The Allen Group releases statement regarding NCTCOG Southern Dallas Development Plan

The North Central Texas Council of Governments Transportation Department has released a Master Plan Initiative regarding development in Southern Dallas County.  This is not the same thing as the Master Plan that Dallas County Commissioners were attempting to institute some months back.  Below is a statement by The Allen Group, one of the main developers in Southern Dallas’ Inland Port.

 

The Allen Group has been asked to provide its position statement concerning the NCTCOG’S CONCEPT of a new S. Dallas County Master Planning Initiative as set forth in the NCTCOG’s PowerPoint Presentation below.  

North Central Texas Council of Governments PowerPoint Presentation.

The Allen Group SUPPORTS THE NCTCOG’S CONCEPT of the new S. Dallas County Master Planning Initiative as follows:    

 

Consistent with the NCTCOG’s PowerPoint Presentation below, TAG’s position is that the Planning Initiative should:

focus solely upon roads, water, sewer, and storm water;

 

be coordinated and directed by  representatives of ALL of the entities with land use development authority, and who have land impacted by the Plan, on all oversight committees or similar bodies that will make decisions that will impact the cities and/or land within their jurisdictions;

 

include, without change, previously adopted comprehensive plans whether initiated by Cities or landowners, developers, business owners, etc. (including Master Water Plans, Master Wastewater Plans, Master Thoroughfare Plans, Master Storm Water Drainage Plans, and Future Land Use Plans) and zoning of all of the cities; 

 

exclude model codes and zoning and development standards, which are or become, pre-qualifiers or conditions to receiving funding for infrastructure improvements from the NCTCOG or any other committee/body which might otherwise be created as a result of this initiative;

 

 

The Initiative should also: 

 

include the entire 234,000 acre ULI study area, including ALL of the cities south of I-20 to the East, West, and S. Dallas County line and include representatives of ALL of these cities in the coordination and direction referenced in Item 2 in the preceding paragraph; 

 

be adopted through the standard NCTCOG process, (i.e., it comes before the STTC and the RTC, and then the Interlocal agreements are sent to the city councils allowing each city with land in the jurisdiction of the Plan to be a party to the process so that the process is open and transparent); and

 

be adopted under circumstances where there are several town hall meetings PRIOR to final consideration of the Planning Initiative by the RTC so that the public has continuous input.

 

Any committee created should solely function in an advisory capacity, and should have no power or authority over any of the participants’ jurisdictions.

 

 

This position is compatible with the North Central Texas Council of Governments S. Dallas County Master Plan proposal which was presented to the S. Dallas County cities on June 16, 2009 at a meeting hosted by the City of Lancaster (please see below), and TAG supports the concept of the proposal presented by the NCTCOG to the cities consistent with the bullet points above.

Save-A-Lot opens new Southern Dallas location at Crest Shopping Center

On Tuesday, Save-A-Lot held a “Dollar Cutting” ceremony for their newest store at Crest Shopping Center in the Lancaster-Kiest Corridor. The store is completely new construction and replaces an abandoned theater, located at 2611 South Lancaster.

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway were both on hand to participate in a “breakthrough shopping cart event” where they competed in a time race to grab groceries to benefit a family in need. Leppert was competitive as usual, racing around the store grabbing oatmeal and spaghetti, throwing them into the basket while Caraway pushed a neighborhood girl holding their item list.

View Map of Sava-A-Lot Location

Tenants at Crest Plaza are pleased with the progress. “This is of vital importanance,” says Vincent Hall, owner of Mickey’s Catfish.” We want business from all over the city and for people to feel comfortable spending their money in the area.” Hall also praised Caraway’s efforts working with the Crest Plaza owners to update the center.

Save-A-Lot donated 5,000 lbs. of food to the North Texas Food Bank on Tuesday, but Councilman Caraway challenged the community to do their part now that the new Save-A-Lot has come on board. “It is this community’s responsibility to make sure that this Lancaster-Kiest corridor continues to thrive.”

Crest Shopping Center is undergoing a face lift as the owners are putting a new facade on the entire plaza. “We want to be part of the revitalization of this area,” says shopping center owner Jonathan Shokrian. “It’s been kick started by Councilman Caraway,” he said. Cato Stores plans to enter the shopping center by the end of summer and Shokrian says other tenants are in the works.

