The Planned Resurrection of Victory Park Will Begin in May

Thumbnail image for NewVictoryParkRendering.jpg
It's easy enough to make a new development look lively and inviting in computer-generated renderings. Throw in a couple dozen people strolling along a broad, tree-lined sidewalk and dining on restaurant patios, all brightened by a warm evening glow, and voila: You have a thriving, modern commercial and residential hub.

But what happens when you build the thing only to discover that those optimistic sketches glossed over serious design flaws -- poor traffic and pedestrian circulation, a lack of appealing, accessible, and affordable retail and restaurant space, life-sucking expanses of concrete all around?

Victory Park, that's what.

See also: Victory Park Is Getting a Makeover

The city of Dallas has learned a lot in the 15 years since the project was built. "When this originally went in, the base of knowledge about how do do mixed-use in Dallas was ... let's say ... less," Karl Stundins, a redevelopment manager with the city, told The Dallas Morning News in April.

The fruits of Dallas' hard-won experience were on display earlier this year when it unveiled a technical study -- complete with pretty new renderings -- showing how the area around the American Airlines Center might be revitalized.

The changes called for in the study were ambitious. There would be more parking garages, a couple of new mixed-use office/retail buildings and a "retail pavilion" on a currently vacant lot, which would house a mix of shops, restaurants, a movie theater and maybe a grocery store. But first, the city will try to fix Victory's pedestrian problem.

That process is set to begin in May, according to a briefing scheduled for Monday before the City Council's Economic Development Committee, when work will begin converting Olive Street and Victory Park Lane from one-way thoroughfares to two-way streets.

In the process, the $2 million project will widen sidewalks, add crosswalks, and generally make it more pleasant for pedestrians to linger. The cost will be covered by Trademark Property, which will then be reimbursed using city TIF funds. That, the city hopes, will pave the way for another $100 million in private investment. It's gotta start somewhere.

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42 comments
Goodwithoutgod
Goodwithoutgod

I call Victory Park West End 2.0. perhaps a official name change might help?

Goodwithoutgod
Goodwithoutgod

Great I love shitty over priced food and 100 dollar cigars!! this will be a success again.

TreyBell
TreyBell

I was shooting the Dallas Multifamily Forum last week and the guy from Downtown Dallas: John Crawford was talking about this, as well as the parking issues, one of the development guys that  did something on Main was talking about the break they got from the city by allowing free parking in the garage under his development for 15 years

MattL11
MattL11

I suppose it's good that they've decided to do something, because it can't get any worse. 

robbieredphone
robbieredphone

Lets hope they offer free parking. Not validated....but FREE. Otherwise.....it's doomed to fail. Kansas City's Country Club Plaza would be a perfect example they should follow. 

rbradydallas
rbradydallas

There sure seem to be a lot of comments on what's wrong with the planned approach but very few reasonable alternative suggestions. The fact of the matter is that this isn't about paying a little more for parking or bringing in "quick fix" retailers or restaurants that, like those before them, won't survive without a more comprehensive, long term growth strategy in place. 

Victory Park serves as a critical component in the connectivity of our urban regentrification and revitalization efforts. Downtown to Design District,  Trinity Groves to Uptown, Arts District to Trinity/Riverfront, Oak Lawn to Oak Cliff - all great neighborhoods and districts experiencing significant growth and regrowth, but none of which can sustain that growth without "connecting" to one another. 

I applaud the City/EDC in recognizing that something must be done to revitalize Victory Park and bringing forth a plan focused on the long term sustainability of the district.

kgregorymua
kgregorymua

Lets start with decent parking that doesnt cost an arm and a leg!

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

The dart thing makes little sense.  2 people going to a game is $10 worth of day passes.  And you can park for $10 in off arena parking.  $5 closer to west end if you are willing to walk a few blocks.  I went to a game on DART w/ 4 buddies.  That was $25 bucks in DART tickets. 

