By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Like the old Jerry's, the building occupied by Capitol Pub is a very creative reuse of an existing older structure. Roger referred to one of the previous tenants as "Wino Pizza," which I took to be a derisive shorthand, until he showed me the before picture. There it was on the front of the building—a brightly colored sign that said, "Wino Pizza."
Also lost from the area, thanks to the recent changes, is a business named "Jugs" that was next door to a business named "Buns."
You know, you live in East Dallas long enough—or too long—and you develop a certain blind eye for sleaze. I wonder how many mature Parkies got only this far and started shrieking at each other, "Jugs, Buns, Wino Pizza! Turn the car around!"
Or their children: "'Jugs, Buns, Wino Pizza.' Park the car."
The Andres brothers drove me up and down Henderson but also deeper into the neighborhoods on both sides, where block after block of down-at-the-heels 1920s bungalows have been scraped to make way for fancy-pants condo and apartment developments.
I don't want to get into a whole thing here about gentrification and affordable housing, which are important issues. I have known enough people and families in these little neighborhoods to know that you had two kinds of residents previous to this change.
There were stable, upwardly mobile Mexican-American families who bought these houses for $10,000 in the mid-'70s and have now sold them for $250,000. They're up and out—the American dream.
Then you had completely ghastly God-awful crime-bin apartment buildings like the one my wife chased a purse-snatcher into in the early 1980s because when my wife gets mad she gets totally crazy. When I had to do the manly thing and go in there to look for her purse I was so scared I thought I was going to cry.
Sorry. I do not miss that building. Good riddance, and I hope they moved the whole thing—lock, stock and barrel—to Irving, which deserves it.
Because the Andreses are young, because they know this ground like the backs of their hands, and because their father got them into the area on a good basis, they have been able to perfectly capture the new zeitgeist.
"The planners always talk about how they want to develop 'live and work' environments," Marc said. "We think it's live and play."
The young payment-makers don't care where they work, he said. They work all over. But they want to live and play in a streetscape where they can walk their dogs to the Capitol Pub, meet friends and maybe do some more pub crawling without risking a D.U.I. Like in Paris.
My guess is that the opportunity the Andreses have spotted on Henderson is just a few degrees off from what somebody else sees in the area between Baylor University Medical Center and downtown, which is just a twist and a turn different from what somebody else sees in the Cedars, in Uptown or Bishop Arts.
Each of these areas happens because it taps into the new emerging urban class. That's not unique to Dallas. It's national. But each one happens a little differently on its own turf—and works—because somebody like the Andres brothers is right there waiting for it, knows the ground and also, for whatever reason, happens to be in the right position.
I worry that the old downtown is in the wrong position. I don't think many of the people holding downtown are especially tuned to the zeitgeist. The übermeister of downtown, Robert Decherd of Belo Corp., seems to think the secret will be tidier parks.
I was here a few decades ago when the owners of downtown did everything they could to scour away the sidewalk-level streetscape, which they thought was dirty and cheap. Now reproducing it from scratch is proving to be daunting.
Plus, when have you ever seen a single big government initiative to make things happen in real estate that ever worked? Especially in a top-down town like Dallas, how do we know we aren't just looking at 12 guys who hold a bad hand full of downtown real estate who are trying to use our tax money to bail themselves out?
Given the incredible energy bubbling up in the concentric rings, why wouldn't we just wait for the market to work itself out naturally in those areas? Then maybe 10 years from now there will be so many people jammed in cheek by jowl all around the edges of downtown and the rents will be so high, all of a sudden redoing those old asbestos silos downtown will begin to pay out.
I'm still a devout cosmopolitologist. But I'm kind of back-sliding on my faith in the Church of We-Have-to-Save-Downtown. I may go across the street and join the Church of Let-Downtown-Save-Itself.