For Many Reasons, the City Staff Is Not Fond of Proposed Cityville at Cityplace. At All.

Categories: News
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Click to expand for a better view of the proposed development on the former Loews Cityplace site.
One month ago we broke the news that Kroger is looking to set up shop on the desolate site formerly occupied by the former Loews Cityplace. Only, well, there's one small problem: Kroger wants to sell beer and wine in the grocery store, and Dallas City Code says you can't do that within 300 feet of a school -- and Alex W. Spence Middle Learning Center more or less falls within that no-no line. (City staff says it's actually 325 feet from the proposed store site to Spence's property line.) Which is but one reason among many why city staff has told the city council that, sorry, but it just can't support the grocer's request for a variance.

From the looks of the council's just-posted addendum for Wednesday's meeting, during which there will be public comments taken on the variance request, staff has myriad issues with the project -- not just the grocery store and its desire to sell alcohol, but with the layout of the whole Cityville at Cityplace project planned on the site. Says the addendum item (No. 29, for those playing along at home), the thing looks like any other "suburban retail center"; its design "does not create an urban pedestrian experience"; and the Peak Street dead-end, combined with a long wall separating the Spence from Cityville, "create an inhospitable environment that is not conducive to the student activity or the neighborhood."

And staff also appears to wonder why there even needs to be a grocery store in the development, since there's a Target, Albertson's and Walmart within half a mile of Cityville, not to mention "more than a dozen smaller, local markets less than 2 miles from this site." Concludes the addendum item, "Staff cannot support the current site layout and configuration as proposed by the applicant given its physical relationship to the Spence Academy and the ample supply of food stores available to serve this neighborhood. Staff could support a more urban mixed use site layout that achieves the original vision of PD 305 and meets the intention of the recent rezoning."

Jump for the staff's full what-for.
The current proposed land use mix and site layout promotes two large single use structures flanked by expansive surface parking areas typical of most suburban retail centers. This layout is auto-oriented and does not create an urban pedestrian experience on any of the street frontages. The main entrance off Haskell Avenue is disjointed and poorly configured. Although Kroger fronts Haskell Avenue, the store is set back a depth of approximately 300 feet. The second phase of the tract does retain some structured parking to support 361 unit apartment complex. However, this is a reduction from 700 units originally planned.

As configured, the rear of the Kroger building will have a minimal 10 foot setback from Peak Street and will present a long, continuous blank wall with no access to Peak Street. Directly across Peak Street to the north is the Alex W. Spence Learning Center and Talented and Gifted Academy. The front door of Kroger is approximately 325 feet from the property line of the middle school.

While the front door of the Academy faces east on Capitol Avenue, the portion of the school's campus directly across Peak Street is a large, open area shaded by many large trees with direct access from the cafeteria. This southern side of the campus serves as the student drop off/pick up area. School traffic is routed along Peak Street and north Belmont Avenue. The traffic pattern, combined with physical layout of the campus, encourages outdoor student activity. Peak Street dead-ends just past this site and the campus into the ACS facility. Staff has concerns that the "alley" affect created by this dead end street flanked by an uninterrupted wall with no windows or opportunity for "eyes on the street" will create an inhospitable environment that is not conducive to the student activity or the neighborhood. Given the past history of juvenile and gang activity on this site, staff recommends that the portion of the site immediately adjacent to Peak Street be reconfigured with land uses more compatible with the Academy, such as a row of townhomes or low-rise office. An urban streetscape with compatible land uses could integrate this development into the overall neighborhood, offer pedestrian amenities and activities that provide a benefit to the school as well as the other existing homes and businesses.

Staff also researched the availability and locational distribution of existing grocery stores in the immediate area that serve the neighborhood. Three large stores currently operate within less than ½ mile from this site - Target, Walmart and Albertson's. In addition, there are more than a dozen smaller, local markets less than 2 miles from this site.
  • Won Grocery @ Hall & Roseland (0.5 miles)
  • Josie's Grocery @ Fitzhugh & Capital (0.5 miles)
  • 7-Eleven @ Ross and Haskell (0.7 miles)
  • Tienda Choris @ Ross & Carroll (0.7 miles)
  • T-Grocery @ Bryan & Carroll (0.7 miles)
  • 7-Eleven @ Live Oak & Haskell (0.8 miles)
  • Binh Minh Market @ Bryan & Fitzhugh (1 mile);
  • Jimmy's Food Store @ Bryan & Fitzhugh (1 mile);
  • Malone's Cost Plus Supermarket @ Haskell & Gaston (1.5 miles)
  • Fiesta Mart @ Greenville & Ross (1.5 miles)
  • New Flower Market @ Henderson @ Ross (1.5 miles)
  • Malone's Cost Plus Supermarket (1.5 miles)
  • Highland Food Store @ Greenville and Bryan (1.7 miles)
Staff cannot support the current site layout and configuration as proposed by the applicant given its physical relationship to the Spence Academy and the ample supply of food stores available to serve this neighborhood. Staff could support a more urban mixed use site layout that achieves the original vision of PD 305 and meets the intention of the recent rezoning.

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