The family owned business of Farrokh Nazerian and Michael Nazerian, Exxir filed its plan with the city in April 2016. A multi-block project encompassing more than 11 acres, Bishop Arts Village is immediately south of the heart of Bishop Arts District–a cluster of blocks surrounding West Davis Street, between Zang Boulevard and North Adams Avenue/Woodlawn Avenue.
In the summer of 2015, Exxir was proposing a $42 million project that included more than 400 apartment units. The project has been scaled down slightly. For instance, Exxir has agreed to a maximum of 340 apartment units in its most recent proposal.
Exxir seeks approval of a new subdistrict that would allow a mix of uses, including a hotel, office space, restaurants, retail, multifamily, and an events center.
The proposed hotel would be a small boutique operation with approximately 120 guest rooms. It would be in the block bounded by Melba Street, Madison Avenue, 10th Street and Bishop Avenue.
There would be some surface parking, but Exxir is planning some underground parking, at least for the residential component.
Exxir is particularly interested in the retail being dedicated to the type of entrepreneurs that have defined the Bishop Arts District resurgence–craft artisans and other specialty shops.
This makes Bishop Arts Village unique to the other two developments directly affecting Bishop Arts District, in the sense that it provides a symmetry that conforms better with the district’s character, both in purpose and the scale of the buildings. Crescent Communities’ project, Crescent Bishop Arts, as well as Alamo Manhattan’s Bishop Arts Station, are transit-oriented mixed-use developments that focused on taking advantage of the light rail extension down Zang Boulevard to go for higher density residential luxury communities.
The event center concept described is a flexible indoor-to-outdoor gathering and entertainment plaza. It would be limited to 10,000 square feet of floor area.
The developer is also asking the city to vacate a one-block length of 9th Street between Madison Avenue and Bishop Avenue, but that decision is up to City Council. Exxir proposes realigning 9th Street to make it more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.
Most of the project site is vacant land, the result of old houses that were razed. There remains a vacant medical building and a 42-unit apartment complex.
These are some of the more pertinent the land use changes the commission must consider:
- A massage business within the proposed hotel’s spa.
- A retail or grocery store of up to 15,000 square feet, instead of the 5,000 square feet currently allowed.
- Permit the development to proceed in phases.
- Allow a public plaza to count as part of a building facade for purposes of a building’s front yard regulations.
- Allow alternative parking; live-work units would be limited to the residential unit’s parking requirement.
- Limit landscape buffers to a 5-foot width, a 6-foot tall solid fence, or a decorative fence with living screen.
- Include awnings and canopies.
- Allow relief from some architectural design standards for buildings more distant than 40 feet from a right-of-way due to the abandonment of 9th Street.
Referring to the event center/building facade tie-in request, Current Planning staff said, “This will allow for outdoor dining areas to be near the street and the plazas will be an extension of the pedestrian facilities. These breaks in the build-to requirement will provide for additional open space and promote a vibrant environment.”
The case was to have been heard in December, but was delayed to give Exxir more time to confer with neighbors and city staff. The primary ongoing concern has been over the limited available surface parking for the non-residential portions.
“The major concern with the prohibition of off-street parking for certain uses is that the proposed mixed use development will not provide the necessary off-street parking for each use, which will cause a major parking shortage,” staff said.
In addition to the 15,000-square-foot retail proposal, Exxir is planning for a general merchandise tenant of about 5,000 square feet, and a neighborhood market–a temporary outdoor multi-vendor marketplace that would operate up to 20 days per month.
Other than the parking issue, the Current Planning Department has agreed to most of Exxir’s requests, but is recommending denial of their request to allow liquor sales, and is resisting any relaxation of the architectural design standards:
“This area has historic and cultural importance as an early major east-west thoroughfare in the Dallas Metroplex, and as the earliest neighborhoods developed in Oak Cliff. The corridor reflects turn of the 20th century development, urban expansion, mid-20th century Americana, and post-World War II automobile culture.”