They should institute a voucher system now that they have a DART app.  Your game day ticket includes a DART day pass.  That should go for every event at the AAC.  Add $2 to every ticket and include the Day Pass voucher.  That would kill several birds w/ one stone.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Can you resurrect something that has never been alive?

Outside of the arena itself, Victory has been a colossal disaster since it opened. They are lucky WFAA hasn't moved yet and super lucky that The Ticket moved in. If you have ever been to a stadium downtown in another city you know you don't put a bunch of high end uber expensive steakhouses and tequila bars around an arena.

WylieH
WylieH

[The city of Dallas has learned a lot in the 15 years since the project was built. "When this originally went in, the base of knowledge about how do do mixed-use in Dallas was ... let's say ... less," Karl Stundins, a redevelopment manager with the city, told The Dallas Morning News in April.]

I think the key qualifier here is "knowledge... in Dallas."  I remember when the plans for this thing were unveiled and construction started... a LOT of knowledgeable people basically looked at what they were doing and said "WTF?!?"  Victory's development scheme flew in the face of urban design principles that were already well known and accepted throughout the development world.  I remember all sorts of sarcastic comments from various observers along the lines of "what's going on here; haven't these folks ever picked up an urban design book?"

Experienced real estate practitioners at the time could see this was not going to work.  As pointed out in this post, a lot of the mistakes were really, really basic--- where is the parking?  where are the valet parking drop off points?  what is the visibility/accessibility of the restaurant/retail space?  I could go on and on.

Other developers had long ago successfully tackled such problems--- it seemed like Victory's developers willfully stuck their collective heads in the sand and just pushed blindly forward, wrongfully assuming they had nothing to learn from the experience/expertise of others.

cyrrndr
cyrrndr

Isn't this the third time or so that they have tried to resurrect Victory Park?

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Don't forget that the original developers demanded, no forced, DART to build the light rail line next to Stemmons rather than along Victory Avenue or Houston Street.


This the only development in the area where DART was forced away from the development rather than enticed to build the transit line in a way to encourage development.

As it is, anyone using the DART rail line to Victory Station has to trek at least a quarter to a half mile to reach the retail area.


I guess that it was the same thinking that lead to their not being a DART station at Love Field.

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

In other words, Trademark doesn't plan on building anything or signing any new tenants until well into 2015? That's a huge disappointment considering that 4 nearby apartment projects are under construction and another 2 are planned to start this year.


everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Victory Park Lane and Olive area already two-way and always has been.  Did you mean Victory Avenue and Houston Street?

kduble
kduble

@kgregorymua  I disagree. Parking takes up valuable space unless it's rooftop or underground, and this it expensive. So long as you cater to cars, you'll never have a walkable neighborhood. Do you know how much parking the new Barclay's sports arena in NYC has? Zero. Not one single space, and it's doing just fine.

Build for cars, and you'll get cars. Build for people and you'll get people. Cars don't buy things and spend money. People do.

James080
James080 topcommenter

@dallas_dude  

A lot of people disagree with you because the trains have been packed for every event I have been to at the AAC, and that's over 100 events. It is worth it to me not to fight the traffic congestion, park under the freeway or in some mile away lot, and pay $10-$15 for the privilege. 

 

Dallasphotog
Dallasphotog

@P1Gunter I think WFAA got a super-sweet deal for that space...I heard that they're getting it for way under retail for a similar space.


Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

@WylieH Yep, if not for a bunch of greased palms in certain districts, this thing would have been voted down. It was a catastrophe from the beginning, and throwing $2 million more isn't going to change it.


As far as economic stimulation, these projects don't stimulate anything, they just move the money around. Even as chunks of Oak Cliff, Oak Lawn and other in-city districts heat up, there are vast swathes of North Dallas, Far North Dallas and the 'burbs  that I remember as being pretty tony when I was a kid that are starting to look like Falujah. But hey, as long as somebody gets their TIF, it's all good, right?

kduble
kduble

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  I'm reading some really strong opinions here, but they're not well informed. Victory and Love Field are distinct issues that really have nothing to do with each other. So, I'll address them separately:

Victory

The developers didn't force DART to build the light rail line next to Stemmons. The TRE has served that corridor since 1996. American Airlines Center didn't open until 2001. Once AAC construction was underway, the TRE agreed to stop the train to serve AAC patrons. That's why the platform is where it is.

