Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Long Road to Richardson Restaurant Park

What the Customer Wanted

Spring Valley Corridor

In 2010, the City of Richardson embarked on the long journey of revitalization of the West Spring Valley Corridor. It started with a series of community meetings. The residents were clear on what they wanted to see in southwest Richardson: Urban. Mixed-use. Walkable. Pocket parks. Think Parisian boulevard.

What the City Heard

The City listened to residents and envisioned a glorious catalyst project to jump start the entire corridor's revitalization.

The future vision for this collection of properties includes a new mixed-use environment on the full block. Building faces could be established on James Drive, Floyd Road and US 75, giving the development a distinct, unified architectural character on all visible frontages. The land use mix of the new development could include ground floor retail and office with residential uses above.

Message received. So far, so good.

What the Developer Offered

After a two year process of rezoning, the City of Richardson bought the Continental Motel ("I Now Own a Hotel"), demolished it, sold the land to a developer, and hoped for the best. This is what the developer wanted to build.

Richardson Restaurant Park
Source: Hermansen Land Development, Inc.

A traditional, 1980s-style Restaurant Row. Do you see any similarity between this rendering and the vision? Neither did I ("Bait and Switch in Southwest Richardson").

What the Customer (Eventually) Got

Today, eleven long years after the City embarked on revitalization, we can finally see light at the end of the tunnel. Whether we will emerge into the sunshine or into rain remains to be determined. This week, the City Council approved the (last?) rezoning request for this property in order to add a drive-through chicken restaurant and a beer garden, with room for one last building to be built if a tenant (or two) can be identified (pizza?).

Richardson Restaurant Park
Source: Hermansen Land Development, Inc.
How close is the final product to the original vision? Not very. And don't forget that Richardson Restaurant Park is just one tiny part of the entire West Spring Valley Corridor, which is 1.5 miles long. This development that we agonized over for so long was going to be the catalyst to jump start revitalization of the whole district. At this rate, we'll have an urban, mixed-use, walkable land use form with pocket parks and a boulevard suitable for strolling in about, oh I don't know, a few hundred years. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day either. Until then, we just might be able to enjoy a beer in the Biergarten...if that does end up getting built. But now I'm tired. Prost!


Louis Burns said...

Yeah, it's nothing like the original vision. Each city council that voted for a requested change probably didn't realize that the tiny request here or there would add up to a result that is not substantially different from a conventional strip shopping area. It's too bad they let the vision go piece by piece.

Rob Dentremont said...


May I ask why you are not a member of Richardson Urbsn & Neighborhood Discussions? Your [excellent] work is often discussed over there, sometimes much more than here at The Wheel.

Rob Dentremont said...

I think the word “park” in the name is funny. Maybe the world’s first concrete park? I visited the place one time, was so put off by the uncomfortableness of the place that I never returned.

Rob Dentremont said...

Yeah, Louis, just another no-character strip on the highway. The word @oark” lured me there once, what a letdown.

Rob Dentremont said...

No editing (or deleting) possible here?

Mark Steger said...

Lots of comments, Rob.
1. I am a member of the Facebook group "Richardson Urban and Neighborhood Discussions." Lots of good discussion there. I recommend it.
2. For years, I called it "Restaurant Row" instead of "Restaurant Park."
3. "No-character strip on the highway." I think you're right. There are countless other "restaurant parks" lining America's freeways. This one is nice, but hardly memorable. ​
4. Commmenting on this blog is its worst feature. I thought you could delete your own comments, if not edit them. For edits, I suggest you copy-and-paste your first comment into a new comment box, edit it, and submits. Sucks, I know, but that's what I do.