Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Woodall Rogers Park

Monday, February 13, 2006-->
Woodall Rogers Park
On Saturday, I attended a public meeting at the Nasher Sculpture Center about the Woodall Rogers Park. The plan is to create a deck park on top of Woodall Rogers freeway between Uptown and Downtown. The park would span from Pearl to Akard in four sections. The first three sections, from Pearl to St. Paul, are the priority. Check out the presentation (17.5 MB) from the meeting, which was attended by over 175 people. Please note that the presentation is a very early conceptual draft, and may change between now and completion of the park. I think that this is one of the most exciting projects in our city right now. Currently, Woodall creates a moat around Downtown, and we have no central park for our city. We are in desperate need of greenspace as our Downtown and Uptown areas become more densely populated.There are a couple of issues I feel strongly about related to the park. One, we need to close down Harwood and Olive streets within the park, rather than having the park sliced into three sections. A single piece of parkland is much more useable than three sections with cars whizzing past. The street closure won't create a serious traffic burden because those two streets are the least traveled between uptown and downtown, and folks can simply drive either one block to Pearl or St. Paul to reach their destination. In fact, Harwood is currently closed for construction, and has been for several weeks, with no noticeable increase in congestion. Two, we need to create a link from the Katy Trail terminus at the American Airlines Center to Downtown. I've been working on this for months, riding my bike from the Katy Trail to the Arts District, looking for the best link, talking with developers in the area, talking with our Park Department. It appears to me that Olive is the best route for an Uptown trail for several reasons. First, it cuts through the middle of the Arts District, which is a very walkable/bikeable area. Second, it will cross the middle of the Woodall Rogers Park, creating a great route to a Downtown park. Third, the land along Olive is largely undeveloped, creating an opportunity to build into those new developments a wide trail instead of teensy, tiny sidewalks. (I've already gotten two major properties along the route to agree to 5' parkways with 10' sidewalks). Fourth, there is a new trolley route recently adopted by the City Council that will go along Olive between McKinney and Downtown, creating a nice pedestrian/alternate transportation route. Fifth, if we create a lane of traffic dedicated to the trolley south of McKinney, we could continue that dedicated lane north of McKinney for pedestrian and bicycle use.Overall, the Woodall Rogers Park project is expected to cost $60M, split equally between the private sector, the city, and state/federal/grants. The city's part of the cost will be included in the proposed 2006 bond program.
Downtown, Parks & Recreation, Uptown
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Posted by Angela at 0:17 am on Monday -->Permalink
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Wednesday, January 11, 2006-->
New Uptown Trolley Line Approved
Today the City Council voted to approve a new trolley line connecting Uptown to Downtown. The trolley line will run from the current McKinney trolley line, turn south down Olive Street, and end at Bryan Street. The line will run down the west side of Olive, go through the Arts District past the Nasher, and connect to the Pearl Street DART light rail line on Bryan Street. Right now, the plan is for the trolley to return along the same line. In the future, there will likely be a separate return route.There is currently a trolley line from McKinney Avenue down St. Paul , the line ends at Ross Avenue. The McKinney Avenue Trolley Authority, a non-profit that supports the Uptown Trolley, analyzed various ways to extend the trolley line to a DART light rail line in Downtown. In particular, MATA examined extending the St. Paul line, but due to underground utility problems, could not do so.I'm very excited about the new connection to Downtown, into the Arts District. Just yesterday, the Economic Development Committee was briefed on the final report of the Inside the Loop Committee. The Inside the Loop Committee is a group of Downtown stakeholders who, at the City's direction, have developed a comprehensive plan for Downtown that includes transportation, parks and trails, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, and improved signage. One of their primary objectives is to link Downtown to nearby areas, including Uptown, and this trolley line accomplishes that.This resolution was important. While we did not allocate funds to this project, we ensured that a state grant that was given to the City years ago did not expire.VOTE: The new trolley line was unanimously approved.
