West Dallas Revival Building for the New Year

Businesspeople along Fort Worth Avenue are seeing signs of a West Dallas revival.

New businesses are thriving, and several development projects are getting started in the area that will soon be served by a new bridge across the Trinity River.

"We're seeing a blend of adaptive reuse -- bringing back what was abandoned and gone, repurposing it -- as well as new projects," said Scott Griggs, president of the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group. "And they're blending together to meet the character of the area -- that isn’t lost in the process."

Jack’s Backyard was built in an abandoned auto repair shop on what was a derelict side street off Fort Worth Avenue.

Kathy Jack and Susie Buck started the restaurant and bar's renovation almost three years ago.

"There was just a really good feel about it, and we looked at each other and said, 'This is insane, but let’s go for it,'" Buck said.

The restaurant at 2303 Pittman Street opened about two years ago and has been so successful during the economic downturn that they’re planning to renovate adjacent garages for art studio space and a coffee shop.

"Everybody thought we were crazy, but I wanted to be the first one here," Jack said. "I wanted to be here and established so everybody would look at us as the standard, and that’s what we've done."

Their renovation used pipe and rail materials from the old commercial building, along with shipping containers to preserve the flavor of the neighborhood.

"We've had more people tell us that this is the most imaginative place that they've been to in Dallas," Jack said. "It reminds them a lot of Austin."

One of the first Fort Worth Avenue redevelopment projects was Hotel Belmont at the corner of Sylvan Avenue. Trendy restaurant Smoke is adjacent to the hotel.

Now across the street at Sylvan and Fort Worth avenues, a mixed-use project is getting started.

The combination grocery store and apartment complex will replace an old Dallas County vehicle repair garage and the Alamo Plaza Motel.
The garage and motel are being demolished now. But the big Alamo Plaza neon sign will be saved in the new development.

Near Jack's Backyard, the old Mission Motel is also being renovated for artist work and living space on Fort Worth Avenue.

"It's a place that for so many years was neglected," Griggs said. "There was a lack of interest in this street, and now we’re seeing a renewed interest due to the proximity to downtown, the proximity to Oak Cliff, to West Dallas and everything that’s going to happen with the Trinity."

The Dallas Trinity River Project calls for parks along the river in addition to the Santiago Calatrava-designed suspension bridge that will link Woodall Rogers Freeway with Singleton Avenue and West Dallas.

"It's the classic urban renewal, and I can't wait to see it in 2013," Jack said.

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