Tom Spicer Says Landlord Wants to Pave Over Garden Paradise for Parking Lot (Or ... Not?)

Categories: Dish, Real Estate
tomspicer.jpg
Tom Spicer
A short while ago, Tom Spicer -- proprietor of produce-providing Spiceman's FM 1410 on Bryan and Fitzhugh, two doors down from Jimmy's Food Store -- sent word via his e-mailing list that he's in danger of losing his garden. Said Spicer when I called him this afternoon, earlier today a man came to his front door and said he was there to measure the garden, which, till Spicer got hold of it a few years back, was a barren patch of dirt and nothing. Spicer wanted to know why the man needed to measure his space.

"To give the owner a quote on what it would cost to pave it," the man told Spicer, who told him, "I think you're mistaken." The man told him: No, I'm not. Spicer turned him away, then went to his computer and banged out what appears to be a farewell, which Hanna will  post on City of Ate, titled "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Spicer had always worried this day would come. The owners -- a partnership between Jack Kemp and attorney Robert Udashen and wife Karen, according to Dallas Central Appraisal District records -- never gave him a long-term lease on the garden space, Spicer says. (The storefront on Fitzhugh is owned by Tomaino Properties and managed by Michael Turner, who tells me today he knows nothing of a plan to pave over the garden. But he wouldn't. It's not his land.) Spicer says he was about to ask for a three-year guarantee; at present, he can be kicked out with 60-day notice.

Several messages have been left on Kemp's cell, which goes straight to voice mail; Spicer says he too cannot reach the landlord. I've also left messages for Udashen at his office and home.

[Update at 2:35 p.m.: Spicer called to say he just spoke with Kemp. "And he assures me it's nothing," Spicer says. "He says they'll do it across the street. But how am I supposed to feel good after this? This development forces me to get some guarantee that what I've invested in the spring and summer crops -- and what I'm about to invest in them -- I can get a return on. ... But I have a lot of support. Maybe this is something I can make something better out of. I'm not sure what it'll be ..."]

But Spicer says he could see this coming -- at least, ever since the grocery store opened up across Fitzhugh a few months back.

spicergarden.jpg
The garden in question, behind Jimmy's Food Store and Spiceman's FM1410 on Bryan and Fitzhugh
Once a place where Jimmy's and Spicer's customers could park, the grocery store's parking lot has since been deemed off-limits, with the grocer's owners threatening to tow anyone visiting its cross-the-street customers.

"If the grocery store had been more neighborly and not chased everyone off, this might not have happened," says Spicer, who provides fresh produce both to restaurants and anyone else who walks through his door.

In his e-mail, Spicer writes that "I'm hoping to hold a few fundraisers so I can buy an urban parcel to cultivate," and he says this afternoon he's looking out in places like Sunnyvale -- something close to the city, at the very least. He doesn't want to. But right now, he says, what other choice does he have, if he can't talk to the landlord and if there's a guy waiting outside to measure his garden for a concrete coffin?

"I am coming up on spring planting, so I'll miss my whole spring and summer," he says. "I bought seeds and have plants en route. I'm in shock. I don't even have whatever it takes to go on at this point, because I put so much fucking money into it at this point. I mean, sure, just because he's getting an estimate doesn't mean he wants to do it. But why would I want to bother going on?"

Updates forthcoming, should anyone else call back.

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34 comments
OED
OED

Spice blames every business around him -- Jimmy's, Urbano, the grocery store, his landlord -- for his problems then has the gall to say that its the grocery store that hasn't been neighborly?! What an ass.

Benji
Benji

They are not cheap. The last price quoted on the "disputed " lot was $225,000.00 . Thats alot of "fundraisers" and that note could never support a urban garden.

Dallas_BK
Dallas_BK

The City of Dallas owns a boatload of lots, having foreclosed on them for the amount of outstanding property taxes. They're all for sale, and all cheap.

Guest
Guest

The City of Dallas owns a boatload of lots, having foreclosed on them for the amount of outstanding property taxes. They're all for sale, and all cheap.

Frenchy
Frenchy

Something fishy grows in the garden.

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

Maybe he could have called the landlord and asked before he banged out his farewell message? After this and his comments on the York Street closing, I think the guy sounds like a real drama queen.

G_David
G_David

So if the owner of the Jimmy's building doesn't own the land that Spicer is on, why would he need a parking lot? Is he going to lease the parking lot to the Tomaino group? I know the parking at Jimmy's can get a little tricky, but I can't think of any other place around there that doesn't have enough parking. My own personal hope is that the grocery across Fitzhugh goes out of business so we can go back to using that lot.

Worzel Gummidge
Worzel Gummidge

How much is Spicer paying the grocery for use of part of their parking lot?

Jamo
Jamo

Sickening is the only word I can come up with at this point.