Also on hand to help celebrate the store opening were State Representative Barbara Mallory-Caraway and City Plan Commissioner Michael Davis. Save-A-Lot has 19 stores in Texas with 11 of those being in Dallas-Ft. Worth.

This store is not a net gain for Southern Dallas because they already had a location in the plaza before, but does represent progress. Grocery stores are few and far between on the south side of town.

Caraway and Leppert see Lancaster-Kiest as a key area for Southern Dallas development due to its proximity to the DART Rail. There are plans to eventually construct a hotel in the area was well as other mixed-use developments.

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Stand alone Chick-Fil-A headed to Wheatland Town Crossing

I can taste the Chicken Biscuits already. Progress is coming along nicely with the new Chick-Fil-A going up on Wheatland just off Hampton (near I-20). I’m told that the waffle fries should be ready sometime in August.

This location means that the Chick-Fil-A shop at Southwest Center Mall will most likely close down. I often forget about the Red Bird location when I’m craving a chocolate brownie with walnuts, and usually wait until I’m in the area of Southwestern and Central to cure my fix. But it’s really not that bad parking up close to the food court and running in and out at the mall.

Still, the area deserves a better location and it will be great for the kids to have a playground as well. So often in our area fast food chains won’t even provide patrons with indoor seating (hello Wendy’s), but I know that Store Operator Stacey McGee and his staff will do an excellent job in for the community.

Stacey McGee

I have no doubt that their store will be one of the best in town (no offense Morgan). So I’m putting in an early order for a Chicken Salad Sandwich combo with a lemonade to drink…..and a brownie.

D Magazine/Shawn Williams: Saving Old Red Bird Mall

In this month’s D Magazine, there’s an article written by yours truly where I talk about the plight of Southwest Center/Red Bird Mall.  You can read Saving Old Red Bird Mall at the D Magazine site (MAKE SURE TO GO PICK UP A FEW COPIES).  Thanks to Tim Rogers at D for the opportunity, and Trey Garrison for helping me with the edit.  Here are a few excerpts from the article.

  • My son and I recently found ourselves in the mall formerly known as Red Bird because I had forgotten Dillard’s had packed up last year and moved to the new Uptown Village at Cedar Hill. We tried to find something else to occupy our time since we had already made the trip. “Does this mall have a Build-A-Bear Workshop?” my first-grader asked. “No, son,” I said, halfway shamed by his question and my answer. “They don’t have that store here.”
  • Dr. Frederick D. Haynes of Friendship-West Baptist Church and a group of Southern Dallas pastors unsuccessfully pursued a joint venture with an investment group to purchase the mall in 2001. (“The owners of Red Bird got complacent and didn’t keep up with what other malls were doing,” Haynes says. “They lost contact with the community.”) Then Dr. Roland Hill, pastor of the Living Waters Worship Center, created the Red Bird Renaissance Community Development Committee to help find new ownership. But again, no deal.
  • Some of these challenges of perception may be addressed now that Mayor Tom Leppert’s 240-member Southern Dallas Task Force lists the mall as a top priority. Edna Pemberton was assigned by Leppert and Councilman Tennell Atkins to serve as a liaison between Southwest Center’s tenants and the city. Pemberton’s duties have included everything from persuading an Oncor meter man not to flip the switch on the mall’s power to leading a group of store owners to Washington, D.C., for a meeting with the Department of Labor.
  • Start by changing the name back to Red Bird Mall. Tear down everything west of the common area that stands in front of Foley’s, including the vacant J.C. Penney and most of Dillard’s. The lower level that leads east toward Penney’s is void of tenants. The stores that are open on the upper level of that end of the building can flip to the boarded-up spaces in front of Sears on the far east side.

Convention Center Hotel Message to a Friend

I was responding to a message from a friend this morning and figured I’d post what I typed on the blog.

Shawn,

Just read your latest post. Why is the hotel so important? I don’t live in Dallas and I don’t have a say but what is it expected to bring.

I have heard of conferences but with so little entertainment to offer I don’t see that being a big pull. I think it is great that this mayor wants to build up Dallas but I am not sure what or why you all think a hotel is the way to go about it.

Friend

###

Friend,

That’s a good question and a question I plan to answer in the next few days. The hotel is important to a city like Dallas because convention and tourism is the lifeblood of major cities. New Orleans is taking their time to rebuild living space, but they wasted no time making sure that tourism was protected and back up as soon as possible.

