Archive for January, 2009

The Accident

January 30, 2009

I was less than a mile behind this accident today on I-35 north, just south of Illinois in Oak Cliff. It happened around 2 PM. I drove by the scene, and couldn’t believe what I saw.

The rear right wheels of the rock hauler were laying on the car’s windshield (which was caved in) and part of the hood. The entire cabin was crushed. The EMTs and Dallas Fire-Rescue were trying to extract the driver. The truck was also hanging over the HOV barrier.

I assumed everyone inside the car was dead. Be glad you didn’t see it up close. Notice that the truck trailer wasn’t covered, which is required.

I bet you the truck was speeding. Reports say the truck just switched lanes and dragged the car for about 50 feet. That makes perfect sense.

On I-35 and US-67 (Marvin D Love), you are risking your life every time you drive. These rock haulers and concrete trucks are always speeding to get to and from the concrete companies in Ellis County. They usually switch lanes and slide the trailer in front of you. If you don’t get crushed like these poor teenagers today you better be ready to duck the debris that comes off the back of these uncovered trucks.

If the Sheriffs and Constables want to do something significant on the highways, they should go after these trucks. There should be a crackdown squad just like in Houston, where the laws against trucks are actually enforced. What disgusted me as much as the accident were the people running out of there houses to look at it. What do you want to see, someone dead? I have; you’re not missing anything.

It can all be taken away from you in an instant.

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Northpark Center Security…A Farce?

January 30, 2009

My wife and I did a dinner and a movie date at Northpark last Saturday night. It was a 6PM showing at AMC Northpark, so by the time the movie let out it was dark outside. We parked under the parking deck next to Neiman Marcus. By the time we got back to the car, it was close to 9PM.

I didn’t see one patrol, one cop on foot, or anyone in a cart patrolling the area. I thought security was beefed up after the shooting last year at the valet stand in front of the Kona Grill.

I found myself looking out for a woman who was pushing a baby stroller with another small child in tow; mostly because no one from security was anywhere in sight. This is not the first time this has happened.

There’s plenty of security inside (to protect the goods), but almost none outside (to protect us once we purchase the goods).

Did I miss something? Are others having the same experience? Let me know.

Victory Park: They Finally Caught Up

January 28, 2009

I have seen no less than three articles in the last month killing Victory Park. Funny thing, I was writing the same thing two years ago; so were others. Gary Cohen of PegasusNews and I both wrote pieces on this exact subject in March 2007 (although I wasn’t as prescient as Gary to correctly predict the demise of some of the tenants). Cary Darling of the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram had a similar piece in April of that year. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the piece I wrote:

Victory would be smarter to put some reasonably priced choices in that area. Then what you would have (along with the occasional high-rollers) is a consistent client base that would bring a family down to Victory, and then the husband and wife could splurge with a night on the town sans kiddos from time to time. That’s a client base.

I could be wrong, and I bet this area continues to flourish in some capacity (read: for someone other than the developers). But it may ensure a quality earnings stream by showing a kind nod to the not-so-rich.

Victory is an easy target, but none of these articles break any new ground compared to what was written in early 2007.

On an up note, there are some good things on the horizon from a City budget standpoint. At the end of 2012, the Sports Arena TIF (the real name for the Victory Park TIF) expires and that tax money will flow into the city’s general coffers instead of recirculating in the Victory area. That’s big.

The current real estate market is tough, so I doubt that we will see much new construction in the near future. The units at Cirque are a little pricey ($1,600 for 700 SF to $2,800 and up for a penthouse) and the Vista starts at $1,100 for 670 SF. Cirque has some of the hottest looking rental units in the city. If you know anything about real estate development, new units with hot views cost money. You can’t live in it for cheap; that’s life.

But wouldn’t it be cool to get some more moderately-priced housing options in that area? Jefferson at the North End always seems to be pretty leased up ($800 for a 1br to $1,500 for a huge 1,700 SF 2-bedroom). I remember almost moving to the North End when I first got to Dallas, but I couldn’t operate a home office and be close to that much ongoing construction (the W was just getting started at the time).

I looked at a unit in the Terrace (the mid-rise, for-sale condo building), and while it had a great view it was pretty straightforward. Still, there’s not many new units in the city that you can get for around $200K. The Terrace has several of them.

I will say once again what I said two years ago: once more companies office in Victory, and as more moderately-priced food and shopping options come online the area will rebound. Oddly enough, the Chili’s at AAC is often packed.

Victory Park is a beautiful district, and the city will need multiple types of districts to thrive in the future. One example is the Design District in which more housing units are being built as we speak on the other side of I-35.

It’s also not just about Victory Park being new and built from scratch, compared to an existing neighborhood like Knox-Henderson. That’s being shortsighted. It’s about creating the events that make people want to hang out when there’s nothing else going on. The Nasher Sculpture Center is also considered to be a great piece of modern architecture like Victory and not “organic,” but whenever they have movie night during the summer or host their “Target First Saturdays” the place is packed with families.

