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:
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?