The one cottage Bishop Arts development is saving

cornerhouse

The developer of a $42 million Bishop Arts project is saving this one house, at the northeast corner of Bishop and Melba, with plans to renovate it as a commercial property.

The Nazerian family company, Exxir Capital, recently demolished a small apartment complex and nine single-family homes to make way for the first phase of the Bishop Arts project, which eventually will comprise about 95,000 feet of retail and office space and 400 apartments.

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But this one little cottage on the corner, they’re saving.

“We really let the site speak to us,” Exxir Capital’s Thea Van Loggerenberg says of the house.

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It is surrounded by big, old trees, and the company envisions the house becoming a bourbon bar or a wine bar or some kind of dessert place with a huge outdoor patio and strings of lights in the trees. They are thinking of it as a spot where diners can go at the end of the night for a drink or a sweet, and they admit drawing some inspiration from super popular Bishop Arts businesses The Wild Detectives and Emporium Pies.

The developer plans to break ground on the project’s first phase this month.

The project, which received a $2 million economic development grant and has been approved for $5 million in future tax reimbursements, also includes rebuilding wider streets and sidewalks, burying power lines and building a parking garage.

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  • Smokey

    Amen Carlos…. I was part of that special place in time. At least we have our memories.

  • Carlos Galvan

    Sounds so classy, “wine bar”. I’m so excited! Not!

  • Carlos Galvan

    I’m with you Smokey. Pretentious is being too kind. Try arrogant!

  • Andrew Hudson

    Not everyone who questions you is trying to silence or distort your position. And for everyone who is, there are numerous others who might never speak out but who appreciate the dialogue. Some people are truly trying to understand what we should do next!

    The struggle has been going on for a long time. And while I’m sure it appears that we have made little progress, I can see a huge difference between the world I live in today and the world of my childhood in the 1950’s! We have come a long way and we have an even longer way to go!

  • Andrew Hudson

    I guess one of the problems is, “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.” You have to be there to really speak with authority.

    I’m still trying to digest the statement that gentrification is a “global phenomenon”. Are the Chinese are having problems with gentrification… or the Russians, or Africans, or anyone in the Mideast? I suppose some of these folks never heard of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) blowing up college chemistry departments in the 1960’s. It seems very Trumpolian to confuse social conscience with radicalism. It is not radical to create a dialogue by questioning the status quo. It is reasonable and rational.

  • Mike Dunlap

    Lots of reasons for why the things I noted exist, but they do. And they are positives to gentrification, whatever negatives they come with. It’s a complicated issue not nearly as black-and-white as you make it, and your radicalism would make the situation much worse if it won out.

  • Smokey

    Pardon my late entry but this is more interesting as it trails along. Ramon’s concerns are valid and should not be dismissed as I am sure you agree. An argument based on Taxable Values vs. Tax Collected

  • Smokey

    Alright then you have admitted to the problem.
    You have mentioned benefits.
    Let’s hear the solutions.

  • Smokey

    Three perfect examples of gentrification and how in most cases they destroy ethnic neighborhoods.
    Pikes Park/ Little Mexico
    Freedman’s Town
    Bishop/Davis
    All were hip developments in search of ethnic mojo. The mojo leaves with the indigenous residents and all that remains are the pretentious…..
    When the people and there places cease to exist so goes the reason for being.

  • Andrew Hudson

    “Work for sustainable growth in a spirit of stewardship.” It’s in the last paragraph and seems like an alternative for the present unsustainable growth that appears to be fueled by greed.

  • Michael Rockwell

    Agree to disagree. Change is happening all around the city. Some good some bad. It is complex and there’s nothing perfect about it, but change is natural for any city, it will affect all people differently and more importantly you can’t just stop cities from changing.

    I’m all for protecting the folks who have lived in an area from displacement, but there’s no easy solution for this. You can’t just hold up a stop sign and prohibit all change. You may not like some of the things that have happened in Bishop Arts, but what could have been done to prevent these changes that you dislike? My guess is next to nothing. It sucks for some but that’s just the way the world works.

    You’ve offered plenty of critiques of my viewpoint but have offered no alternatives for the growth that Dallas is experiencing. It’s a difficult argument to say do nothing, leave us alone, go somewhere else and all development is bad much less make this particular case a social justice issue.

  • Ramon Mejia

    Thank You very much Andrew for your support and understanding. It feels like with every new question I ask, more and more people are coming out looking to silence my disapproval, and hold my opinion as misinformed.

    This is going to be a hard long struggle, but I’m here for it and preparing myself mentally for it. I use all my free time to read a new book, article, seek out advice and assistance to understand and learn more about gentrification, urban planning, city politics, etc.

