Over on Unfair Park, we've been covering this morning's announcement that the city's spending $1.3 million to rework two blocks of Lower Greenville Avenue with narrower streets, extra parking and extra flower planters and trees. (Check out the plans here.)
But one property owner nearly overshadowed that news with their plans for a one-acre "chef-driven urban food park" on a lot between Alta Avenue and Sears Street. Madison Properties' Jon Hetzel said the concept is especially meaningful for him, after the college and post-college years he spent in Philadelphia and New York, when three-quarters of his meals came from food trucks. It's an idea inspired by Austin too, he said, but that "we're hoping to take it to the next level," by putting established chefs in the kitchens of six Airstreams on the lot.
Of course, there's still the issue of the Dallas City Code, which doesn't take kindly to ambulatory griddles. While work on the street redesign ought to be under way soon, folks behind the food truck lot are piling on with food truck boosters in the Arts District and Oak Cliff, working to change the city's regulations.
That hasn't stopped Hetzel from lining up potential tenants -- "Lots of them," he said this morning, "and none that I can name."
We caught up with Madison's Larry Vineyard to hear more about how their plans developed -- read it after the jump.
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Madison already had plans drawn up for a 30,000-square-foot building on the lot before the financial crisis hit, but given today's real estate market, Vineyard told us they figured it'd be wise to hold off.
"We realized that having some vitality on that lot was critical to the vitality of Lower Greenville," Vineyard said, and the food trucks seemed like a way to "jump-start the neighborhood quickly." He says the food court is a short-term solution that could turn long-term if the trailers do well. For starters, he says, they'll plan on keeping the food trucks there for five years.
Of course, that'd only be after the city's code compliance office changes its tune about food trucks. Vineyard said they visited city officials in Austin last week, where food trucks started popping up ahead of any city support. Dallas has a chance to "do it the right way," Vineyard said, by getting the regulations set ahead of time.
Hetzel said they could get the food court up and running within six months of getting the all-clear from City Hall. "I think it's gonna be better" than those food trucks to the south, Hetzel said, "no offense to Austin."