Judge Restrains City from Issuing Building Permits for Cityplace Development

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Trammell Crow
Still talking about this place? Still talking about this place.
District Judge Emily Tobolowsky issued an order Friday blocking, at least for now, developer Trammell Crow's plan to build a 130,000-square-foot Sam's Club in Cityplace, just north downtown.

Residents in the neighborhood near Haskell Avenue and Central Expressway won a temporary restraining order that prevents the city from issuing building permits for the East Village retail development that includes the warehouse store. They'll be back in court in two weeks to seek an injunction that would put the project on hold until a trial decides the zoning issue.

Members of the East Village Association, a group representing area residents, claim Trammell Crow misled them about the company's plans for the project, and neighbors weren't aware of the Sam's Club until not long before the Dallas Plan Commission was set to approve the company's development plan. Neighbors say they expected something similar to West Village across the freeway, with smaller retail shops and restaurants.

"It's not over yet," Anthony Ricciardelli, the East Village Association's attorney said, "but I'm very excited about this ruling."

He praised the judge for preserving the status quo in the face of what he called an unlawful notification of the proposed zoning changes.

Residents from the area filled the plaintiffs' half of the courtroom, most sporting "No Big Box" buttons. They provided the lightest moment of the hearing, which lasted well into the afternoon, when they broke out in laughter after Trammell Crow's lawyer, Jay Madrid, said that the Sam's Club would be an enhancement to the neighborhood.

Members of the association were resolute after the hearing.

"This is good but it's temporary," Anthony Johnson, one of the organizations officers, "it's step one of a much longer battle."

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37 comments
MikeO
MikeO

I'd rather see a Lowes built there. The Sam's at NW Hwy and Skillman serves me just fine. The nearest Lowes to East Dallas is either at Jupiter and NW Hwy or at Town East. Home Depot stinks.

I would put the Sam's Club somewhere just south of downtown, near the Southside Lofts, if you ask me. That would help the southern sector and downtown.

But finally, what the hell is the "East Village" and when did it become a neighborhood? I've lived in East Dallas/Lakewood for 30 years and this dust up is the very first that I've every heard of it.

And I'm sorry, but if you can't walk (what a joke) over to the over-priced boutique stores and restaurants at the "West Village", tough. We need another Lucky Jeans store like we need a collective hole in our heads! 

tgtg999
tgtg999

There is already a Target in that area (or at least there was) so I guess Target is not a Big Box?  Get a life people and stop wasting everyone's time and making lawyers more money for something that will eventually happen.  

terrible_swift_sword
terrible_swift_sword

Just one more example of City arrogance. They have forgotten they serve (and are paid by) the People, not Trammell Cow.

maryjane3307
maryjane3307

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Subnx
Subnx

I work downtown and a Sam's Club that close would be very useful. Little overpriced trendy shops are terrible.

reneevirdiasy
reneevirdiasy

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try here...

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WylieH
WylieH

Doesn't anyone remember the City Council dropping the hammer on big box retail next to existing residential communities in 2004?  The City decided, then, that such uses would only be allowed via an SUP process.  Here is some of the language from the ordinance that was adopted at that time:



SEC. 51-4.605. DESIGN STANDARDS.
(a) Design standards for large retail uses.
(1) Purpose. Large retail uses often have negative impacts on
community aesthetics, the environment, mass transit, pedestrian
circulation, the scale and rhythm of streetscapes, traffic, and urban
sprawl.
These design standards are intended to ensure that large retail
uses are compatible with the surrounding area and mitigate the negative
impact of large retail uses while allowing creativity, flexibility, and
variety in design. These design standards are also intended to make
adaptive reuse of large retail spaces possible. 

(2) Applicability. 

(A) These design standards apply to the following uses built after
October 27, 2004 and the following existing uses expanded to 100,000
square feet or more:
(i) Retail stores other than listed uses of 100,000 square feet or more.
(ii) Retail food store uses of 100,000 square feet or more.
(iii) Furniture store uses of 100,000 square feet or more.
(iv) Home improvement center uses of 100,000 square feet or more.

It really is seeming increasingly as if City staff teemed up with the developers to do an "end run" around the express will of City Council and the City Plan Commission.  Via an ordinance adopted after extensive debate, the Council banned all big box retail except via SUP, and only then subject to heightened design standards.  What then gives City staff the right to slip an exemption to this ordinance into a new ordinance, without mentioning it ANYWHERE in the public notice or the City staff report?  Even worse, they put it on the consent agenda... which is reserved for routine matters.

This feels more and more like another version of the Uber scandal.

andypandy
andypandy

So the problem wasn't an increase in traffic, congestion, or unsafe streets due to a new shopping center but instead a dislike of Sam's Club?  What if it had been a giant Williams Sonoma outlet with a Banana Republic and Starbucks... would there be the same outrage?


A temporary restraining order isn't really so much of a ruling as a maintaining of the status quo until there is a ruling.

Gangy
Gangy

We had a strong case, excellent attorneys, and a fair and skillful judge.

raymondmcrawford
raymondmcrawford

Hooray! We may need that attorney here in Oak Cliff for the Dallas Executive Airport "situation".

James080
James080

@terrible_swift_sword 

Since when?

If you want city government to work for you, you have to own someone in authority (or be related to them).

