Gayle Evans and Melissa Gray with the trees at Casa Linda.

Casa Linda Plaza’s owners are redoing some of the shopping center to create a pedestrian friendly experience with more total trees, but the new plan includes the removal of five mature trees in front of Natural Grocers on the southeast corner of Buckner and Garland.

As construction crews began to clear the shrubbery and mark the trees for removal, Facebook posts began to swirl and some neighbors headed to the plaza to make their voices heard. East Dallas is a neighborhood that loves its trees.

Gayle Evans and Melissa Gray have both lived in the area for over 25 years, and they are disappointed that the mature trees will be removed. They quickly made signs and hugged the trees, expressing their frustration.

District 9 Councilman Mark Clayton said that the tree removal is completely legal, and while some mature trees would be removed, the makeover of the area will include a net increase of trees and total canopy resulting in more shade and a more pedestrian-friendly design.

In a press release last month, Edens says the redevelopment will “include the creation of more comfortable seating areas, upgraded amenities and improved outdoor space without impacting parking availability or convenience.” When the redevelopment is finished, there will be 34 more trees than were there before, with increased canopy and narrowed driving lanes throughout the parking lot. Bike racks will also be featured.

The new sidewalks and seating will provide space for guests to hang out (rendering courtesy of Edens).

Managing Director Tom Kiler says that Edens prides itself on being long-term holders of properties, and believes in having productive conversations with neighbors and preserving the character of the area. He says that the shopping center is currently not very friendly to anything but cars, but that the redesign will make it more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists. Other improvements include widening the sidewalks along the storefronts by 10 feet and adding vegetation so that patrons can sit and connect near the storefronts.

“East Dallas is an amazing part of the city, and we feel fortunate to be a part of Casa Linda,” he says.

The five trees that are being removed in the middle of the parking lot are part of plaza that is rarely used, and that wider sidewalks with new trees will be a more useful arrangement, Kiler says. The new trees will include elm, cypress and others.

Neighbor Tyler Wright is less impressed with the redesign. She went to the shopping center and spoke with the workers and foreman there, and she lives in the area. “Even though we don’t own the property, the trees are still important to the community,” she says.

“I’m not against development. I just want smart development,” she says, though she is worried about the loss of the mature trees. “It doesn’t have to look like Frisco.”

Kiler has been busy assuaging neighbors fears about the final look of the shopping center. “We are in this for the long haul, so these conversations are important.”

These mature trees will be removed.

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