Flashing lights won’t fix Cedar Springs’ No. 1 problem: Shabbiness

Community must work together to spiff up our strip, which wasn’t even included in Dallas’ ‘Complete Streets’ program until recently

Phyllis Guest
Taking Notes

Afriend and I went to a Jan. 12 meeting at the Round-Up Saloon, hosted by Dallas City Councilwomen Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano. The meeting was called to address the epidemic of pedestrian traffic accidents on Cedar Springs Road.

We listened to a city engineer, other city staff, a police officer and local businesspeople. The engineer showed us slides of Cedar Springs as it is and as the city proposed to change it in three stages.

If you read David Taffet’s article on Page 6 of the Jan. 27 issue of Dallas Voice, you know what’s proposed. And if you’ve been on Cedar Springs, you can’t have missed the most obvious change: yellow warning flashers, first at Knight Street, then at Reagan.

They are supposed to flash 24/7 for a month, then only when a pedestrian pushes the button to cross the street. However, when I left the Oak Lawn Library on Tuesday, Jan. 31, the flasher at Knight — just in front of the library and the corner of Ilume — was not flashing. Hmmm.

I also went to the Cedar Springs Merchant Association meeting Jan. 25. There, Paula Blackmon, chief of staff for Mayor Mike Rawlings, took questions and listened to comments during the first half of the meeting. I thought the most important point was made by Luke Crosland, ilume’s developer: The area generates $30 million a year in alcohol sales.

That’s a huge amount of revenue. With the next phase of ilume scheduled for development, and with more and more apartments replacing the area’s older homes, no doubt that revenue stream will grow.

In the second part of the meeting, CSMA Executive Director Scott Whittall spoke of the traffic study the city will conduct throughout February to help officials make more decisions about traffic problems and solutions. Whittall also announced a new campaign, online and presumably in print, to market “The Strip on Cedar Springs.” (Go to TinyUrl.com/8yb7uj8 to enter the logo design contest.)

Finally, after asking CSMA attendees to sign up for one of two committees, “traffic problems” or “taxi solutions,” Whittall announced a whole calendar of events for the remainder of 2012. All are geared to attract locals and visitors to The Strip.

Sounds good.

And if more crosswalk lights, pedestrian signs and police patrols will keep people from being run down, that certainly is good.

But changing the behavior of pedestrians and drivers is not the main problem.

The main problem is shabbiness.

Drive slowly up and down Cedar Springs as I did on Tuesday at midday.

Look at the very different storefronts, the very disparate signage.

Look at the street, cracked and torn and unevenly marked.

Look at the sidewalks, also cracked and torn. In some places, curbs are high, in other places low, in still others slanted to accommodate the disabled. Holes as big as a boot are everywhere. Round metal whatevers are inserted along portions of the sidewalk holding what look like tall twigs. Even if the twigs spring to life next month, they will still look weird.

This is a major “entertainment district” in a major American city? This is our answer to Manhattan’s Great White Way or Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade?

Our area was not even included in Dallas’ Complete Streets planning. In fact, I had never heard of “Complete Streets” until it appeared on the city’s handout of short-term, medium-term, and long-term Cedar Springs Pedestrian Safety Improvements. On the handout, as you might guess, it was No. 12, a long-term option to “Review area for Complete Street design.”

Check out www.dallascompletestreets.com. You’ll see that nine areas have already been selected for attention and investment, apparently by city staff or consultants. You’ll also see a list of workshops held this past November and December, none in our area and none advertised in the Dallas Voice.

How do we get from shabby to spiffy? We talk to the Dallas City Council, we talk to the Cedar Springs Merchant Association, we talk to the Dallas Complete Streets planners, and we talk to one another. Perhaps we organize the equivalent of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, which works on conserving what’s best and reworking what’s not.

Today. We can start today. Each of us can make one phone call or write one email, and make one post on Facebook or Twitter.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and is a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. Send comments to editor@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

ilume for sale — presumably to raise equity for second phase of Cedar Springs development

An artist’s rendering of ilume when it was in the planning stages

The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday that the ilume building on Cedar Springs Road is for sale. A brief story in the newspaper mentioned this fact without much supporting information, merely that another company had it listed for sale.

This would be surprising, though there may be an explanation. On Wednesday night, I spoke with Luke Crosland, owner of the property. Crosland has long promised Phase II of the ilume development, slotted to go up on the lot catty corner from the current building (across Wycliff from the Kroger).

Crosland told me that they would be breaking ground “soon” on the new development. I had previously heard as early as May. Crosland said he was in the process of arranging the equity financing — in the more than $100 million range — for a series of ilume developments across the country. Perhaps sale of the building is part of the package raising that equity?

We have left messages with Crosland seeking more info and will update this post as soon as we have more information.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

N. Texas GLBT Chamber marks 6th anniversary

CHAMBER HONORS | Dinner chair Lorie Burch, left, presents awards Fashion Optical owner Morgan Metcalf with the GLBT Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year award. (Courtesy Terry Walker/563 Photography)

Fashion Optical named business of the year; Bob McCranie of Texas Pride Realty wins businessperson of the year for 2010-11

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Fashion Optical was named business of the year and Bob McCrainie of Texas Pride Realty was recognized as businessperson of the year by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce.

On Wednesday, March 30, several hundred members of the chamber attended the sixth anniversary dinner and awards presentation at the Adolphus Hotel in Downtown Dallas.

