Just saw the report from Robert Wilonsky at the Dallas Morning News regarding the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce’s hopes to develop a land use plan for the Vallew View Mall area which suffers from massive auto infrastructure, and low livability. They’re planning to spend $250K to reveal the area’s greatest potential. My fear is that the plan will inevitably lead to: Step 1, tear down everything; Step 2, develop small grid road system; Step 3, create bond package to incentivize development; Step 4, watch land speculators hold property in-perpetuity while they use the carrot of TIF dollars to try and cajole land developers…show public millions of water color renderings of the potential for the area (see above) so that we’ll continue to allow public dollars to pour into infrastructure improvements to help make speculators earlier, cheap land buy a more profitable venture…probably never develop; Step 5, sell land to Wal-Mart Mega Store development group and do what we’ve always done.
So in an attempt to help save some money on planning, I thought I’d illustrate a quick plan that would simply re-purpose the existing building (no full tear downs! yay, begin development at Step 1, not Step 5). If you look at Valley View Mall, it’s basically the West Village with a roof and no residents.
Why on earth could that not look like the Rue de Mouffetard in Paris? Extremely narrow streets, retail everywhere, pedestrian oriented environment…only thing missing is the roof and residents:
Okay, first step…begin removing the roof along the hallways. Next step, slowly phase out the second floor retail and move it to ground floor in new buildings that are created in the existing (massive) parking lot.
Second step, develop an incredible public square. With the food court removed from the second floor of the old mall, line the public square with the food vendors all along the edges and allow small market vendors in the center. The best squares have food and plenty of movable seating and tables:
Third step, develop second, third, and fourth floor live work spaces above existing mall structure. An area packed with retail should have large density for residents. Plus, it will create more eyes on the street and make the area feel safer:
Fourth step, this really could be considered early on in the process as well. Be mindful of parking. You don’t want to leave cars out of the equation, but hide the parking so it feels less intrusive and more pedestrian oriented. Again, West Village has done a good job with the “Dallas Doughnut”, where the parking is centralized, connected via small streets, and stacked.
Fifth step, take a page from the new deck park and consider decking the elevated portion of LBJ Freeway at Preston Road so that you create a more humane and walkable connection between the residents to the South and the commercial to the North.
Sixth Step, re-take the HOV lanes on 635 and convert to light rail. Elevate the stations and allow extremely walkable connections at each elevation. Long term goal, connect to the Red Line at the East and the Green Line at the West. This way you’re using existing Right-of-Way. Encourage mixed use development alongside the frontage roads so that the first thing you experience when exiting the trains is retail.
Seventh Step, connect to the trail system.
There, planning done. Now that we’ve saved $250K, let’s use those funds for seed money for construction.