The change barreling toward our neighborhood should surprise no one. And neither should the outrage.
More than 5,000 people have signed a petition to stop the Bishops Arts Gateway, a proposal from Alamo Manhattan to plant five-story apartment buildings in the path of well-established neighborhood businesses.
Emotions are running high, and this is only the beginning. Many neighbors want to kill the project. But, what about the next developer who wants to build five stories at West Davis and Vernon? Or four stories west of Tyler? It’s all allowed under current zoning.
Two more Bishop Arts developments are already in the works. Now is probably a good time to step back and look at the big picture that editor Rachel Stone presented in her November 2014 cover story, “Massive rezoning cases urge urban density throughout Oak Cliff.”
The stage was set for high-density development back in 2010 when the city council approved the Bishop/Davis zoning, which rewrote the rules for what can be built along the West Davis Corridor and from Zang to Montclair.
If this still sounds abstract, here’s what we’re looking at:
What did the Bishop/Davis zoning do?
The Bishop Avenue corridor can have building heights of up to three stories. The distance from the building to the curb must be 20-25 feet, which the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League has said should be changed. The league argues that these “setbacks” should be about 5 feet greater so that the façades of new buildings line up with the façades of old homes and don’t visually overpower them. Office-only uses mistakenly were prohibited in the Bishop corridor, and the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce had to request a specific-use permit to open its new offices in a former doctor’s office.
The “East Garden District” is the site of a planned development from Farrokh Nazerian and his son, Michael. The zoning allows building heights up to five stories on Bishop and Zang and four stories otherwise. Accepted uses include apartments, duplexes, restaurants without drive-through windows, convenience stores, parking lots, medical clinics and offices. The $100-million, two-phase Nazerian project as planned with apartments, parking, restaurants, shopping and offices with buildings as high as four stories, is allowed under the Bishop/Davis zoning.
New restaurants with drive-throughs are expressly prohibited in this area, generally the Bishop Arts District, as well as tattoo, piercing and massage parlors. Buildings can be as high as three stories.
More than a thousand people via Facebook have joined the June 16 event, “The Future of Bishop Arts: A Neighborhood Conversation”, featuring a panel of Oak Cliff urban planners, developers, business owners and our city councilman. But, notably, not Alamo Manhattan or any of the businesses it may displace. Says, Kickstand, the event organizer: “The goal of this event is to raise awareness about the amount of development coming to Oak Cliff (this is much, much bigger than just Alamo Manhattan) …”
But stay tuned for more notices of meetings specifically about Alamo’s plans for the Bishop Arts Gateway.
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