Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Freaky Slow Development on Spring Valley

Spring Valley Corridor
Urban, mixed-use, walkable. Does that sound familiar? Does that picture look familiar? It's West Spring Valley Road. Or at least it was the vision of West Spring Valley Road that was dangled in front of Richardson residents almost five years ago. Since then, State Farm built an eleventy-seven story office tower up north in a whole new neighborhood called CityLine. Raytheon is building a big, new corporate campus next door. Whole Foods is busy stocking up gluten-free pizzas for the insurance agents and engineers who will live and work and shop up there.

Meanwhile, what's happening along Spring Valley Road? You hope I'll say something like what's in that picture, right? But you expect me to say nothin', right? Well, you're wrong... in both cases. After the jump, south Richardson's own development news.

Jimmy Johns
Source: Jimmy John's.
North Richardson gets State Farm, Raytheon and Whole Foods. South Richardson is to get a Jimmy John's. Well, maybe not exactly Jimmy John's. Some unspecified fast food restaurant anyway. With a drive-through. And certainly not the building in the photo above. That's a stock photo of a two-tenant building, whereas we know for sure Richardson is on track to get a standalone fast food restaurant. Maybe we are to believe that Jimmy John's freaky fast delivery will somehow make up for the freaky slow development on the West Spring Valley Corridor.

A fast food restaurant with a drive-through is what the City Plan Commission (CPC) just approved for the northeast corner of Spring Valley Road and Central Expressway. Expect the City Council to go along.

There's a parking lot and an ATM on the site now. Here's why city staff thinks a Jimmy John's is an appropriate upgrade for that corner:
The Vision Study envisions that this area will establish a new southern entry to the City of Richardson and was identified as a catalyst site due to being located at a key corner, with possibilities of a mixed-used building with retail and residential uses along with additional commercial buildings and urban retail. Staff discussed the vision of the area with the property owner, but the owner feels the design of the drive-thru restaurant would not necessarily hinder the future development of the site envisioned in the Phase 1 Vision Study.
That's right. When you think "new southern entry" to the city, when you think "catalyst site," when you think "mixed-use building," don't you automatically think Jimmy John's? People at city hall must. At least, there's no record that the CPC laughed at this statement by the developer: "In order to further our efforts in creating a more urban infill development, we will include bike parking as an option." Below is an aerial view of that corner. You tell me how many people are going to be riding their bikes to a Jimmy John's at that location? Convince me that bike racks are a serious attempt to make this neighborhood one of complete streets?
Comerica Bank
Almost five years after the Vision Study and all the city can get is a Jimmy John's? Really? And think that a new fast food restaurant with a drive-through at the southern entry to our city won't "necessarily hinder the future development of the site envisioned in the Phase 1 Vision Study?" Really? You tell me how a standalone fast food restaurant with a drive through leads to that vision in the first picture. Because I think you can't get there from here. Not even on a bike. Really.

And that's who's not listening to me now.


Mark Steger said...

A reader points out that this property is not included in the West Spring Valley Corridor study area. The reader is correct. But rather than excuse the development, this fact only raises another flaw. Any urban planning study that limits itself to Spring Valley Road west of Central Expressway and ignores the section of Spring Valley Road from Central Expressway east to the DART station is fatally flawed. Central Expressway is a scar tearing Richardson apart. A central challenge (pun intended) of urban planning in Richardson is finding ways to heal that gash and knit the neighborhoods east and west of Central Expressway. Spring Valley Road needs this most of all. Otherwise, West Spring Valley Road is forever cut off from that DART station and mass transit, which is key to developing the mixed-use, walkable neighborhood envisioned in that West Spring Valley Corridor study.

Mark Steger said...

At the February 9, 2015, City Councl meeting, the council voted 6-0 (with Solomon absent) to deny the rezoning request to build a Jimmy John's restaurant with drive through on the site. My compliments to the City Council.