Fashion Optical was cited for turning a discount eyewear store into the largest optical store in North Texas.

Morgan Metcalf said he turned the store that was doing about $350,000 annually into an almost $2 million operation in about two years.

“We have the look of luxury at reasonable price points,” he said.

Metcalf spoke about having been bullied in high school and by his father and said that was actually his motivation for success.

“I love being underestimated,” he said.

McCranie was recognized for his work locally with the Carrollton Project, an LGBT outreach project in the northern suburbs, for his evergreen award for promoting environmental issues and for his work nationally. McCranie was instrumental in getting sexual orientation added to the Realtors’ code of ethics.

J.T. Williams was named Emerging Leader for the success of his company, Uptown Capital Title, and for his work in the community. He is treasurer of Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats and volunteers with and raises money for Legacy Counseling Center and Lambda Legal.

Luke Crosland, developer of ilume on Cedar Springs Road, received a double award, the first time the chamber has given two awards to one company in the same year.

The ExtrAA Mile Award and the Member Service Award went to the developer for his commitment to the community and his contributions to the chamber.

“From the start, he made it clear they [ilume] would be part of the GLBT community,” said Lorie Birch, the dinner chair and presenter.

The company donates office space to the chamber as well as separate meeting space for the chamber and other groups.

Raytheon, recipient of the Corporate Ally Award, is “a great partner in the chamber,” said Chamber President Tony Vedda.

“The sponsored the Emerging Leader Award,” he said. “They sponsor a membership for Youth First Texas. They supply us with volunteers. Raytheon has a wonderful track record of diversity and inclusion.”

He said that Raytheon won’t sell more missile guidance systems because of company employment policies and support for the LGBT community.

Raytheon was the first aerospace company to score 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. Alice Walker, who heads the company’s LGBT employee group, gave credit for that to Louise Young.

Vedda gave the Chairman’s Awards to Jamie Sloan of the UPS Store Highland Park and Christopher Walthall, owner of Aneita Fern.

Chamber member Candy Marcum called Sloan a tireless ambassador for the community. Sloan has chaired the chamber’s membership and fundraising committees.

Vedda said that when ilume offered the chamber office space, he called Walthall about donating some furniture. Vedda said he hoped for a desk and a chair. Instead, Walthall fully outfitted the office with Stickley furniture, artwork and accessories.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

Fin Sushi Lounge ready to roll at ilume


After noticing a post on Twitter from ilume saying that the long-awaited Fin Sushi Lounge plans to open this week, we put in a call to Luke Crosland of developer The Crosland Group, and even made a site visit during the lunch hour to investigate. (Yes, we go to great lengths to bring you the news.)

The above pic was the only payoff from our visit (aside from multiple Foursquare check-ins), and Crosland called back to say he’s been out of town and didn’t have a lot of details but is working to put us in touch with the appropriate people.

“I know he’s racing to get open, and waiting on the city of Dallas’ people to come out there and do their final inspection,” Crosland said. “It is a spectacular space.”

Fin Sushi Lounge has previously been described as a signature restaurant from the owners of Sushi Axiom, which has four locations in the Metroplex.

Crosland also said ilume has agreed to a lease with Onyx Nail Bar, a salon that will open in February and offer “quality pampering” right next door to Dish. But he said he wanted to hold off on a couple of other retail announcements.

“We have some real interesting things that we’ll be calling you on soon,” he said.

Crosland said residential units at ilume are nearly all leased and The Crosland Group is working to obtain financing for ilume TOO, which is planned at the site of the old Douglas Park and 4242 Cedar Springs complexes across the way.

“Leasing has just been great, and retention is great,” Crosland said. “People really love living there. We’re well above 90 percent leased. … In this economy, it took longer to get the restaurants done than normal, but we didn’t want to accept just anyone. We were very careful on how we did our mix of restaurants because we wanted to have the best of the best, and we’re getting there.”

We’ll update with more details as soon as we get them.

—  John Wright

Beyond the Box to become pizzeria; developer says closure not a sign that ilume is struggling

Owner Doug Brown is shown inside Beyond the Box on the day it opened in early December.

Beyond the Box, an upscale deli/restaurant/convenience store that was one of three retailers at ilume on Cedar Springs, closed last week about eight months after opening.

Luke Crosland, chairman and CEO of ilume developer the Crosland Group, said Beyond the Box likely will be replaced in the near future by a “unique pizzeria.”

Beyond the Box just wasn’t the right fit, Crosland said, and the closure shouldn’t be viewed as any indication that the posh mixed-use development is struggling.

“I want to be positive about it because [Beyond the Box owner] Doug [Brown] is a great chef, and he’s the executive chef at Dish,” Crosland said.

“We’re going to use most of the items in the restaurant, and I think we’re going to have a better-for-the-neighborhood operation,” he added. “When you’ve got Kroger across the street, and you don’t have to drive, maybe the idea of having prepared food rather than served food was not the right component.”

Crosland said a sushi lounge is slated to open at ilume sometime in September. Also in the works are a restaurant from the executive chef at Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M.; and a salon/nail and facial spa.

Crosland said residential units at ilume are now 90 percent occupied, with only about 29 units remaining.

“We’re doing extremely well,” he said. “I’m real excited about the formula we’ve got there.”

The Crosland Group also plans another development, ilume TOO, across Cedar Springs at the site of the old Douglas Park and 4242 Cedar Springs apartments. Crosland said the company is working to obtain financing for ilume TOO.

—  John Wright