Too little too late on Cedar Springs?
In re: “Cedar Springs group wants to reclaim strip” (Dallas Voice, Nov. 30).
I applaud this step in a positive direction. But I am afraid it may be too little too late.
Unfortunately I missed out on the area’s heyday while I was hiding in the closet. But I can tell you that what I feel and what I hear from many of my gay friends is that it’s to expensive to do business down there now. It’s as if the store owners have “bought” into the stereotype that all gays have lots of disposable income. But that isn’t anymore true than saying all gay men are sissy and girlie.
I understand that rent goes up, especially with the price that a lot of the homes in that area are now bringing. Maybe the business leaders in that area could form some sort of purchasing co-op that might be able to purchase a large portion of the commercial property in the area in order to try and keep rent to a more reasonable level.
Maybe they all ready do own the space and are just saddled with high taxes. Hey, we are a minority, too. Force the city to give us the same tax incentives they give other minorities to bolster business in their neighborhoods. Maybe then the merchants could keep the price of goods in the area more realistic.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great to have some high-end stores there. But it would also keep things more What’s the word? “eclectic” if there were also shops that kept things in the price range of the rest of us middle class homos.
Well that’s my two cents.
We have to take control
Not every gay person can afford to pay $800 to $2,100 per month on housing. So if people really want to help our community, let’s stop all this condo building and get back to apartments that the gay people can afford.
On my street alone, several apartment communities are gone now. Instead, there are townhouses and condos for sale that nobody can afford.
We have to stop the “get rich quick” developers from taking over. We have to take control and decide what we want in our community before we are all gone. Whatever happened to the people who started this community? Have they gotten tired of fighting for us? Or have we just given up?
Arthur Cook Sr.
Why should the gays care?
I’m writing this letter in response to the article titled “Cedar Springs group wants to reclaim strip,” which ran in the Nov. 30 issue of the Dallas Voice.
I suppose the problem is that I’m confused.
The title of the article and many of the merchants’ quotes seem to suggest that there’s a driving movement to “reclaim” the Oak Lawn area in general and the Cedar Springs strip in specific. However, my confusion originates from statements such as these:
– “The straight people are moving into this neighborhood, and they are not going to go away. We have to make this street more attractive and appealing to them by adding some more mainstream types of stores. If we don’t adapt to the people coming in, then they will push us out. If we are not family-friendly and neighbor-friendly, then they might see us as a negative element. And they will have the upper hand if they try to push us out.”
– “Our community is becoming very integrated into the community, into the city and into politics. Openly gay people can feel welcome in a lot of places now, like the West End and Deep Ellum and Addison.
So Cedar Springs has to be updated to fit in and the stores, even the [LGBT] clubs have to be more welcoming to a mainstream audience.”
If this new “reclamation” movement is about making Cedar Springs into another Addision or West Village, why should the gay community care whether it puts its money back into the area or not?
Dallas is nothing but “family-friendly” strip malls and shopping areas from one end of the Metroplex to the other. There was only one thriving “gayborhood” in the entire city, and now it appears to be fair game for the same wearying “blandification” process that’s made Dallas what it is today a never-ending buffet of chain stores and McCondos.
Gay villages are in decline nationally. From the Castro to the South End of Boston, everyone seems to have lost their appreciation for the valuable role these neighborhoods play in nurturing our community. It breaks my heart to see Cedar Springs languishing, but it raises my hackles when businesses see it as an opportunity to “diversify their portfolio” at the expense of their long-time supporters.
Don’t get me wrong. The merchants in Oak Lawn can’t survive unless the gay community continues to keep its money flowing into the area. We need to break this trend before it completely spirals to its inevitable conclusion a soulless, homogenized bubble of chain stores, overpriced housing and unaffordable eateries built on an economic base of sand. That destination is dangerously close as it stands.
The merchants along the Cedar Springs strip should be more than a little careful as they rush to embrace this brave, new plan they’ve envisioned. “Mainstream” Dallas society is notoriously trendy and fickle.
When our neighborhood bores them, they’ll pull up stakes and move on to the next fashionable locale that they intend to devour like locusts, leaving behind urban decay and bankrupt businesses where our community once flourished.
(Just a side note: My partner and I recently moved north to accept new jobs after we became fed up with Oak Lawn’s steady decline and the Texas Legislature’s sweet tooth for anti-gay, pro-theocracy laws. We held on as long as we could and waited for things to get better. But we couldn’t wait forever.)
Bring back the glory days
I really enjoyed the article on trying to bring back the glamour back to the strip on Cedar Springs (“Cedar Springs group wants to reclaim strip,” Dallas Voice, Nov. 30).
I am now a 47 year old, gay white male, and I remember how much fun the strip used to be, back in the 80s and early 90s.
I realize the neighborhood has drastically changed from being more gays, to being more Hispanics and straights. But I still live on Throckmorton near Maple Avenue, and I would like to see the old times return to the strip.
Maybe bringing more entertainers into the clubs would help. In the good old days, Boy George would perform at the Village Station. On New Years Eve of 2000, I went to see Judy Tenuta and Martha Wash perform on the strip.
But a lot of the old bars are gone, and a lot of the old shops have closed, or they have changed. There have been some big losses.
I just remember the days when the bars would have CD giveaways, Karaoke nights or drink specials to bring the people in. But gone are the days of “Beer Bust Sundays” and “10-cent drink nights.” It seems that the only two days that still rival the past, are the parade day and the Halloween street party. But changes to those two events would not hurt either.
And it seems that the shops only cater to the people who can afford to pay $70 for a shirt and $8 for a cup of coffee. And except for Hunky’s, some of the old standby restaurants are not the draw they used to be.
I do believe that something needs to be done, like putting more gay flags on the poles, lighting up the trees, keeping the streets and sidewalks cleaner, keeping the beggars and homeless people off the sidewalks and putting more police on the street on foot patrol.
But I see no need to update the strip with more straight-friendly places since that defeats the whole purpose of trying to bring back the fun on the strip, where you know you can be gay and be yourself. But taking the needed steps now, is a step in the right direction.
Make the neighborhood safe, fun again
In re: “Cedar Springs group wants to reclaim strip” (Dallas Voice, Nov. 30).
Finally someone is approaching this problem in the media.
I lived in the Oak Lawn area from 2000 to 2005, and I always had the time to hang out on Cedar Springs to have a drink and catch up with friends. Now, most of my friends and I either meet up in West Village or in Addison. The strip is just way too run down and ghetto.
Cedar Springs has definitely come along way since 2000, but it’s starting to go backwards. West Village is thriving with gays because it’s where you want to be seen. Young professionals sit in sidewalk diners enjoying food and drinks.
Cedar Springs really doesn’t have any of that, not to mention you probably would get mugged or shot sitting outside in that area.
In my opinion, if Cedar Springs is going to survive, the merchants and the city need to dress up or replace the sidewalks, add dressier streetlights along the walkway, and do other make it more appealing to the 30-somethings and 40-somethings. After all, we are the ones with all the money, not the twinks.
The neighborhood behind JR’s is really making a high dollar transition. It’s time that Cedar Springs catches up with that growth.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 7, 2007
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