District Judge Emily Tobolowsky issued an order Friday blocking, at least for now, developer Trammell Crow's plan to build a 130,000-square-foot Sam's Club in Cityplace, just north downtown.
Residents in the neighborhood near Haskell Avenue and Central Expressway won a temporary restraining order that prevents the city from issuing building permits for the East Village retail development that includes the warehouse store. They'll be back in court in two weeks to seek an injunction that would put the project on hold until a trial decides the zoning issue.
Members of the East Village Association, a group representing area residents, claim Trammell Crow misled them about the company's plans for the project, and neighbors weren't aware of the Sam's Club until not long before the Dallas Plan Commission was set to approve the company's development plan. Neighbors say they expected something similar to West Village across the freeway, with smaller retail shops and restaurants.
"It's not over yet," Anthony Ricciardelli, the East Village Association's attorney said, "but I'm very excited about this ruling."
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He praised the judge for preserving the status quo in the face of what he called an unlawful notification of the proposed zoning changes.
Residents from the area filled the plaintiffs' half of the courtroom, most sporting "No Big Box" buttons. They provided the lightest moment of the hearing, which lasted well into the afternoon, when they broke out in laughter after Trammell Crow's lawyer, Jay Madrid, said that the Sam's Club would be an enhancement to the neighborhood.
Members of the association were resolute after the hearing.
"This is good but it's temporary," Anthony Johnson, one of the organizations officers, "it's step one of a much longer battle."