurposed office towers around the Main Street core.
There was a smattering of townhouses and apartments near Farmers Market, but most of the area consisted of parking lots and empty or underused buildings. There were few restaurants or stores and virtually no green space.
That emptiness was part of the potential, said Peer Chako, assistant director of the city’s Department of Sustainable Development and one of the authors of the 360 report.
“Land prices there were more affordable, and it didn’t have tall buildings. It was built more on a neighborhood scale,” Chako said.
Homeless center
One of the biggest challenges the neighborhood faces may be its location near the Bridge, a city-built center that offers overnight lodging and other services to the homeless.
Tanya Reagan, president of the Farmers Market Stakeholders Association, is blunt. “The homeless and the challenges with the Bridge have been the No. 1 thing that has held us back,” she said.
Reagan, who has had an office in the neighborhood since 2007, is optimistic about the future of urban living in downtown Dallas.
“It’s a great time for the city. We have young professionals moving in. We have interest in the city center,” she said. “The whole southeastern part of downtown has great potential.”
But it needs more people and businesses to be truly vibrant, she said.
She believes the presence of the Bridge could hinder that growth by degrading quality of life in the area. Furthermore, the problem is not just the homeless, she said.
“The reality is that it’s a drop-off point when people get out of jail or mental health facilities,” she said. “My personal opinion is that for this neighborhood to revitalize, something has to happen with the Bridge. It has to be relocated.”
The reality is that the facility has to be somewhere, and the current location is a logical one, said Sam Merten, the Bridge’s community affairs director.
“It’s not a build-it-and-they-will-come thing. You have to find where the majority of your population is going to be spending their time,” he said. “The homeless are downtown.”
Merten said the Bridge staff has worked with the stakeholders association to be good neighbors. Recently, the facility’s entrance was reoriented to face St. Paul Street, away from the neighborhood.
He said that because the Bridge takes the homeless off the streets, it has helped improve the Farmers Market neighborhood.
Gary Tittle, who commands the Dallas Police Department’s central district, praised the Farmers Market Stakeholders Association for working with police. He emphasized that the area is safe to walk around.
“The rate of violent crimes there is really very low,” he said. “What we encounter are quality-of-life issues — pedestrian in the roadway, urination in public, littering and loitering.”
The proximity of the services for the homeless contributes to such problems, he said, but similar issues exist in all neighborhoods near the city center, even those outside the freeway loop.
‘I miss trees’
Tsuki Caspary Brooks, a jewelry maker, moved to a new townhouse in Farmers Market in January. She said she walks her dog early each morning without fear.
“I enjoy walking everywhere. I walk 5 or 6 miles a day,” she said. “The homeless people have been nice to me, they’re a part of urban life.”
One thing she laments is the lack of green space.
“I miss trees,” she said.
Larry Good doesn’t disagree.
Good, whose architecture design firm is involved in an apartment project in the Farmers Market area, was a major contributor to the 360 plan. The problem of greenery will probably best be solved by a combination of city and private initiatives, he said.
Plans call for a city park on 3.9 acres at Harwood and Canton streets. Another proposed amenity is the “bowtie” park — a set of two triangles formed by the connection of Canton and Marilla streets. The private sector, meanwhile, can provide pocket parks as part of new developments, Good said.
He also is concerned about the lack of retail space.
“I don’t think we have a critical mass right now. I don’t think we’re going to see a big downtown mall,” he said.
Revitalization of the Farmers Market itself, however, provides reason to hope, he said.
When the 360 plan was written in 2011, the city-owned Farmers Market had been undergoing a long decline.
The market was privatized in 2013. The new ownership group, Dallas Farmers Market Holdings, plans a $70 million redevelopment that includes repurposing two of the former produce sheds to create restaurants and retail space. The group plans to build 240 new apartments and a covered field that will host games of futsal, a variant of soccer.
The development is scheduled for completion next year.
As for the market, “we want it to act very much like a grocery store,” said Brian Bergersen, managing partner of the ownership group. “We’re hoping that a significant portion of people using the Farmers Market will be residents of the Farmers Market neighborhood.”
The feeling among urban experts — and the residents — is that the new amenities may kick off a favorable cycle. The amenities will attract more people; more people will attract yet more businesses; and the increased traffic on the sidewalks will make the transients less obvious.
As new residences are constructed, the area already has become busier.
Mark Sanders, who after five years moved out of Farmers Market last year, noticed the difference immediately when he recently moved back.
“It used to be so quiet. Especially on weekends, you wouldn’t see anybody,” he said. “Now it’s a lot busier. There are people here.”

"Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul."

- Luther Burbank

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