Is the Bishop Arts Gateway ‘the wrong kind of density’ for Oak Cliff?

bishop arts gateway

A planned development would bring hundreds of new apartments, plus retail storefronts to the future streetcar stop in the Bishop Arts District.

Developer Alamo Manhattan so far is planning two five-story buildings taking up several blocks on Seventh Street at Zang. The project would call for demolishing existing buildings, including some with established businesses, most immediately, the Local Oak and Zoli’s.

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The developer is seeking $11 million in future tax reimbursements for the $55 million project. It would include 57,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space topped by four stories of apartments, plus underground parking.

The project, called the Bishop Arts Gateway, aligns with the Bishop/Davis zoning. So the developer owns the properties, and current plans for the development are within the existing zoning. In other words, take a deep breath and accept that something like this is going to happen. Encouraging increased density and transit-oriented development is what City Council and city planners have been pushing with these massive rezoning cases such as Bishop/Davis and the Oak Cliff Gateway.

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The good news is that Alamo Manhattan received an endorsement from neighborhood-friendly former City Councilwoman Angela Hunt. While still in office, she worked with the developers and neighbors on a project on the Katy Trail that drew compromises for both sides. She says the developer is very receptive to input from neighbors.

The developer already has hosted at least one neighborhood meeting to receive input on the plans, and they “are going to have a ton of meetings,” with neighbors before it’s all over, says the company’s president, Matt Segrest.

And that’s a good thing because every architect and urban planner we’ve spoken to this week says the plan needs work.

Developer/new urbanist Monte Anderson says of the initial plans: “They are trying to put a 10-pound bag of sand in a 5-pound hole.”

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Anderson says the plan encourages “the wrong kind of density,” with long unbroken blocks and imposing buildings.

“Just because the zoning says this is the maximum here doesn’t mean it’s the right thing,” he says.

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Architect Joe Wilkins of Design Alchemy says the design, by Good Fulton & Farrell, looks a little too suburban. He suggested they should contract several architects with different styles to find diversity and uniqueness for the project.

“It’s a very delicate project type because it’s going to set a precedent,” Wilkins says. “The last thing we want are trends that will date it.”

Segrest of Alamo Manhattan says highly dense urban developments that maximize transit options are his company’s specialty. The Oak Cliff streetcar, scheduled to expand to Bishop Arts in the next couple of years, is a big part of what attracted Alamo Manhattan to this location.

“You do something that’s consistent with the neighborhood because the neighborhood is what’s exciting,” he says.

The developer does not want chain restaurants and major retailers in Bishop Arts, he says, but rather locally owned “organic” businesses as tenants.

“The goal is not to be transformational,” he says. “The goal is to be evolutionary.”

Alamo Manhattan plans to break ground on the project as early as next spring.

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  • alexandertroup

    Today’s paper has a much better over view on how they will do the right thing for that area it appears after some going over and who’s now exposed to create a good job in that community and the need to do something bigger is a long over project…….. lets hope these new solutions will balance out everyone involved and living there….my support that Alamo and Manhattan now get the green light to go…

  • Cairenn Day

    They don’t, but there are other ways a powerful developer can use to encourage a business to accept an offer. They are often shady methods and hard to prove. It has happened in other places.

    Build these ugly monsters on the other blocks and watch the businesses near suffer. Nothing shady needed.

    These will destroy the charm that is Bishop Arts, ’nuff said.

  • grannybunny

    I don’t need an oxygen tank — thank God — but do require a cane. But, were I downtown and not familiar with the area, I would not even know the streetcar exists, since it may be 190 feet, but that’s as the crow flies, since it is up on a bridge and not even visible unless one is looking for it. Very few Bishop Arts residents will use the streetcar to get to their jobs, since the buses are much faster and leave people closer to their actual destinations or transit connections. But, even if the streetcars end up full of commuters, you’re talking a couple dozen people at a time. There’s no way the streetcar is a natural segue to dense concentrations of thousands of new residents in a very small — already congested — space.

  • lakewoodhobo

    Wouldn’t the new landlord have to honor the remaining 10 years on their lease? The only option is to buy them out. Ten Bells doesn’t have to accept the buyout, right?

  • lakewoodhobo

    “The Downtown end requires a substantial walk for people downtown to even access it … it will just be a novelty ride, primarily designed to bring tourists downtown out to the Bishop Arts District”

    It’s 190 feet from Union Station to the Dallas Streetcar stop. If that qualifies as a substantial walk, then I suggest you carry an oxygen tank with you. There are also things called bicycles that you can ride to and from the stations and not even break a sweat if you’re less than a mile from each end.

    I guess we’ll see if it’s used by tourists more than commuters, but even if you’re right, then what’s wrong with that? The businesses in Bishop Arts will welcome the extra customers.

  • grannybunny

    The streetcar runs 8 hours in a day — 11:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. — when it’s even running; it’s already been out-of-service, due to mechanical problems, at times. At most, it can carry a couple dozen people at a time. It’s current route is only 1.6 miles long. Because of the numerous stops, it takes approximately 30 minutes to run the entire route. The Downtown end requires a substantial walk for people downtown to even access it. Even when it is expanded down to Bishop Arts — and it should have been routed down Bishop, not Zang, by the way — it will just be a novelty ride, primarily designed to bring tourists downtown out to the Bishop Arts District. Frankly, the D-Link bus — AKA “the Party Bus” — already does a great job moving people from downtown to Bishop Arts (the Arts District, Klyde Warren Park, the AAC, the Perot, the Cedars, etc.), and it runs until 11:30 at night, at a much faster pace than the streetcar. In no way will the streetcar support the addition of thousand of apartment units — that is, serve a lot of residential commuters — and anyone who cites the streetcar as justifying this hideous overdevelopment is simply using smoke and mirrors.

