Sylvan | Thirty and the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group

In a meeting full of buzzwords Tuesday night, the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group dripped out a case against proposed zoning changes for the Sylvan | Thirty development.

If this were a rock show, the four guys on stage would’ve been booed out of the building. But the audience of about 70 community activists, designers, planners and architects was polite, yawning and shifting in their seats while someone explained a slide titled “Merchandising Considerations”.

Panelists rambled endlessly on topics absurdly esoteric for a “town hall” gathering. The meeting itself was Melba toast and white milk boring.

But the issue at hand is rather dramatic.

The developer of Sylvan | Thirty is asking for major zoning changes, which could allow buildings as tall as eight stories and are contrary to design ideas the city has been developing for Fort Worth Avenue.

The developer, Brent Jackson, has filed a 64-page zoning change with the City Plan Commission, asking for changes to the Planned Development District that includes Sylvan | Thirty. The commission is expected to take public comments on the proposal Oct. 6.

Those proposed changes include increasing the building heights from 40 feet to 95 feet, allowing uses such as tattoo shops and bingo halls, allowing main entrances to face inward and requiring fewer trees along the street.

That would not align with the City Design Studio’s standards, director Brent Brown implied during his presentation.

Once the presentations were over, an hour into the meeting, Sylvan | Thirty consultant David Marquis was the first to comment.

Regarding trees, the plan is to plant the required number of trees amid the development and not on the street because then they would be growing under power lines. Although the change requests 95-foot building heights, the developer only wants to take the buildings up to a max of 79 feet. That’s about seven stories. But it wouldn’t obstruct the Belmont Hotel’s skyline view, Marquis said.

Monte Anderson of the Belmont tried to get the panel going by asking questions in the style of a corporate defense attorney: “Would you say that 4-foot sidewalks are within the City Design Studio’s standard of design?”

Anderson did get a definitive answer out of Fort Worth Avenue Development Group president David Lyles: “As it stands right now, no. We wouldn’t back this project.”

The PD’s code was written in 2005, and design ideas have changed some in the past six years, Lyles said.

“It’s not that we wouldn’t be open to change things in the PD, such as height,” he said. “It’s currently zoned for 40 feet; 95 feet is more than double. We believe there are better ways to build this project than inwardly facing. We would like it to address the street.”

Marquis reminded the audience that organic grocer Cox Farms Market is the anchor tenant, and that the development will be green. The buildings will be LEED certified, he said. And utilize storm-water management.

“Let’s remember what was there before,” he said. “This project will be a model for urban green development.”

Two hours into the meeting, some commenting seemed to think they were addressing the project’s developer. One or two asked off-topic questions. And a few offered heartfelt pleas for the good of their beloved neighborhood.

Finally, developer Brent Jackson, a Kessler Park resident, took the microphone. First, he noted that this meeting was an example of democracy at work and said “God bless America.” His company has an open-door policy, he said, and he welcomes comments from the community.

Anyone can comment or ask questions about Sylvan | Thirty via its website, iheartsylvanthirty.com.

He stressed that the project and tenant mix will encourage a diversity of cultures, races, incomes and religious affiliations. Some people might not like certain tenants, and other people might dislike others, he said. But the goal is to have a diverse mix.

“We think there will be a good, healthy balance,” he said.

A waning moon greeted us upon exiting the meeting, two hours and seventeen minutes later, and we were thankful to be on the outside again.

By |2013-07-26T11:06:22-05:00September 14th, 2011|Development, News|63 Comments

About the Author:

Rachel Stone is the Oak Cliff editor. Email rstone@advocatemag.com or follow twitter.com/advocate_oc.                                     


  1. OCBlues September 17, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    Among other things, Rachel. Don’t forget about, hypster, snotty, angry, fist-clenching, etc. Go back and read how angry this dude is because we all want the developers to adhere to the city codes and what the neighborhood all agreed on earlier. If it was my blog, I’d block his IP address completely for that immature level of crap, but that’s your call, not mine. This should be an adult forum for a free exchange of comments that is based on mutual respect, not name-calling, scorn, badgering, mockery and belittling.