You either have to regularly give wads of cash to an elected councilperson, or dangle a lucrative retirement job to a staff member with some degree of authority or the ability to bury something on the consent agenda.

WylieH
WylieH

@Subnx Who said anything about "little overpriced trendy shops?"  The issue at hand is that this is an extremely poorly designed shopping center plan anchored by big box retail, which the City has previously determined has the potential to create severely negative neighborhood impacts.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@Subnx How are you supposed to fit 2 gallons of mayo, 36 rolls of tp, and 20 lbs or frozen chicken into a 600 sf apartment?

Besides, there's a Sams and Walmart on NW Hwy not 5 minutes away from the site. In car dependent Dallas, that's like walking across the street.


OxbowIncident
OxbowIncident

@Subnx Seems like it would make sense to put a Sam's Club downtown. Hmmm... I wonder why CRBE Trammel Crow & Sam's are not pushing for that?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@WylieH How often do you wake up next to a horse's head?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@WylieH

It has become a crude slight of hand.  A lousy magic act.  And Staff is getting worse and worse at it because there is no downside when they are caught.

It's just so in our faces now.  They only have to go through the motions. The sunshine doesn't kill this scum.

So it comes to the Council for ultimate action, and that's gotten scary too since they are a rubber stamp.  When I read the comments by the elected representative I thought "whoo man, what a moron".  But he's the final block.  He has no knowledge of the process.  He only lips plaintively about how concerned he is if it doesn't work out.

Which is what you indicate they thought in the 2004 modification of the ordinance.  It's like a Groundhog Day.  No knowledge of history so it repeats.

The bottom line is that Crow did not ask for this because they would not have gotten it had they been up front about it.  So they hired riffed and retired "staff" (two-bit shitasses) to punch it through, and everyone laughs and floats hand signals at the public meeting.  It's that rude now.

And this is supposed to be Big City governance.  Yeah.  Sweet home Chicago.

Just build it out of wood and paint it red.  For it is a loud monument on Central to the kind of government we deserve.

dominicide1
dominicide1

It's really odd, I reside downtown as well, going on twelve years, and I hear things like, "what we need is a Best Buy," all the time. I suspect these are suburbanites that move DT for the wrong reasons. 

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

@rt: only once. If you don't get the message the first time, the second time it is you who does not awake.

fred.garvin.mp.713
fred.garvin.mp.713

"No knowledge of history so it repeats" is exactly what I was thinking when I read the story.

That is the City Council's major malfunction. The right hand doesn't ever seem to know what the left hand is doing (or to forget what it agreed to), which gives opportunity for special interests to exploit for their gain.

This is true for this land deal, the Yellow Cab fiasco (Yellow Cab pushes restrictive ordinances through, and no one notices that YC does not comply at all), for the fracking-in-parks deal, etc. It's as if the ordinances council passes are just for the viewing audience.

Oddly, though, the one thing the council has stuck doggedly to for 15 + years is the one thing that will fail: the Trinity Toll Road.

jmckee3
jmckee3

@holmantx Big box is, just the box can only be under 100,000 sqft which is a pretty damn big box. Not as big as most Sam's but still hardly what you would call a walkable urban development.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@dominicide1 How often do you need to buy a tv? Best Buy has free delivery anyway. 

What the neighborhoods need are what has been taken away. There used to be hardware stores. True Value and Ace. That's what walkable neighborhoods need. A place to get a hammer or screwdriver or washer (the little round thing, not the machine) without wandering around some huge place. Service businesses like tailors and cleaners. Little places you can get in and out of quickly. I hate having to go wander around these huge stores and end up not finding what I need anyway because they have a ton of shit but no selection. A candy store. A card shop. A gift shop. An ice cream parlor. Stuff that you'd walk by and pop in. Not some huge parking lot. You can't create walkable neighborhoods if you build airplane hangers surrounded by concrete.

Subnx
Subnx

I hate walkable urban developments and they don't belong next to a freeway.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@jmckee3 @holmantx


I'm gonna try this again. CROW DID NOT ASK FOR A BIG BOX.  They requested just the opposite.

Had they asked for a Sam's or some other bloated single tenant use, they would have been laughed off the block.

Read the friggin' application they put forward to the neighbors, the neighborhood, the Plan Commission, and the town.

They lied.

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

@Montemalone @dominicide1 The problem is that the small stores aren't able to make a living anymore without being a mid to high end specialist of some sort.  The small hardware stores have been consumed by Lowes and Home Depot.  There used to be an Ace Hardware in DeSoto but they were closed by their parent.  Elliots survives with their fixture business.  WalMart and Dollar General have consumed the other retail markets.

jmckee3
jmckee3

@holmantx No, they asked for a big box zoning, what they suggested to naive residents was they weren't building big boxes.

WylieH
WylieH

@jmckee3 @holmantx It wasn't just what they suggested to naive residents... it is what they stated in the notice of public hearing and the zoning application.  One had to actually read the enabling ordinance at the end to discover that the description they had provided was false.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@jmckee3 @holmantx

No

they 

didn't.

Read the 30-page application.

Read PRECISELY what "Staff" conditionally recommended.

forget the two sentences on p. 10.

Grant what, and only what, they asked for. 

They also violated the plain language requirement  in the Public Notice to the neighbors, the neighborhood, and the Public.

They lied.

Staff lied.

and the City cheated us fair and square, right?

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