Oak Cliff - The corner of Davis Street and Zang Boulevard is ground zero for the transformation of north Oak Cliff. Construction cranes tower over the busy intersection south of downtown Dallas, where workers are putting up three apartment and retail buildings.
The developments surround the stop for the Oak Cliff streetcar, which connects with downtown.
The first of hundreds of new residents will start moving into the projects this summer.
"We are targeting right around July to open the clubhouse and the first units in our project," said Michael Blackwell of developer Crescent Communities.
Crescent's Novel Bishop Arts development will include 302 luxury apartments and about 24,000 square feet of retail space on the northeast corner of Zang and Davis.
"There will be a minimum of five restaurants — probably six to eight," Blackwell said. "We've already had a lot of interest."
Rather than build a single, large Uptown-style apartment block, Crescent's development is broken up with two buildings and a variety of exterior designs along Zang and Beckley Avenue.
A public space on the corner with outdoor eating, a fountain and lush landscaping opens onto the project's retail street between the two buildings.
"This is hopefully going to create an eclectic buzz and energy and a lively pedestrian avenue," Blackwell said.
The smaller brick building facing Davis contrasts with a narrow "flat iron" building across the public square.
"We looked at 1920s buildings around Dallas and Fort Worth," Blackwell said. "These were the sorts of buildings being built in commercial scenarios around the country. That's where the inspiration comes from."
Crescent Communities' Novel Bishop Arts project will have more than 300 apartments and retail space.
Designed by WDG Architecture, Crescent's Oak Cliff buildings range from five to six stories.
Crescent has sold a neighboring block to San Antonio-based grocer H-E-B, which plans to build a Central Market on the site.
"Selling it to them meant we were forgoing a companion project across the street," Blackwell said. "But I couldn't be more excited about Central Market."
Crescent also sold a tract at the north end of its property on Zang to Houston-based townhouse developer InTown Homes, which plans to construct about 50 homes.
"We talked with several builders, but they were the group we wanted," Blackwell said.
Just across Zang from Crescent's project, developer Alamo Manhattan is constructing two buildings with 220 rental units. And there's more than 20,000 square feet of shopping on the ground floor of the $57 million project, on the north and south side of Davis.
Alamo Manhattan's five- and six-story mixed-use buildings face a small corner plaza that includes the Bishop Arts streetcar station.
"We should have the first apartment units ready in March," said Alamo Manhattan CEO Matt Segrest. "The contractor has done a fantastic job of staying on schedule and on budget."
Segrest said about 20 percent of the shop and restaurant space in the buildings is leased.
"We feel privileged to be part of this," he said. "It's a great story for Dallas."
Dallas architect GFF designed the buildings.
Along with Alamo Manhattan's and Crescent's projects, developer Exxir Capital has started work nearby on a multi-block redevelopment at Bishop Avenue and Melba Street.
The first two retail buildings in the Exxir project are under construction. The developer recently filed permits with the city to build 246 apartments in the project between Davis and Jefferson Boulevard.
Houston developer Urban Genesis is building two small apartment buildings across Melba Street that will have about six dozen units in four-story buildings. New townhouse developments and small retail buildings are also popping up in the same area.
Longtime Oak Cliff resident and architect Kevin Sloan said smaller projects being built in the Bishop Arts district will also have an impact.
"Those projects kind of burrow back into the fabric of the neighborhoods," Sloan said. "It's the granular things that offer some real alternatives to the bigger, high-velocity projects."
Sloan said continued redevelopment of the area is a given.
"My wife and I moved here in 1994 and we've had the pleasure of seeing the entire arch of the neighborhood," he said. "Cities by their very nature chew themselves up. The question is how do you do it."
Blackwell said that even with all the construction, he hopes Oak Cliff hangs on to its unique flavor and doesn't become another Uptown.
"What's so awesome about this neighborhood is the interest in nostalgia," he said. "It's counter to what people think Dallas is.
"You see the old side of Dallas."
Source: Dallas Morning News