There’s some very good news to report, with more details forthcoming, about efforts to save the historic Dr Pepper Building at Greenville and Mockingbird.

The Vickery Place Neighborhood Association has reported that a group made up of representatives of the property owners, historic preservationists and neighborhood groups, along with City staff, have been meeting since late October regarding the future of the Dr Pepper site.

The site consists of three tracts. The eastern portion is owned by the Kroger Company, the middle portion (which includes the Dr Pepper building) is owned by Dal-Mac Development, and DART owns a portion of the western end, where the Mockingbird Lane station will be located.

All of the publicity concerning efforts to save the former Dr Pepper headquarters caught the attention of a number of potential tenants for the building. Dal-Mac originally felt the building would not be leasable because of its age and current conditions in the Dallas office leasing market.

However, the new-found interest in possibly leasing the space has apparently caused Dal-Mac and others to take a fresh look at saving the building.

In addition, the Kroger Company is scheduled to open a 70,000-square-foot supermarket on its site in June, with construction already underway. Kroger has come up with two possible building designs, a standard supermarket design and an imaginative design that would tie in closely with the architecture of the Dr Pepper Building.

Also, Kroger and Dal-Mac have agreed to do a parking study and carry out a traffic impact analysis for the property. Kroger also is investigating the possibility of adding more right-of-way to Greenville and Mockingbird to provide a left-turn lane for northbound Greenville traffic onto westbound Mockingbird.

The property owners also are considering adopting a standard for landscaping, lighting, and paving so the entire length of the site from Greenville to Central would have a unified appearance.

Neighborhood and historic preservation groups, which strongly supported preserving the Dr Pepper building, seem to be more optimistic now than they were last summer following a legal setback that removed the last obstacle to demolition.

If an economically feasible use with minimal building renovation can be found, it would represent a major achievement for the idea that citizens and neighborhoods can work with corporations toward goals that are beneficial for the entire community.

(Thanks to the Vickery Place Neighborhood Association and its outgoing president, Gary Lawler, for their report from the field.)

Outdoor Seating on Greenville Concerns Neighbors:Following up on an item reported on in last month’s column, the City Council recently adopted a moratorium on pave-overs of head-in parking along the Lower Greenville and Henderson commercial strips.

These pave-overs occur when a business receives permission from the City to fill in and pave over head-in parking spaces along the street in front of their business.

The pave-over provides the business with an expanded area of sidewalk to place tables and chairs for outdoor seating.

There has been a large increase in the amount of outdoor seating, especially along Lower Greenville, during the past few years as head-in spaces have been filled and then restaurants have erected iron railings, trellises, awnings, and other types of structures to take over portions of the sidewalks for outdoor seating.

To address this situation, the Council placed a moratorium on the pave-ins, and a task force of neighborhood and business representatives, along with area plan commissioners, met to work toward a solution to what many neighborhood residents see as a big problem.

The thinking is that paving over head-in spaces to provide more room for outdoor seating reduces the number of off-street parking spaces available for restaurant parking. At the same time, with the addition of outdoor seating, more seating capacity is being added to the restaurants.

As a result, restaurants have room for more customers but are able to provide fewer parking places. Naturally, the neighborhoods don’t like this idea because overflow customers often wind up parking on neighborhood streets.

The restaurants and bars understandably see this as an issue of economic importance to their businesses.

With so much at stake for both sides, ironing out a solution is likely to be an arduous process. The task force will continue to meet, and I will keep you informed of its decisions.

Junius Heights Showdown Nears: Although there currently appears to be a lull in activity related to the Junius Heights rezoning controversy, preparations are continuing for what now appears to be a likely February showdown.

Neighborhood steering committee leaders, backed by a majority vote at the most recent neighborhood mass meeting, won a victory at the Plan Commission, as reported last month, when the Commission agreed to call a hearing to consider zoning for the neighborhood.

The neighborhood steering committee’s intent, as supported by the 106 to 79 vote at the neighborhood meeting, was to advance a proposed development district for the purpose of resolving the neighborhood nonconformity problem without having to go through a PD study.

However, there is now a move afoot to set up a task force of proponents and opponents of the rezoning in what appears to be an effort by the City staff to side-step further controversy.

Many are skeptical this approach will succeed, as neighborhood activists have already expended Herculean efforts to reach a compromise that, at this point, appears to be an exercise in futility.

Further plot twists are expected and I will report these.

Vet Clinic Planned for Bank Building: The City Plan Commission recently approved a change in zoning at 6150 E. Mockingbird, on the south side of the street between Skillman and Abrams, affecting the vacant two-story Farm & Home Savings office building.

Farm & Home, which still owns the building, has a pending lease to a veterinary clinic that would like to have an outside run as part of its leased space.

The building is zoned for light office and parking uses, so leasing the space to an animal clinic would require a change to community retail zoning.

Because the property’s rear backs onto single-family residential uses along Winton Avenue, the applicant offered public deed restrictions to prohibit access to the site from Winton for any use allowed in community retail zoning other than an animal clinic with an outside run. On that basis, City staff recommended approval.

If the zoning change is approved by the Council, the animal clinic can operate with its outside run. But if Farm & Home leases any space in the building for another use allowed by community retail zoning, access to Winton would be eliminated. The council will consider this Jan. 12.

Behind the Green Door: Christy’s Toy Box, a new business discussed in last month’s column, has opened at Greenville and McCommas, across from the Unity Church building.

An anonymous personal inspection of the site provides a clear indication of why minors are restricted from entry.

Besides offering some rather unusual items for sale, the business also sells and rents videos you aren’t likely to find at Blockbuster.

So far, there is no word from City staff about whether they see any problems with this use at this location. If there are any further developments, I will let you know about them.

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