TimCov
TimCov

While I feel badly for Mr. Spicer, I also have to say that his basing his business on a piece of property where he does not have a legal guarantee granting him use of the land for the length of time it takes to grow and harvest his crop was a very bad mistake. Ask any professional (large scale) farmer, one of the first things they do is make sure they have access to land when they plan the next season.

Darin Robinson
Darin Robinson

nobody ever writes a song about the woes of being a coal mine owner.

elbueno
elbueno

God, this is so typical...

Spiceman
Spiceman

Where and when did I blame any one for what problem? This issue is about me having made a thriving, profitable garden out of heaps of brocken wine and beer bottles, crack paraphenilia and concrete remnants of a previously demolished building. Come see me is you have the huevos mr. Unik sans Tunik

Spiceman
Spiceman

OED...Over Educated Dummy? how the F do you know?

cp
cp

Depends on where you're looking. Yes, there are cheap lots to be had in south and east Dallas. And I mean just several thousand dollars.

Clark
Clark

Also funny how CP and Frenchy commented in succession on the food blog as well. Seems as if they might have special interest in the matter?

Clark
Clark

Hey, that's funny. This same comment was on D Magazine's blog. Something fishy grows in "Frenchy"s garden?

Spiceman
Spiceman

El Landlord didn't answer his phone all day when he's normally breathing down my neck about what a great job I've done on his previoult unattended crack lot, my message was far from a farewell...morel like come and take it day. All you lil pusses with your guesses hiding behind your fake names...come find out who I am but you're all couped up in your chicken coups. 

cp
cp

I was thinking that too....

greenacres
greenacres

Not to mention his uneducated rant about Paul Quinn's farm. Less emotion, less finger-pointing, more business acumen. This from a local, organic advocate.

Spiceman
Spiceman

Another Roseanne Roseanna Danna comment

Clark
Clark

Park on the street like a normal freaking person in a normal freaking city. News flash, you don't need a lot for you car. You don't need a valet to park it for you either. That's why you have those two long things under your short thing that are called "legs". There is plenty of street to keep your Cadillac Escalade "safe", until you sell it to the people you are trying to keep it "safe" from in 5 years.

cp
cp

My understanding is that the land is owned by the same people who also Jimmy's and Urbano Cafe.

Anon
Anon

You're confused. Go back to foodie land dummie!

Spiceman
Spiceman

You know absolutely nothing about how long it takes to make a profit off of a parcel of land nor any other details mr. anal vice...I've been developing acreage and parcels for 27 years profitably with th books to back it up so shut the F up Roseanne Roseanna Danna

Clay
Clay

Agreed TimCov. You can't just plant a flag on a piece of land that's not yours and open a business on it without the proper contracts. Nonetheless, I hope he can keep his garden going and also puts something in writing. That area is such an interesting part of East Dallas.

cp
cp

I hadn't noticed. I don't know "Frenchy". Maybe we just aren't fawning sycophants like everyone esle seems to be.

But I have read enough comments from Spicer to have come to the opinion that here is a man too far up his own butt. Never met him, but reading his comments and his REactions to certain situations (and those arrogant-looking photos), I don't like him. He's not running a non-profit so I can hardly feel sorry for his failed business plan. It's not that Dallas doesn't "embrace" urban gardening, it's that he doesn't have a clear concept of how to garden AND earn a profit. Nothing really more to it than that.

Spiceman
Spiceman

Hello Mr. Frenchy stenchy...get a shove and come find the poisson you say grows in my garden....ps: watch out cuz I luvs FROG LEGS!

Spiceman
Spiceman

I'm well educated about the fact that the Paul Quinn football field garden is in the hands of amature gardeners teaching those poor kids the wrong way to grow for market. But your uneducated comment is to be expected since you don't know squat about my backround of 27 years turning small and mid size farms around to profitablilty. Get out that chicken coup and come meet me down here at my store and garden at the FM 1410

G_David
G_David

Thanks for commenting on these posts - FIVE MONTHS later!  Between your anger management issues and your punctuality, I think we know all we need to know about the situation.  I was actually trying to defend you at the time, but apparently I was wasting my time.

G_David
G_David

Actually, I drive a 10-year-old Honda. But since I actually live in the neighborhood, I'm not stupid enough to park it on the street if I don't have to. It has nothing to do with walking at all. Seriously, an Escalade? NOBODY around here drives one of those.

From the tone of your extremely misinformed, overly-quotation marked screed, I must assume you're the owner of the crappy little convenience store across the street. If so, I apologize for publicly wishing that you go out of business, though I still hope you do. With any luck, you're still blissfully sleeping off whatever it was that turned you into such a raving dipshit at 3:30 in the morning.

OED
OED

The landowner has no ties whatsoever to Urbano or Jimmy's, which are also owned independently.

Spiceman
Spiceman

This is a successful profitable venture, FM 1410 as well as the garden. Mr CP (Chicken Poop) oh and the arrogant photos, my my, just tells the truth doesn't it. Grow some balls and come see me...coe on down to my store and meet me mr Roseanne Rosanna Danna

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