Downtown Lakewood

The Lakewood Advocate just published some of Norm Alston and my ideas for making the Lakewood Shopping Center more awesome and community friendly.

Check out the article here!


How to do the State Fair of Texas

After many years of practice, I’ve figured out the State Fair. Consider this a resource to get the most pleasure out of this month long, yearly event. Further suggestions are welcome in the comments below!
1) Purchase season pass
2) BIKE to Fair Park. Exercise is important and parking sucks. Even DART is too much.
3) Eat 1 or 2, but no more than 3, fried things. One should be new and weird, and one should be a classic (Fletchers and fried pecan pie, obviously)
4) Get cheap and decent beer at the food court in the Tower Building only if you’re trying to impress friends because fried stuff and beer shouldn’t be mixed together often this far into your 30’s.
5) Must see butter sculpture. And the crafts are kinda cool anyways.
6) Leave immediately. Over 2 hours at the Fair makes you start to hate it. And you limit your spending.
7) Come back to see animals. And that big old pig! Fried pecan pie is nearby. Plan accordingly.
8) Come back to half off rides on Tuesday. It makes a huge difference.
9) Boycott Fair Day. Not only is the odor of children is terrible, but the history of that day incredibly offensive.
10) The car buildings are your friend. They have AC and lots of in-car seating.

11) The Fair ceases to exist on TX/OU day and becomes the ninth circle of hell. Even the fabled “empty lines during the game” is a fate not worth tempting.

12) Opening Day is surprisingly not busy. Watch the pomp and circumstance and get your annual fletchers corn dog in early.

Higher Standards Needed on Ross Ave

The redevelopment of Ross Avenue is an important opportunity for the City of Dallas. This corridor connects Downtown with East Dallas and features underdeveloped land ripe for new construction. Ross Avenue functions like Davis or Jefferson in North Oak Cliff where you have commercial buildings buffering residential neighborhoods from busy thoroughfares. Given the importance of this corridor, let’s take a look at developments on Ross to date.

What is crucial to me is the destination that is created by developments. How does the structure contribute to its environment? What is the interaction with the street? How do people access these places?  If walkability and engaging people on the street level are priorities, how well does the development accomplish these goals? This post will analyze how well Ross Avenue passes the eye ball test.

Long story short, it doesn’t. There is a wealth of development potential between the Arts District and Lowest Greenville, where old car dealerships and aging apartment complexes mingle among remnants of pre-WWII commercial buildings that all scream for renovation and revitalization. Unfortunately, the newest developments along Ross fail to create desirable destinations. Let’s take a quick tour:

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There is virtually no difference between the new construction on Ross Ave and the Public Storage building just down the street. This means that the contents of the apartments are as valuable as the junk in storage. What is the value of living in a physical manifestation of a financial formula?



Here is the new strip mall with the parking prioritized to the front. If the goal is to create a vibrant, walkable environment in the core of Dallas, we have failed miserably. It seems like we only how to finance, regulate, and build suburban sprawl. We have an opportunity to recreate Jefferson and Zang, but we choose to replicate Coit and Arapaho.

We are hardest on the ones that we love the most, and frankly Ross Avenue isn’t living up to its full potential.

The rehabilitation project pictured below is the one new development on Ross that taps into this potential. The building dates back to 1945 and was recently sand blasted to reveal the original brick. Not only is this development functional, it is also beautiful to look at. It resembles buildings on Lower Greenville and Deep Ellum, the most up-and-coming, desirable places in the City of Dallas. Would it be possible to add apartments on top of these and replicate them up and down Ross?


In my city, I want places made for people. Today, you can travel back and forth on Ross Avenue at any time of day and never see a human being on the street. While residential developments are necessary in the core of Dallas, density for the sake of density create dead places. We need higher standards and clearer priorities for development, after all, we are creating these places for our children and grandchildren. What kind of city are we leaving to them?

The White Privilege Reading List

I love White People, I really do! In fact, I married one…

A friend of mine in this whole urbanism thing encountered a stuck up lawyer who never budged from the opinion that he shouldn’t have to live next to poor people. I told my friend that he needed to #checkyourprivilege, but she didn’t know what I was talking about. I guess you can be white in Dallas in 2015 and still not know what White Privilege is. So, I’ve compiled some resources to help us all have a more sophisticated conversation about race and class.

History and contemporary analysis of race and class in the US (10 min video)

What is white privilege? (article)

Jane Elliot on Oprah defining and demonstrating institutional racism (video)

MTV’s documentary on white privilege (video)

Why white people feel oppressed (article)

White fragility (article)

The coming race war won’t be about race, it’ll be about class (article) 

How class/race segregation is about urban design (blog)

Interview with David Simon creator of “Show me a Hero” (video)

And of course, there’s always the Accommodation by Jim Schutze (online book)