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Urbanism

Henderson Avenue Eyes a More Walkable Future

| 2 days ago

Dallasites who commute or live near Henderson Avenue, between Central Expressway and Ross, will be familiar with the recent onset of construction. The craters are a little too close for comfort along one westbound stretch of the road. Reasonable minds could assume the city is doing routine street work on a badly potholed thoroughfare. What they’re actually seeing is the result of years of planning—your 2012 bond dollars finally coming to life with an aim to slow the flow of traffic and make the area more walkable.

By February 2020, the city will install curbs that “bump-out” further, add parallel parking, improve the cracked and broken sidewalks, add new sidewalks, repaint, and put in a new stoplight at the pedestrian nightmare that is the intersection of Henderson and Willis, outside the Old Monk. It’s the latest iteration in Dallas’ “complete streets” program, which counts Lowest Greenville as its greatest achievement.

Cities have long emphasized traffic flow at the detriment of pedestrians, but Lowest Greenville became foot-friendly through city improvements that widened sidewalks, took four lanes of traffic down to two, added parallel parking, and installed touches like decorative pavement that signal to drivers they’re in a pedestrian realm.

Henderson is tricky in part because of the more limited right of way, which means the city won’t be able to widen the sidewalks in many portions of the project. Bike lanes, mulled over, were also axed due to space. But the city hopes to spur more foot traffic by repaving sidewalks that had long ago fallen into disrepair and by closing mostly unexplained blatant gaps in paving. Parallel parking will be protected by curb “bump-outs.” That will reduce the width of the traffic lanes considerably, slowing traffic.

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Local News

DART Will Replace a Parking Lot Near Victory with a Plaza Park

| 2 days ago
Very early plans for DART’s Victory Plaza. (Photo courtesy DART)

DART is replacing a parking lot with a pocket park between the American Airlines Center and its Victory Station.

Victory Plaza, as it will be known, will be a one-acre space that abuts an upcoming 350,000 square foot office building. It’s a great move for DART. Victory is one of the best stops in the system, putting you in the heart of amenities and, on certain nights, attracting the ridership that makes the line feel vibrant. The problem was always that parking lot across the street. You were dropped off into an expanse of concrete, and that was your welcoming to the American Airlines Center.

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Local News

Major Tree Donation Coming to Dallas Parks After Sunday’s Storms

| 2 days ago

After the storm came the cleanup. Dallas city staffers took to the streets this week to get trees and other debris removed from the roadway after a brief but brutal wind battered most of the city. Residents dealt with it on their properties. And private companies, both well-intentioned and not-so, went to work. It was a half hour of 70 mph winds, but it was enough to spark a nearly citywide response. And the City Council picked a rather inopportune time to vote on a longtime plan to limit the city’s bulk trash collection program.

The city’s Sanitation Services department hired 20 contract crews to help collect debris from neighborhoods, not unlike how the city deploys its own employees to corral bulk waste pickups. City spokeswoman Anastasia Reed said that City Hall is in contact with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to grind down the debris at temporary sites and expedite gathering all of it.

Reed said the city is looking to turn the waste into something that can be reused: mulch, compost, landfill ground material. Public works was in charge of clearing the public right-of-way. They pass the mess along to Sanitation to process. If the trees were down in a park, they’re also getting turned into mulch or compost.

It’s not clear how many trees we lost. But Parks Board President Bobby Abtahi says Dallas parks are down 641, with 255 of those at White Rock Lake alone. “We do go out and assess the damage,” he said. “We prioritize safety and clearing roads and trails first. We keep track of what we remove and we keep track of man hours.”

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Local News

Leading Off (6/14/19)

| 2 days ago

No Motive Yet in Muhlaysia Booker’s Slaying. But police say her alleged killer had her cell phone. The suspect is Kendrell Lavar Lyles, a 33-year-old man who a witness said was known to frequent the 2800 block of Lagow Street in South Dallas “to meet with transgender prostitutes.” Booker’s phone was still on after her death, and police were able to find it in West Dallas, the same general area where Lyles’ champagne-colored Lincoln LS was parked in front of an apartment complex. He had been arrested earlier in suspicion with the killing of 35-year-old Leticia Grant in Far North Dallas. He is also accused of killing Kenneth Cichocki, whom Lyles had allegedly been speaking with about a Xanax buy before he was found shot in the neck. Lyles is also a person of interest in the killing of Chynal Lindsey, a 26-year-old transgender woman whose body was found in White Rock Lake.

There Is Maybe a Plan to Re-Do the Khalita Humphreys Theatre. The City Council yesterday agreed to lease the decaying Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece to the Dallas Theater Center for the next five years. The DTC will come up with a 13-member “steering committee”—apparently not a task force?—to review a master plan for the theatre that architect Ann Abernathy came up with in 2010. That group will also hire an outside consultant to review the plan. There are requirements to plan for “equitable access” for smaller and more diverse theater groups, as well. The restoration is expected to cost somewhere above $10 million. An underrated aspect of this story is the minor Twitter beef between The News‘ architecture critic Mark Lamster and the columnist Robert Wilonsky. Lamster believes this is “more kicking the can down the road,” as the DTC is the organization that allowed the building fall into such disrepair.

