Source: Hermansen Land Development, Inc.
After the jump, what the city plans to do with the property.
In yesterday's post, I questioned whether this $2.2 million purchase received adequate discussion. In fact, I couldn't recall any such discussion. It turns out, I was half right. Going back through the city council meeting minutes, I found this consent agenda item from the council's June 25, 2012, meeting:
According to the meeting minutes, consent agenda items "ARE CONSIDERED TO BE ROUTINE BY THE CITY COUNCIL" and receive "NO SEPARATE DISCUSSIONS." I would have thought that spending $2.2 million is not "routine" and is deserving of at least some discussion. It's not that I necessarily oppose the expense, but I do question the process.Resolution No. 12-13, authorizing the City Manager to negotiate and execute an Assignment of Contracts with Hermansen Land Development, Inc. regarding the purchase of approximately 3.0144 acres of land and approximately 0.339 acres of land out of the Lavinia McCommas Survey, Abstract No. 927, City of Richardson, Dallas County, Texas, commonly known as 750 S. Central Expressway and 758 S. Central Expressway, respectively; authorizing negotiation and execution of other agreements and documents and other actions necessary to purchase said properties.
Source: City of Richardson.
The purchase is now water under the bridge. But the consent agenda item also suggests that the city already has definite plans for its newly owned (soon to be) vacant lot. Namely, "an Assignment of Contracts with Hermansen Land Development, Inc." While before I was concerned only with the process used to push this redevelopment activity forward, now I'm concerned with the substance as well.
Go to Hermansen's website and you'll find a slick presentation of something called Richardson Restaurant Park. That graphic above is an artist's rendering of Hermansen's ideas for that (soon to be) vacant lot. Take a good look at it. Hermansen envisions marketing pad sites to restaurants like T.G.I. Friday's, Texas Roadhouse and Cantina Laredo. Hermansen also envisions bulldozing the businesses along Floyd Road for a parking lot. (See here for what I think about building more parking lots.)
Two years ago, the city held a series of meetings to gather stakeholders' inputs on the aims of redevelopment of the West Spring Valley Corridor, which includes the land in question here. Stakeholders were polled on many different redevelopment ideas for the neighborhood (using keypad polling "clickers" that city staffers seemed inordinately smitten with). What rated highest with the stakeholders were the pretty pictures of sidewalk cafes and strolling shoppers.
Now, two long years later, in the first significant step in the long journey of redevelopment, what do we get instead? A restaurant row of T.G.I. Friday's. It's nothing like the vision the stakeholders had. It's already outdated before the groundbreaking ceremony even takes place. It's like southwest Richardson is being updated from the 1950s to the 1980s. It does nothing to enhance the livability of the surrounding neighborhood. After the city insists on changes to that drawing above and puts more landscape buffering between the neighborhood and that parking lot, the disconnect will be even more stark. Walkability? Forget about it.
In their zeal to bulldoze that eyesore of a Continental Inn, the city is showing a stunning lack of vision for the kind of sustainable, livable development that could and should replace it. It's all so disappointing, it could drive a man to drink. Thank God, there's Friday's.