Archive for the ‘Deep Ellum’ Category

Towing & Booting Revisions are a Good Idea

February 10, 2010

Today the City Council voted, by an 11-4 margin, to change the ordinance involving booting of cars in parking lots.

While the previous ordinance was only in effect in Deep Ellum (downtown lot operators had another six months), today’s vote expanded the rule citywide that prohibits booting of vehicles in parking lots that do not provide drivers a receipt.  In addition, it also eliminated video audits as an alternative to providing parking fee receipts.

Because of the way parking lot operators and tow truck companies have been running their businesses, I have started a practice of only parking at meters.  As much as I dislike nighttime parking meters, at least I know that I won’t return to my car with a boot on it (or towed and missing altogether). 

In my opinion, this should have been done the first time; I didn’t see the reason for changing the law in Deep Ellum and giving Downtown lot owners an additional six months.  It didn’t take too much deductive reasoning to figure out that the next move would be to take the shady practices a few blocks west of Deep Ellum, a practice which was outlined extensively in recent weeks.

Apparently, the owner of Hawkeye Towing came to speak at City Council.  He claimed that his business would be in jeopardy and that he’s a good operator; in my opinion what he calls a business should be in jeopardy. Fortunately his crocodile tears didn’t sway anyone.  Here’s their BBB listing (h/t to Travis from Pegasus). I didn’t see the video, so I can’t confirm if it was this this guy from Hawkeye or not. 

I’ve been in lots “attended to” by Hawkeye Towing.  After a friend’s car was booted after a show in Deep Ellum we decided to turn the tables on this company.  The boot guy tried to talk tough in the beginning, but once a couple of us whipped out our cell phone cameras and recorded the shady event everything got real polite and calm.  The boot was removed from my friend’s car.

To this day, I haven’t figured out why lots in the West End have receipt machines but it is oh-so-difficult for these same owners to install such machines downtown and in Deep Ellum. But that’s an argument for another day.

Today was a victory for businesses and patrons, and a tear jerker for the ripoff artists.  We must continue to stay vigilant and keep a watchful eye out for and shady practices.  Keep those cell phone cameras charged.  On to the next one.

Realities and Misconceptions about Downtown

October 13, 2009
There is always a lot of talk about what needs to happen to keep the momentum going in Downtown Dallas. But what you inevitably hear and read are an undercurrent of naysayers bemoaning the same factors for why downtown will never return to its past glory. The homeless. The tunnels. The (fill in the blank).
In my opinion, these are not reasons to ignore downtown.  I don’t see them as barriers to the recovery of downtown Dallas.

Yes, there are homeless people in Downtown Dallas. Unfortunately, there are going to be homeless people in every downtown in every major city. A good friend of mine in real estate made an interesting statement about the homeless, which was “if you had more people downtown, you wouldn’t notice the homeless because they would blend in with everyone else.”  When you compare Dallas to other cities, there are not a lot of homeless people.  I have seen cities with a much higher population of homeless revitalize their downtown. What city lets 10-15 people walking around during the day asking for change affect what is going to happen in a given part of town? See how much sense that makes? The people that don’t travel downtown because of the homeless folks probably will never come downtown anyway.
There is a need for improved lighting, but that will come with time. Also, applications are starting to arrive for video boards, which will provide a little flash to the major downtown streets.
What I really here are a bunch of excuses.
These are really excuses for people that wouldn’t invest, shop, or live downtown in the first place. Yet, some business owners have built downtown to great success.
7-Eleven opened at Commerce & Field. They didn’t say they couldn’t be successful because of the tunnels or anything else.  Try going in the store anytime during the day; there’s always several people in line or moving about the store. I would guess that it’s one of their more successful stores in Dallas.
The Joule Hotel is right in the middle of Main Street. They didn’t say that you couldn’t have a high-end hotel because a few homeless people are walking by the building. It’s a successful place.
Another reality: we’re stuck with the tunnels.  Most of the stores in the tunnels provide basic retail functions. They are a cash generator for the building owners and it’s probably too cost prohibitive to close the tunnels.  Philadelphia has an entire network of tunnels full of similar retail shops; so does Houston. In fact, in Houston the tunnels are marketed as an amenity, and some of them are open at night.
I have a different take on the tunnels than most.  We should look at the tunnels more as an asset and part of the overall strategy. Attract higher-level retail at the street level and leave the rest in the tunnels.  I’m sure the tunnels have lower rent costs, which would allow an aspiring business owner to strike out on his own and move to a street-level space once they have enough business.
I also disagree with the current alignment of the downtown streetcar. In my opinion, the route completely cuts off Deep Ellum from the rest of downtown. It’s a great route for the Arts district, but not for anywhere else.
I know that Deep Ellum is listed as a “potential extension,” but there are great businesses there now.  The main streets have multiple lanes that would be conducive to a streetcar.  How cool would it be to leave your office during lunch, hop the streetcar down to Twisted Root or Lemongrass or St. Pete’s, and get lunch? It also would show out-of-town Arts District patrons about this great alternative retail and restaurant scene right in the middle of our city.  Maybe just throw Deep Ellum a bone by having the train stretch to Good Latimer and Commerce,  circle back to Main and then continue north at Harwood Street.
If it’s impossible to build this route, then they should simultaneously look at a route for Deep Ellum.
The other funny thing is the people that are worried about driving on the streetcar tracks. Do you know how to drive? Seriously. As with a lot of things in Dallas, we want the amenities without any hassle. Well, the real world (which includes the cities to which we compare ourselves) works a little bit different.
It’s all about how you look at the situation.  Dallas has certain realities that must be dealt with downtown, but we should look at them more as opportunities than excuses not to invest, to shop, and to live.