The area will always hold a special place for me because of the fun I had there a few months back, and from being a season ticket holder for a while. Remember back when you could park at a meter a block from AAC and hit the game? Oh the memories!

I want Victory Park to succeed, and I’m sure many others feel the same way. In terms of long-term viability, Victory Park is far from dead. All things in time.

The Hood: 5 – Motel Slumlords: 0

January 28, 2009

Today the City Council followed the City Plan Commission recommendation to close the Colonial Motel in South Dallas. The Colonial Motel has been on the chopping block for a little more than a year.

The Colonial Motel owners lost their case in federal court to stay open. They have since closed, and now they will not get a specific use permit. Keep in mind they should’ve applied for the permit more than ten years ago. Kudos to the parents and administrators of St. Philips School for bringing this issue to City Hall and following through with their goal of shutting this place down.

This piece of garbage can now hit the bricks along with the others:

Motel Three (South Oak Cliff)
Southern Comfort Motel (South Oak Cliff)
Sunset Motel (South Oak Cliff)
American Inn (South Dallas)

Two more motels are on the chopping block. They will be announced in the coming weeks.

More on Downtown Streetcars

January 26, 2009

I watched the briefing today regarding downtown streetcars, and it triggered a couple of additional thoughts.

When you start looking at the streetcar as a way to increase property values and development, why wouldn’t it go into the more undeveloped sections of central Dallas? The parts where most of the maps are drawn in the briefing are getting redeveloped on their own. I didn’t see any streetcar lines being considered for Deep Ellum or the Farmers Market.

With respect to DART, I hope that all rail lines are funded for southern Dallas and to DFW Airport before streetcars are funded.

Downtown Streetcars?

January 26, 2009

A lot has been written regarding the possibility of streetcars, and they are now being discussed by the Transportation Committee at City Council. I’m not the biggest fan of streetcars in downtown Dallas, although my mind is not completely closed on the issue.

I hope that if downtown streetcars are approved that they do not travel down Main or Elm Street.

You can’t have parking meters and streetcars in a given direction when you only have two lanes. Add the DART buses, which most times do not pull into the proper lane when making stops, and you’ve got yourself a traffic disaster. Don’t forget about our beloved valet parking services.

Traffic is already bad on Main Street. Drive down Main Street on any weekend or during rush hour and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Maybe the parking meters should get the axe before we even consider more streetcar routes.

Congrats to DPD Officers!

January 22, 2009

As reported on the DMN Crime Blog, multiple Dallas Police Officers received commendations for their hard work and successes in the field. One officer, Tommie Runnels, received two commendations in a span of 5 days!

Great job and congrats to all.

Mark Cuban’s Heroes Basketball…in the Cliff!

January 22, 2009

Last Friday, there was a press conference to celebrate the Mark Cuban Heroes Basketball Center.

I have been excited about this since it came through the City Plan Commission last spring.

The center is in the old YWCA at Bonnie View and Southerland, located in the Cedar Crest neighborhood in Oak Cliff. The intersection is part City Council District Four (Dwaine Caraway) and part District Seven (Carolyn Davis); how that happened is an entire story in itself.

This was a badly deteriorating building, and Cuban stepped up by purchasing the building and investing a huge sum in its renovation and reconstruction.

Heroes Basketball is much larger than a league. The center will provide tutoring, mentorship, and a computer center.

As the FW Star-T mentioned in their article, participants are required to maintain at least a 2.5 grade-point average and also are required as seniors to apply for at least five colleges. Mike Fisher of Dallasbasketball.com did a good write-up as well.

Some Mavericks practices will be held here, as well as various other events designed to engage the youth of southern Dallas.

Thanks to Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson, Charles and everyone else involved with Heroes Basketball for making this possible. As I told Mark and Donnie, it’s fun when something that you’ve seen on paper for months starts to come together.

I am really looking forward to the All-Star game next year when all of the NBA folks come down to talk with the youth. Despite nearly a dozen TV cameras at the event, coverage was non-existent save for CW33 news. But all of the stations made time for a couple of random perp-walks during their 9 and 10 o’clock segments. Such is life.

Since it’s warming up, the painting can begin and the basketball floor can be placed. The center is scheduled to open in March.

We Party Around Here

January 21, 2009

One of the best parts of the Inaugural festivities is that many families got together and threw parties. A few such parties from around the country were shown on TV last night.

ABC should have been at my in-laws house; no less than 50 people showed up. She got people out on a Tuesday night, which is impressive.

My Mother-in-law is the queen of party favors, and at every function she always has a few extra tricks up her sleeve. BTW, the tissue box is homemade, and not available in stores. Check it out.

Barack stayed for a while.

“Obama lights” lit the walk-up. I would’ve never thought to take gift bags and put tealights inside. Genius.

44

January 20, 2009

Good job!

Now the work begins.
Full text of the inaugural address.

I’m glad I got to talk to my 82-year old Grandfather this morning. This is for him and my deceased Grandmother as much as it is for me and my future children.