Dallas has lots of awesome places to shop, and also some cool neighborhoods that aren't malls. But it's easy to confuse the two. Most recently, in a piece celebrating Dallas' transition toward walkable neighborhoods, the DMN pointed to the West Village as a place "often cited as Dallas' most promising pedestrian neighborhood."
Not quite. Review what is and isn't a neighborhood with our special guide below.
West Village It looks like a village and kind of feels like one. Unlike traditional malls, where people are just aggressively walking from store-to-store on a mission to buy shit, people in the WV tend to stroll the sidewalks in a manner that looks a bit more fun and spontaneous. There's some good independent businesses here that aren't connected to corporate chains. And the streets are narrow enough to prevent douchey Uptown drivers from speeding and running you over, which is also kind of neighborhood-like. But those streets don't belong to you. They're all private property, part of "joint development" venture between an architecture firm and two property companies that opened 2001.
Sure, there is an apartment complex inside the West Village that you can rent from, or more apartments on public streets across the way, not far from the property.
More recently, another developer called City Place Company came in to add another development to complement the current WV development, and it's scheduled to be all done in the fall of 2014. Still, does that make it a neighborhood? Or just an area where a lot of tasteful developers are cooperating together inside of Uptown, the actual neighborhood?
Verdict: Shopping Center.
Mockingbird Station It's a mixed use development where you can Shop, Eat, Live or Play. It's also next to a train station. Sounds urban! But wait. Go to the Mockingbird Station website and up comes an organized little directory of all the stores, the restaurants and the parking spots. No neighborhood association would be able to pull this off.
Verdict: Shopping Center
Bishop Arts District This little square of a shopping/dining/drinking district in Oak Cliff attracts many outsiders from the suburbs, giving it the feel of a shopping center.
Jim Lake Companies, a property company, credits Jim Lake Sr. with finding the abandoned trolley station in the 1980s, buying up the property and renting it out to new companies while maintaining the cute brick aesthetic.
Another developer, David Spence from Good Space, has most recently gotten the credit for bringing people to the area. Starting in 1995, Spence writes on his website, he decided to invest his money exclusively in the Bishop Arts neighborhood, renting to independent businesses like Hattie's and Emporium Pies. But the Bishop Arts area isn't a full-scale development-- it's just an area that a few developers have been pouring a lot of money into.
Verdict: Neighborhood with strong shopping center-like qualities, but not in a gross corporate way.
The Shops at Park Lane For people who don't want to pretend that they're sophisticated urbanites and just want to live next to a mall, the Park Lane Development is for you. Sure, it describes itself as "the ultimate urban neighborhood located in mid-town Dallas" which is cute, but there is no such thing as the neighborhood Ulta Cosmetics or the neighborhood Dick's Sporting Goods, just two of the many chains with a store here. The development opened in 2006 with retail, apartments and office space.
Verdict: Deeply delusional outdoor mall.
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Highland Park Village HPV isn't really trying to pretend to be a village, just a nice-looking plaza. Nothing wrong with that.
Verdict: Shopping center and proud of it.
Lower Greenville Dallas officials and local developers have been heavily involved in "rezoning" Lower Greenville over the last few years. Now, the sidewalks are nice and wide, there's a Trader Joe's and the supposed "bad bars" are gone. But despite all that, it's still a relaxed, neighborhood-y area. Just look at that 7-Eleven that hogs a bunch of parking spaces and threatens to tow your car if you use them or all the fun drunk people smoking on the porch of Single Wide -- none of that would fly in a carefully curated shopping center.
Verdict: Without a doubt, a neighborhood.