Bishop Arts Gateway Project Might Not Be a Slam Dunk, One Business Owner Says

Key, according to David Spence, owner of Good Space: Green = Core of Bishop Arts, Purple = Becoming-Bishop Arts, Yellow = Tomorrow’s becoming-Bishop Arts, X = Future streetcar stop, Red = What? Source: Facebook

Last week, Roy Appleton reported that a stalled deal to purchase an old transmission shop at Davis Street and Zang Boulevard in North Oak Cliff was seemingly heading toward resolution. The city had been trying to purchase the property from Roy Smith, for use as a gateway park, welcoming folks into the burgeoning Bishop Arts District. Smith currently owns a transmission shop on the plot, which he bought in 1994.

David Spence, who owns commercial and residential property throughout North Oak Cliff, objected to the proposal last night, via Facebook:

GOOD SPACE OBJECTS, IN THE STRONGEST TERMS, to city hall’s misguided plan to create a “Bishop Arts Gateway” at Zang & Davis, future location of a stop on the new streetcar line. The only failed component of Bishop Arts’ streetscape project of 2000 is the district’s graffitied, trash-strewn, abandoned “pocket park.” We can guarantee the same result in this even more remote location: a “public space” which, in fact, belongs to and is maintained by no one. If the city has right-of-way it doesn’t need and money to purchase and remediate an old filling station, then COMBINE THEM and entrust the new development site to private investors to create something swell to greet tourists disembarking from the streetcar. Mini-plazas produce weeds, not excitement or taxes.


  • Wylie H.

    He actually appears to raise a good point. It a well-functioning city, well-managed public spaces serve as amenities, driving up the value of surrounding properties and increasing economic activity.

    On the other hand, these same studies show that POORLY managed public spaces create blight.

    Given the City of Dallas’ track-record of managing/mis-managing public assets (it didn’t even maintain a comprehensive listing of property it owned and for which it was responsible as of a few years ago– hopefully that has changed), a reasonable question is: how will this space be maintained?

    It many parts of Dallas, the City has essentially “given up,” and abandoned public spaces (as Mr. Spence claims has happened with the other pocket park in Bishops Arts– it indeed is filthy and blighted). What assurances does the public have that this particular park will be well-cared for, since the opposite is frequently the case.

    If the City is unable to arrange for the proper care of this new pocket park, studies suggest that we might well be better off just leaving the thriving private business in place, rather than buying it and building something new that will create blight through neglect.

  • Wylie H.

    Thinking about this further, if the City simply does nothing but build the streetcar line, a better private sector solution may well emerge. Some entrepreneur may decide to negotiate with the current transmission shop owner to purchase his property for fair market value, with the idea of changing the use to something more appropriate for the changing market. This might end up being a new restaurant, bar, etc.

    Whatever it ends up being, it would likely be much more welcoming then a poorly-conceived, filthy and semi-abandoned pocket park created by the City of Dallas. Plus, not only would it not require taxpayer funds, it would actually generate sales and property tax revenue. A better deal all the way around.

    • MariaB

      NO MORE RESTAURANTS. NO MORE BARS. The Bishop Arts area has enough of these already, thank you.

  • Frank Turrentine

    Amen, Maria.

    If you think the pocket park is full of litter, WHY DON’T YOU GO PICK IT UP if you’re such a great neighbor? What’s wrong with space that does not generate revenue? Why have all the developers suddenly dropped the notion that we’re not like Lower Greenville now? Have we reached a tipping point where you no longer have to assuage the neighbor’s concerns?

  • Frank Turrentine

    I use the pocket parks. More people would use them, actually, if your entire development scheme wasn’t designed to attract folks from outside the neighborhood who have no occasion to use them. Let’s face it, Bishop Arts development is never intended to be a place for the folks who already lived here. It’s for the type of folks the developers want to attract. It’s the same reason that the bustling activity on Jefferson is overlooked in favor of the image people have of what they want. $$$. This neighborhood has always had genuine issues and concerns. But rather than address them legitimately, development has used them as a lever to alter the entire character of the community into one that generates profits for them. And the city has finally taken notice in our part of town, because they stand to glean more tax revenues under these new arrangements.

  • Frank Turrentine

    You’re turning my neighborhood into an amusement park, and it benefits no one but a handful of people. I have to lock everything down now and be more careful when I go out at night. There is constant noise and commotion in my formerly quiet neighborhood. No, I am not a fan at all. But it is what it is.

  • Wylie H.

    It doesn’t have to be a restaurant or bar, it could be a retail shop, etc. My point is: the City of Dallas isn’t a normally functioning city…. by many standards it is broken and dysfunctional. It certainly doesn’t have a demonstrated ability to effectively build and maintain public infrastructure such as pocket parks. In lieu of city services, hoping that neighbors will volunteer to pick up trash isn’t really much of a plan…