If developer Alamo Manhattan’s strategy is “divide and conquer,” consider it done.
Virtually no one one in Oak Cliff appears to be on board with the developer’s plans to build five-story apartments on Seventh at Zang while destroying existing businesses, but there are two deeply divided factions in opposition to it.
On one side, there are neighbors who want to stop Alamo Manhattan from tearing down existing businesses and stop the planned development. Period. No exceptions.
One strategy to that hardline approach could be to fight Alamo Manhattan tooth-and-nail through the tax-reimbursement process, known as TIF. The developer is seeking $11.5 million in future tax reimbursements from the city, which means its designs have to pass muster with the TIF board and City Council.
If we can stretch out that process and delay the outcome, then maybe City Councilman Scott Griggs can reopen the Bishop/Davis zoning case and amend it to discourage jumbo developments in time to stop Alamo Manhattan.
Or, maybe we can make the process so frustrating and drawn out for Alamo Manhattan that their investors will back out and they won’t have the money and will be forced to give up on it.
On the other side are those who see things as inevitable: The zoning is in place, and the developer has the properties under contract. If they had the money to do it now, and if not for the $11.5 million in tax reimbursements they are seeking, Alamo Manhattan could build the project as soon as they close on the sale and the leases are up on existing buildings.
The approach from that side could also be to bird-dog Alamo Manhattan throughout the TIF process. Let them know, and let City Council know, we won’t accept bad architecture and overbearing design in our beloved neighborhood. Second-wave gentrification and big-money development are coming to Bishop Arts inevitably. And we have to work to make sure we are getting the type of development we want.
These two factions have some of the same goals, but there is so much online vitriol between them that it seems impossible they will ever come together.
In fact, there is a protest planned for one of Oak Cliff’s biggest annual events, Bastille on Bishop, because Alamo Manhattan donated $500 to be a sponsor of the free event, which costs about $27,000 to produce, according to event organizers Go Oak Cliff.
We hope that exercise of free speech makes a positive impact on the future of Bishop Arts somehow.
But all this clacking at keyboards to throw stones at our own neighbors is making gashes that will not heal quickly. And it’s not doing anything to address the real conflict.
Instead of fighting each other, these two sides should agree to target the real enemy: Over-sized, bad development that destroys the character of Bishop Arts.
Together or separately, both sides need to have strong, unified and active strategies against greedy developers and quit slinging online disses at each other. All that does is distract us from the real fight.
We don’t have to get along, but it would be wise if at least we could agree to aim at the same enemy.