cityplace sam's clubIf you’ve been following the pending plans (and complaints) about building a new Sam’s Club big-box retailer right next to CityPlace on Central, you should read this brief commentary by Dallas News editorial writer Rudy Bush, who is starting to rival the DMN’s Robert Wilonsky’s ability to crank out interesting pieces on the DMN blog.

Anyway, Bush points out exactly how it came to be that Crow’s developers managed to get approval to build a 100,000-square-foot retail building smack-dab in the middle of an area the city has targeted for higher density and walkability. (Yes, there’s a lot of walking inside those cavernous Sam’s stores, but that’s not the kind of walkability the city had in mind for this site.)

The short answer for how everything happened: Crow asked for council and city planning approval to build a big-box store on the site, and they received it.

Despite some currently fuzzy memories Downtown, Bush clearly explains the process and how this deal fell through the cracks. Not maliciously or surreptitiously through the cracks. Just plain slid on through with no apparent malice.

There’s a bigger story here, but it’s not one any of us really wants to hear. Everything that happened on this deal happened publicly, the Crow guys jumped through all of the hoops the city placed before them, and the area’s council member at the time (Pauline Medrano) apparently knew Crow planned to build a big-box store there and didn’t have a problem with it.

Some of us like to believe there’s a conspiracy around every corner when it comes to developers and bureaucrats and politicians. But sometimes (and this case appears to be one of those times) the people who could have done something to oppose this project just weren’t paying attention at the right time.

And that includes anyone, like me, who now believes it’s a huge lost opportunity for the area; all of the documents were right there saying what Crow wanted to do. None of us simply took the time to look for and read them.

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