Lower Greenville Improvements Pay Off with New Trader Joe’s Grocery

The city’s investment in a new and revitalized Lower Greenville is paying off in a big way:  Today, Trader Joe’s announced it will be building a new store on the old Arcadia Theater site, to be completed by the end of next year. 

This announcement is proof that they city’s investment in transforming Lower Greenville is paying off with dividends.  The new streetscape improvements look terrific — wider sidewalks, pedestrian lighting, crosswalks, benches, and bike racks (soon to be installed) have completely transformed this stretch of Lower Greenville.  These physical changes, in combination with the new late-night permiting process, have created a neighborhood-oriented, pedestrian-friendly environment that is attractive to retailers, like Trader Joe’s.

I remember talking with several retail brokers and restauranteurs a couple of years ago who told me the reasons they wouldn’t relocate to Lower Greenville: the perception of high crime; the fact that it was primarily a regional late-night bar strip; and the run-down appearance of the street.  We have changed that.  The new late-night permitting process is reducing crime and helping rebalance the day-night business ratio.  The street and sidewalk improvements have cleaned up the street and created a welcoming environment for the surrounding neighbors. 

But the proof is in the results:  Of all the places Trader Joe’s could have moved to in Dallas — the Park Cities, Uptown, Lakewood, Far North Dallas, and elsewhere — they chose to come to Lower Greenville.  Without question, this is a direct result of the changes we’ve made, and I have no doubt that without these changes, they would not have come.  And this is just the type of business we wanted to attract — a daytime business focused on serving the surrounding community.  It’s also a perfect fit for East Dallas.

But there are other, more subtle signs that our investment in Lower Greenville is paying off:  Over the last two weeks I’ve seen some things that I’ve never seen on Lower Greenville:  A dad with a baby stroller, relaxing on one of the new benches.  Girls walking their dogs along the new sidewalks.  An elderly couple taking a stroll.  These are the types of things you see all the time in the surrounding neighborhood, but never on Lower Greenville.  Now, Lower Greenville is once again part of the neighborhood.

It’s a great time to be in East Dallas.  Welcome to the neighborhood, Trader Joe’s.

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Tour of 1600 Pacific with New Statler Owner

Yesterday, I toured 1600 Pacific with owner Leobardo Trevino (who just purchased the Statler).  The building had been vacant and in disrepair, and Leobardo bought it and cleaned it up — inside and out — in preparation of a multi-stage, total renovation.  Pictures: http://bit.ly/dEn50r.

If you’ve never been inside one of Downtown’s vacant buildings, I can tell you that the ones I’ve seen are littered with old furniture, junk, and trash, and are generally in disarray.  (The City has taken measures to require buildings be cleaned up.)  While some property owners leave their property in shambles (trying to avoid the expense of clean-up and hoping that potential tenants can see past the debris and visualize their new space), Leobardo’s philosophy is that those looking for real estate are more inclined to purchase space if the building looks move-in ready.  The difference in 1600 Pacific is striking:  Looking at the before and after pictures reveals how significant his clean up was. Continue reading

Tom Thumb Reopens on Inwood at University

This morning, the brand new Tom Thumb grocery store on Inwood at University (re)opened after being demolished and rebuilt this summer. The former Simon David has been dramatically improved, with a bright, fresh interior, a Starbucks, and a new parking lot with pedestrian-friendly lighting and landscaping.

The grocer considered closing the aging store, but instead decided to reinvest in the area with a new store, built with significant input from the community. When the zoning request for the project came forward, I ensured that the new construction responded to the needs and concerns of the surrounding neighbors, including making sure that the parking lot lighting did not shine into nearby homes, that the project was well-landscaped, that the truck delivery area was on University (not Robin Road), and that the back of the store and the adjacent lots were well-landscaped along the newly-curved Robin Road.

As you can see from the pictures below, Tom Thumb lived up to these standards and more. The store is a great new asset for the neighborhood and provides a much-needed service for residents.

Good Houston Chronicle Op-Ed about Court Decision Against Corps

There was an interesting op-ed in the Houston Chronicle today about the recent federal court decision in New Orleans against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.   The authors of Catastrophe in the Making: The Engineering of Katrina and the Disasters of Tomorrow argue against so-called “economic development” projects designed at the expense of the environment.  Good advice as the Corps considers the Trinity Toll Road:

At the center of the lawsuit is a shipping channel — the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, or “Mister Go.” New Orleans sits 120 river miles from the Gulf of Mexico, and Mister Go was intended to provide a 75-mile long channel, straight to the Gulf.

Building Mister Go was a massive effort, moving more dirt than did building the Panama Canal. Politicians called it the “key to the region’s economic future,” providing a busy outlet for commerce.

Local critics predicted that, instead, it would be an inlet for marsh-killing salt water….

Unfortunately, while the flood concerns were largely on-target, the economic claims were not. Mister Go never delivered the boon it promised. What it did deliver, with every high tide and every storm, was salt water. That killed plants in formerly healthy wetlands. Once the plants died, soil would slump into the channel, after which we taxpayers would pay to dredge it again….

In hindsight, it all seems implausible. Unfortunately, it’s not just plausible — it’s being repeated all across the country. New developments in California sit below sea level and atop fault lines. In Missouri, strip malls and industrial parks have paved over floodplains. In North Carolina, tax dollars help speculators build expensive homes on fragile barrier islands.

That’s how the Growth Machine works. Ignoring environmental warnings and promising great economic rewards, a small number of speculators push projects that usually don’t help the economy and that, in the most severe cases, can actually destroy lives, costing billions of dollars.

That’s also the real significance of the judge’s decision in New Orleans: When politicians support economic growth at the expense of the environmental systems that protect and support us, we need to know that they may be talking about a kind of growth that we probably can’t afford.

We owe it to ourselves to learn that lesson before we fall for the same empty promises again.

2000 McKinney Tour

A couple of weeks ago, I took a tour of 2000 McKinney Avenue. The new Uptown office building sits on the edge of the future Woodall Rodgers Park, between Harwood and Olive.

Like many new developments in District 14, the developer came to the city requesing a zoning change to allow them more flexibility in height and other aspects of construction.

Their original proposal had (typical) narrow sidewalks, a parking garage facing the park, and several driveways along the building (which broke up the sidewalk). Continue reading

Dallas Loses 2013 FOP Conference to Cincinnati

I got a call this afternoon from Dallas FOP president, Mike Walton. Dallas lost the 2013 FOP convention to Cincinnati, 800 to 1100 votes. We think one thing that may have tipped the vote in their favor was that FOP members in states near Ohio wanted to drive to their destination, and they have a larger voting bloc than down south.

I’m disappointed, but am so glad I had the opportunity to work with Mike, Fred, Dena, and everyone else who put so much time and energy into this effort. We’re very lucky to have these folks in our DPD.

Enjoy these pictures from our trip, and check out the videos of our presentation (below). Mike was on fire, and did a great job selling our city and hitting all the right notes.

Next time, I’m bringing the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. I kid you not.