Uproar Over 'Surprise' Big Box Development in Dallas

The evolving story goes back to last summer, but media and stakeholders were caught off guard by the recent revelation that Trammell Crow Co. is planning to develop a 100,00 square foot Sam's Club in Dallas.
June 13, 2014, 8am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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On May 19, Steve Brown broke news of Trammel Crow Co.'s plans for the 17-acre site—the former location of Affiliated Computer Services on North Central Expressway at Haskell Avenue: "The office buildings on the old ACS site will be replaced by a large Sam’s Club store and a several small retail buildings lined up along the North Central frontage road."

On May 23, Robert Wilonsky described the surprise over the big box/strip mall plans: "Crow closed on the property in August 2013, and when our Steve Brown wrote about Crow’s future plans for the property last summer, there was no hint of the Sam’s Club to come: 'Crow will demolish two office buildings on the site to make way for construction of a mixed-use development. The property is zoned for a variety of uses including shops, restaurants, hotels and apartments.'"

One June 5, the level of public outcry was clearly on the rise, again according to Wilonsky: "the developers do not believe they’ve done anything wrong, despite the chorus of critics who insist that at best they misled the City Plan Commission and Dallas City Council in May of last year. That’s when both signed off on a planned development district for a “retail development” that never said anything about a Big Box covering more than 100,000 square feet across N. Central Expressway from the West Village."

By June 10, Rudolph Bush assigned some of the blame to the deal approved by the city: "Developers aren’t children. The successful ones are very bright people. But the city of Dallas (with the help of Trammell Crow company) baked up a planned development district so sweet, so permissive that the company could pretty much build whatever it wanted at the site at Central and Haskell that we are now all howling about."

A few more notes from Bush's analysis of interest to all of those monitoring how policy makers and media control the interests of developers:

  • "What bugs me is their analysis says this thing fits with ForwardDallas! – our plan for growing a more urban city. If this development fits with ForwardDallas! then the plan would best be used to line bird cages and wrap fish."
  • "Guess who was sitting in the City Hall chamber the day this PD silently slid through the system. Yep, me. I was right there wondering if Ursuline would be able to build a soccer field. Never once read the whole PD. Never even occurred to me. I screwed up."
Full Story:
Published on Thursday, May 29, 2014 in Dallas Morning News
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