Reporting Bud Gillett
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Dallas City Hall continues to invest more money in this part of the city.
On the eve of the opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge it approved a nearly $5 million dollar investment for this booming area. The new bridge casts a long economic shadow. Traffic between it and Interstate 30 will come right past a West Dallas lot where the city expects hundreds of people to live and shop.
“There’s just a whole new opportunity for exposure and growth,” says Tim Byres, who believes he is a pioneer of sorts. Just last week he opened “Chicken Scratch” and “The Foundry,” his second restaurant and bar combo in the Sylvan/I-30 area. He and partners already own the popular “Smoke” and “Bar Belmont.”
He’s all for local development. “I think it’s great. This is an area that’s becoming its own; it needs attention. This whole part of town has been left on its own for a long time.”
And attention it’s getting. Today the council approved a $3.2 million dollar Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan — tax money to help front infrastructure improvements for 200 proposed residential homes and retail at Sylvan and I-30.
The city’s TIF pays for sidewalks, landscaping, utilities, and the like for the nearly $50 million project. In addtion, there’s a $1.5 million public/private partnership grant. “It incentiveizes businesses to come into the area,” Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano says.
Medrano’s district starts on the downtown side of the bridge. She calls West Dallas a gateway for developers and would-be homeowners alike. “Once they see those improvements they’ll say, ‘This is a really nice area to come to.’ Then the development comes.” She adds, “ It’s important as a destination, but with a destination it’s also jobs.”
Council members say you only have to look at Dallas’ thriving Uptown district to see just how important — and economically stimulating — a TIF can be. “Look how successful that’s been,” Medrano said, ”and we’re going into the tail end of that TIF. And again, it’s just spurring development.”
The city and others, like Byres, are betting the same thing will happen near the bridge. “It’s all doing its own thing over here,” he says, adding, “and the area over here is really cool because it’s just popping up, you know? It’s just, like, blooming.”
One other bridge-related note: council approved a 35 m.p.h. speed limit on it, keeping it in line with TX-DOT recommendations. The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge itself is set to begin opening in phases on Thursday evening.