Dallas is the only city in the top 20 convention markets that does not have a convention hotel. Even most opponents agree that the city will benefit from such a venue, they just don’t agree with how it’s being funded.

Regardless of what people say, convention planners like to come to Dallas. When you have a convention on a coast like San Diego -A GREAT CONVENTION CITY- it can be tough for people to travel from the East Coast. Early Departures/ Late Arrivals, jet lag, it all takes away from the experience.

When I was working a convention in Seattle recently they told me attendance was down this year because many of the doctors from the East Coast did not attend. The logistical convenience offered by Chicago, Dallas, (even Houston) offers an initial incentive for our first customer: convention planners.

And there are things to do in Dallas that even folks who live here don’t take advantage of. Ask locals whether they have been to the Nasher Scupture Center and most will say no. Yet it’s one of the reasons the New York Times listed Dallas as #17 in the their list of top #44 cities in the world.

In my initial article on this issues for the Dallas Morning News on December 17, 2007, I stated that Dallas needs both a hotel and improved entertainment options to be successful. In this hotel deal, Matthews Southwest (hotel developer) has committed to raising up to $30 million for entertainment and retail space around the hotel. These are the same people who recruited Brooklyn’s Jazz Cafe to the Southside. I was there on Friday, you could hardly get in.

It’s just one man’s opinion, but I think Jack Matthews is the 21st Century Trammell Crow/Marcus Stanley. Because he’s not from here (like many of us) he’s not bogged down by what can’t happen. “You can’t make money out of that Old Sears Building,” but he did. “You can’t build a successful hotel downtown,” but he will.

The way Matthews treats his African-American retail tenants (which are quite a few) is outstanding, and he’s a huge supporter of “minority owned businesses.” I’m sure that goes for everyone who work and live in his buildings. People love working for the guy. I was on board with the hotel before they announced a developer, but I can tell you my support would not be as strong were it anyone else.

FACT

In 2007-2008 the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau booked 1 million room nights, $ 1 billion of economic impact for our city. That’s a record for Dallas and up 20% from the previous year. This had everything to do with the fact that the Dallas City Council approved the hotel.

In the end, I think part of it is that I see Dallas not as it is, but as it will be 5 years from now. I see Dallas with a deck park over Woodall Rogers, a beautiful bridge extending into West Dallas, a Performing Arts Center and Theater that rival any such venues in the world. I even see the stinky Trinity becoming a white water rapids course.

Our city made some mistakes, and if I can borrow a line from our President, much of that took place before I got here. But Dallas has to protect Dallas. Prop 1 and 2 don’t make one person safer, one road smoother, and they don’t save one job. We have to move forward, and that’s what we’ve been able to do in the last 4 or 5 years. We can’t let one person stand in our way for fear that he’ll lose business.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Shawn

This Is Our City: RIP Dallas Video brings people together to stop Props 1 & 2

Hat Tip to Mike Davis of Dallas Progress for turning me on to this R.I.P Dallas produced video in the spirit of “Yes We Can.” I saw a few friends of Dallas South in the video, including Ms. Jan Gore and District 5 City Council Candidate Tiffinni Young.

The refrain is “This Is Our City,” and it is. This is our city, and now is our time. Let’s Vote No on Propositions 1 and 2.

Southwest Center Mall Urban Land Institute Use Study announced to nervous tenants

On Thursday, tenants at Southwest Center Mall were briefed about the Urban Land Institute Use Study commissioned by the Dallas City Council last week. The city will pay $120,000 to try to figure out what to do with the struggling retail outlet.

Edna Pemberton lead the meeting of current and future tenants. Some of those in attendance were getting nervous about rumors circulating that the mall was about to shut down. Many of them, like African-Imports and Mr. Pretzels, have been at the mall for years.


Pemberton did open up about some of the malls more tedious moments: pleading with an Oncor worker at the meter with his hand on the switch about to shut the mall’s power off. And a similar episode when the waters was about to be turned off.

But it’s been the City of Dallas and Councilman Tennell Atkins who’ve thrown lifelines out to the mall to help keep it afloat. Mr. Atkins recounted some of the history that landed the trouble mall in the hands of a bankruptcy court.

