By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
A scary thought. Oak Cliff people tend to pronounce even the name, Lower Greenville, with a certain sidelong glance. Maute, the former Winnetka Heights president, says, "For Winnetka Heights the big deal is that we don't want Davis Street to turn into Greenville Avenue."
Amonett, head of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, vows with a certain fervor it will never happen to Oak Cliff. "Nobody's going to come over here and piss in anybody's yard," he says.
But how do they know that?
O'Donnell says it's not easy to control drinking and behavior with ordinances. "If it's a handful of neighbors going down to have a sandwich and maybe a beer at a restaurant and they walk over, that's one thing. If it's a bunch of college kids driving in from SMU or from Allen, and they're parking in the neighborhood and causing trouble, that's where the rub is. You can't zone responsible behavior."
And all of that—to drink or not to drink and how much—is a debate within the non-immigrant minority. The larger question about North Oak Cliff—New Austin or New Guanajuato—remains on the table, unanswered.
Brent Jackson, a grocery store developer, may have a hint. Jackson, 35, a product of St. Mark's School and the Park Cities, is president of his own company, Oaxaca Interests, which has acquired property near Kessler Park for an organic grocery store.
He had his own demographics done. He won't disclose specific information, which he says is proprietary, but he will say that his demographer saw both elements—upscale professional and Hispanic blue-collar—in the crystal ball for North Oak Cliff and that both elements together are a good fit for his purposes.
Jackson concedes his plans for a high-end grocery store are on ice right now until the financial markets calm down, but he says North Oak Cliff is worth waiting for.
"We believe our site to have sound fundamentals, and that is our investment strategy—to really find something that is a long-term investment."
That's pretty good skin in the game.
Mariana Griggs, a teacher and community garden activist, wife of Scott Griggs, the lawyer, is an ardent partisan of Oak Cliff, not so much for what it is at this moment as for what she intends it to be.
She spoke recently of returning from a trip to Amsterdam with her husband, where they had sought ideas on how to make Oak Cliff more bike-friendly. She admitted that re-entry from beautiful Holland to scrappy Oak Cliff involved moments of pain on the way in from the airport. "Oh, I have to come back here?" she said to herself. "Miserable!"
"But then," she says, "you have to look at it again from a point of view where you say, 'Here, I have the chance to move everybody in that [bike-friendly] direction.'"
Even if the rest of the city's older areas are also coming back and began doing so ahead of Oak Cliff, Grigg's sense of adventure—her pride of pioneering—may be what sets this particular realm of Dallas apart and gives it a leg up. And who knows? North Oak Cliff may already be a leg ahead of the game.