    See you at the next meeting, LT.

  2. Rachel Stone September 17, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    Are you talking about the Nazi/fascist stuff? I am editing that out.

  3. craft September 17, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    Born here… try again.

    I don’t believe you don’t get paid.

    I don’t understand why asking for

    street trees,

    wider sidewalks,

    street facing facades,

    multiple shorter buildings rather than one 8 story building and

    uses desired by the neighborhood is a bad thing.

    That’s what i’m into…. not spinning cornpone stories about my dietary habits while referencing those who don’t share my opinions on a level with the Third Reich.

    Anyone who plays the Nazi card in an argument has lost the argument because they ran out of stuff to say. Someone who tries to equate his struggles avoiding wider sidewalks and street trees to the plight of the Jews is sad.

  4. OCBlues September 17, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    By the way, what’s The Advocate’s policy on posting personal attacks? I’m getting pretty fed up with this off-topic name calling and no moderation from the owners of the forum.

  5. OCLongtimer September 16, 2011 at 6:22 PM

    Christy: That would be wonderful. Although it does nothing to alleviate OCBlues and Craft’s paranoia, since every nine year old knows how to like a thread like this 1000 times.

    For the record, I have lived in Oak Cliff for more than 25 years, have never taken a cent from anyone here and thanks to the good people of Oak Cliff, dont need to. I just know that the anger, upset, paranoia and fistclenching you guys exhibit are not the Oak Cliff way. Bottom line. That was the consensus at my table at Gloria last night and at Norma’s yesterday morning.

    Yell shill, type in caps, try to scare the people of Oak Cliff all you want to. We are a hardy breed who have seen far far worse than Sylvan Thirty land in this part of town and scoff at scaremongers like you. You will not turn us into fearful souls no matter how much you want to.

  6. OCBlues September 16, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    Awesome, Christy!! That way we can see the majority’s opinion on who’s ideas are being accepted as viable and who is just TROLLING and trying to sway public opinion with smoke and mirrors by pretending to be actual Longtime Oak Cliff residents and not just paid ringers for the corporate developers wearing sheets and masks and trying to scare everybody into thinking the abandoned midway is haunted.

  7. craft September 16, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    Or will Oak Cliff become a place of unrestrictive reckless zoning designed for Parkies pockets instead of Oak Cliff’s future with folks like Shill Longbottom spinning so hard you think you’re on a ride at the fair.

    You decide.

  8. Christy Robinson
    Christy Robinson September 16, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    @OCBlues … Funny you’d mention that! Before I leave today I plan to install an updated commenting system that actually will feature a way to “like” threads (in addition to other stuff that will make commenting here even better). — web editor Christy

  9. OCBlues September 16, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    I wish there was a “like” button on these threads.

  10. OCLongtimer September 16, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    I also invite people to read Rachel’s pieces as they were balanced and fair assessments, unlike those offered by Crafty On The Take and OCBluesmoke.

    Note CraftCheese tells you WHEN AND IF IT TURNS OUT NICE, WE ALL CAN PATRONIZE IT AND FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT but of course, you cant do that if they deny you the opportunity to patronize it in the first place because it doesn’t match their definition of acceptibility (which is so much more refined than all the rest of ours).

    And you are all very smart people to already know you should always beware of people who type in all caps. Scary, isnt it?

    Will Oak Cliff continue to be a place that is liberal and open and allows experimentation and new things to open and succeed or fail on their own merits, or will it become one of those places run by a ‘know-it-all’ clique that tells you what you can and cannot have and should and should not like, offering ‘nonpartisan’ town halls like the one this week which was anything but that. Grabbing the microphone out of the speakers hand is a great show of nonpartisanship, for sure.

    The people of Oak Cliff see beyond the Fascism. Will we however be able to thwart it as we try to earn a living?

