photo by Danny Fulgencio

New development in the Bishop Arts District took top billing at two very different meetings in Oak Cliff Monday night.

Alamo Manhattan executives opened their meeting with the Kidd Springs Neighborhood Association with a slide showing the artist’s rendering of its planned Bishop Arts development covered by a big red X.

They want you to forget that. Take those pictures of block-busting buildings out of your mind.

Instead, they say, they want to listen. It is no wonder. Since the pictures and plans for five-story buildings and hundreds of apartments in Bishop Arts came to light a few weeks ago, Oak Cliff neighbors have reacted in strong opposition.

The meeting with Kidd Springs neighbors, at James S. Hogg Elementary School, focused only on the property where Sonic Drive-In is now and the buildings that house Zoli’s NY Pizza and the adjacent collision repair place.

The rest of the proposed development, which would call for demolishing Ten Bells Tavern and Local Oak, still is up in the air, Alamo Manhattan CEO Matt Segrest implied.

“If we do anything there, it’ll be like five years from now,” he said.

alamovscaveThe developer is seeking $11.5 million in future tax reimbursements from the city of Dallas for underground parking, to bury power lines and for “exterior materials and details.”

Neighbors asked questions and calmly sounded off on what they would like to see for the development. Their suggestions were dutifully noted on an over-sized notepad propped on an easel.

In that portion of the proposed development, there would be about 100 apartments, two restaurants and three retail shops. There also would be about 220 underground parking spaces, some for apartment residents and some to serve the shops and restaurants. The apartments would rent for about $1.80 per square foot, and some of them would be “affordable,” meaning they would be reserved for families earning 80 percent or less of the median income, which would be about $46,000 for a family of four.

The developer also would build out the plaza park for the Oak Cliff streetcar stop. They still want five-story buildings, which is allowed in the current zoning.

And they would incorporate 15-foot to 17-foot sidewalks and a 10-foot landscaping setback between the development between the Sonic property and homes in Kidd Springs.

These were some of our neighbors’ requests:

  • A green space for a dog park or playground
  • Awnings over the sidewalks
  • Water-saving landscaping
  • Environmentally sustainable building materials
  • Landscaping trees with a trunk diameter of about 7 inches minimum
  • Public art, murals and other creative projects that would hire local artists
  • A tenant mix that includes neighborhood services, such as a butcher or fish purveyor, for example, and not just “candles and tchotchkes”
  • Sidewalk benches
  • A public restroom
  • A streetscape on West Davis that is compatible with pedestrian traffic, similar to Lower Greenville

Segrest says they expect to come back in August, after more input from neighbors, with new drawings.

Meanwhile at Ten Bells Tavern, the scene was a cross between a public meeting, a pub crawl and a pep rally.

Ten Bells owner Meri Dahlke told the crowd of about 200 people that it took two years to find a space “in the weird end of Bishop Arts,” and when they first leased it, there was a rooster in the yard, along with an old fridge lying on its side. She and her partners turned that underused real estate into a Sunday fun day hotspot for northern Dallasites as well as a weekday hangout for Oak Cliff neighbors.

“They’re capitalizing off the hard work we’ve put in,” she told the crowd.