Any day I get to spend some quality time in the car with Wick is a good day. Today, on the way to the Downtown Dallas luncheon, to hear City Manager Mary Suhm and Woodbine’s John Scovell talk about the proposed bond program and how it will impact downtown, I was nearly killed while riding shotgun with my boss. It would have been my honor to die in his Lexus, but, as I say, today was a good day, and it wasn’t my time to pass from this earthly plane. But enough about Wick’s frightful driving. A few observations about the lunch and what transpired afterward:
–The setting was the old Power & Light building. I dig that place.
–Lunch was served by Fuse, natch. It began with “Traditional Miso Soup,” whose ingredients on the menu were listed thusly: tofu, scallions, and jalapenos. I guess it depends on your interpretation of “traditional.”
–Scovell is a funny guy. None of it would translate here, but trust me. I bet he’s a fun guy to have a beer with.
–The $1.28 billion bond program is a good thing. I ain’t gonna break it all down for you here, but, again, trust me. Or, rather, don’t trust me; trust Mary Suhm. I’ll just bring to light one tiny part: she has recommended $2.2 million to convert those pesky one-way streets downtown into two-way streets. Anyone who has ever driven downtown knows this is a good idea. The traffic engineers who came up with that nasty one-way maze of streets ought to be shot. Or, if they’re dead, their bodies should be exhumed and then shot. The Downtown Dallas folks want $6.2 million to get the two-way conversion accomplished. I say let’s give it to ’em. Whatever it takes.
–In talking about the beleagured Urban Market, which claims it is losing about $100,000 a month, Suhm said they’re working on the problem. A downtown grocery is key, she said. And then: “Those of you who know [asst. city manager] Ryan [Evans], know he always has a backup plan in his hip pocket. I’m here to tell you, one way or another, we will have a downtown grocery.”
–After the applause subsided, Wick and I decamped for that very Urban Market, which sits directly across the street from the P&L building. Wick bought some toilet paper. And we both thought the same thing: the place is great. And it was quite busy, especially for a little after 1 o’clock. People eating. People drinking. People shopping. People just loitering. How is that place losing money?
–Who else should we see at Urban Market but Robert “Fingers of Fury” Wilonsky (here is his post from the lunch). All seven feet of him (or so it seems). Aviator shades. Shirt untucked. I made introductions. The three of us walked outside together for Wick to have a smoke. Wick, in fact, offered Robert one of his Marlboros and then, like the gentleman he is, lit it for him. Theresa O’Donnell, Dallas’ development director, sauntered over. She and I watched Wick and Robert smoke. We talked about the Urban Market and why Theresa lives in Arlington and why it costs $6.5 million to convert the downtown streets to two-way traffic (hint: signal lights). Nearby, people were having lunch al fresco. A young woman passed, walking her dog.* And you know what? It kinda felt like we were actually having us an urban moment, in an actual downtown.
*FULL DISCLOSURE: The dog-walking detail is kind of a lie, journalistically speaking. We did see a young woman walking her dog. But we saw her on our way over to the Urban Market, not as we were standing outside, smoking (or watching people smoke). But the young woman could have passed by as we were standing outside. Because downtown is that vibrant.