The lost community of Avalon Heights

If you've ever thought that Lansford Ave and Homewood Pl can feel isolated from the rest of our neighborhood, perhaps you've wondered if there are missing bridges over the creek or if this was a different neighborhood altogether. Sanborn Maps from 1927 clearly show that Edgefield Ave formed the western boundary of the first Elmwood Addition, so at least that's one clue. (Side note: Lansford Ave was originally named Lindsley Ave after Tennessee Dairies founder Lindsley Waters. It was likely changed in 1941 after annexation because another Lindsley Ave – after former mayor Henry D. Lindsley – already existed in East Dallas.) 

1927 Sanborn Map of Elmwood

1927 Sanborn Map of Elmwood

Sure enough, a Dallas Morning News advertisement from November 1930 shows the creation of a new addition named Avalon Heights. The boundaries are not explicitly described but directions indicate to drive "south on Hampton Road to the property, just west of Elmwood." One of the selling points in the ad was the promise of a new school on 8 acres of land that had been purchased by the Dallas Public School Board.

November 9, 1930 – The Dallas Morning News

November 9, 1930 – The Dallas Morning News

While 102 lots were sold in a successful first phase, the Great Depression did its thing and sales declined – cementing its fate as another victim of real estate cycles. Plans for the school advanced enough for parents of Winnetka (now W. E. Greiner) and Margaret B. Henderson to express their concerns. The final newspaper mention of Avalon Heights, as well as the proposed school, took place in 1938 under the headline "School Land Remains Vacant."

Avalon Heights remains in the legal description of many Elmwood homes today. An undated planning document appears to show a section being absorbed by our neighborhood as "Elmwood Addition No. 4."

 

 

Well Met at Tyler Station - So Glad You Came

I'd like to thank everyone who came out to our Ice Cream Social this last Thursday, August 17.  In spite of a hot and noisy venue there was an excellent turnout and many new faces.  For those who came, please be assured that I have already arranged a cooler space in Tyler Station for our next meeting.  There will also be an amplifier so everyone can easily hear.  I hope all of you return next month!

All the Best,
Susan Lee
President, Elmwood NA

 

Budget Town Hall Meetings - Make your voice heard!

These are the final three Town Hall meetings scheduled with Scott Griggs.  These are in conjunction with any other listed councilmembers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017
6:00p Black Box Theatre at Hampton-Illinois Library 2951 S. Hampton Rd., Dallas, 75224 *With Councilmember Casey Thomas, II, District 3 & Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, District 4 Thursday,

August 24, 2017
6:00p Martin Weiss Recreation Center 1111 Martindell Ave., Dallas, 75211 Monday, 

August 28, 2017
6:00p Dallas City Performance Hall 2520 Flora St., Dallas, 75201 *With Councilmember Philip Kingston, District 14
Please note that complimentary parking for this session in the Lexus Silvergarage will be available until 6:15 pm. The entrance to that garage is on Jack Evans Street. See the map below.

Town Hall Parking.png

Can Wynnewood be redeveloped responsibly?

In the 1950s, Elmwood witnessed the spectacular development of Six Flags founder Angus Wynne's "Wynnewood," which promised Oak Cliff a village of housing (along streets named after WWII Navy commanders, ships and battles), as well as shops, restaurants, a movie theater, offices and a hotel all within 15 minutes of downtown Dallas – "mixed-use development" before the term was popular. A 2010 article in the Oak Cliff Advocate describes many of the stores in detail.

The shopping center flourished until the 1970s when almost every major retailer left for Red Bird Mall. Wynnewood Village became a shell of its former self, a sort of time capsule populated by Ross and Kroger instead of Volk's and Montgomery Ward. While the beautiful homes of Wynnewood North increased in value, by the 2000s something clearly had to be done with the aging 440,000-square-foot shopping center. Its new owners had demolished several buildings, including the movie theater and Montgomery Ward. 

2006 PUSHBACK

In 2006, Dallas Council Member Ed Oakley began looking at economic incentives for turning the shopping center into something resembling West Village in Uptown. While no plans advanced, it began a public discussion about whether mid-century strip shopping centers are worth preserving. Connie Briggs of Elmwood told the Dallas Morning News, "There's nothing wrong with this shopping center, especially with the way it's laid out. It just needs good retail in there, and people will come." Joseph Hernandez, vice president of the Wynnewood North Neighborhood Association, said that the center's history is important to Dallas but that the actual buildings are not. 

Ed Oakley summarized the disagreement by saying "You can't make an omelet without breaking the eggs. People would have to make a choice about what they want."

2012 Charette

In 2012, the City of Dallas hosted a series of workshops to discover stakeholder views on opportunities, challenges, and “must-happen” priorities for Wynnewood-area residents. While the focus was primarily on the phased redevelopment of the Parks at Wynnewood apartment community, the report explored redevelopment options for the shopping center.

Improvement scenario versus complete reconstruction. Source: 2014 Wynnewood Urban Design Strategy

Improvement scenario versus complete reconstruction. Source: 2014 Wynnewood Urban Design Strategy

2017 Redevelopment

In August of 2017, drawings by current owners Brixmor became public, with images published in the Dallas Morning News in a story by Maria Halkias showing a dramatic facelift around the existing roundabout. At least one building could be replaced by a fitness center and a new movie theater would replace the original building now occupied by Payless Shoe Source. Modern facades and landscaping would replace the red brick exterior structures.