The reason the Green and Orange lines stop where they do is because they share the same right-of-way as the TRE. But, wasn't the LRT supposed to stop on the east side of the AAC, you ask? Well, what you're describing is D-2. This is the second proposed LRT line that is supposed to serve the AAC. The reason it doesn't isn't because of the AAC or its builder, Ross Perot Jr. The reason is because DART has yet to build the line. The reason DART has yet to build the line is because it doesn't have the money. When it does build the line, however, it is still supposed to have a station on the opposite side of Victory, so nothing has changed. Here it is, you can see for yourself:

http://www.dart.org/about/expansion/downtowndallasmaps.asp


What is dead now is running the LRT on Houston Street. The city had to make a decision about how wide to build the street. DART wanted it built wide so as to keep open the option of running the LRT along Houston, on the opposite (east) side of the AAC. Both DART and some city council members wanted this option kept open, but it would have made the widening project more expensive, and with no guarantee DART would even run the LRT on the widened street.

In this fight, Ross Perot Jr could have indeed been a tie-breaker, but he kept out of it. And why not? The alternate proposal, the one that's currently in play, has a station to the southeast of AAC, which is just a short walk. This would have met the needs of AAC perfectly well, so why expend political capital fighting for widening Houston?


Love Field

I attended the hearings on this, so I know what was involved. Nobody, and I mean nobody, opposed running the Green and Orange lines underneath Love Field to connect directly with the terminal. In fact, the Dallas City Council wanted this very badly. The problem is, this adds radically to the cost of the project, so it would have further delayed expansion of the lines to suburban cities.

The consensus opinion on the DART board has tended to be that, if something is going to benefit only Dallas, and none of the other 13-member cities, than Dallas needs to bring some money to the table to pay for the difference. Dallas didn't have the money, just like it doesn't have the money to tunnel D2 under Union Station -- to link with potential high-speed-rail -- and under the Omni Hotel. Dallas wants these assets, yet it offers no money to pay for them. That's why we have lousy Love Field access. It was an issue of money, nothing else.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul If you have never taken the rail to a Mavs or Stars game you are missing out (I assume it's the same for concerts). Compared to $20 to park a car and a 6 block walk to the arena, you can drop $5 for a round trip that drops you off a hundred feet in front of the arena. It is fucking awesome.

WylieH
WylieH

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Even more bizarre, is that the developers had enough political stroke so as to make the station virtually inaccessible.   Imagine if they had used their political muscle to implement smart urban design solutions (which would have actually increased the likelihood of financial success).

BushwoodSmithie
BushwoodSmithie

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul

DART = irrelevant. So few people ride it that it just doesn't matter. If the folks in the service area had gotten to keep the billions in tax dollars wasted on DART then it would have had a much more positive effect on the local economy, and thus on development.

"I guess that it was the same thinking that lead to their not being a DART station at Love Field."

Wrong again. DART wanted a Love Field station. But the feds said no because the cost efficiency was too low. And DART needed the $700 million (hijacked from the highway trust fund) to build the green line.


scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@kduble @kgregorymua There's plenty of parking now, it's just expensive.  The concrete-scape IS a problem, but that be fixed


mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@kduble @kgregorymua 

ignoring the reality of the marketplace in which the development is situated is what contributed to the previous failure of the project.

people use cars to get around in DFW, these cars must be accomodated for there to be a successful project going forward.

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

The point is you don't save money.  And if a lot of people agreed with you they wouldn't have to keep hiking the price up and up.  Packed trains is only a few hundred people.  AAC holds 20k people on a sellout.  On it's best day I would say 10% take the dart. 