  • Ramon Mejia

    Sorry. Please dont portray yourself or those you represent, essentially the affluent consumer base as some sort of altrustic savior. Because I’m not the one that will buy into it. Just like Spike Lee, who is from Brooklyn, the Christopher Columbus syndrome.

    Rather than try and say hey there is more good than bad with us, the gentry, white people, moving into the “hood, ghetto”.

    Tell me this…why can’t there be prosperity without affluent white people? Why is that development only comes when white businesses, ie safe investment, comes into a low socio-economic neighborhood of color?

    Why is it that only when you move to the area it brings a greater police presence into the area? And oversight and monitoring for who? But for who? The Bishop Arts community? The 2nd & 3rd generation gentrifiers? Because in my area and various other parts of Oak Cliff there is plenty of police harassment and overstep. Just because there isn’t crime in affluent enclave that is Bishop Arts and “North Oak Cliff” doesnt mean there isnt dudes getting their heads smashed and killed throughout Oak Cliff. Come on, don’t act like some how the positives outway the negatives, because they don’t.

    As long as poor, working-class, immigrant, PoC communities are adversely affected and indirectly or directly displaced to make why for you, I will be against it and everything you stand for.

    Same goes people like me in Crown Heights Brooklyn. You should probably speak to Right to the City Coalition, because there are people you’ve displaced and just don’t see it.

  • Andrew Hudson

    A few thoughts on your observations.

    First, Mr. Jensen has not been eminent domained just yet. As city attorney, Warren Ernst pointed out at the Aug 12 council meeting, “the alignment of Herbert St. has nothing to do with eminent domain.” Which is true but inaccurate.The alignment will call for eminent domain if the developers do not make an acceptable offer to buy all the properties involved (Mr. Jenson’s not the only property involved). Jim Schutze, of the Observer, has probably been David’s greatest defender and has done the best job of accurately reporting on that situation. You’re correct the battle is not solely one of race… it is economics!

    Secondly, I suspect low income people have indeed been displaced by this development. Does anyone know how many of these homes were owner occupied and how many were owned by absentee landlords? This is not about race, like alignment of Herbert St is not about eminent domain! I suspect all of the tenants were people of color and many were renters and did not profit from the sale of the properties they occupied… and certainly I could be wrong.

    Thirdly, this is an “us vs them” issue. The affluent are exploiting everyone except those affluent enough to fight back.

    Fourth, once completed this project won’t produce tax revenue until all their tax credits are used. Besides these taxes will not be paid by the developer. Instead the residents and merchants who occupy the space will bear the brunt of these expenses with the retailers passing those costs along to their patrons. And those patrons will be residents of the neighborhood, the same people who gave the development tax breaks and incentives. And the vast majority of new jobs will be low paying minimum wage jobs. A good deal for the city, maybe.

    Numerous developments have promised retail at street level that somehow dissipate upon construction. The reality of developments rarely lives up to the architectural renderings and hype presented beforehand. We’ll see. Unfortunately there seems to be no enforcement involved if developments do not meet up to their proposals.

    If you’ve lived here for over 35 years, as I have, it is very easy to look at Bishop Arts today and be sickened by how things have turned out. The best restaurant to ever be in BA left in 2005! The Bishop Street Grill got squeezed out by escalating city taxes! Ironic, huh?

    Development has trashed the traffic situation. Brought in a waste of a streetcar, and created a revolving door of businesses that struggle to pay inflated rents (that include skyrocketing taxes due to the artificially escalating property values)!

    It is not progress that is troubling. And dissent does not necessarily entail being distraught. It is the “seamingly well-designed development” assumption that is disturbing! It is the unsustainable growth fueled by greed and a total lack of stewardship that is the root of this problem. And as long as no one objects, we have no one to blame except ourselves.

  • Michael Rockwell

    Ramon,

    I respect your passion and your good intentions, but you’re barking up the wrong tree on this one. If you want to see a truly unfortunate situation, look to David Jensen in Trinity Groves who lost his house due to eminent domain so the city can straighten a street by a few feet. That really, really, really sucks and should never happen.

    And who is getting marginalized or stepped on by this development? Every single property owner sold their property, at will, to this developer. Yes, they may have been approached time and time again by the developer and things may have been no longer what the used to be, but they never had to sell. EVER. No one was displaced or lost their home.

    Where you get things really wrong is your us vs them mentality. How “affluent” folks are exploiting the people of color. That’s a joke. This has nothing to do with race. Look no further than David Jensen.

