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Rezoning Proposal Revitalizes Hope For Oak Cliff Neighborhood

Bud Gillett, CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM
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DALLAS, Texas (CBS 11 NEWS) – A boutique hotel, a bed and breakfast, some restaurants, even a package liquor store… all part of some possible changes coming to Jefferson Boulevard in Dallas’ Oak Cliff district.

At a meeting Monday night city staffers and the councilman for the Dallas district talked to members of the public about rezoning plans for Jefferson Boulevard, in earlier times kind of what used to be the ‘main street’ of old Oak Cliff.

Felipe Ramirez of the Ramirez Boot Shop is a third generation custom boot maker there; his family’s had a store on Jefferson Boulevard for three decades.  He’s eager to hear what improvements may be in the offering.  “Yes, as far as change is coming, I think it’s good,” he told CBS 11 News.

City designers are already suggesting landscaping; turning today’s reality into tomorrow’s enhanced pedestrian walkway.  But rezoning for new development is also in discussion, especially in the block surrounding Jefferson Tower.

All fine with Geraldo Dominguez, who works at Lone Star Credit and Texas Plan Insurance, who told us, “One thing, make the area a little more attractive, neighborhood friendly. just like the Bishop Arts Center.”

Bishop is just a few blocks north. A salon and building owner there, Michael Amonett, suggests a synergy with Jefferson. “The problem is we try to do so much in a 3-4 block area, for myself I think it would be better if they grew and we share the love and we expanded a little bit.  Because we’re very confined here, and Jefferson has a lot of things and amenities that we don’t here.”  He continued, “Every one of those store fronts is filled and it’s vibrant with people all day long, so in terms of economic development I think it’s doing pretty good on its own, but I think there are things you could tweak and I think there are things you could add.”

The Oak Cliff Chamber is pleased the city is constantly taking the temperature of local residents and business owners.

“And so we want to preserve the buildings and we want to actually bring some new life, some economic vibrancy to it,” according to President Bob Stimson.   He likes the process.  “Make sure the neighbors have a vision and have a say in how that vision comes out.   And then once you get a vision for the area then you go back and rezone it to match the vision.”

But change can breed anxiety. Will new businesses push out old ones, especially small Mom & Pop operations with Hispanic owners?  “No, I think it will benefit everybody,” according to boot maker Ramirez.   Dominguez agrees.  “It has to do with smaller businesses that cater to their clients and customers on a personal level; that’s a lot of what bigger corporations are missing.”

City Councilman Scott Griggs promises it will not run off any existing businesses simply for renovation, and that’s comforting to Amonett.  “I like that none of the uses were going to be forced out so you’re not going to have things that lose their rights, their business rights.”     The chamber’s Stimson echoes support.  “Universally we’ve always said, “Those businesses are there today, they ought to be able to stay there as long as they want to stay there.  We’ve made sure that happened and that’s what’s happened at the Jefferson PD (planned development district) also.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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