Couple weeks ago I wrote a column about the sudden anomalous enthusiasm of The Dallas Morning News editorial page for getting rid of scrap yards and a dead animal transfer station on Pontiac Street at Cedar Crest, next to the Cadillac Heights neighborhood. The News said they wanted to do it because they wanted to help Southern Dallas, but city council member Pauline Medrano said she was suspicious. She saw things going on at City Hall that made her think somebody must want the land.
A week ago Dallas rich person Mark Cuban announced plans for a megapolitan huge-opolis development just up the hill from the area in question, right on the other side of Cadillac Heights. From what I have seen, it will be a mixed-use sports and residential office university nightclub-type place. The only thing I haven't heard mentioned is jai alai, but it looks to me like the project would be ideal for some kind of residential jai alai retirement retail adventure travel thing. Of course, I'm not a total expert on real estate.
Almost all, if not every last damn scrap, of Cadillac Heights is slated for demolition, and when that gets done Mr. Cuban will have an unimpeded path to the river -- except for those scrap yards and the dead animal place.
Yesterday I happened to be touring the area when I chanced upon an impromptu outdoor meeting between city council members Dwaine Caraway and Pauline Medrano, State Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway and William Shirley, CEO of Texas By-Products, the animal place (a transfer station, not a rendering plant). I just drive around looking for stuff like this.
Nobody tips me off. Honest.
It was quite interesting. Councilman Caraway is adamant that all of the businesses on Pontiac Street must go away, vamoose, take a powder, even though they are industrial and manufacturing companies and even though they are on land that is zoned for industrial and manufacturing.
"They're out of here," he told me. "They've got to go."
He compared them to the prostitution motels he helped run off from other parts of his council district. "Who's going to come in here and do something nice with that stuff here?" he asked.
Earlier in the day Caraway had launched a diatribe during a city council briefing at City Hall saying he wants high-end retail with sidewalk cafes in the area.
Shirley, clearly choosing his words carefully, said he assumed Cuban had been able to amass his holdings less than a mile away because the land was very cheap. He suggested one reason the land might be cheap was the presence just over half a mile from Cuban's planned Wonderview development of a huge City of Dallas sewer plant that smells so bad the odor can knock your hat off. He said the presence of the sewer plant was the main reason people had located dead animal plants and such in the area, so as to come under the penumbra of an already bad smell-type situation.
Caraway wasn't having any of it. He said repeatedly in response to my very polite questions that the sewer plant isn't going anywhere but the businesses gotta go.
I asked what good it will do to get rid of the businesses if you don't get rid of the hat-knocking-off foul odor situation from the sewer plant.
"I don't know the answer to that," he said. "But they've got to go."
Medrano didn't say much. I did catch her shaking her head and staring at her feet a lot. I think she's on to something.
As I drove off, I wondered if there were any way, with HazMat suits and noseplugs and other cool technology, that Cuban could do a white-water rafting thing in the sewer plant. Well, brown-water rafting.
Wow. Dallas could become the brown-water rafting capital of America. Probably the world.
Finally put this burg on the damn map.