Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Zombie Gas Station at Brick Row

Brick Row 7-Eleven
Back in December, I blogged about a poorly suited idea for a prime spot for transit-oriented development (and by transit, I don't mean cars).
One request is for rezoning with special use permit for a gas station at the corner of Spring Valley and Centennial. That's right across the street from the new Brick Row development. Brick Row already has plenty of apartments. What it needs is retail, something to boost that whole neighborhood around the DART station. There'll be thousands of pedestrians getting on and off those trains every day. Why do we need a gas station there to greet them? It's 20th century thinking in a 21st century neighborhood.
Source: The Wheel.
That special use permit for a 7-Eleven gas station at Brick Row was rejected by the planning commission. Before consideration by the Richardson city council, it was withdrawn at the applicant's request.

Thought that was the end of it? Hardly. Like in all good zombie movies, the threat from zombies is never really dead and gone. After the jump, the return of the living dead.

At the September 10 city council meeting, a new special zoning request was presented to the city council for, yes, a 7-Eleven gas station at the corner of Spring Valley and Centennial. Did the city council stand up for transit-oriented development this time? Read on.

Council member Steve Mitchell made a big deal about the city's desire for "walkability" in the Spring Valley planned development. The applicant for the rezoning request argued that his gas station plan had walkability. Why? Because of the landscaping he proposed. Where he got the idea that adding a sidewalk and a few shrubs to hide a gas station's gas pumps equates to walkability was unexplained. Maybe he thinks residents of Brick Row will be walking over to those gas pumps with their 2-gallon gas cans in hand.

A developer for the troubled Brick Row spoke in favor of the rezoning, saying he would rather have gas pumps than not knowing what's going in there otherwise. I sensed desperation in his pitch -- d*mn the future for a few cars that might help save my failing development today. Steve Mitchell justified his "yes" vote because, he thinks, Richardson has a lack of filling stations. Maybe he thinks the Chevron station just down the block at the corner of Spring Valley and Greenville is too far away. Laura Maczka said this is a good place to get your after school Slurpee. Scott Dunn said, "We as Texans love our cars." Amir Omar pointed out that Eastside has a 7-Eleven and no gas pumps, but supported the rezoning request anyway and hoped that Brick Row will learn the lessons of Eastside. How a "yes" vote does anything other than reward developers for refusing to learn that lesson was left unexplained. Mark Solomon reasonably expressed doubts that the outdoor seating area shown in the developer's plans will attract checkers players to a gas station, but then went ahead and supported the rezoning anyway. The request passed 7-0.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda. That's what Maczka and Mitchell both said almost apologetically for their "yes" votes, for abandoning the vision of transit-oriented development that the city has been pitching ever since a DART station was opened at Spring Valley Rd. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. That's what I'll be saying every time I drive by that gas station on Centennial Blvd and lament what coulda, shoulda, woulda been if we had elected a city council with a little backbone to hold out for the vision of transit-oriented development.

1 comment:

Sassy Texan said...

Seems you have hit the nail on the head. One major criteria of a council representing the citizens is to have a stronger backbone than tailbone. And maybe a funny bone regarding slurpees is last.

Create a vision and not follow it is a prescription for financial failure. But we are already there.

Cheri Duncan-Hubert