Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ Grow South initiative is concentrating on all the wrong areas. Instead of working to get a supermarket with fresh fruits and vegetables into poorer neighborhoods in South Dallas, the victories claimed are mostly in and around booming Oak Cliff.
Bishop Arts District began to boom when Mayor Laura Miller — the only recent mayor Dallas has ever had from Oak Cliff — had street improvements done in the area. Restaurants, art galleries and studios and stores began filling Bishop Street at Davis Avenue and cross streets.
Once Bishop Arts became a success, North Dallas decided to move in.
The new streetcar from downtown was supposed to connect Bishop Arts with downtown. Instead, the new trolley stops in front of a major construction project several blocks away that will become Oak Cliff’s first Soviet-style apartment block atrocity (one that Oak Cliff residents don’t want).
Oak Cliff residents wanted nearby Adamson High School to be renovated. Tone-deaf DISD decided to tear down some historic buildings and build an unattractive new building instead.
Grow South also takes credit for an increase in neighborhood associations in north Oak Cliff. As the LGBT community began moving to Oak Cliff in the 1980s, buying and renovating houses and improving neighborhoods, they worked with the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League to create and expand neighborhood associations.
However, the city gets no credit for Oak Cliff’s neighborhood associations that really were improving neighborhoods until Grow South dedicated itself to destroying some of these neighborhoods to benefit developers.
One ridiculous metric Grow South seems to use is increasing population: “Notable trends: Construction of new apartments has increased population and households,” Grow South notes in its latest press release.
Stuffing people into an area isn’t an improvement. Making Oak Cliff look like currently-being-destroyed-by-overdevelopment Oak Lawn isn’t a good thing. While North Dallas seems to need a CVS on every corner, Oak Cliff doesn’t.
Old Oak Cliff Conservation League has helped keep Oak Cliff one of Dallas’ most diverse and livable areas for decades. OOCCL’s new mission should be to drive Grow South out of Oak Cliff.