We won't know until final plans are made public, but many Elmwood neighbors have expressed passionate opinions on what the center should and should not contain, or what it should and should not look like. Can Wynnewood Village be redeveloped in a way that respects its mid-century aesthetic, or should we take what we can get for "about $30 million" if it means stucco and metal facades, for example, in place of its traditional red brick? James Andrew Mitchell, an Elmwood resident, commented that "mid-century [architecture] is known for clean lines like what we see in Wynnewood. It's worth saving," echoing much of the feedback that Ed Oakley received in 2006. Others believe that high rents will push out some services, like dollar stores and laundromats, needed by nearby low-income residents.

In the Dallas Morning News story, Matthew Berger of Brixmor is quoted saying that the second phase will be construction in the field where Montgomery Ward once stood, and that "whatever we do is community- and tenant-driven...we want to do the right thing with the field in the middle.” If plans for this phase turn out to include a parking garage and/or multifamily housing, expect another long public debate. Either way, we can probably all agree that a major investment in Wynnewood Village is long overdue.

Notes from the 2014 Wynnewood Urban Design Strategy.

Notes from the 2014 Wynnewood Urban Design Strategy.

 

Sources:
Trejo, Frank (April 21, 2006). "Wynnewood Village: Too quick to change?" The Dallas Morning News.
Halkias, Maria (August 3, 2017). “Oak Cliff's Wynnewood Village owner Brixmor plans upgrades for the 1940s shopping center”The Dallas Morning News.
Wynnewood Urban Design Strategy, City of Dallas

$2.5M in lighting & trails proposed for Elmwood

The 2017 municipal bond program is expected to be finalized by Wednesday, August 9. Until then, District 1 Council Member Scott Griggs is requesting community feedback on the list of projects included here, and high on the list of Priority 1 items is $500,000 in street lighting for our commercial district known as Downtown Elmwood. 

The Elmwood Neighborhood Association is doing preliminary work on a master plan and potential rezoning of Downtown Elmwood that includes design standards and infrastructure improvements, with lighting seen as a critical component for increased safety and walkability.  

As the bond amount is capped, Mr. Griggs will likely hear from constituents that would like to fund other projects instead, so it is imperative that he hears from Elmwood residents. Please email Scott Griggs today and tell him you fully support the lighting improvements proposed for Elmwood! 

 

Update: In addition to the lighting improvements, which are part of the Streets proposition in the bond program, the Parks proposition will include a $2,000,000 extension of Elmwood Parkway Trail along the creek to Gannon Park in Wynnewood North, essentially connecting Wynnewood to Kiest Park. See the map below:

ENA Crime&Safety partners with Kiest Park Community Group CrimeWatch

There is a new schedule and venue for the ENA Crime & Safety meetings. Because of the shortage of officers at DPD, Oak Cliff neighborhoods are working together to combine meetings. Fewer CrimeWatch meetings will help balance the meeting load over available DPD NPO officers who meet with CrimeWatch groups. The new ENA/KPCG CrimeWatch Meetings will be every first Thursday, 7:30p - 8:30p at Kiest Park Recreation Center, 3080 South Hampton Road, Dallas, TX 75204.   The meeting dates for 2017 are:

July 6
August 3
September 6
October 5
November 2
December 6

 

Elmwood Committee Lands Grant for Dog Park

Elmwood Committee Lands Grant for Dog Park

In the last year, many Elmwood neighbors have expressed an interest in resurrecting the Elmwoof pop-up events that began in 2013 and eventually building a permanent dog park. The location is a triangular island next to Margaret B. Henderson Elementary School at 2100 S. Edgefield Ave. Three years ago, Elmwood Neighborhood Association (ENA) received a $10,000 GrowSouth grant to build that dog park, then dubbed Elmwoof. The project unfortunately stalled when the City of Dallas discovered it does not own the Downtown Elmwood parcel. The grant period ran out before ownership was resolved, and the funds were forfeited.  

Recent interest led to a few neighbors stepping up to put Elmwoof back in play. Jeff Pearce agreed to chair the Elmwoof committee and started by hosting monthly popup events. Jorge Esteban joined him and researched the family owning the land for descendants. He not only found the right person, but the family has agreed to deed over the land to the City so ENA can build a dog park. The Elmwoof committee grew to include Ric Hoover and Susan Lee, then began working on a grant application to fund construction. At our last ENA meeting in April, architect and Elmwood neighbor Eric Gonzales joined the team with a vision for all four similarly shaped medians, which have been named the Elmwood Islands.

The team applied for an Old Oak Cliff Conservation League neighborhood grant, and just recently was awarded $5,745, 60% of the cost of basic construction for the fence and gates. Fundraising for the remaining 40% ($3,670) and other amenities will begin shortly and will be the primary ENA focus through October.  We plan to break ground in February 2018. Please watch for news on fundraising and sign up for updates at www.elmwoof.org.  

You can also expect to hear more soon about Downtown Elmwood. Thanks to the Elmwoof team!


The Old Oak Cliff Conservation League (OOCCL) is a non-profit 501(c)3 that functions as an umbrella organization for 30 neighborhood associations covering nearly 10,000 households within the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, Texas.