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Know Your Deep Ellum Association and Deep Ellum Foundation

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In advance of this afternoon's City Plan Commission meeting, during which several Deep Ellum and Exposition Park bars and clubs will have their specific use permit hearings in the council chambers at City Hall, two Friends of Unfair Park have asked for some room to explain the differences between the Deep Ellum Association and the Deep Ellum Foundation. It's a rather simple clarification, actually: The Deep Ellum Association's made up of the small-business owners and residents who refuse to give up on the neighborhood, while the Deep Ellum Foundation consists of the property owners. Click here to see the list of Deep Ellum Foundation's board of trustees.

The two organizations were once tethered, but separated in February after some nasty squabbling. And now the Association wants to make it clear it's not behind the push for the granting of SUPs; that would be the Foundation, run by Barry Annino. And Annino has never made any secret of his intentions: "We want smaller bars, smaller clubs, not these big dance halls people pile into on weekends," he told Unfair Park in June 2006, when the city council approved the zoning changes in Deep Ellum. The ordinance will eliminate the big guys. ... We want to make to a place to live as opposed to a place to abuse, like it is now. Now, it's not working."

That said, first up is Alison Faye of the Deep Ellum Association, who also pens the blog The Sub-Rosa; she's followed by Mark Roberts, co-owner of the Pawn Gallery.

Writes Faye:

Lots of confusion about the Deep Ellum Association and the Deep Ellum Foundation. I need to make this perfectly clear:

In their origin, the Deep Ellum Association (a non-profit organization) was to be financially supported by The Deep Ellum Foundation (a supporting organization). The Foundation existed exclusively to help the Association.

The Association's funds come from an operating account that generates money from membership fees and fund raising.

The Foundation's funds come from a PID account (Public Improvement District) that generates property owner's overcasting themselves and overpaying .. taxes. That percentage dumps into the PID. This is a significantly larger account.

The PID $ is supposed to be spent every year on public improvement, marketing, and efforts to maintain and strengthen the neighborhood.

For many years they worked hand in hand... until 2003 when the Foundation had lawyers come in and remove strategic areas of the Bylaws including the word "exclusively" and several sentences about the election structure of the Foundation among other things.

Then, in February 2006, these organizations split. The Association was kicked out their office on Commerce, and the PID funds are now directed solely by The Foundation.

Now, 9 months later, The Association has a new office on Elm St. (2822), and I am in there every day trying to organize 16 years of paperwork, and get this service to the community up and running.

I've spent many hours of MY OWN TIME trying to help out on the SUP cause, and though I cannot speak for the Association, please note that it is not the Foundation, and is not opposed to the clubs. The Association is made up of residents, business owners (all types) as well as a few land owners.

Note: Don Cass, a land owner, has came and spoke kindly about businesses in these SUP hearings. They are not all bad or trying to bulldoze the neighborhood. In fact Don Blanton (our landlord) was in today to take a look at the office, and yesterday he personally taught me how to use our trash compactor.

And on Save Deep Ellum's site, this is what Roberts has to say:

We wanted to post this up to negate some of the comments directed towards the nebulous “they” which our name occasionally becomes attached.

The purpose of the Deep Ellum Association is to represent business owners and residents in the area. The members of the Association work and live in the area and have similar concerns to many of our neighbors. There has been some confusion between our goals and the goals of the Deep Ellum Foundation, which consists of major property owners and real estate developers.

Just to clarify some points:

The Deep Ellum Association consists of small business owners and is all for business that run in a responsible manner, obey the laws and behave like good neighbors. This includes tattoo parlors, nightclubs, bars, restaurants and sex shops as well as the other diverse range of businesses in the area. Deep Ellum is a bastion of music, art, culture and commerce and we embrace everything which promotes that end in healthy proportions.

The Deep Ellum Association does not support the coordinated efforts of developers, major property owners and the Deep Ellum Foundation have been engaging in to close down business and gentrify the neighborhood. A large number of Associations members would be directly affected by an increase in rent/taxes, not to mention the unique history and texture of this amazing area would be obliterated.

We are of the opinion that some development is inevitable but should be coordinated with a master plan which includes as much of the old as possible, incorporating new construction as appropriate. We believe the plan should be an updated version of Plan Development 269, which was developed by an urban planning firm at the request of the city. (This plan can be found at http://groups.google.com/group/deep-ellum/files)

The SUP is a city-wide program and was not invented by The Deep Ellum Association or Foundation. Oak Lawn and Greeville Avenue bar/clubs all have to get use permits. The SUPs were brought into the area by the major property owners to combat some of the clubs which were not good neighbors and cause problems. The concept of parking allotments for square footage is not supported by the Deep Ellum Association. We are working to maintain what already is a walking entertainment area, so the idea of having mandatory parking is contrary to our goals.

Roberts also invites everyone to the November 15 neighborhood meet-and-greet, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Crustaceans, 2711 Elm. Or you can probably see most of those folks today at City Hall, around 1:30. --Robert Wilonsky

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