Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
The Mayor of Dallas said the Martin Luther King Boulevard, a key entrance to Fair Park just east of Interstate 45, will get some new features added around it.
A road just west of Dallas Fair Park,is about to get a makeover and city officials promise it will be finished in time for this year's State Fair of Texas in September.
The plans call for big illuminated monuments at key intersections to bring Fair Park's Art Deco architecture out into the neighborhood.
New sidewalks and crosswalks will be built at those intersections using a tile design already in place at the Martin Luther King Boulevard DART Rail station.
Mayor Mike Rawlings said the city wants visitors to have a new impression about MLK Boulevard as soon as they leave Dallas freeways and head east toward the park.
"I'm coming to something special," Rawlings said. "It shouldn't be when they park their car and walk in. And that's what helps the neighborhood grow as well."
The city is already helping businesses along MLK Boulevard spruce up with façade improvement grants.
Black Jack Pizza has a new exterior appearance and owner Terry Jones hopes it attracts more passing visitors to come inside.
"You've got a thoroughfare going into the fair park and we need to spruce it up a little bit and make it more pleasing to everybody when the come into the community," Jones said.
The offices of Dallas Weekly, an African-American community newspaper, also received façade improvement money.
Dallas Weekly publisher Jim Washington said he's seeing many signs of improvement in the neighborhood.
"We feel good about what we are seeing," Washington said. "When the stars actually start to align, don't question it, just go with the flow so to speak."
The Dallas City Council is expected to vote Wednesday on an additional $879,000 for the project bringing the total to $13,029,167.
The work also includes improved lighting and landscaping.
The first phase covers only MLK Boulevard, but Grand Avenue and other side streets will be included in future phases after this year's fair.
More than a million decorative lights will illuminate Fair Park buildings on Friday with a fireworks show during a special event, Fair Park Sparks, happening from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The building lights will be a permanent feature at the park.
Rawlings believes the investments will all pay off for the city.
"People come invest money in southern Dallas and guess what? They get a better return than they get in Northern Dallas. And people hear about that, more and more capital comes," Rawlings said.