    It’s hard to make the argument of do nothing when, from the city’s perspective, this development will have a positive impact. Currently, this entire tract of land is producing less than $100k in property taxes. Once completed, this project will produce around $1M in property taxes per year, provide needed parking, new business, new jobs, and 400 new apartments. If you are a city, you’d take this deal all day every day.

    This development also at least appears to be sensitive, design wise, to the surrounding community by building larger sidewalks, burying power lines, creating inner courtyards, limiting the height to 3 stories with 1-2 story retail in front, and providing hundreds of underground parking so “we” don’t have to park in front of “your” house.

    You forget that this could have been something similar to the Alamo Manhattan project with 3 huge, 5 story buildings that look like they belong in Uptown with national chains occupying the retail. By and large, Bishop Arts has virtually no national chains, has mostly locally owned businesses and has grown organically. To me, it is hard to understand how someone can look at Bishop Arts today and not agree with how things have turned out to be.

    If you are this distraught over this seemingly well-designed development, then you are in for a long, long road ahead of you. With the recent rezoning of the Oak Cliff Gateway and the planned street improvements to Jefferson you can surely count on a lot of change ahead with some of it far worse than this project. I’m not sure if it will all be a good thing, but this is a fact of life when cities are growing and changing rapidly as Dallas currently is.

  • Andrew Hudson

    Most people seem to side with developers because they confuse increased property values with progress. There is a simple side to gentrification. If you’re not the “gentry” you’re fixing to get “ficated”!

    Keep asking the tough questions. Ruffling feathers means you’re doing something right. Question everything and everybody!

  • Andrew Hudson

    Pardon me, but this development is not a charity? Why did we give the developer $2 million in economic development money with another $5 million in future tax reimbursements and another $2 million in corporate welfare in the pipeline? Sounds pretty chartible to me.

    “Saving” a house is a joke. They could have saved an entire neighborhood. The properties owned by this developer were allowed to deteriorate and tenants were abused. I know someone who worked for these people trying to maintain these properties and he was paid a minimum wage and given unreasonably limited resources to do the work. If minimum wage jobs are their contribution to our community then, thanks anyway.

    This developer bought most of this property dirt cheap. Allowing the properties to deteriorate simply kept values down to make other adjacent property more affordable.

    Who do you think is going to move into this development if not “working class families”? Granted they will not be low income working class families but they will be working class none the less. Millionares aren’t being displaced and they aren’t moving into rental property. It is a mischaracterization that higher rents will be charged for greater profits not to recover cost of acquiring property.

  • Ramon Mejia

    Good Afternoon Michael.

    First, I don’t drink wine, or for that matter any alocholic beverage.

    Second, all the words that I use are commonly used by laymen, researchers, urban planners, community leaders, politicans that are invested in safeguarding the interests of the most vulnerable members of the community.

    Much of the same terminology is used when conducting what is called a ‘Socio-EconomicImpact Assessment’. It examines how a proposed development will change the lives of current residents, as well as future residents of a community.

    All the questions I’ve proposed and more are common questions asked and answered using qualitative and quantitative data.

    Lastly, I won’t “chill out” when I see the community that I was born, raised in, be stepped on, marginalized by this or any development looking to simply profit off the area.

    We invested our lives in this community, through good and the bad. When developers, like those currently looking to exploit an area, as well as the city disinvested from for decades.

    Why doesn’t the developer build it for free you ask, I would ask why are they building it at all? Because all areas of investment that are profitable have been used up, now its time to “infuse culture” and “reinvigorate” the hood.

    The community was doing perfectly fine, organically growing and building itself up. All while investors, developers, realtors, speculators, neglected our community.

    And the working-class can afford to live in the area, or at least could from 1960s after desegregation, during the so-called White Flight, when middle class white families not wanting to live next to people of color decided to leave.

    It is only been since the gentrifiers have been unable to afford the cost of living in their affluent gated communities, or found their communities too boring and wanted to live in “the hood.”

    And how is it that you know these lots went for several hundreds of thousands of dollars? Please if you have the factual evidence to prove it, rather than hearsay, do share.

    And help further growth to south. Yes, only after everything north of the Trinity River has already been bought up, developed, the cost of living has become too expensive, so now lets build up the people of color communities, move in the affluent people. So tell me this, where will the poor, working class, immigrant communities live if they can no longer afford it? Will they head further south or to another neglected area of the city only waiting to be gentrified at a later date?

    No I won’t “chill,” not when my neighbors are being taken advantage of, or are neglected by the city and individuals like yourself.

  • Ramon Mejia

    I don’t believe I mentioned the race/ethnicity/nationality of the developer above, much less the context of the discussion Rob and I had on white privilege.