Councilman Tennell Atkins

Both Pemberton and Atkins were hopeful about the mall’s future, though the councilman curbed Ms. Pemberton’s enthusiasm on at least two occasion when she seemed to suggest that the mall will continue to exist in the same or similar capacity after the study.


Atkins also urged the group to start looking towards the 2010 Bond Package when the mall and community could request that funds for sorely needed infrastructure improvements are included.

As the meeting concluded, they announced a number of events planned for the near future:

  • Next Thursday April 23rd there will be a formal kickoff announcing the Urban Land Institute that will include Mayor Tom Leppert, Deion Sanders and others.
  • On May 6, a breakfast is scheduled to recognize National Small Business Appreciation Month. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (who the members from SWC met with on a trip to Washington) has been invited to speak at the breakfast.
  • May 16, the mall plansto recognize the accomplishments of current U.S. Trade Representative and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk who is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at U.T. Arlington the day before.
  • Labor Day Festival September 5-7 produced by CWhatsPoppin.com that will include a Gospel and Soul Concerts, Bike/Car Exhibits, Comedy Shows, Purple Carpet Fashion Show, 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament and more.

Ms.Pemberton acknowledged the contributions of a number of members of the community who have supported the mall through its uncertainty, including Rev. Tommy Brown who she called “The Mall’s Pastor” and Danielle Ayers, Minister of Justice at Friendship-West Baptist Church.  Dallas South will continue to update the progress of the mall.

Convention Center Hotel “Vote No” Launches first television ad, plus Q & A from Mayor Tom Leppert

It looks like “Vote No Dallas” has come out of it’s shell and is going on the offensive against the attack ads launched by Vote Yes. Here’s their first television ad and content from a Question and Answer document that accompanied the letter from Mayor Leppert that was posted here yesterday.

For more information visit voteNOdallas.com

Q.What is the convention center hotel project?

A. On May 14, 2008, the Dallas City Council approved plans to build an attached convention center hotel on a portion of an 8.4-acre site at the southwest corner of Young

St. and Lamar Blvd. Plans are to build a four-star convention headquarters hotel with 1,000 guestrooms; food and beverage facilities including restaurants, lounges and coffee kiosks; 80,000 square feet of meeting space including grand and junior ballrooms; and 720 parking spaces.

Q.Why is the convention center hotel needed?

A. In today’s competitive market, a city must have an attached convention center hotel to compete nationally and draw the largest U.S. conventions, which attract 20,000 to 50,000 visitors at one time. Until the Council’s recent approval, Dallas was the only city of the top 22 U.S. convention markets without a convention center hotel announced, under construction or completed.

With a $2.6 billion annual economic impact, tourism is a big part of Dallas’ economic vitality. The Dallas Convention Center is a $1 billion asset for the City, an economic engine that generates millions of dollars in revenues used to help fund roads, police, public safety and other city services.

Without the Convention Center and hospitality-related revenues, Dallas taxpayers will be responsible for a much bigger portion of the tax burden. The Convention Center is

an important asset we must protect, and the hotel is a vitally important investment for our future.

Q. Do other Texas cities have convention center hotels?

A. Although Dallas/FortWorth is the No. 1 visitor destination in Texas for the fourth straight year, Dallas remains the only major Texas city that lacks a convention center hotel. Houston, San Antonio, Austin, FortWorth and several D/FW suburbs have either constructed or are in the process of building a convention center hotel. Houston’s hotel has been so successful they hope to sell it for a $70 million profit and are planning to build a second one!

Q. What happens if we don’t build the hotel?

A. Right now, because we lack a convention center hotel, the City of Dallas is losing out on approximately $800 million in direct spending and $2.6 billion in annual economic impact. Further, the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) reports that more than 80 groups have reported they WILL NOT bring future meetings to Dallas due to the lack of a convention center hotel.

Bottom line, if we don’t build the hotel, Dallas will remain a second-tier convention destination (or likely drop to a third-tier destination) losing business to cities of all sizes that have built hotels to capture more business.


Q. Will big conventions come to Dallas if we build the hotel?

A. In the 2007-2008 fiscal year, the Bureau booked more than 1 million definite room nights – a record for the Dallas CVB – representing more than $1 billion in economic impact. The remarkable growth is credited to the Dallas City Council vote approving the hotel. Because of the hotel, the Dallas CVB booked almost 177,000 more definite room nights – a 20% increase – over the previous year.