  11. craft September 16, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    Ok yes… it’s totally hypocritical to want to have a tattoo parlor in a mobile Airstream and not also want one as an anchor tenant in a permanent structure next to Cox Farms. I trust the community will sort out the differences.

    And I receive no money to sit here and fight with you all day which I will stop doing now.

    I invite everybody to read Rachel’s post above and the article in Oak Cliff People and focus on those issues and make up their own minds and WATCH this development because it’s only the noise everybody is making that is changing things. Not Shill Longblower who has readily admitted the attempt to slip around all the issues important to the community on the first try and now he promises he won’t next week. PAY ATTENTION AND KEEP ASKING FOR WHAT YOU WANT AND WHEN AND IF IT TURNS OUT NICE, WE ALL CAN PATRONIZE IT AND FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT AND MAKE IT A SUCCESS.

    Thanks for answering my questions LB about more smaller denser buildings and for not denying you were on the take. It is very American. You should run for Congress. I wish the developer would fire you and buy a couple of trees. A much better investment and it would win more points with the community than you do.

  12. OCBlues September 16, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    Yeah, LT, I should have left work and ran home to read Anita’s question that I didn’t even know she posted and then made up some bogus response like you did.

    You really missed the point of my statement about the Tshirts. The point was IRONY. 10 years ago I had a hard time getting car insurance because of the illegal insurance practice of red lining my zip code. It had a bad reputation. Now, people are capitalizing on the zip code because WE made our neighborhood better, with no corporate help or outside developers, and people from other areas actually buy them and proudly wear them, because now everybody in Dallas wishes they lived here. I find that to be extremely ironic. Have you seen the ones that say “Remember The Alamo” that have The Alamo Courts sign done in a line drawing on them? Check out these other Oak Cliff t-shirts:


    I’ve only briefly met Monte Anderson and had a very short conversation about The Cliff Diner that was where Smoke is now. That was probably more than 5-7 years ago. I am friends with local developer David Spence, though. Our daughters are the same age and were in the same class at Rosemont in 1st grade. But I still had the fortitude to ask him why he couldn’t fix the roof over my wife’s aunt’s graphics studio she was leasing from him on Davis. He said it would cost too much because the problem was in the structure, not just the roof. It was on the list, but it’s a long list. She was able to break her lease and move out because of that. He still hasn’t fixed it, to the best of my knowledge.

    Metro is not a CORPORATE chain. The owner has had several diners in the past, including the 4 that he changed the name to Metro, and has closed or sold most of them at this point, including the one bearing his own name next to Methodist Hospital on Beckley. This is the last one Danny has left. The Metro Diner was The Pit Grill for 40 years.

    Do you all have any idea how many people tried to talk my family out of moving to The OC from Old East Dallas? My boss, our day care lady, friends, neighbors, my parents… The only person who was excited about it was my father-in-law. He grew up on Burlington at Hampton. You see, although I’VE only lived here 11 years, my children are fourth generation Cliffdwellers that date back to 1945.

    Read the article published today in the Oak Cliff People and find out more truth and not just gossip about the Sylvan Thirty project. For example, the bank has taken down the “For Lease” sign across the street because they have leased 7000 more sq. ft. since this thing has started moving forward. That’s good.

    Now stop fighting everybody and ADD to the situation instead of SUBTRACTING from it. Be a positive influence and not a negative one. Be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

  13. OCLongtimer September 16, 2011 at 8:15 AM

    Craft: I dont rag on The Belmont at all. I dine and drink there every so often myself. Glad it’s part of Oak Cliff.

    What I don’t like taking over Oak Cliff…and what I will rag on…is hypocrisy.

    Nice try deflecting the point. Point still remains…you said part of the upset over Sylvan/Thirty is the possibility the rezoning raises of a tatoo parlor coming in, yet Anderson himself has said a tattoo parlor will be down the street as part of his trailer park whatever.

    So how much you getting paid to try to help Anderson fend off any competition, which, last time I looked, was the good ol’ American way?

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