Following up the recent news and opinion about DART and the now-defunct Dr Pepper building on Mockingbird, it seems that with the opening of the northern light rail extension, real estate developers and investors have suddenly seen the train leaving the station and find themselves scrambling to jump on board.

Besides land and building purchases for investment near the Park Lane and Lovers Lane stations, plans were recently announced for an office/retail conversion of an old warehouse/industrial building just west of the rail line on Mockingbird.

Dal-Mac Construction, owner of the Dr Pepper site, also announced a pending contract to sell land to an unidentified developer who plans to build luxury condominiums on the site.

The multi-family market continues to be hotter than retail or office for now, and a target market of Downtown workers who would want to live within a short walk of the light rail station would seem to be a lucrative one.

When these future multi-family dwellers at some point decide to buy a single-family house, we can hope they would want to stay in East Dallas and thus help keep property values healthy for the M streets and other neighborhoods.

Holding Off The Inevitable

Still on the subject of DART, opposition in the neighborhood near Abrams and Skillman, north of Mockingbird, is heating up again to use the MKT line for light rail service to Garland.

The problem for the neighborhood is that, after voter approval of DART in 1983 and the service plan’s adoption in 1984, they sat out (and implicitly supported) the desperate battle mounted by Lakeland Hills in 1989 to keep DART off the Santa Fe tracks farther south.

When DART gave up on the Santa Fe, the MKT line became the future Garland route. Now, seven years later, some along the MKT line have discovered that the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming DART train.

Unfortunately for the opponents, there is no other route available to Garland, so there is no way physically or politically that the MKT line won’t be used for the DART rail line.

The guess here is that everyone knows this, but also knows that vocal opposition created good negotiating opportunity to try to get more screening and other amenities.

Opponents should mind their credibility, however – scare tactics envisioning trainloads of thugs and dopers invading Northeast Dallas look pretty ludicrous to those who have seen the throngs of neatly-dressed and gainfully employed commuters on the new rail extension to Park Lane.

Land Use Roundup

Finally, briefly noting a few East Dallas land use items, work has begun on Phoenix Properties’ apartment project at Willis, Richard and Henderson, with demolition of older building occupying the site.

Also, the old buildings and the vacant hamburger stand at the northeast corner of Ross and Greenville have come down, and the site has been graded.

My guess is that the now-vacant lots have been replatted as one lot for future retail use, as the site appears to have good access, good visibility, enough room for required parking and a location in an improving neighborhood.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.