Atmos construction on Cedar Springs begins Monday

The Cedar Springs Merchants Association reported that Atmos Energy’s street construction on Cedar Springs Road will begin on Monday, Oct. 17.

Association president Scott Whittall said that the work that was originally scheduled for two weeks and would not have been completed in time for the parade is now scheduled to be completed in two or three days.

“We have worked closely with Atmos to shorten the length of construction time,” Whittall said. 

Most of the parking on Cedar Springs Road between Reagan and Throckmorton streets will be blocked daily during construction times from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be available evenings and early mornings. CSMA is working to make sure signs are posted directing daytime customers to the parking back parking lots.

—  David Taffet

Utility work on Cedar Springs not expected to hurt business

CSMA announces schedule of fall events, including annual Christmas tree lighting in December

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STRONG SALES | Matthew Evans, the newest employee at Union Jack on Cedar Springs Road, saw his busiest day at the store during Pride weekend. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Utility work is scheduled to begin on Cedar Springs Road on Monday, Sept. 26, but should create minimal interruption to business on the street, business owners said this week.

When Atmos Energy first announced the work, all parking on the street was going to be affected for about two weeks. The original start date would have had the street torn up during the Pride parade.

After City Councilwoman Angela Hunt intervened, the work was postponed until after Pride, and the company agreed to do one section at a time.

Cedar Springs Merchants Association President Scott Whittall said this week that he doesn’t expect the work to interfere with business. Only a few parking spaces at a time should be disrupted, he said.

“They’re checking connections, not doing repairs,” he said, adding that it will be a “dig, check, fill back in” situation.

Work will begin on the Oak Lawn Avenue end of the street and proceed toward Douglas Avenue. All construction should be completed in time for fall events planned for the street.

Merchants this week reported strong business during Pride weekend, and they said they are looking for fall events to continue boosting sales.

Whittall.Scott
CSMA President Scott Whittall

“We really had a good weekend,” said Macho Nacho Assistant General Manager Brandi Knutzen. “We had fun and saw a lot of new faces.”

She said it was their biggest weekend since the restaurant opened in April, and she hopes many of the people who came in for the first time during Pride will return.

OutLines Manager David Lester said that business in his shop is up over last year. He said that in addition to events the Cedar Springs Merchants Association has planned, his store will decorate for Texas-OU weekend and will do a tent sale once a month.

“Overall, business is good,” he said.

Union Jack Manager Kim Johnson reported a similar boost in business over the Pride weekend. “It was one of the best we’ve had in a long time.”

Matthew Evans, the store’s newest employee, said it was the busiest weekend he’s seen.

Johnson said that rather than special promotions, he’s relying on new lines of jackets, shoes, accessories and “the works” that are scheduled to arrive for the fall.

One that hit the store recently is a line of Pan Am logo wallets, bags and related merchandise. The items are tied to the premiere of a new TV show about the airline set in the 1960s, and Johnson said sales of those items are especially strong.

Johnson also suggested that new stores opening on the street will help keep shoppers on Cedar Springs.

A hair care supply store is set to open in the old Shades of Gray space behind Hunky’s. And across from there, construction is close to complete on the new Thai-rrific restaurant that should open in October.

However, a coffee shop that had begun construction in the space between Thai-rrific and Macho Nacho abandoned its lease because of permit issues related to parking.

Events drive traffic to the gay strip, and CSMA announced a fall schedule of events through Christmas.

On Oct. 29, Cedar Springs Road will be closed to traffic for the annual Halloween street party, which, Whittall said, is traditionally one of the biggest times for sales along the street.

He said the best time to shop is after the street closes around 4 p.m.

The next sidewalk sale and mini art show is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 19, with artists  showing their work along the strip in conjunction with sales by many of the merchants. A lineup of local vendors in booths is planned as well.

DFW Rescue will be there looking for new homes for pets. Music on the street will add to the day’s festivities.

“That event kicks off the Christmas season on Cedar Springs,” Whittall said.

Two events are scheduled for the first week in December.

On Dec. 2, a holiday dinner theater at the Rose Room will benefit the Cedar Springs Beautification Project. Whittall said the lineup should be announced soon.

On Dec. 7, the DFW Sisters will light the Christmas tree on the patio of TMC: The Mining Company at 7 p.m. Whittall said they plan to have a bigger tree this year. And he hoped to have an announcement soon about additional lighting.

The Oak Lawn Band is slated to perform. The lighting will be followed by a cider and wine stroll. Sexy Santa will be on the street handing out gifts and carolers will perform.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Cedar Springs construction postponed

Cedar Springs Road

Earlier this week, merchants on Cedar Springs were told that traffic would be disrupted for two weeks because of installation of new gas pipes. That construction has been postponed until after Pride.

“Great news!” wrote Cedar Springs Merchants Association President Scott Whittall. “The street closure planned by Atmos Energy has been postponed to Sept. 26.”

The construction was to have closed two lanes of traffic and eliminated all street parking while work progressed. Instead, Whittall reported that the work will be done in sections so that parking will not be blocked for two weeks.

Calls to Councilwomen Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano made the difference, Whittall said. In addition to the loss of business during construction, merchants were worried that work would drag on longer than the announced two weeks and interfere with the Pride Parade on Sept. 18.

Whittall said that the delay gives merchants time to post signs warning of the closure and direct customers to alternate places to park. The closure should not affect evening or weekend business. Whittall said that weekday customers are used to parking in front of the businesses. He expects merchants along the street to offer “construction discounts” during the utility repairs.

—  David Taffet

According to HRC, you shouldn’t be renting movies at Blockbuster or drinking Dr. Pepper

A record number of companies are rated according to their LGBT-related employment policies in this year’s Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign, which was released Monday. Unlike in previous years, HRC has issued “unofficial” ratings for companies that didn’t respond to its survey. These unofficial ratings are based on publicly available information and information submitted to HRC by unofficial LGBT employee groups or individual employees. As a result, the CEI seems to present a more accurate portrait of workplace equality, because companies that know they’ll score well are more inclined to respond to HRC’s survey, and vice versa.

In North Texas, for example, a total of five companies now receive the lowest possible score of zero from HRC, meaning they don’t provide even the most basic protections, such as a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. North Texas-based companies that received a zero in this year’s CEI are ExxonMobil Corp. of Irving, Commercial Metals of Irving, Crosstex Energy Inc. of Dallas, Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas and Holly Corp. of Dallas.

Other notably low unofficial scores were given to Dallas-based Blockbuster (45), Plano-based Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (15)  and Fort Worth-based developer DR Horton Inc. (30).

Also of note, HRC docked Target, Best Buy and 3M 15 points each “for failing to respond to requests to take corrective actions following their sizable contributions to MN Forward, a political committee supporting the election of an anti-gay candidate for governor of Minnesota.”

Below is a full list of HRC-rated companies based in North Texas this year (companies are based in Dallas unless otherwise noted, unofficial scores shaded gray):

—  John Wright