The Blues are back in Deep Ellum

September 27, 2009
Last Friday, I was one of the lucky people that got to attend the grand opening of Tucker’s Blues in Deep Ellum. I say that because it was one of the best shows that I had been to in a long time.

Though I don’t profess to be an expert on blues music, I know most of the popular songs. The show consisted of several singers and a fantastic backup band. The crowd was very diverse and the atmosphere had a lot of energy the entire night.

The space, which is located next to Twister Root and formerly housed Red Blood Club, looks fantastic. But what also makes the place stand out are the owners.  You can tell that the Tuckers know what they’re doing.  For a first night, the service was really attentive without being intrusive. The brother-sister team of Dianne and Larry Tucker and their family are some of the most gracious hosts you will come across.

When we went through the whole rezoning process in Deep Ellum a couple of years ago, these are the types of places and crowds that we wanted to see come back to the neighborhood.

My advice: show up early.  As the word gets out this will be a really tough spot to get into. If you think Deep Ellum is dead, you haven’t been to Tuckers’ Blues.

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.

I’m Proud of the Deep Ellum Group

December 13, 2007

A little more than a month ago, I tried to encourage the people that support the Deep Ellum bars and clubs to continue their civic involvement. I was so proud of y’all when I saw the news clips and saw that you packed the City Council chambers once again to make your feelings known.

The Council meeting may have seen long and drawn out, but that’s because the council was trying to give each club the benefit of the doubt. In the end, the clubs did very well when it came to getting permits.

Club One and Club Uropa made it very hard on themselves. In terms of Club One, you can’t act like violence doesn’t occur inside the club. Unlike the false argument made by an owner of Club One, it wasn’t racially motivated. I’m Black and I too voted to close Club One at the City Plan Commission level. Violence is violence, and they have a crime problem inside the club.

The owner of Uropa may not have known about his website (maybe someone younger created it and didn’t tell him what was on there?), but it is common knowledge that Uropa throws those kind of parties (which may cause you to need special licensing as a sexually oriented business). Uropa’s website has been that way for some time. As councilman Dave Neumann correctly stated, getting an SUP is a privilege and not a right. As you all heard again, both clubs have had serious crime issues.

I guess I’m torn on the issues surrounding the clubs. I appreciate what people like Barry Annino and others are trying to do. At the same time, the bad clubs need to go – they only make it harder for the area to be a safe destination for all people.

I just wanted to once again thank all of you for participating, and encourage all of you to keep up on city issues and stay involved.

There is Hope!

November 8, 2007

Today, we more than 100 people come down to our City Plan Commission meeting to express their feelings regarding the Deep Ellum/Near East (Expo Park) Special Purpose District. The Council Chambers was almost entirely packed. Many of them were under the age of 30.

As I mentioned on PegasusNews, I hope that you all see that this process is not a railroading; you see how long we spend on these cases. We tried to help as much as we could and made sure that everybody got time to speak (within the rules).

Don’t let this be the last of your civic involvement!

I want everybody that came down today to stay involved, keep up on local issues and VOTE! Stay informed, and we can all work together to make this City better.

March 6, 2007

House of Blues Lives up to its Name

A few days ago, I got a ton of hits on my article, “Victory…How much rich can we do?”
I held out hope that the under-construction House of Blues might balance out the other outrageously priced options in Victory Park.

However, it seems like the de facto price of HOB events is going to be $65. So there goes that theory out the window.

How I’ll miss the Gypsy Tea Room….