The first quarter for the 2008-2009 fiscal year is looking even better, at more than

225,000 room nights or 31% over the previous first quarter. Since the Council’s vote, the Dallas CVB has booked thirteen city-wide conventions and is in negotiations with another twenty-four, representing more than $500 million and $900 million respectively in economic impact.

However, all of these bookings are contingent on the construction of a convention center hotel. If the hotel isn’t built, we will lose bookings for 392,000 room nights, representing $500 million in economic impact.

Q.Will building the hotel create new jobs?

A. Yes! In addition to helping support the existing 50,000 hospitality jobs, the hotel will create 3,800 jobs – 3,000 full-time construction jobs and 800 full-time permanent hotel jobs. Also, the City has developed one of the nation’s most innovative MWBE programs for a public project, providing unprecedented levels of participation and support services to minority contractors.

Q.Will there be new development around the hotel?

A. Yes. Matthews Southwest, the North Texas-based developer chosen by the Dallas City Council, has plans to build new retail, restaurants and entertainment venues. Development around the site will connect the Convention Center and hotel to the rest of downtown Dallas.

Q. How much will the new hotel cost, and how will it be financed?

A. On December 5, 2008, the Dallas City Council’s Economic Development Committee received from the developer, Matthews Southwest, a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) of $356 million for the hotel. The project will be financed through tax-exempt revenue bonds, which are often used because cities can borrow money at a far cheaper rate than the private sector.

Tax-exempt revenue bonds are different from general obligation bonds, which were used for the 2006 City of Dallas bond campaign and other previous bond campaigns.

The tax-exempt revenue bonds will be repaid with revenues from guests staying at the hotel … not from Dallas taxpayers. The hotel is projected to have a positive cash flow from the day it opens.

However, as part of the hotel financing package, the City has provided for a $50 million reserve fund to protect against any unforeseen circumstances. Tax-exempt revenue bonds are how many competing convention cities – including Houston, Denver, Baltimore and Phoenix – have financed their convention center hotels.

In addition, a Texas state law allows the City to recapture the state’s portion of the sales tax from the hotel to pay off the bonds.

Republican Road to Recovery offers “Zero” as alternative to Obama/Democratic Budget

I received the above DNC commercial yesterday regarding Republicans recently released alternative budget plan. In the commercial, Democrats borrow from the Sesame Street theme by saying that it is brought to us by the number “zero.” They hit the zero theme over and over, asserting the Republican budget is without numbers.

So I went to the 19 page Republican Road To Recovery document to see if the Democrats were exaggerating their claims against their rivals. With all the noise the GOP has made regarding the Obama budget, surely they offered a concrete plan in helping to dig America out of what their plan calls “the worst (economic) storm since the 1970′s” (no doubt a dig at President Jimmy Carter).

ZERO actually sums up the Republican Road To Recovery. I went through their proposal line by line, and it offers nothing new by way of ideas or proposals. They simply wrote down the rhetoric and complaints levied against the President and his party over the last few weeks. All this time they been telling us they were working on an alternative budget, and this is what they came up with?

In the Road to Recovery document, Republicans say they will provide universal access to health care, secure entitlements, end bailouts, create jobs, and break America’s dependence on foreign oil. But they don’t say how they’re going to pay for any of it.

Amazingly, their budget alternative doesn’t offer any numbers. Well I take that back, they do offer a few numbers relating to tax code:

Republicans propose a simple and fair tax code with a marginal tax rate for income up to $100,000 of 10 percent and 25 percent for any income thereafter, with a generous standard deduction and personal exemption. Republicans would allow any individual or family satisfied with their current tax structure to continue to pay those rates, while dropping the two lowest rates by 5 percent to provide every taxpayer with a tax cut. Republicans would also permanently fix the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) so that millions would no longer have to fear the possible imposition of a huge, new tax each year.

Republican Road to Recovery

I’m not sure which is more funny, the DNC commercial or the GOP budget without numbers. Maybe they thought peppering their document with words like reckless and wasteful spending, reconstruction in the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip, ACORN, and Freddie and Fannie would cause Americans to overlook the fact that there’s nothing to their plan.

And to think, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mike Pence, Pete Sessions, and other Republican leaders actually put their signature on this Road to Recovery. First there cause was no pork, and now they offer no beef. What a waste of time.