Archive for the ‘Downtown Dallas’ Category

NBA All-Star Weekend had Dallas Rocking

February 15, 2010

The headline to this post says it all.  More than 108,000 people attended the game.  Even more importantly,  the game brought approximately $150 million into the area.

Arlington may have hosted the game, but Dallas owned the weekend.  Despite the weather, the crowds hit the streets of Downtown and other areas.

On Saturday night, the city center was jam packed from 8pm on.  Downtown Dallas was rocking.

Even farther north there were many events filled to capacity.  Kenichi, Trece, Go Fish, and Hibashi had daytime events and a couple were closed off by the fire marshal because they were so packed. You heard right, daytime parties.  They started at 12, ended around 6pm.

The Erykah Badu/Jamie Foxx concert at the Palladium on Saturday? Filled to capacity.

Northpark was packed like it was Christmas Eve for four days straight. Ditto Galleria.

There was some traffic-related frustration, and yes a couple of Dallas’ finest could’ve been more polite with their requests to our visitors but overall they did a great job. Dallas has never hosted an event like this. Texas-OU and other major events don’t compare to All-Star weekend.

By 4am, the streets were clear except for a traffic accident near the Farmers’ Market on Saturday.

Everybody was spending money. This is what All-Star Weekend was about. And all of those who predicted Armageddon because it was an urban event, I am more that happy to say you’ve been disappointed.

I just hope we don’t have to wait 24 years to host our next All-Star game.

DART Plans and Security Plans for All-Star Weekend

February 12, 2010
I hope everyone has a great time in Dallas for NBA All-Star weekend and our city shines like we know it can.  I wanted to pass along some items which may be of interest regarding street operations downtown and DART Rail service.
Street Restrictions and Operations
All parking meters on Main Street will be hooded and no meter parking will be allowed through Sunday.
On Friday night from 6pm-3am, access to Main Street will be restricted to residents needing access to their homes, limos, and taxi drivers. Drivers may be asked to show IDs or resident parking passes.
There will be no parking allowed on Main St. Please use Elm or Commerce.
DPD is prepared to shut down Main Street as needed over the weekend. It is recommended that you avoid Main Street if at all possible.
DART and All-Star Weekend Train Service
(link to DART’s All-Star Weekend info)

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person working on this issue, but from the media exposure, concerned council people and others DART will be run trains from downtown until 3am-325am depending on the line. A week ago they were going to stop at 12:30am, which would have caused headaches for Downtown Dallas.
A lot of progress was made and now we have a more reasonable service plan for this weekend.
A special shout goes to Councilwoman Linda Koop, the head of the City Council’s Transportation Committee for her assistance, as well as various officials at DART.
As I mentioned to fellow city officials and other interested parties, we also need things to run smoothly for reasons larger than this event. As Dallas is trying to attract larger events, good PR from our train service would go a long way. Conversely, no one wants the opposite to happen. The eyes of the tourism and business worlds will all be on Dallas for a weekend, and we all want to see the city shine like we know it can and will with everyone’s help.

Snowball Fight – Thanksgiving Square- NOW

February 11, 2010

Need I say more..as seen from the KPMG building

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.

An Eye Opener – Downtown is not as Dead as You Think

December 23, 2009

Whenever someone talks positively about Downtown Dallas, there are always people that claim that downtown is dead (or that it closes at 5pm, etc).

Such a claim couldn’t be further from the truth.  Even on a Tuesday night, several places were popping. I went to PM Lounge in the basement of the Joule for a party. At 9pm, it was already full. People were lounging on the patio of Charlie Palmer.  A few student-aged kids were walking around taking pictures and surveying the scene.

I left PM to go to a friend’s informal birthday party at Ten Sports Lounge.  By the time I left a few hours later, it was full. I walked past City Tavern, and it was 3/4 full inside the bar the patio was full.  People were hanging out on the sidewalk chatting in front of the tavern.  Again, this is on a Tuesday night.



Other than the French Quarter and Midtown Manhattan, there aren’t many places that are teeming with people 24/7. But Dallas has made great strides, and to claim that it’s the same downtown from five years ago is not looking at the big picture.  Take a walk with me in my new hood, and I’ll tell you all about it.

