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Aug 23, 2007

Comments

Michael Mosteller

I can go either way on Emerald Isle. Part of me is glad it is dead because I don't want these kind of developments around the lake. Most residents (Aren excluded) didn't want this thing as it originally stood. People can claim it wouldn't have opened the floodgates but I just don't buy it. Look at the teardowns all around us for further proof of what happens when developers go unchecked. Add to that, with how the market has turned, I just don't buy that they could find enough people who wanted to pay that much to live off Garland Road, given the traffic problems, lack of high end shopping in close proximity, and being close to undesirable areas. So we could've possibly had a half full building with giant for sale signs on it for years to come. Part of the problem with this proposal was the way it was presented. They tried to sell it as the "next West Village". Well, I really didn't want another West Village especially near where I live. This is a neighborhood. People like to live hear because it is quiet, peaceful, and near a great place to get in touch with nature. Besides, Casa Linda is struggling as it is to find decent tenants and doesn't need anymore competition. I hope AmREIT can find some good tenants but I am not holding my breath. Their page discussing renovations hasn't been updated all summer.

On the flip side, losing out on Emerald Isle hurts. This area needs a shot in the arm. Why a scaled back version was so terrible to some is a little hard to understand. This area needs something to prove to businesses that we are a viable area. I don't see why they can't see it now? I go to Casa Linda Plaza, it is always packed. Starbucks, packed. Petsmart, packed. Alberstons, packed. El Fenix, packed. I know I sound like a broken record but to me, this is why the Alamo Drafthouse deal falling through at the Casa Linda Theater was so tragic. We had the opportunity to have a real draw for the area, something to show the area was desirable to companies. A company not from Dallas was going to put their first entry into the highly competitive Dallas market in our area. That says something. It just seems like this area keeps missing opportunities time and time again.

ceemac

Rick,

Your post has a critique of Garland Road. The idea that "We have to do something about Garland Road" has been a common thread in most of the articles and comments related to Emerald Isle over that last few years. I'm getting tired of it. I live in Little Forest Hills so a bit of Garland Rd is sort of part of my neighborhood. And there is not a thing wrong with the businesses along that stretch of GR. Many of them have been there a long time. I don't think any of them are crime magnets. I assume they pay their taxes on time. And there aren't many vacancies as far as I can tell. What is it you folks want done with "MY" neighborhood.

Rick Wamre

I believe what I said about Garland Road was: "some of which truly does need some new energy." This wasn't intended to be an indictment of what's there, but a commentary that all of the space isn't filled and a question about which direction to go to fill it. For example, the old auto parts-then-dollar-store-now-vacant space next to Sonic — that has been sitting vacant for quite awhile now. There are a few other retail spaces empty, too, and an office space or two that have been "leasing" for quite awhile. The question to be answered is: What should be going into these spaces next? Are you satisfied with another dollar store or maybe another tattoo parlor or perhaps an auto body shop? I don't have the answer, nor am I offering one. But some type of vision, even if the vision is no vision at all, needs to be articulated before the next Emerald Isle-type project comes along, or this whole rollercoaster ride will begin again. And that type of vision can only come from the neighborhood.

ceemac

Rick,

Sorry for misreading you and perhaps over reacting. But you hit a hot button.

I'll ramble a bit and hopefully respond to your questions.

I am ok with another tattoo parlor. I don't have a tattoo nor am I likely to ever get one. But I'd rather have a tattoo parlor than an Eatzi's, Chipotle, La' Madelaine sort of thing.

I don't think you could fit an auto shop into any of the existing buildings. But if you could I would not be opposed to one.

But what's really important to me is that the owner of any new business in the Little Forest Hills section of Garland Rd live in one of the older homes in LFH and be committed to the neighborhood.

As far as the Dollar store. I miss it. It was great for buying household items that I would otherwise buy at Walmart. It was like a convenience store with out convenience store prices. For example, I need to get a new waste basket and a new bath mat. Dollar store would be a great place to get those most anytime of day. You could be in and out in 10 minutes. But now I need to figure out a time when I can get to Walmart some weekday morning when it is not crowded. But I definately don't want a fancy "bathroom store" in the neighborhood.

And I know what I'd like to see done with the EI property. If the buildings are structurally sound, I'd like to see them slightly renovated into a set of combo artists residences/studios/shops. A developer might not get rich but I bet it could make money. But I don't live on that side of Garland Rd. and so I think I should have limited say. The key voice in what happens with the EI property should be the residents of the EI neighborhood. The recent high rise discussion should have ended the day that the EI Neighborhood Assoc. voted against it.

It occurs to me that the Highlands Cafe in Lake Highlands is a great example of a place that is a great fit for a neighborhood. It is a great place and seems to be perfect for LH. It's run by LH folks. But I would not want to see a clone of it in the LFH section of Garland Rd. It's not scruffy enough.

Rick Wamre

Yes, clearly you have a vision for the Garland Road corridor, and that's the place to start. Now, in my humble opinion, if you want to cut the next Emerald Isle off at the pass, you need to do two things:

1) Get together with enough like-minded neighbors and come up with some type of generalized master-plan for the area. It doesn't have to be formal (to start with), but it needs to be specific enough for someone else to see you have a plan.

2) Collectively get in front of Sheffie Kadane, your council rep, and Bob Weiss, our area's plan commission rep appointed by Sheffie, and tell them your plan; then ask them what you have to do to make it part of the city's zoning plan. Then do what they say and try to have your plan become part of the permanent zoning record.

Start down this path, and you're going to stir up some resentment, but you'll also stir up some ideas, and if you keep at it, a consensus will emerge and something permanent can be done. Sit around with the idea in your head but do nothing, and you'll be taking your chances. As I said before, there will be another Emerald Isle-type project at some point, and your chances of coming out on the winning side next time are going to be exponentially worse than this time because I can guarantee you the developers and politicians learned their lessons from this one, and they'll have a different and better game plan next time.

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