  • Mike Dunlap

    You say gentrification is complex, and it is. But you then completely dismiss the numerous positives – in addition to the numerous negatives – that it brings to neighborhoods such as those around Bishop Arts. There are many working, lower-middle and middle-class people in the area that have surely seen a pickup in job/commercial opportunities and increases in the value of properties many of them own.

    I live in what could currently be described as Ground Zero of the global gentrification phenomenon, Crown Heights Brooklyn. Yes, I am part of the problems… but I am also part of the benefits. With me has come more spending at local establishments catering to both upper class and disadvantaged classes. With me has come a greater police presence, but one that is more actively monitored by people empowered to hold that presence in greater check. And so on.

    This development will do much of the same, for good and bad. But that is a hell of a lot better than the complete resource-removing abandonment of the area by the white empowered class during the 70’s and 80’s.

  • Michael Rockwell

    Ramon, I think you need to have some wine. Chill out, man.

    The “reporter” was simply just stating a piece of information regarding the development about how they plan to save a house on the property and reuse it for a bar or restaurant. Can she not do that without going all FBI on this development?

    Personally, I think that is cool of the developer to save a house and reuse it. Developments in Dallas could use more of this.

    Where do you come up with some of these questions too? Labor Peace Agreement, Enforced hiring, Community Fund and affordable housing? At this rate, why doesn’t the developer build this for free and not charge any rent?

    And yes, you are correct this development is not for a working class family for better or for worse. Developments boil down to economics and if you take one of the most sought after areas in the city, it is going to cost you more to buy the land, get entitlements and build something suitable for the area. To cover your costs you will have to charge higher rent. It’s as simple as that.

    A question to ask yourself is could the working class afford to live in one of these houses as is without this development? Considering that some of these lots sold for several hundred thousand dollars, I would say no. So this development should’t necessarily cater to the working class when this location is already unaffordable to many.

    Yes Bishop Arts is growing and becoming more expensive, yes people drink wine (duh?), and no this development is not a charity case. It will, however, provide plenty of new jobs for the area, increase property taxes by several times over, which the city can then use on other needed improvements in other neighborhoods, and it will most importantly help Dallas further its growth to the south which is desperately needed.

  • Wouldnt You Like to Know

    White privilege? The developer is Iranian-American.

  • Ramon Mejia

    Completely understand. Summer has been both hot and hectic with the kids for me as well. Let me know when you’re free. Can’t wait.

  • Rob Shearer

    Ramon- I’m not representing the developer. I heard about the $500k sale via another real estate guy in the neighborhood who helped with the transaction. I have no other knowledge of actual sales prices – I’m just making assumptions that folks who sold early got less and folks who sold late got more. As you well know, that is often how it works.

    I’ll reach out to continue our conversations. Summer has been busy with kid duty, etc. Thanks.

  • Ramon Mejia

    Thank You Rob for your comment. Still waiting for us to meet. Its been awhile since I’ve heard from you.

    I am well aware that this article has nothing to do with Emporium Pies, but what I am well aware of is how that property was acquired.

    So because it was mentioned in the article, I made it my point to bring up. It is issues like this that need to be reported on, rather than provide good PR for a developer.

    The only thing 8 yrs. Of talking to property owners tells me is that they got worn down. A developer sending reps to purchase property over and over again. Sounds kind of harassing don’t you think? And feels kind of intimidating for a homeowner to see property all around you being bought up? Only a matter of time before they have to sell.

    You provide an example of one homeowner who sold for $500,000…would very much like to speak to the homeowner, since they bought a place next to Wild Detectives. Please provide them my information. If they are willing, I’d love to have a conversation with them.

    But I wonder how much the other 8 residences sold for? Do you know if they prospering as the example you provided? What about the renters? Will they be able to afford to rent a unit in the new development?

    Gentrification is complex. But I don’t believe we had an indepth conversation about it. We moreso discussed my own perspective, possibly doing an event (never happened), white privilege, and the disrespectful, condescending manner in which Bishop Arts patrons, business owners (Not all, except for the 5 that I have personally spoken with and they know who they are.), and supporters of development have towards me or those that show dissenting views.

    If you know the answers to the questions I’ve provided above or the ones in my other comment. Would love if someone could answer them. Question: Are you representing the developer?

  • Rob Shearer

    Ramon- worth noting that this has nothing to do with Emporium Pies. Rachel just mentioned that the developer, Exxir Capital, is ‘inspired by’ what Emporium and Wild Detectives have done in their little houses that they’ve converted into businesses. As for how the developer got the land, I was under the impression he spent the last 8 years talking to property owners and buying the lots. I’m guessing some lots went for a little, and I know some lots went for a lot. One of the final lots acquired, a simple 50×150 lot with a small house, went for $500,000. The man that owned the house turned around and purchased the house next to Wild Detectives and my understanding is he plans to become a commercial landlord. Gentrification is complex, as you and I have talked about. I think you are missing quite a bit of the nuance in your stance, but I respect your passion.

