At long last, that proposed Greenville Avenue bowling alley, next to Good Records, just went before the Dallas City Council -- its last hope following the City Plan Commission's gutter ball over the summer. But District 14 rep Angela Hunt -- who, along with Pauline Medrano, birthed the Lower Greenville Planned Development District ordinance that mandates a specific use permit for late-hours operation -- wasn't in attendance for the vote; she's out sick today. You may recall it was Hunt who asked the council to defer the vote on the bowling alley when it first came in front of the council two weeks ago. She said she needed "more time to see if neighborhood leaders and business owners can find common ground."
But in the end, it was Pauline Medrano who asked the council to support the CPC's decision to deny the specific use permit. Said Medrano, she's in agreement with the neighborhood associations who have said that "Lowest Greenville deserves a more balanced neighborhood -- more shopping, more community retail." Said Medrano, she wants that stretch of Greenville to look like Bishop Arts. So, she said: No.
Before it voted, the council had many questions. Dwaine Caraway, who kept insisting Dallas is "business friendly," invited Madison Partners' Susan Reese to come to his neck of the woods. "I have some places in Oak Cliff we would love to have you," he told her.
Caraway and Carolyn Davis also wanted further clarification, asking Reese: Do you really need the till-2 a.m. SUP to build the bowling alley? Reese said yes, because no one would want to sink $1.5 million into a bar-restaurant-bowling alley that had to close at midnight.
Tennell Atkins asked Medrano: What's the real issue? Parking? She said yes, but also "the intensity and the noise." He needed a list. "The clientele, maybe people who are inebriated and disorderly," said Theresa O'Donnell, head of Sustainable Development. "And the number of parking spaces," added David Cossum, the assistant director.
Sheffie Kadane: "If this was approved, that does not mean, according to what I am reading, they have to put a bowling alley there, does it?" Cossum told him: Well, actually, the SUP is contingent upon the installation of those six lanes. At which point Caraway chimed in again. He just doesn't get why Madison needs those extra two late-night hours to build the bowling alley. "It makes the difference between having a tenant who will do it and one who won't," Reese said, referring to Barcadia's Brooke Humphries, who would run the place and who may take the proposal elsewhere.
We'll find out sooner than later: At 2:17 p.m., the council voted to uphold the CPC's denial of the late-hours permit. At which point Mayor Mike Rawlings told Reese, if there's any interest in opening that bowling alley "in the West End or downtown, I'd love to discuss that in the future."
According to the city, it received 22 letters in favor of the project, and only nine opposed. But since CPC voted it down, the item required 3/4 of the council to approve. Which, in the end, didn't matter.
Before the council took its vote, Reese reminded the council that she spoke in favor of the SUP process last year even though she felt she was being "asked to give up property rights in order to do what was right for the neighborhood." Said Reese, "I put my properties and tenants in jeopardy" by allowing the city to close down businesses after midnight if they did not get the SUP. Reese said she had "more than 75 letters in support of the project," with "three to one in favor" among those living closest to the project
After Reese spoke, Jon Hetzel showed a video in support of the project, featuring conceptual renderings and endorsements by a few Greenville Ave. residents and property owners. Larry Vineyard, also of Madison, then spoke about the company -- which leases to the likes of Good Records, Cane Rosso, Twisted Root and other "good operators." Attorney Suzan Kedron also spoke, hinting that the city's PD ordinance may be out of bounds in its attempt to supersede existing liquor laws.
After that, four opposed to the project lined up at the podium -- with Bruce Richardson, but of course, at the front of the line, speaking fast and loud.
"The reason we are here to speak with you is pretty pictures and pretty stories ... do not reflect the reality of this application." He said previous tenants -- the Beagle, Lucky's Roadhouse -- promised to be just as family-friendly, and turned into bars and live-music venues.
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"Every concept is like this one," he said. "Only 36 people can bowl on six lanes in two hours. The rest of the people in that space ... are doing something else," he said, meaning: drinking. Then he showed some photos from The Highball in Austin: "It is not your dad's karaoke. .. Everything is not as it seems. Everything is as it's always been."
One resident spoke of wanting a "more balanced neighborhood," of his concern over dwindling property values. Stephen Melendi, president of the Belmont Neighborhood Association, said this ain't the Lucky Strike in Fort Worth, which is bigger, has one bar and doesn't have a neighborhood of homeowners surrounding the joint. They all returned to a familiar theme: This is just a bigger, bowling-er Beagle, nothing more.
Attorney Mike Northrup also spoke, again, referring to The Beagle "as the straw that broke the camel's back," meaning: It was too big, and brought too many people -- and too much noise, too many cars-- into the neighborhood. Northrup, speaking on behalf of five neighborhood groups, said the bowling alley would be just one more same-ol'-same-ol' in a neighborhood trying to get rid of big, bad bars: "We can hear the rowdy drunken patrons walking to their cars in the neighborhood."
And, in the end, the anti- side got what they wanted.