Representative for Dallas Eagle talking to neighbors to try and ease concerns over plans for new building
The Stemmons Corridor Business Association has joined a group of neighbors in opposing the planned relocation of the Dallas Eagle to a new building near the bar’s current site.
Robert H. Todd, immediate past chairman of the business association, wrote a letter on May 3 to Betty Culbreath, chairwoman of the Dallas City Plan Commission, opposing the Eagle’s application for a special use permit for an alcoholic beverage establishment on the north corner of Inwood and Maple streets. The area is currently zoned for industrial research.
Todd said in the letter he had concerns about the impact of nightclubs on economic development in the area.
“The immediate area is undergoing a transformation into residential housing that will serve the Southwestern Medical District and the Stemmons Corridor,” said Todd, who is a broker and partner in City Realty Group. “It is vital that this positive economic development not be hindered by proliferation of bars, lounges or taverns.”
In the past the group has successfully fought against sexually oriented businesses such as bath houses, spas, massage parlors and gentlemen’s clubs, according to its website.
The current chairman of the Stemmons Corridor Business Association is Dave Neumann, who is also a member of the Dallas Plan Commission. He is an appointee of Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Elba Garcia, who is viewed as gay-friendly, but Neumann reportedly is a conservative who is considering a challenge against gay City Council member Ed Oakley in District 3.
Neumann, who is President and CEO of women’s apparel company F.L. Malik, said in an e-mail he planned to meet with the Dallas Eagle’s representative to discuss the application. He referred questions about the Stemmons Corridor Business Association’s position to Todd, who did not return a telephone message left on his office voice mail.
The city staff has recommended that the special use permit be granted. The Dallas Eagle has operated for 13 years. The Plan Commission will consider the bar’s application on May 18.
Ryan Bibb, a business consultant for the Dallas Eagle, said he is talking with the neighbors who oppose the bar’s relocation in an effort to resolve their concerns.
“They have some concerns about the possibility the bar will maintain its existing site and move into a new building that is being built and have two bars on the same site,” Bibb said. “They don’t want that.”
The owners of the Dallas Eagle hope to move the nightclub to a new stand-alone building that the property owner plans to build, Bibb said.
There is no intention to operate at both locations, he said. But Bibb said the neighbors also have concerns about how the bar is operated.
“Unfortunately, we are having to deal with some broad generalizations and misconceptions about the bar,” Bibb said. “There’s been a misconception that the bar is a source of illegal and illicit activity. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Nancy Feaster, a property owner and organizer of the coalition opposing the application, said in a brief interview that she represents both businesses and residents.
Bibb said several of the 15 commissioners appear to be supportive of the Dallas Eagle’s application.
Jeff Strater, a member of the Dallas Plan Commission, said there would be a public hearing to hear both the applicant and the opposition’s positions. Strater was appointed to his position by District 2 Council member Pauline Medrano, another gay-friendly politician whose district includes the site of the Dallas Eagle.
“That will be the basis on which the commission will vote and decide,” Strater said. “Such things as longevity and how many years they have been in business is certainly a factor. I can certainly see that 13 years of being in business is certainly something that we would look at.”
If the Dallas Plan Commission approves the zoning request, it must still receive approval by the Dallas City Council.
Bibb said the Stemmons Corridor Business Association is a powerful group. “There’s no doubt we’ve got a fight on our hands,” he said.
Dallas Eagle co-owner Matt Miller declined to comment about the opposition to his plans, and co-owner Mark Frazier did not return a telephone message.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 12, 2006.