Tuesday, August 9, 2022 Aug 9, 2022
83° F Dallas, TX
Publications

Deep Ellum’s Growing Pains

The crowds on Main and Elm streets are bigger than ever. But that’s the problem.
By Adam McGill |


WHAT
IS UP: “They’re cruising around, they’re doing drugs, they’re doing
hip-hop music and yelling at chicks from their cars. Yeah, I think
they’ve pretty much taken over,” says Russell Hobbs, owner of The Door
and a former Deep Ellum resident.

The loud music and flashes of blue and green light that spill through
the dance club’s door suggest that Shadow Lounge got the party started
right. But the real action on this Saturday night in Deep Ellum is on
the street. Cruising cars choke Main Street, and kids, mostly
minorities, pack the sidewalks.

“Whatever there is to sit on or lean on, they’ll sit on it or lean on it,” the bouncer says.

In
recent months, a different, more “urban” clientele has been coming to
the entertainment district. And the sheer numbers have grown. Many who
come to Deep Ellum on the weekends aren’t going to a nightclub. They
just come to hang out. A corresponding uptick in property crimes has
proprietors pointing fingers and police scrambling to maintain control.

“The
crowds are just so massive down there,” says Lt. Vince Golbeck, the
unit commander of the Central Business District. “The traffic is just
so bad, you have so many onlookers, so many people coming to just see
what’s happening in Deep Ellum. It’s very, very difficult to manage.”

One
weekend, Golbeck’s officers tried monitoring problem areas with a video
camera, hoping that would discourage the crowds. In September, they
began closing Main Street to car traffic from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. on the
weekends. And in August, police compiled a watch list of “Nightclubs
Targeted for Enforcement” (see below). Golbeck has since called the
list “premature,” noting that some of the clubs on the list didn’t have
enough crime activity to warrant special attention.

Mountelle
Miller, manager and co-owner of the Palm Beach Reggae Club, thinks the
list was not only premature, but also misleading. Her 5-year-old club
has been listed as the site of the most crime. Or rather, her club’s
address has. “We don’t ever have trouble inside the club,” she says in
her Trinidadian accent. “Everything that has happened has always been
outside.”

Miller says she has adopted every suggestion the
police have made to curb the crowds loitering on the street. “The
police are doing their jobs,” she says. “They have a lot to do. But at
the same token, they seem to be so forceful.” She now tells her patrons
to go directly to their cars when they leave.

Main Street Sports
Bar, another club that appeared on the “Targeted” list, makes a similar
request on its web site: “Please don’t hang around in parking lots or
sidewalks … as law enforcement has shown to be very aggressive in its
attempts to clear the streets of Deep Ellum of the new hip crowd (feel
me?).”

Some critics, though, don’t blame the people who run the
clubs or the kids who go there—they point fingers at landlords. “People
that owned buildings in Deep Ellum were making mistakes,” says Monica
Greene of Monica’s Aca Y Alla. “They were leasing those spaces to
short-term tenants that more often than not brought business that was
not the kind of business that Deep Ellum was heading to.”

Others
don’t see the crowds as much of a problem at all. “We’re really no
different from the rest of the other entertainment districts,” says
Hurdie Burk, executive director of the Deep Ellum Association. “I just
think that some of the bars were experiencing some different kinds of
crowds this summer, and the police just want to make sure we always
have that under control.”

Jeffrey Yarbrough, who just added Open
to his Club Clearview complex, still thinks Deep Ellum offers all
things to all people. Just not all at once.

“With the cruisers,
whether it be hip-hop cruisers or Latin cruisers, I don’t market to
those people,” he says. “It’s not what I do for a living.”


Crime Watch
Police prepared this list of “Nightclubs Targeted for Enforcement in
Deep Ellum.” The list was not intended for publication, and officials
later called it “premature.” D Magazine obtained the list through an open records request. Figures account for crimes that occurred in front of a club as well as inside it and are for the period January 1 through August 19.

CLUB                                                             CRIME
REPORTS
Palm
Beach                                                    3
aggravated assaults,
2816 Main
St.                                                
1 rape, 1 theft, 1 vehicle burglary

Club
Clearview                                             
2 aggravated assaults,
2808 Main
St.                                                 1
rape, 1 business burglary, 1 vehicle burglary

Club
Rapture                                                 
1 aggravated assault, 3 thefts
2816 Elm St. 

Trees                                                              3
vehicle burglaries, 1 theft
2707 Elm St.

Main Street Sports
Bar                                  
1 aggravated assault, 2 thefts
2612 Main St. 

Club
DNA                                                       
1 auto theft, 1 theft
2610 Elm St.

Shadow
Lounge                                            
1 auto theft, 1 theft
2642 Main St.

Club
Shiznit                                                    
0 reports 
210 N. Crowdus St.