Fort Worth Hiker Reflects on Being Saved from the Arkansas Wilderness. Joshua McClatchy was rescued six days after taking off on a hike in Arkansas and getting lost. He spoke to WFAA about his experience. (I am sorry in advance for the bombardment of pop-ups that that link will deliver. It may not crash your browser, but it will give you a headache. It is a nice story, though.)

Congratulations to All You Displaced Toronto Folks. Like my friend Jason Hackett, who seemed more stunned than anything last night that the Raptors won the NBA championship. What a game.

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Urban Design

Dallas: The City That Is Gradually Moving Away From Hating Pedestrians

| 3 days ago

In many other cities, the photo above this post would be a shoulder shrug. But that corner of San Jacinto and Harwood hasn’t had a sidewalk in at least a year. It’s the edge of the new garage adjacent to the Trammell Crow Center, and construction has eaten up that side of San Jacinto in a way that has managed to inconvenience both drivers and walkers. Here is a narrative about what it was like to walk this part of downtown. And here is what it looked like before.

The result of Trammell Crow’s new tower. (Photo by Matt Goodman)
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Local News

Months After a Difficult Debate, Council Quietly Amends the City’s Housing Policy

| 3 days ago

The City Council on Wednesday approved amendments to the part of its 1-year-old Comprehensive Housing Policy that deals with how the city evaluates housing projects seeking federal tax credits. The changes aim at striking a balance between new construction and renovations and install tweaks that allow developers to overcome geographic shortcomings by adding on-site services like childcare and exercise classes.

This is not the first time the Council has considered amending the policy. Back in October, residents of the dilapidated Oak Cliff apartment complex Ridgecrest Terrace packed Council chambers in an attempt to spur an amendment that would’ve cleared the way for much-needed renovations to their property just west of Oak Cliff.

But changing the policy so soon after it passed didn’t sit well with some folks around the horseshoe. They felt Denver-based Steele Properties’ plans for Ridgecrest amounted to yet another “Band-Aid” renovation that wouldn’t help address low income housing in the long-term. The housing policy aims to encourage development in areas that have sufficient access to services and jobs. Ridgecrest and other low-income housing apartments that are located in areas of concentrated poverty were not intended to receive public dollars that could be allocated to other projects with better access to healthy food and work. But that doesn’t do anything for the people already living in these dilapidated complexes. The Council had an incredibly difficult decision to make.

Outgoing Councilman Scott Griggs called it a “litmus test” for whether the Council would adhere to the policy’s goals and funnel already limited resources toward areas of opportunity in an effort to stop the concentration of poverty. Others felt turning away a ready developer represented a betrayal of the residents watching their debate. After much contentious and confusing back and forth, a bleary-eyed Council turned down the amendment on the table and directed staff to dig into possible policy tweaks over the next six months. “This whole conversation has been a conversation between the heart and the brain,” North Dallas Councilman Lee Kleinman said then.

Wednesday looked much different. There was no debate. The Housing Policy Taskforce spent those six months hard at work. The amendments were placed on the Council’s consent agenda, the portion where things get passed in bulk. And Council pushed them through without discussion.

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Local News

Your Daily Dallas Electrical Outage Update—We’re Almost Out of This, Folks!

| 3 days ago

The vast majority of Dallasites now have power. We’re down to 1,077 homes and businesses left without countywide, which is a crumb compared to Sunday’s 350,000. There are no ZIP codes with over 250 Oncor customers without power, and just three with more than 100.

Those include 75220 just north of Love Field and spreading west to Irving, where 249 people remain powerless. In 75243, a stretch that begins at Central and Royal and spreads east just past Forest Lane, there are 194 customers who can’t turn on the lights. The other triple digit ZIP code is 75214 in Lakewood, where 139 people still don’t have a fridge that will turn on. The bad news for those folks is that there is no estimated restoration time.

As we reported yesterday, the remaining outages are really tricky fixes. There may be severe damage to the power line and the utility pole, and the workers are having to reconstruct the entire thing. Sometimes a transformer can be damaged. All of these are time consuming for the army of utility workers who were dispatched across the city in recent days, some of whom came from as far as Illinois.

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Leading Off

Leading Off (6/13/19)

| 3 days ago

Elan City Lights Residents Will Be Able to Retrieve Belongings. Most people who lived in the apartment complex where the crane collapsed Sunday will eventually be able to recover their personal things. Trapped vehicles in the garage will also be removed. The company that owns the complex will offer money to residents based on the damage in their apartments.

