Boxed In, or: Once Again, From Oak Cliff, the Call for All of Dallas to "Think Small"

Since it's Follow-Up Wednesday here, may I direct your attention to a piece Jason Roberts posted this morning on Go Oak Cliff, which is more or less a response-slash-reaction-to Schutze's piece yesterday about that Oak Cliff Walmart planned for Fort Worth Ave. Not to reopen Tuesday's still-fresh can o' worms, Roberts' piece, which is also generating quite the back-and-forth, isn't necessarily about Walmart, but about how Oak Cliff, per its year-old motto, needs to think small, lest the landscape become further pockmarked with empty big boxes -- an epidemic hardly specific to Oak Cliff, where, Roberts writes, "within a 5 mile radius you'll find shuttered Albertson's, KMart's, Mervyn's and beyond that Circuit City's, Expo Design Centers, Drug Emporiums, and more."

It's not about Walmart, Roberts insists, but the impact it could have on other stores, big and small, in the neighborhood. (Which is a question many of our neighborhoods will have to ask once Walmart begins opening those 14 planned locations, two of which -- a Sam's and a Walmart -- will sit right next to each other on Northwest Highway across from Bachman Lake and that Target on the other side of Lemmon Avenue.) What happens if and when the Walmarts run the mom-and-pops, or the other big boxes, out of business?

So what form works? It's simple: Think small. Who do we want to enable in our community, the small business storefront or the giant box? Which one allows for a small entrepreneur to get a toehold in business? Which one can be immediately reborn if the building closes? Which one is safe for children and the elderly to walk to? Which one creates pride in a community? Which one is the long term solution for helping the poor? Keep in mind, that 50% of residents in Dallas don't own a car...they're either too young, too old, too poor, or have disabilities. So which development is inclusive of all?

At which point he points out that W. Jefferson Boulevard, especially between Zang and Polk, is the perfect template. (Though it could use better parking; no one would argue with that.) Speaking of: Lunch at the Charco Broiler sounds good right about now.

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