The original Better Block, on Tyler Street in 2010, was designed to call attention to an underused retail area, demonstrate bike lanes before Dallas had any, and to show how a complete street — with room for cars, bikes, pedestrians and sidewalk cafes — could function. All that while showcasing the creative and talented people in our neighborhood.
That event made something click for former City Councilmember Delia Jasso, who later advocated for bike lanes and complete streets. Since then, Dallas actually has put in a few bike lanes. However sporadic and imperfect, they are a start.
Now City Council is considering turning Tyler into a two-way street, which property and business owners think will make the street safer and better for retail traffic.
Real estate company Good Space purchased an entire retail block on West Davis just east of Tyler and has a vision to turn it into an enclave for shopping and dining.
Lawyer Chad West purchased the car stereo shop wedged between Kings Highway and Tyler and renovated it for his offices.
In other words, the Tyler/Davis area is a little spiffier today than it was four years ago, and our city leaders are more aware of what people actually want in the way of complete streets and traffic.
Besides that, the Better Block has made the careers of its founders. They’ve taken their Better Block concept all over the United States and as far as Australia. Jason Roberts now makes a living as a public speaker and has a book deal. Andrew Howard recently was selected as a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.
The Better Block on Tyler and Davis Sunday demonstrated a public plaza on that awkward and even dangerous stretch of Kings Highway between Davis and Seventh. The Nasher Sculpture Center participated. Pop ups included natural dying, spinning and weaving, an arcade, galleries, bakeries, a print shop, a portrait studio and more.
The mariachi band from Greiner middle school, Ballet Folklorico and swing dancers performed on the temporary plaza, which also had a food truck and vendor booths. Whether property owners will favor making the “people’s plaza” permanent is up in the air, as some parking spaces could be lost and funding hasn’t quite been nailed down.
But it was a good party last night.