AND if a game ends at 10-11pm, once you leave the the victory park area there is no traffic on 75, tollway, 30, woodall rogers, or 35.  Ofcourse, DART only runs along one of those anyway.

timdickey
timdickey

@kduble @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul I was in those meetings, too, (Northwest Line Community Work Group) and I distinctly remember DART's staff/consultants telling us a tunnel was a "no go" for the reasons you mention. The consolation they offered was that there would be a convenient Love Field shuttle/connector built at a nearby LIght Rail stop. Well, now the money for that ($30 million?) has been "reprogrammed" to the Oak Cliff trolley. So much for bullshit promises by bureaucrats, many of whom have now moved on. Meanwhile, we've got no tunnel to Love, no shuttle, nothing, and the Orange LIne to D/FW opens in 14 months, with no connector to Love Field.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@kduble @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul You actually make one very salient point. Almost every DART member city that isn't Dallas feels screwed (well, Richardson and Plano got there line too really early). It would appear from the outside that DART's goal is to give those upset cities rail service ASAP so as to prevent them opting out.

DART has been around as long as I can remember (I'm 31) but the rail thing is fairly new. When I was in high school it was basically just bus transit (I think it was the blue line only). They are building out as fast as they can, but it costs a lot of money to build the lines, let alone acquire the land. And god forbid you have to build a tunnel like they did on the blue line from Mockingbird to Cityplace to Pearl.....that cost a damn fortune.

This region isn't quite mass transit ready, but it's getting there. The TRE is fantastic, and if Denton would ever get their shit together on hours the A train would be too. You can get to most every immediate suburb by rail. It's getting there. This is a long process that involves a lot of people, but compared to when I was a kid we have gone lightyears with this thing.

dallas_dude
dallas_dude

1) Parking is generally $10 and $5 if you are willing to park some where other than in the arena parking lots.

2) You are using the failed logic that 4 people would each take 4 cars.  DART is structured so if more than one person is traveling, it doesn't make sense to take the train.  4 people = 4 day passes = $20 bucks.  Why would you do that?  Take one car, pay $10 to park and leave when you want.  How many people go to events alone?

SCamp
SCamp

Perot used all his stroke to get the DART rail moved to where it is. 1st plan would have run thru his land, leaving lees to be developed.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@mavdog @kduble @kgregorymua  Yes, D/FW is (sadly) built for cars, though in Dallas that is slowly changing. The DART rail will seriously drop you off 100 ft from the AAC. If you insist on driving, drive to a DART rail station. We don't need more parking, we need people to figure out the convenience of DART rail and realize that odds are at this point in time, there is probably a station near you.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@dallas_dude To any rational person, time is worth money. Driving down there on a gameday is a beating, finding a parking spot is a beating, and then you have to walk from said parking spot to the AAC. Unless you have a platinum parking pass (which I have had and drove) it is just easier and cheaper to drive to Mockingbird Station and hop a train.

kduble
kduble

@P1Gunter @kduble @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul The tunnel serves the red and orange lines as well, not just the blue.

I'm glad you like the TRE, but "fantastic" is a little strong for a route that goes right past the south entrance of DFW Airport without serving it directly and doesn't operate on Sundays and holidays. It's hard to base economic development on a train that doesn't run every day.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@dallas_dude Yes DD, Dart is expensive, my kids would love to take it everywhere, but at $25 for the three of them and the Mrs, that's expensive. 

Dub919
Dub919

@dallas_dude If you're coming from Plano, that's a screamin' deal for 4 adults.  No dealing with traffic & parking, and you can drink to without worry of a DUI (or, worse).

kduble
kduble

@SCampWrong. The TRE has operated since 1996 on abandoned freight right-of-way, which was before the AAC was even conceived. The AAC didn't even open until 2001. Perot could have built the AAC adjacent to the stop had he wanted to. There will eventually be another station southwest of the AAC as part of the second downtown track, known as D-2.

http://www.dart.org/about/expansion/downtowndallasmaps.asp

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