Jason Roberts and the Better Block'ers Dare You to Build a Better Ross Avenue in Three Days

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One week after turning the front of Dallas City Hall into the Living Plaza, Jason Roberts -- who'll sleep when he's dead -- sends word of yet another project: the 72-Hour Challenge to turn a stretch of Ross Avenue downtown into a complete street.

There are some details on the Better Block website, with more to come, but long story short: The city, Downtown Dallas Inc., the Arts District and others are partnering with the Better Block'ers to allow teams 72 hours (beginning June 2, oy) to transform Ross into a "great livable space that embraces the road," he tells Unfair Park today. The idea is based in part on Bat-Yam 72 Hour Urban Landscape Competition in Israel.

Ross will be broken down into "five segments," Roberts says, from Pearl to Washington. And the expectation is that "the general form of boulevard makeover includes a market, gallery, music venue, food court and transit plaza," says the Better Block website.

"We're gonna grade people on the ability to make people linger in the space and, since it's in June, how would you create shade or add water features?" he says. "We want to see adaptive reuse. We'll publish more details as we get closer, but the nice thing about doing this in a compressed time line and getting a lot of folks involved is you'll see a lot creativity and find inexpensive ways to make change."

I asked who he expects will participate.

"We've got interest from universities who've asked to be involved in projects in the past," he says. "And then there are traditional architects, landscape architects and artists. It's open to anyone who can form a team and who is place-making-minded, which would even include theater groups who can do staging. We're trying to dispel the notion this can only be done by architects. Anyone can make a great place, and when you bring this mix of folks beyond just one discipline we'll get great ideas we might not have thought of otherwise."
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alfredo
alfredo

Be sure to do something about that tasteful mass of double wides that the DISD has across the street from the Administration Building on Ross, maybe the same type of paint job that is being used on the Central underpass.

The DISD may be the worst landowner on that section of Ross

gabbahey
gabbahey

This sounds really nice. Would give a reason for people to actually go slow thru the area, (not counting the folks who drive 5 mph on Ross because they have no insurance).

Not to sound cynical, but the only remnants from the BaBB and BaBB2 in NOC last year are a few planter boxes on Davis, and a 30 meter long (or so) bike lane on Tyler, in front of where Oak Cliff Bicycle Company used to be.

I would have loved to see everything stay in place from the last two times around, seriously, I live two blocks over from The Kessler, and appreciate everything that's been tried.

We've seen what it can be like and how nice it can actually be. Why can't it stay that way?

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

I think most of US GET the Idea.It makes for a nice show.

Now for the Hard Part. Can this been done for REAL ?

The question is How much REAL MONEY and REAL TIME will it take to make any of these kinds of changes permanent ?

bobby
bobby

You know...these better blocks are fun and all, but what is really the point? After everything is dismantled, the street goes right back to what it was before.

Paul S.
Paul S.

@bobby actually they don't. More than one business has been born from these events in Oak Cliff. Small business that keep their money in the neighborhood, hire locals and PAY TAXES. In other words everything the Walmarts and other big box stores don't do for local communities.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I'm not WMT cheerleader, but saying they don't provide taxes to the city is false. They provide lots of sales taxes. They hire locals (it's not like they relocate a bunch of people for the minimum wage they pay). Of course small business don't always pay very well either, since they usually lack the financial resources to do so, and they generally don't offer good benefits.

Paul S
Paul S

Though its not not completely equal, smaller local businesses filling the same needs as the box stores would raise the same local sales tax. meanwhile the net sales flow out of the community, which is money not spent locally and local taxes not paid. Too frequently cities (like Dallas) are to willing to give tax abatements to attract "big bidness" to a city. True that a small business can't offer great benefits, but the big boxes treatment and cookie cutter employee politics are far more detrimental. Local business is better for local communities plan and simple.

dertymindz
dertymindz

Dude I think that is the problem. Everybody just ups and leaves and we go back to business as usual. The only way for Downtown to have continuous vitality is for Downtown to have continuos energy(good,mediocre,great,and the usuals). You're never gonna have a happening place without the folks who make it what it can be(freaks, travelers, etc). I'll give ya a hint and they don't wear Armani and drive 7series. Peace.

dertymindz
dertymindz

The yuppies who the Downtown 360ers want to inhabit the place aren't gonna materialize without the unclean folksy artsy mofos that the city council wants to keep out.

The Hidden List
The Hidden List

Love this! Can't wait to be there and so proud of the Better Block'ers continuing to raise the bar!

dertymindz
dertymindz

Dude, this bugs me cuz I really do love this place and wish to see it grow. You know why Dallas' heart doesn't grow is because those who are running this place are small town minded. They don't mind a population explosion they just want it kept under the reins of their control. You can't have a truly awesome city that way though. The only way to see growth is by allowing everyone to bring something to the table(even the riff raff). I know that will piss off the folks who actually control Dallas(Highland Park residers) but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

dertymindz
dertymindz

Easy, allow artist to do their thing on the street corners and stop promoting the downtown as a coop of suit and ties prudes. There will inevitably be problems, but guess what there are problems now, this is a City. The only way to impress on folks that downtown is cool is by letting those who can make it so be. San Francisco, NYC, yada yada have performers,sidewalk painters,etc, so why not us? We got talent...so let it be.

WalkableDFW
WalkableDFW

Can you use dynamite for the columns under 75/I-345? It will make it rainbow sparkly like the design competition.

Ellum08
Ellum08

There are quite a few empty or under-utilized historic streetcar stop commercial strips on that stretch between Hall and Washington that I hope might be used or considered for use.

Three Sheets is already generating some business further down towards Central and those new apartments being built will help add some density as well.

yeppers
yeppers

now this guy is helpful.

Ellum08
Ellum08

Thanks. I try.

Here is another tip, perhaps some sort of display or homage to the fantastic houses that used to line Ross all the way up to Greenville can be incorporated into a project somewhere. I don't think most people realize how fabulous Ross was before the car lots and barbed wire.

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