March 20 gala planned to benefit Cedar Springs renovation effort; CSMA looking for donations for live, silent auctions
The Cedar Springs Merchants Association hopes its upcoming Cedar Springs Beautification Benefit and Gala will get money rolling in to help fund improvements to the strip of clubs, shops and restaurants at the heart of Dallas’ gayborhood.
"This won’t be our only fundraiser. It’s not our first; we had a raffle last year," said Scott Whittall, CSMA president. "But we need this event to bring in some decent money. We need to get a lot of cash in our coffers to get the ball rolling."
The revitalization project, Whittall said, will include gateway arches "announcing our entertainment district," over-the-street banner posts, new street lights equipped for event signage, cobblestoning streets and sidewalks and crosswalks, uniform landscaping, new benches and trash receptacles and more.
"Some of the renovations are already underway," Whittall said. "We as an association want to see things be uniform up and down the street. We want to mark this as a destination for the city.
"When we look around the city now, things we thought would be a big draw away from us are not working out — Deep Ellum, the West End. Those places are closing down," he added. "But Cedar Springs is centrally located. It’s easy to get to. No matter what else happens, we have that on our side. But it’s time to rev things up, to show people that we are the party place, the place to shop and have a good time."
Whittall said the CSMA has already retained the architectural firm of Beller Guest Owens to produce a rendering of what the new "Strip on Cedar Springs" will look like. He pointed out that the firm is the same one behind the recent renovations on Dallas’ Main Street downtown and it has "years of experience in street enhancements. … They know what we need, what we want. And they know what kind of problems are likely to come up, what kind of hidden costs we might be facing."
Getting the initial funds to start that process is what the gala on March 20 at The Round-Up Saloon is about, he said.
"There are initial costs. Getting the rendering done costs money. Consultation with the architectural firm costs money," Whittall said. "We’re trying right now to come up with a dollar amount to take to the city, and we’ll have a much better idea of what that amount is by the time of the gala."
Right now, CSMA doesn’t know how much, if any, of the costs of the renovations the city might agree to pay. For that reason, "We, as a merchants association, have to be ready to go forward, with or without the city’s help," Whittall said.
"We have to raise what funds we can. Even if we can get matching funds from the city, that’s still a serious amount of money to have to raise," he added.
"One advantage is that the CSMA is made up of all the merchants on the strip, whether they are restaurants or bars or salons or whatever. We will be doing this together, and when everyone works together, baby steps can turn into a run real quick."
A main component of the March 20 gala will be auctions — a live auction, a silent auction and a live model underwear auction. Right now, Whittall said, the association is looking for people to donate items for those auctions.
"We need to raise some serious money, so we are looking for some really great auction items," he said.
"We’re looking for things like travel packages, dinners, shopping certificates, electronics, spa packages — things that will bring in some good bids."
CSMA is also looking for people to buy, and to help sell, tickets to the event.
VIP tables that seat four cost $100 per table and include champagne, VIP table service and tickets to the VIP reception and preview. Individual tickets are also available.
For more information about tickets or donating auction items, go online to ShopCedarSprings.com.
The Cedar Springs Beautification Benefit and Gala
Friday, March 20 at The Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road
Includes a live auction, a silent auction and a live model underwear auction, and more VIP tables available for $100 per table and include champagne, table service and tickets to the VIP reception and preview.
Auction items needed.
For more information, go online to ShopCedarSprings.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edtion February 20, 2009.