Fireworks at Dallas Performing Arts Center – Wyly and Winspear Grand Opening

October 19, 2009

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 Downtown Dallas Forum is Today

October 12, 2009
Today at 4pm, the Downtown Dallas 360 Community Forum will take place at the Convention Center.  The purpose is to hear more about the plans for downtown and participate in an interactive discussion focused on our priorities for future Downtown development.
The presentation and discussion will focus on linking The Dallas Farmers Market, the Arts District, the Cedars, Deep Ellum, and The Main Street District as well as future developments.  Hope to see you there!


New Downtown Sports Bar Opens

August 25, 2009

Thanks to my friends at Pegasus News, I found out that the Sheraton Dallas’ new high-end sports bar was open for business.

The Draft Media Sports Bar is a great looking space to catch a game. The verdict: the food is good…service is terrible.

I had the flat bread quesadilla which was surprisingly well seasoned and tasty. The bar is a great place to watch the game, as they have a 104-inch HDTV that makes for great viewing. There are pool tables and various seating set-ups which can accommodate different sized groups.

However, the service was really bad. I’ve tried to learn from my restaurant-critic friends that you have to give a place a little slack when they first open. However, the service issues were mainly due to inattentiveness. If you have three tables, why exactly do I have to wait 20 minutes for a coke refill? No bueno. And I shouldn’t have to tell you three times about my need for a refill or the check when you keep serving the table next to me. I tipped only to not be viewed as a cheapskate and for no other reason.

The service experience ended with the check folder being left on the table as she walked to a bigger (drunker) table. Newsflash: people that aren’t sloshed tip as well as drunks. No ‘thank you’ for service, no nothing…she just dropped off the check and left. That’s why I paid with cash because I knew she’d never come back…and I was right. Conversely, I’ve been to Ten Sports Grill on Main and my server never missed a beat and had way more tables and people to serve.

(side note: when I was at Ten, I thought about this post from D Magazine’s Zac Crain. Why? Because in a sports bar with 100+ people, only me and 1 other guy were watching the Rangers game. Byrd tied the game with an HR with 2 outs in the 9th! And a grand total 2 people clapped. The guy behind me with a Rangers cap to the back in stereotypical cornball fashion never peeked at the game. Probably liked the hat for the colors.)

Final verdict: at Draft Media Sports Bar the food is on point and the layout is fantastic. But to truly become a destination for people other than lay-up business from hotel guests, some major service training should be required. I suggest the servers work here for a week.

Deck Park is Moving Forward

August 19, 2009

As you all know, the Woodall Rogers Deck Park is continuing to move forward. Here are some highlights of the press release from Joanna Singleton at Jackson Spalding:

Thomas Phifer and Partners Announced as The Park’s Restaurant and Performance Pavilion Architect

DALLAS (Aug. 19, 2009) — The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation has named Thomas Phifer and Partners as the architect for the 6,000 square-foot restaurant and the performance pavilion, two central amenities planned for the 5.2 acre deck park that will span over the freeway between Uptown and Downtown Dallas. Phifer was released to begin developing the construction documents this week.

Plans call for a full restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating as well as a quick, casual café for people who wish to pick up a meal to enjoy in the park. The restaurant will also include space available to rent for private events. The adjacent performance pavilion will be a central gathering space in the middle of The Park and serve as a place for free concerts and events. When not in use, the performance pavilion will have movable tables and chairs for additional outdoor dining.

Restaurant Concept Aims to Reinforce Connectivity

Phifer’s restaurant design is conceived as a simple park pavilion which will encourage a connection with the surrounding landscape through glass walls, skylights and a sculpted ceiling that transitions from the indoor to the outdoor space. All four walls of the restaurant will be constructed with glass from floor-to-ceiling.

On the south side, the glass wall will have retractable glass doors that can open for patrons to enjoy the outdoors. A covered terrace will complement the retractable doors and allow patrons to sit outside and enjoy parkside dining. The terrace will have a direct view onto the Performance pavilion stage so that restaurant guests can enjoy the park’s entertainment programs.

The event space will feature a private dining room which will accommodate up to 80 seated guests with access to an outdoor grill and bar area.

The ceiling of the restaurant will appear to sit lightly on the glass walls and will be constructed of a series of coffers, each with a small skylight to animate the ceiling and to allow restaurant guests to enjoy the day’s changing light.

Environmentally responsible design features such as geothermal radiant heating and cooling and a green ‘planted’ roof will be considered during the design phase.

The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation will celebrate The Park’s groundbreaking in September 2009. The base park is expected to be complete in late 2011 with amenities, like the restaurant, expected to be complete in 2012.