Downtown, Transportation, Uptown
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Posted by Angela at 9:59 am on Wednesday -->Permalink
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Monday, October 17, 2005-->
Proposal to Create "Trinity Crossing Entertainment Complex"
On Wednesday, the Council will be briefed by the Economic Development Department on a proposal to create an entertainment complex near the Convention Center in Downtown Dallas. You can read the briefing here: Council BriefingThe terms of the proposal have not been hammered out yet, but the tentative plan looks like this:-The City owns Reunion Arena, but is losing over a million dollars a year on it. The arena's total land area is about 360,000 sq. ft.-The City owns half of the Convention Center's Parking Lot E. Hunt Consolidated owns the other half, about 331,000 sq. ft.-Lot E is where a company named Dallas City Limits is interested in creating an entertainment complex.-The proposed deal would entail a land swap between Hunt Consolidated (Parking Lot E) and the City of Dallas (Reunion Arena). The City has received two conflicting appraisals on the properties, so we're doing a third appraisal. At that point we'll have more details about the possible land swap.That's part one of the deal. The second part of the deal proposes that the City sell Lot E to Dallas City Lights for fair market value to build the enterntainment complex. As proposed, the entertainment complex would house retail shops, restaurants, and a horse racing track with "Video Lottery Terminals." That's a fancy way of saying slot machines.I am supportive of the idea of consolidating the land at Lot E in order to create an entertainment center. I am also supportive of creating an entertainment center in our Downtown. HOWEVER, I am very troubled by the idea of allowing slot machines at the race track. Slot machines are highly addictive, prey on the poor, and in general create a seedy atmosphere that I don't think is right for our Downtown.Many cities that once permitted slot machines are now putting constraints on them or getting rid of them altogether. If our city becomes dependent on slot machine revenue, it would be nearly impossible to get rid of that form of gambling down the line. (The State Legislature would have to approve such slot machines before Dallas could proceed.)I am less troubled by regulated horse racing if slot machines are excluded. However, race tracks without slot machines are in decline. Successful new racetracks, called "racinos," incorporate slot machines and other forms of gambling into the mix. When these racinos are financially successful, it is due to the non-race gambling income, such as slot machines. So the question becomes, can our proposed race track stand alone, without slot machines, and still make money? If not, can Dallas City Limits put together an entertainment package that doesn't include a race track or slot machines?
Council Briefings, Downtown
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Posted by Angela at 0:07 am on Monday -->Permalink
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Tuesday, March 22, 2005-->
Downtown Residents Council
This evening I spoke with the Downtown Residents Council about the upcoming projects to improve our central business district: the Master Plan for Downtown Parks, the new grocery store, the new DART rail alignment, and new mixed-use developments.After I graduated from law school, my husband and I became urban pioneers, living in downtown Dallas for two years – in the old Titche-Goettinger/Joske’s building (now known as 1900 Elm). Living in such an urban environment, I saw firsthand the need for revitalization to create a livable downtown neighborhood. I am committed to redeveloping our downtown, and will continue to work towards creating the residential “critical mass” needed to spur further development. It is crucial that downtown become home to more rental and owner-occupied housing, restaurants, and retail development. In addition, we must consider creating a Local Government Corporation to further our goals downtown.
Downtown
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Posted by Angela at 8:19 pm on Tuesday -->Permalink
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Thursday, March 3, 2005-->
Central Dallas Association Annual Meeting
This afternoon I attended the annual meeting of the CDA where Richard Baron, chairman and CEO of McCormack Baron Salazar, was the keynote speaker. Mr. Baron discussed the importance that quality schools play in the economic revitalization of downtown areas. The CDA has done an exceptional job of reorganizing and consolidating many of our disparate downtown groups, and I look forward to working with them to create a vibrant downtown.
Commerce, Downtown
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Posted by Angela at 5:29 pm on Thursday