Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Restaurant Row: Now Serving

Monday night, the Richardson City Council approved a rezoning request to allow the construction of four restaurants on land previously occupied by the demolished Continental Inn on Central Expressway.

I've had my say on this well-conceived but mismanaged project many times before. Now that the rezoning is approved, I'll just say that the City Plan Commission ought to be feeling both good about themselves and disrespected at the same time. It was the CPC's rejection of the first submitted (unpopular) plan that led to the (less unpopular) plan that was ultimately approved by the city council Monday night. Good for the CPC. But then, the council took up the revised plan without sending it to the CPC for their expert consideration and advice. Bad for the city council. Why have a CPC if you're not going to draw on their experience in a matter such as this, the so-called catalyst project for the whole West Spring Valley Corridor Planned Development?

OK, I've said more than I intended to already. What I meant to say is that two people closer to the matter than I am have already said pretty much all that needs saying. After the jump, Cottonwood Heights NA President Jason Lemons and Richardson Heights NA President Richard Dotson. Both were speaking in an individual capacity and not for the associations they lead.

Jason Lemons:
The project does still fall outside the West Spring Valley Corridor PD which enjoys broad support from our neighborhood. My question at this point is what is our commitment to the PD moving forward? I've been asked this by several of my neighbors and I really don't know the answer to this. The city spent a significant amount of money and time and resources developing the plan and the PD but this is the first major development after it was actually enacted and we're already seeking major modification which to me sends a very mixed message with regards to the city's commitment to the PD. The second question I guess is what happens with the next development in the area? If we're going to override the PD again, what's the point in even having one? So, I would like to see a post-mortem to see where the PD currently stands.

Richard Dotson:
If you watched the hearing on public access, you'll recall that most of the speakers and several of the Council members had legitimate questions and concerns about this development.Tow in point,

Is it really going to be a catalyst?
What happens the next time someone wants to change the strategic blueprint?

I think there is also still quite a bit of misconception about how this project was handled with the neighborhoods.

In my private and professional life I've learned that the client or customer is always right, even when they are wrong.

My point is, there is a belief from some that communications was well and good with the neighborhoods on this project. That is simply not the case from our point of view.

When you serve a client, and they tell you over and over that something is wrong -- in this case that your communications and process isn't working -- you don't come back and say, "It is working."

You always come back and ask your client: "How can we make it better?"
All I can add is ... what they said.

Hem, haw... not knowing when to shut up, I just can't leave it at that. I have to add one more person's comments, Mayor Laura Maczka's. Whether intentional or not, I think she's addressing Lemons and Dotson, though maybe not in the way they'd like to hear.

Mayor Maczka:
Redevelopment is the talk we've talked. Now it's the walk we're walking.
I'm sure the mayor didn't mean it this way, but what I hear is her telling Jason Lemons that the city's commitment to the West Spring Valley Corridor PD is in the talk, not in the walk. The old adage applies: watch what they do, not what they say.

Mayor Maczka:
Somehow we've lost in translation is that the dialog with the neighborhoods began long before the CPC hearings. In this redevelopment world, the first thing that the city staff do ... go talk to the neighborhoods. It is the way we do business. We're finding more and more that the development is better if we hear from the residents before it shows up at a CPC hearing.
I'm sure the mayor didn't mean it this way, but what I hear is her telling Richard Dotson that when he says the process isn't working, the mayor is coming back at him and saying "It is working." Something is indeed being lost in translation.


Sassy Texan said...

Actually what Laura is saying is they have a plan in mind and we told you via hundreds of thousands of tax dollars spent on meeting with the neighborhoods on what our plan was. And now we are acting on it. Same self centered response, difference council. Maybe the response is worse.

But, no mention of the sale of land to the developer via the Richardson Improvement Corp yet?
Time will tell the agreements made before any public discussions on their intention.

Cheri Duncan-Hubert

Sassy Texan said...

One other point to make is the eerily similar bait and switch used on Brick Row. And we can now see how well that has turned out.

Mr Lemons and Mr Dotson should have some long conversations with Ms McCall and board at Highland Terrace. Nothing new in the "walk" Ms Maczka is so forcefully projecting and quite similar to those of council days gone by.


Mark Steger said...

"Richardson Restaurant Park Poised to Break Ground." Here it comes: another car-oriented strip center with no ties to neighborhood.