  • Frankie

    I moved to Oak Cliff from Fort Worth, I was always afraid of Oak Cliff because of the reputation. However, when I saw for myself how rich in culture it was, how loyal the businesses and clientele are to one another,I fell in love. I hate to see the mess the developer’s are making. I dont think they live near or have to deal with the inconvenience. I have witnessed established businesses leave and that is just sad.

  • Alexander Troup

    and he is right, good story hannani…..

  • grannybunny

    I agree totally. I have friends who live in Wynnewood North, immediately adjacent to the center. They are very nice single-family homes. The last thing in the World those people would want is multi-story apartments overlooking their backyards. The plans I saw also replaced all those gorgeous trees the DMN was praising with tiny saplings arranged in geometric patterns. Unfortunately, “the fix is in.” The City has already decided they want to transform Bishop Arts and Wynnewood from low-density, single-family, suburban-type areas, into high-density, vertical, urban areas, with all the traffic, parking, gentrification, etc., problems of the West Village. When Bishop was converted into a “Complete Street,” transforming a wide boulevard, with 3 lanes of traffic each direction into just 1 lane of traffic each way, lit by garish, overly-bright streetlights, the City painted markers delineating the parking spaces along the street. It’s just a matter of time before the poor residents there will find parking meters in front of their homes, some of which have no off-street parking.

  • Cairenn Day

    Well, well, time for the foreigner to hurl insults.

  • Cairenn Day

    Oak Cliff is not URBAN, maybe you would KNOW that if you had lived here for more than 5 min.

  • Cairenn Day

    Ten Bells has seven years left on their lease, The Local Oak has a lease that goes to 2025,(I think).

    These folks came for the long haul.

  • Cairenn Day

    You don’t. I would be willing to bet that you are either a newcomer or that you don’t even live in Oak Cliff.

    I am a native, I was born at Methodist and this ‘development’ is WRONG. Oak Cliff is not an urban area, around Jefferson is more ‘urban like’ . OC is a suburb and the development should reflect the area and not some one’s concept.

    Look at the difference between the Belmont and that horrid, ugly mess that is SylvanThirty.

  • Cairenn Day

    What I saw was the destruction of the real Wynnewood. Even the Morning snooze thinks that there is a ‘huge amount of extra parking, there really isn’t. There is missing Mongomery Ward store and it’s parking. That area needs to be developed.

    Most of Wynnewood is rented, That is important. It shows that it is still drawing customers, not like the poor Dead Bird mall.

  • Hord’s Ridge

    I own a business and I understand perfectly that if I’m leasing the space, the landlord has every right to sell.

  • jimdandy

    #noyourmeme
    #uneducatedidiot

  • Andrew Hudson

    Stacking people up like cordwood is hardly the environment to have a home. It is done to maximize revenue. We have to stop mistaking inflated values through speculation with improvement.

    What my neighborhood needs is development with a sense of stewartship. People who take a broader, more comprehensive vision of projects. Behemoth buildings make human beings feel insignificant. The thing that made this area has been a sense of intimacy. Buildings built on humanscale, that after years of abuse became repurposed into lofts, shops and restaurants.

    The reason developers won’t leave is because there’s profit to be made. I have no problem with that as long as developments don’t degrade the quality of living for present residents. Giant, impersonal, sun blocking buildings cannot maintain the highly eclectic, quirky vibe that makes Bishop Arts special!

    I know this falls on deaf ears, but perhaps think on a little smaller scale, less ambitious and something more similar to what exists might be nice.

  • lakewoodhobo

    Out of curiosity, did you oppose the “Bishop Arts Village” development by the Nazerians? They just finished kicking out some long-time low-income residents for a project that sounds like it belongs in Uptown. Do you have the same compassion for families as you do for a business?

  • Andrew Hudson

    Try to find a good map of Bishop Arts. It’s very entertaining.

    I live a mile away from BA and I’m told that somehow, I and my neighbors are part of the Bishop Arts Homeowners asso.? How does that happen without the homeowners consent or knowledge? Why am I unknowingly part of something that has 0 impact on my neighborhood?

    While I am being affected by the politics of BAD and the overzealous urban butchers, I see a systemic problem with government. We seem to live in an age where the democratic process ceases when we exit the voting booth. Younger politicians see their election as some sort of mandate to impose their vision of the community on us rather than let us determine what we want.

    Inconveniently scheduled city meetings and charettes are simply presentations of thinly veiled backroom deals, politically motivated to generate funds through a variety of esoteric procedural shenanigans! Our consideration of minority needs is nil. A rose by any other name is still a rose… the same is true of subterfuge.

  • lakewoodhobo

    You sound angry. Maybe you should spend less time posting on the internet.

  • Michael

    have you ever owned a business? it sounds like you haven’t. i’m not sure what age has to do with moving a business but you have no idea of what you are talking about. dear god…do something else with your time besides posting nonsense.

  • Michael

    dipshit alert kenneth…we talk about this ding dong earlier today!

  • Michael

    i don’t think you understand economics. how many businesses do you own in bishop arts or anywhere else? i’d love to compare notes.