Things Learned From City Hall Lobbyist Registration Forms, One in a Series

Things Learned From City Hall Lobbyist Registration Forms, One in a Series
Harry Wilonsky

Sam's already gone though Willis Johnson's lobbyist registrations forms, which were due to the city at the end of last week. But there's still plenty of ground to cover, as evidenced by the five pages' worth of revelations stashed away on the City Secretary's Office's Web site. So, where to begin? Let's close our eyes and get random and .... and ... and ... here we go: Law Offices of Roger Albright representing Half Price Books. That looks interesting. Oooh, and it is, kinda: Says the form, Albright met with council member Sheffie Kadane and Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez in April to discuss "potential use of City's eminent domain power to acquire client's property for use as a fire station despite client's objection."

Albright, a zoning attorney who does much lobbying at City Hall, says the city wants to replace Dallas Fire-Rescue Station No. 37 on Greenville Avenue and Blackwell Street, a relic that dates back to 1954 that was built, it says here, "to provide fire protection to the annexed rural community of Vickery." The city, says the attorney, had several pieces of land in mind -- most on Shady Brook Lane between Northwest Highway and Hemlock Avenue, site of the original Half Price location.

Only, one thing: Half Price still owns that land. And not only that, but it has plans -- way down the road, says Albright -- to develop the parcel.

"We explained to them we had carefully been blocking all that land up, and sometime in the future, when the economy isn't completely in dumper, we'll redevelop that whole corridor," Albright says. "It makes all the sense in the world."

Albright says there are no definitive plans for the redo -- perhaps yet another move for the flagship store a decade on, maybe something else. "Whatever we do, we could make this really neat. Moral of the story is: If you can straighten out this pesky economy, we'll do something cool with that corner."

Gonzalez and I keep swapping messages, but Albright says he convinced the city to look elsewhere for the fire station -- there are, after all, myriad properties in and around Vickery Meadow in need of a redo, Albright says. And, he adds, more space will come available as Timbercreek begins siphoning off retail closer to its opening.


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