Oak Cliff Neighborhood Gets New Grocery After Two-Year Battle

Sprouts coming to Fort Worth Avenue at Hampton Road in Dallas.

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In some parts of booming North Texas, new food stores open all the time.

But a two-year zoning battle finally ended this week to get a new one in an older Dallas neighborhood.

The new Sprouts Farmers Market will be on Fort Worth Avenue at Hampton Road, south of I-30.

After a unanimous Dallas city council vote Wednesday, the new store will replace a Crown Buffet housed in a former Luby’s restaurant at that site.

The redevelopment location also includes an Elrod’s Cost Plus grocery store that will close.

Grocery customer Delores Guerra said she had heard nothing before about a new Sprouts or closing the Elrod’s where she has shopped for many years.

“I like it. They have good sales and everything, they do,” she said. “I’m good with this store I guess because I’m used to it.”

The Dallas Plan Commission had denied the new store request, but the city council reversed that denial.

Councilman Chad West represents the North Oak Cliff neighborhood.

“It took us two years to get here but at the end of the day it’s going to be a better project,” West said.

The delay was due in part because a planned development district zoning overlay for the area that had requirements the project developer sought to change.

The rules in place called for new structures close to Fort Worth Avenue to promote walkable neighborhoods, with parking pushed to the rear of a site.

West said the Sprouts store could not be built close to the street because of the slope of the property. It needed to be roughly where the buffet restaurant is now.

The existing rules could also have permitted a row of fast-food restaurants with drive-thru lanes out onto Fort Worth Avenue, which neighbors opposed.

Instead, the plan that was approved calls for a sit-down restaurant in place of the existing grocery store parking lot, with a patio area in front along Fort Worth Avenue.

West said a survey of 1,400 neighbors within 3 miles of the project was conducted with overwhelming support for reaching a solution.

“In the suburbs, it’s just like the wild west, right? You’ve got all the open land. It’s zoned for enhanced development. Here you’ve got established neighborhoods, neighbors who’ve given 20, 30 years of their life, maybe they even grew up here,” West said. “They all told me we respect the zoning. We don’t want to give away the farm to a developer, but they all told me we want this grocery store, or we want an organic grocery store. We want more choices,” he said.

The new development plan also calls for wider new sidewalks, lighting and outdoor speakers directed away from neighboring homes and shopping carts that automatically lock at the edge of the property instead of littering the neighborhood as carts do now.

“This corner has been a bit of a nuisance in the 15 years I’ve lived there. It’s not well maintained. It’s frequently littered. It is a magnet for vagrancy and panhandling,” Stevens Park Estates neighbor Brian Maynard said.

Nine public speakers signed up for the City Council meeting Wednesday to support the new project.

“This development plan reflects long hours spent meeting with the community and surveying their will to have this particular grocer come to North Oak Cliff,” said Tim Herfel with the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group.

Rebecca Mohr said she represents 301 homes of the El Tivoli Place Neighborhood Association just southwest of the site.  

“Neighbors are excited about the supermarket coming to our area, giving us another wholesome food option along with restaurants and an upgrade to the whole area. We are happy with the landscaping, the drainage plans, open space and the pedestrian-friendly design,” Mohr said.

City council members also praised the project and West’s role in reaching a compromise.

“This is a new standard of excellence among our colleagues in managing a challenging situation,” Council Member Jaynie Schultz said.

Council Member Cara Mendelsohn represents North Dallas, where new stores are more common. She praised the new Sprouts store that opened less than two weeks ago in her district.

“It’s fabulous. It’s the right size. It’s perfect for the community and I hope you have that same thing,” Mendelsohn said.

Speakers at the meeting said the new Oak Cliff development would create at least 100 new jobs.

The manager of the existing Elrod’s Cost Plus store declined to speak on camera but said that his store will remain open for at least 6 more months. The firm that owns his store has several other locations.

He said he does not know exactly what the future holds for his store or current employees.

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