Better Block Redux

Aug 30, 2010 11 Comments by

On September 11th and 12th, Go Oak Cliff will once again highlight the potential of a city block in historic Oak Cliff in an experiment that’s part art installation, part political statement. This time we’ll focus on the pre-war block of Davis between Clinton and Edgefield. The site is home to some of the area’s beautifully formed commercial buildings, but with time, has been retrofitted to a less humane environment due to the advent of smaller sidewalks and wider streets. Team Go OC will return the block to its original people-friendly environment by reclaiming street space with outdoor seating, landscaping, pocket parks, art and more, along with adding a series of pop-up businesses. Both new and existing businesses are celebrating this prospect with unique happenings at locations throughout the block. The project is part of the Blues, Bandits & BBQ festival and CRAVE art exhibit, and will connect the two events together.

Our previous Better Block project made national headlines, and is now being modeled throughout the country as a way for community’s to create real-time “demonstration zones”, and to help residents promote change within their own city governments.  This time, we’ve received a helping hand from SWA Group, a major landscape architecture firm based in Downtown Dallas. Our teams walked the street to identify areas of opportunity and have come up with a series of changes that we hope can be made permanent at a later date. Inspired by San Francisco’s Walklet project, we’ll also be introducing a series of decking projects into parking spaces, using re-salvaged pallet wood, and other found materials. Gary Buckner explains in greater detail here:

Gary Buckner explains part of the Better Block Buildout (YouTube link)

Be sure to check in with us on Facebook for more updates. Also, if you’re interested in volunteering in any way, don’t hesitate to drop us a note.

Events

About the author

Jason has lived in Oak Cliff for 10 years, and when not playing guitar in the Happy Bullets, can be found bicycling throughout the neighborhood searching for old trolley tracks.

11 Responses to “Better Block Redux”

  1. JF says:

    I really like the looks of most aspects of this project – using the sidewalks on Davis between Rosemont and Tyler is miserable/impossible right now. I’m curious about what parts could be made permanent.

  2. Jason Roberts says:

    Creation of contiguous sidewalk connecting entire corridor

    Landscaping of center lane to allow for ease of crossing (Pedestrian Islands)

    Crosswalks painted at all intersections

    Development of bulb out curbs at at all intersections to shorten distance of pedestrian travel

    Better lighting throughout block for heightened safety at night

    Ease restrictions on businesses building awnings (new mexican restaurant on South side of Block in the tudor building just had to take down its new awnings due to the $1K/year fee per awning that hung over the right-of-way…they had a total of 3 put up)

    Development of pocket parks in alley ways, with trash pick up moved to back of building

    Development of overhangs for public transit stops to help people waiting in inclement weather

    Creation of shared parking solution for all businesses on block (similar to the East lot in Bishop Arts shared by all businesses in the District)

    Clearly marked time-of-next-bus notation at bus stop

    Trees on sidewalk to allow greater shade

    Widening of sidwalks where available to allow for outdoor seating options for business patrons

    Bike racks

    Allow blade signs so auto and pedestrian commuters can see businesses while driving/walking East/West bound

  3. Amy says:

    Just to name a few! Ha! Now… Will Neumann get any of that done?

  4. JF says:

    Maybe you have better info on this than me, but I was under the impression the awnings were taken down because they were in violation of the historic ordinance regarding signage (perhaps both were contributing factors) – the previous grocery store operated for years with awnings in the same location, so I didn’t think the right of way should be an issue.
    You mentioned the crosswalk thing again here (in addition to the picture on FB) but there’s definitely a painted crosswalk there already. Am I missing something? But I’d agree that you need more near either Clinton or Winnetka (how else will people get to Norma’s?).
    I still don’t get how the pocket parks in alleys will work with trash collection… how will the trucks get through to collect the trash at the homes/apartments in Kings Highway? On the south side of the street that solution probably works well.
    Where I’ll really call you a miracle worker though, is if you figure out a parking solution that would also allow for some sort of development on the second floor of the English Village.

  5. Jason Roberts says:

    Regarding the awnings, they shouldn’t have been removed related to any historical designation, considering the original building had long awnings as far back as 1929: http://web.archive.org/web/20020608063950/theherd.net/images/davisx.jpg

    Now, if the weren’t built to the original color scheme, that would be understandable historically speaking, but not allowing them altogether is counter to Dallas pre-war architectural past.

    The alley on the South would not pose an issue due to Seventh Street being an entrance. On the North, allow vehicles to enter from Clinton (behind Urban Acres) then turn North up the alley for residential pickup. This allows placing trash receptacles out of site and gives greater potential for creating people-space that the surrounding businesses can utilize for patrons. The businesses would simply place their trash 50 feet back from where they currently sit.

    There is a thin crosswalk painted at Edgfield, but none at Clinton or next to the “Crossing” sign that exists in front of Urban Acres, that was meant for the alley way (very ironic). We’re looking to create broad striped (a la Abbey Road) clearly notated cross walks that easily identify that the area is pedestrian in form.

  6. Dog E. Fresh – Dog-friendly Events for September « f.i.d.o.b.l.o.g says:

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  7. gg says:

    Thanks for the crosswalks – we basically have to jaywalk to get to Norma’s or Nova. Nevermind that drivers on Davis St. typically move at less than 10mph.

  8. Name says:

    Is that a good thing, or bad? Typically “new urban” design promotes slower-moving traffic. Some of these changes in fact, would slow traffic if made permanent. Although, I admit that’s not really a problem on Davis, where traffic moves pretty slowly already.

    I really hope the solution to parking in this area is not to build a large surface lot. That’s a real neighborhood killer. Similarly, the solution cannot be simply reducing parking requirements. For all the increased popularity of alternative transportation, people are still mostly going to drive, and you’ve got to put the cars somewhere.

  9. Better Block Redux – Tomorrow! « Student Planning Association says:

    [...] the people who brought you the initial Better Block project bring you their second installment: Better Block Redux! The project takes the normally unfriendly street and adds trees, outdoor seating, popup shops, [...]

  10. Smoking Grass in Oak Cliff at the Blues, Bandits & BBQ Festival | SideDish says:

    [...] all, as I say, it was great event, especially considering this was its the first year. The Better Block Project once again gave us a glimpse of what might be possible if people were given a little slack by City [...]

  11. Michael Connally says:

    A trolley running up and down Davis and 8th Street would be nice.

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