Bishop Arts is the new Lowest Greenville, now that they have RPO!

Back in 2010, the City Council approved major changes in land-use in and around the Bishop Arts area of Oak Cliff. This was needed in order to make OC go from urban cool to uber-restaurant and business cool. According to the DMN story -

Crafted from a property owner-funded study and city planning staff review, the proposal allows for mixed-use, higher density, pedestrian-friendly residential development in portions of the target area, protects some older structures and improves their prospects for redevelopment by easing parking restrictions.

"It would be a bold step," Commissioner Mike Anglin said after making a motion for approval. "It's a breathtaking vision of what north Oak Cliff can become."

Not all agreed. Some residents have raised concerns that intense development, particularly the allowance of four- and five-story buildings in some areas, would degrade neighborhoods, change the area's feel and flavor, and overload its streets. Some have said the proposal was too complex and difficult to understand.

And Thursday, opponents urged the plan commission to delay a vote. "We're here to ask you to give more time," said Pam Conley, representing the Kidd Springs Neighborhood Association, who asked for more meetings with city staff and creation of an ad hoc committee to further study the matter. "This is very important to us."

A few weeks later, BD happened to be at City Hall when the City Council, in what must have been a record time of just under 15 minutes to discuss and vote, approved the changes. On exiting the council chambers, one Oak Cliff resident came up to BD and said, with a sad look in her eyes -

I guess Bishop Arts is the next Lowest Greenville, eh?

After some consideration, BD believed this could not happen. The Bishop Arts is full of tiny streets, has no parking lots to speak of, and was in a dry area. But the big difference was in the attitude of many of the property owners, some of whom BD later met during the Mayor's campaign. The majority of them lived in or near the area, had deep-seated pride in its development, and were not above offering low rents or even investing in new business concepts while making sure crap did not move in. Compare that to Lowest Greenville property owners charging $30 per sf (or more), overpriced parking and Resident Parking Only, and of course all we had was crap.

Then two things happened - Lowest Greenville was rezoned out of existence as we know it, and the 2010 wet/dry vote.

That meant bars, not restaurants, would be able to operate in Bishop Arts without serving food in places that would never have thunk to do it. Old houses and fire stations were renovated into bars and restaurant overnight, putting a strain on the few parking lots in the area. And of course, the cool factor was attracting more people (BD included) to frequent places like Eno's Pizza, Cafe Brazil and Tillman's. Events like the Mardi Gras parade and the Wine Walk brought even more people in.

Parking was becoming the new gorilla in the room, and the area residents were getting tired of losing their streets to drunk patrons and crowds. Can you guess where this is heading? Do you need a photograph to help you?

Bishop Arts, say hello to Resident Parking Only Zone 32

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The first Resident Parking Only zone south of the Trinity River was installed on the 400 block of W. Neely Avenue on Wednesday afternoon. Designed to cover current daytime uses and future deep night problems, the restrictions are in effect from 11am (which nails the restaurant waiters) until 2am (which screws the bar patrons) and cover both sides of the street. There's a grace period on enforcement for a few weeks, but that only means it will be March 1st before DPD and or Parking Enforcement starts writing tickets. Neighborhood residents have been working on this - and more RPO's - for nearly a year. Just like Lowest Greenville, the plan is simple - RPO the entire area one street at a time. Unlike Lowest Greenville, a few residential property owners are planning to pay the expense and even help residents get the hangtags.

This is a unique location, perfect for RPO. A medical clinic currently sits on the street, but the property was recently purchased by the owners of Gloria's Restaurant (just a few hundred feet south). As soon as the doctor's lease expires, the building will be renovated into Gloria's new corporate office and employee parking lot. On the corner of Madison and Davis sits the 303 Bar, recently opened. Not far away is Cafe Brazil and Lockhart's Smokehouse, all within walking distance to even more restaurants and niche stores.

Kennedy assasination buffs will recognize this street for reasons having nothing to with parking - just two blocks away is 214 W. Neely, the duplex where Lee Harvey Oswald lived with his wife for a brief period, famous for the doctored photo taken in the back of Oswald holding a rifle with scope.

Many of the properties on the street are still multi-family residential, but even the homes on the corner of Madison and Neely get RPO protection because their residents are allowed to buy hangtags.

Neighborhood residents tell BD they expect some of the restaurants to cry foul, just like happened in the Uptown area when RPO popped in. They realize RPO is not the nuclear option (that would be No Parking 24/7) but instead the only way to protect their investments and maximize residential parking options. They cite recent rezoning of residential property on the next block into commercial lots for another restaurant just across the street from residential property as another example of how Bishop Arts is outgrowing the land-use changes, which they were promised would not happen. They are not-anti Bishop Arts, just pro-resident.

BD now wholeheartedly agrees - Bishop Arts is the next Lowest Greenville. We can only hope no one has to be shot in the parking lot to make the comparison more accurate.

Click here to see News8's report on the new Bishop Arts RPO Zone

When News8 interviewed the owner of the Gloria's Restaurant chain about the new RPO just up the street from his (just relocated) Bishop Arts location, he made a few statements which sounded like they were written by Lower Greenville commercial property owners. Let's look at each one.

He bought two homes near his business, and had them leveled to provide parking spaces for his patrons.

When the properties were scraped of their residential uses, did he also have their residential zoning removed? Were they rezoned for commercial use, which would allow him to operate a pay to park service? If he's so concerned about his patrons having a parking space next to his restaurant, is he giving them a discount or, dare we say, a free parking space, and only charging people who eat at other restaurants? (Note: It is hard to read the parking sign in the story). Someone needs to file a few complaints about illegal land use this weekend.

Even though it's a safe area, people don't like to park and walk any distance to a restaurant.

We heard that argument in Uptown last month, and for years in Lowest Greenville. If people are just too lazy, it is not the responsibility of the residents around the area to just bend over, grab their ankles and take it in the you-know-where just so his customers can have a parking space within walking distance. People, get off your butts and walk a few blocks, it's good for your appetite anyways. Just respect the neighborhood you are walking through.

Without parking, people will not come to his restaurant.

Does his business plan have a paragraph claiming the parking spaces in the residential area for the restaurant? No, he just assumed that no one would pay attention or take the initiative to bring in any kind of parking controls.

Editor's Note: The Neely Street RPO is not the first one in the Oak Cliff area. RPO Zone #30 (installed in September 2011) protects the 2200 and 2300 blocks of Perryton Drive, which make up the northern border of Kiest Park. According to residents who contacted BD, for many years athletic groups were using Kiest Park without approval in an area not designated for any league use. Neighbors had their driveways blocked by illegally parked cars; cars would double park to drop off or pick up passengers from practices; there would be 24+ vehicles parked in front of only 12 homes and none of the vehicles were the residents!

By Avi S. Adelman under Public safety , Safe streets