After years of public meetings, the Oak Cliff Gateway plan just might be on the home stretch.
“We’ve got the energy, and we’re going to make it across the finish line,” Councilman Scott Griggs told neighbors at last night’s meeting in the Hitt Auditorium at Methodist.
The Oak Cliff Gateway encompasses the 750-acre swath around Beckley, Zang and Jefferson as it connects with the Trinity River Corridor. The plan aims to create a flexible zoning situation that works for everyone — potential developers as well as the people who live and work in the area. The goal is to get the final ordinance to city council before the summer recess in June.
There are three components to the latest proposal. The first is a new streetscape with eight-foot sidewalks, improved lighting and more trees. That would begin construction by January of next year, costing around $1.6 million of 2006 bond funds. The issue of bike lanes, however, may still be up for debate as some had hoped to see a more “complete street.”
The proposal instead focuses on connecting the hike-and-bike trails throughout the Trinity corridor, and there’s a lot in the works.
Then there’s the Union Station-to-Oak Cliff streetcar, which will only operate 5 a.m.-7 p.m. on week days. Keith Manoy, the project’s program manager, says, “we’ve got to start somewhere,” but the city is exploring ways to obtain funds to extend the route to Bishop Arts and extend the hours to nights and weekends. It would cost about $2.5 million a year versus just $500,000 a year to operate under the current plan.
When it comes to the existing zoning of the gateway, there’s just about every kind in the book — residential, retail, mixed-use, office, parkland and industrial. The city has been using form-based zoning, a type of zoning that was added to the development code in 2009 as way to promote walkable community developments so we don’t end up with a bunch of congested strip malls.
So, why the hold-up on all this? A couple of things happened. The Bishop/Davis zoning ordinance jumped ahead in line, plus the economic downturn eliminated a large portion of the staff in sustainable development.
The Oak Cliff Gateway steering committee will have about eight to 10 more meetings before another community meeting where updates will be unveiled. In short, none of this is final, but perhaps a little closer to it.