Today’s Dallas Only sheds light on the growing conflict in Deep Ellum. At the heart of this issue appears to be that relatively new apartment and condo dwellers don’t care for the noise, the traffic and a myriad of other features that come from living next door to bars and night clubs. Perhaps this sounds familiar to some of our neighbors along Greenville Avenue. The resident’s response, then, is to oppose the renewal of the the bar’s Special Use Permits from the City of Dallas, effectively forcing them to close or move. Yesterday’s face off at City Plan Commission appears to have ended with Bars 7, Residents 3. But the game is far from over.

I’ve had some experience with this problem and some empathy for the residents. For years, I officed in Deep Ellum, at Canton and Malcom X. I eventually left because there were too many times I would be working very late (a bad habit architects pick up in college) but would be constantly distracted by yelling and the sound of broken glass just outside my window. I found it hard to work and certainly couldn’t have slept.  That said, I knew where I was when I rented the office. I wanted to be part of that scene, I thought (not the yelling, glass breaking, puking part… just the cool neighborhood part). So when it got to be too much, I left for the peaceful environs of Lakewood.

What bothers me about this story is the growing evidence of parasitic development, a favorite complaint of mine. That’s where development moves in and commands good profits partly on the intrinsic appeal of a particular neighborhood, but then works towards the demise of the very neighborhood character that brought it there in the first place. It’s the same complaint I have with McMansions and similar treatments of our East Dallas neighborhoods. Airports have been struggling with this for decades; people move next to an airport because of jobs and convenience, then complain when planes fly over. Go figure.

Deep Ellum’s past cultural value to our city is without question, but the value of the current version is fair game for debate. This appears to be only the beginning and will be very interesting to watch it play out.

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