  • Ramon Mejia

    There is nothing wrong with passionate dialogue. I’d be more than happy to meet to discuss.

    But there is always time to report on a story. You look at the OCAdvocate FB post of this article, you’ll see people know. So investigate. If the advocate doesn’t know the ins and out of the dealings that are directing the future of this community, that is something I can’t do for y’all. Choose to follow up and ask questions or be complicit.

    And ground hasn’t been broken. There is always time to influence a project.

    As I commented on the FB post of this article,

    I mean what will be the DEMOGRAPHIC IMPACTS?
    What is the estimated population change with the proposed development? Of the population change, what percentage are under the age of 18, over 65, working-class, minority, race, ethnicity, ratio of men to women? What is the ethnic breakdown of the new population? Is there an influx or outflux of temporary workers (e.g., construction of development)? How many children per housing unit?

    What is the ASSESSMENT on LOCAL HOUSING MARKET AFFECTS?
    Does the development help to satisfy current or projected housing needs? Does the proposed residential development contribute to the diversification of available housing opportunities (types and prices)? Are rents and housing prices affordable to new segments (new employees) of the population? Does the development result in further concentrations of one type of social class? Is this desirable from the viewpoint of the community? If there is a need for affordable housing in the community, does this development help to meet that need? Is the development easily accessible to public and private facilities and services, such as retail establishments, parks and public transportation? Does the development taken into account of the unique needs of the special groups been considered?

    What about Enforced local hiring, short term and long term- Enforcement in the contract terms for hiring of people from zip codes in the most impoverished areas of Oak Cliff, South Dallas? Without language of enforcement (fines) the developers can simply not comply with the word of the contract.

    How about a Labor Peace Agreement- the right for the workers (both construction and once venders come in) to form a union without intimidation should they desire.

    What about Free Community Wifi?

    How about a Community Fund (20% of property tax revenue annually)?

    On and on. The issue is I have questions. I don’t have all the solutions, but we can’t develop solutons without asking the right questions. I’m not interested in what the developer’s ideas are aesthetics, because whatever they are, they arent intended for a working-class family like mine. No need to hide it. Its the truth.

    I want to know how it will positively impact the current residents, especially the most marginalized.

  • Ramon, I’m not trying to be argumentative, but I have no idea what you are inferring here, and I don’t think “the entire community” does, either. And if it does, there’s no real need to report it here anyway. Let us know what you’re talking about, and we’ll follow up if it’s something that makes sense for us to write about. Remember that at this point, though, this entire project is basically a done deal in terms of what the developer has purchased and what he intends to do with the project. As for projected rents, I don’t believe those have been released yet. The only real opening here in terms of the development is when/if he comes back and asks for zoning changes in the future; that happens frequently on projects this large, so it’s possible but not guaranteed.

  • Ramon Mejia

    The real story should be reported by Rachel, not written in the comments section. The entire community knows how the Landowners of Emporium Pies acquired it.

    It is a show of support when the reporter isnt asking hard, penetrating questions of the developer.

    What happened to former residents? What are rental prices for the units that are going to be built? Will the former residents, or for that matter, surrounding working-class, immigrant families be able to afford the rent? How will the developer work to minimize the forced displacement, inadvertently and overtly, of area residents?

    I mean do area residents besides Bishop Arts patrons from across the river, or the new gentry drink wine?

    This article and the previous one are essentially good PR for the developer.

  • What is the real story, Ramon? Rachel reported what the developer said he plans to do with the building. That is all — it’s not a show of support for the project. It’s a statement from the developer about his intent.

  • Ramon Mejia

    “Envisions the house becoming a bourbon bar or a wine bar or some kind of dessert place with a huge outdoor patio and strings of lights in the trees. They are thinking of it as a spot where diners can go at the end of the night for a drink or a sweet, and they admit drawing some inspiration from super popular Bishop Arts businesses The Wild Detectives and Emporium Pies.”

    Are you freakin’ kidding me?!?! Oak Cliff Advocate is really turning out the articles to show their support for this project.

    I mean who besides the affluent class drinks at a wine bar? Wonder if the neighbors that surround this “cottage” will be patrons?

    Do some real reporting, writing. Why aren’t y’all aren’t asking what’s the FULL STORY on how the Landowners of Emporium Pies got that land.