Bulk Trash Pickup Will Be Limited. The City Council approved limits for the bulky trash collection program and a fine of up to $500 if a person doesn’t adhere to them. The changes will go into effect July 2020 and limit people to setting out 10 cubic yards of bulk trash and brush per month. There are also new stipulations on where people can set out this trash.

Man Suspected of Murdering Muhlaysia Booker Was Charged in Two Other Slayings. Kendrell Lavar Lyles, the suspect in the 22-year-old transgender woman’s East Dallas slaying, was already in jail for two other killings. He’s currently in the Collin County jail without bail.

Addison Lawyer Buys Robert E. Lee Statue. Ronald Holmes of Holmes Firm PC paid $1.4 million for the statue, which the City Council approved yesterday.

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Media

An Elegy for Alan Peppard

| 4 days ago

Editor’s note: The developer and mayoral candidate Mike Ablon was a good friend of Alan Peppard, the longtime Dallas Morning News columnist who passed away last week. We asked him to write a piece remembering him. 

Alan Peppard was his own drummer, but he was a master student of others. His was a life well-lived, a life where avocations and vocation are inseparable, a life where family brings solace and meaning, a life of unending curiosity pursued with passion and without apology. We lost Alan on Saturday night. He was 56.

He had an optimistic fascination with life. A raconteur and bon vivant in the best of references, Alan enjoyed sharing the quirky realities of each of our lives with others (as much as he enjoyed sharing his own idiosyncrasies).

Alan had a deep fascination of life that transcended himself, allowing him to look for, find, and appreciate the humanity in each of us. No person—celebrity, well-known personality, or everyday citizen—was immune to his critical eye, compliment, and/or critique. For three decades at the Dallas Morning News, Alan exhibited a genuine fondness for people. He was open and non-judgmental. He peered into their souls so deeply that celebrities and non-celebrities alike developed a deep affection and considered Alan a friend.

Though Alan would have refuted it, there was a sweetness to him that permeated his own soul and his interactions with others. He called things the way he saw them, and his kindness allowed all to accept what he had to say. Alan’s profession required thick skin to protect from constant exposure to his own beliefs and feelings. Time articulated his courage to tell the stories as he saw them without becoming jaded.

From a generation of mass-commodification in which all baby-boomers gravitated toward a norm, Alan understood that we all privately aspired for an individual identity. While we moved as a generation toward sameness, we also relished the stories of individuality—those who had the courage to find and live their own quirky selves. Alan brought these stories to all of us in his own way, through his own reflections on people, times, places, events, and the collision of those things.

Alan was so good at storytelling that we often missed the fact that he was telling us the stories of who we all were. Buried deep in the who-what-when-where-and-why, he exposed himself. This allowed us to identify with his storytelling, whether we realized it or not. He helped us connect to people who appeared to be different than we are.

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Business

Catering Workers Serving American Airlines Authorize a Strike

| 4 days ago

A union representing food prep workers who serve American Airlines is ready to strike. Employees of the LSG Sky Chefs who are part of national hospitality union Unite Here said Wednesday that it has authorized that measure as part of an ongoing fight to get better wages for airport catering workers.

About 825 local employees make up the Sky Chefs, a DFW Airport-based group of catering workers. The union and Sky Chefs have been in bargaining since October and more recently in federal mediation. The talks will go to the National Mediation Board next. If those talks do not end in a resolution, workers will strike. Locally, nearly all—99.3 percent—voted in favor of the strike.

Unite Here is pulling for $15 an hour and affordable healthcare for its 18,000 airline catering employees across the company. The union says workers currently make a median hourly wage of $11.40 and as low as $9.85 an hour. Calculations from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology put the minimum living wage at $11.71 an hour for a single adult and $23.99 an hour for an adult with a child.

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Sports & Leisure

A Report From the Women’s World Cup Watch Party With Mia Hamm

| 4 days ago
Jen Threlkeld in patriotic fringe at Lava Cantina with her hero, Kristine Lilly

I stopped playing soccer 37 years ago as a glasses-wearing 10-year-old on a co-ed team after getting hit in the face more times than I can count. It’s not my favorite sport. (There’s so much running! What does offsides even mean?) But it is the favorite sport of some of my favorite people, including Jen Threlkeld, a current Dallasite and former forward for Middle Tennessee State University.

It goes without saying that she’s a fan of women’s soccer. (The last time she ran into the Women’s World Cup team, she flapped her arms and squawked like what she believes a bald eagle might sound like if it just scored 5 goals against Thailand.) So she, of course, was at the watch party yesterday at Lava Cantina in The Colony with Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, and Tisha Venturini-Hoch. I asked her for her top takeaways, aside from the fact that these women achieved the greatest World Cup score of all time, for men and women, with 13 goals, and that Alex Morgan’s five goals equal the total number of goals scored by the U.S. men’s national team over the last 3,721 days (according to a tweet by Timothy Burke). Here they are, in no particular order:

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