Oak Cliff Connections

Oak Cliff Connections

Oak Cliff Connections

By Rebecca Brooke & Rachel Stone

May 20, 2022
Oak Cliff Connections

The Advocate

If you like those PBS shows where a sophisticated British woman walks around and talks to you about the Cotswolds or the Roman Empire, then you will love Rebecca Brooke.

“I am a lover of community and of history, and I thought, ‘What a better place to explore than my own backyard of Oak Cliff,” Brooke says in the intro to her online show, Oak Cliff Connections.

The actress and filmmaker, who lives in Beckley Club Estates, created the show over about a year, starting pre-production in June 2021. The first episode launched May 20.

It runs a little over 26 minutes with an introduction to Oak Cliff that touches on our neighborhood’s beauty, history, culture and climate. The quality of the production could put most visitors bureaus to shame, and it has a hyperlocal edge that cuts a little deeper.

“If you want to meet the real Oak Cliff, you can’t accept the beauty without acknowledging the pain,” she says in the show.

With a change of tone around the 5-minute mark, Brooke dips into topics of racism and gentrification.

“When you enjoy the amenities of a fun new development, you need to know that while that was growth for some, it was most likely loss for others,” she says.

After a history lesson about Hord’s Ridge, Thomas L. Marsalis and the historic Oak Cliff Cemetery, Brooke gets into the expected format of profiling people, places and businesses.

At about the 14-minute mark, she visits Tyler Station, where she has an Oak Cliff Brewing Co. beer and interviews the owners of Trade Oak Cliff.

Brooke has lived in Oak Cliff for seven years and has two kids. The episode was shot in October and November 2021, and she did editing and post-production from then until May, as she had time as a stay-at-home parent.

The Tyler, Texas, native says she hopes to have the next episode finished by the end of summer.

Micro Homes for Shopping Center

Micro Homes for Shopping Center

Micro homes wanted for South Polk shopping center to create walkable urban village

By Rachel Stone

April 6, 2022
Advocate | Oak Cliff

Picture an urban village with homes, a grocery store, restaurants and a bank in South Oak Cliff.

That’s the vision Monte Anderson has for the Golden Triangle Shopping Center at 3939 S. Polk St.

Anderson wants to build 12 one-story “micro homes” in the shopping center’s parking lot.

“We’re taking an under-used, over-parked shopping center and putting in small units,” Anderson says. “It creates the urban form so that it feels like an urban village.”

A zoning-change application requests that the shopping center’s RR zoning, regional retail, be changed to MU1, walkable mixed-use.

The homes would have retro modern architecture to match the existing buildings. Each one would comprise about 500 square feet. They could even be divided into roommate pods of 200 and 300 square feet, each with its own a bathroom, Anderson says.

The apartments would be for rent at market rate, but Anderson’s company does accept housing vouchers.

The shopping center on South Polk is one of several in southern Dallas County that Anderson has purchased or is buying with similar goals.

He expects to close on Wheatland Plaza shopping center in Duncanville this week.

That’s where he’s planning to build two-story apartments or condos at the center of the existing development.

He’s also working on similar projects in Lancaster and DeSoto.

“These shopping centers have got to be reimagined,” says Anderson, who is known for his redevelopment of the Belmont Hotel and Tyler Station.

In suburban areas, it’s not financially feasible to tear them down, he says. And demolition just puts them in the landfill anyway.

Retailers like Dollar General, which has a lease in Wheatland Plaza, and Family Dollar, which has one on South Polk, can coexist with trendy restaurants and neighborhood services, he says.

But he also wants to downsize retail spaces. Along with shops and services like dry cleaning, there could be small graphic-design firms, podcast booths and studios that Tik-Tok influencers could rent, for example.

Adding a residential component livens them up with full-time residents to support those businesses.

As the zoning-change application states: “The owner wishes to leverage this housing to support high-quality walkable, mixed-use development, consistent with the goals enumerated in the City of Dallas Economic Policy …”  

Beckley Settlement, a two-story commercial building Anderson redeveloped on South Beckley in 2020, is fully leased with 32 tenants.

“And they’re all from the neighborhood,” he says.

That’s also part of his vision, that whatever commercial tenants are a fit for the shopping centers, they will be locally owned businesses, with an emphasis on upstarts.

In Duncanville, Anderson also own Main Station and the quaint retail strip near it, and he says people always ask why they don’t have “the pie place,” Emporium Pies, in their town.

“I tell them, the pie place don’t belong here. It belongs in Bishop Arts,” he says. “We need to have our own pie thing down here. You don’t want to go steal from other places. It doesn’t work anyway.”

Here are more architectural renderings of the plan for 3939 S. Polk.

Placemaking x City of Raleigh

Placemaking x City of Raleigh

Placemaking x City of Raleigh

Kady Yellow

director of placemaking

Firstly, thank you to the City of Raleigh and its residents for hosting me this past week. It was a pleasure to present to the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, Raleigh Urban Design Center, your city planners, and Sarah Powers of Raleigh Arts. Secondly, congrats on this exciting time as you search for the perfect person to direct placemaking.

The day started with drip-coffee with built-environment specialist, fellow parking lot placemaker, and founder of Raleigh Urban Rangers Tina Govan. We discussed the importance of ’soft boundaries’ and ambiguity when approaching the design and use of shared public spaces and no trees in parks unless you want ‘frying pan places’.

We then went to lunch with digital placemaker Marie Schacht who talks on “social stitching”, “loves adventures that take time” and implements a people-centric hiring process insisting on no resumes. We talked about “helping locals strengthen their neighborhoods through small-scale real estate projects” via the work of Monte Anderson.

We were then joined by fellow New York Stater and Arts-Administrator Sarah Powers, Feng Shui focused neighbor Nicole, and Kathleen Louis to tour Greg Hatem’s Black Main Street and his unique approach to pandemic-downtowns.

If you’re interested in any of these topics:


Oak Cliff/South Dallas     214-506-0480      https://oakcliffbrewing.com/

The Mournful Heart of It’s a Wonderful Life

The Mournful Heart of It’s a Wonderful Life

The Mournful Heart of It’s a Wonderful Life

By Megan Garber

Friday, December 24, 2021
The Atlantic

The holiday classic is now 75 years old, and a timely exploration of what happens when all that you’ve relied on fades away.

It’s a Wonderful Life is an odd candidate for the “heartwarming Christmas classic” category. The film’s plot pivots around its main character’s consideration of suicide. And the story of George Bailey, a family man beset by troubles both financial and existential, does not get notably Christmas-y until its final seconds. “I didn’t even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it,” the director, Frank Capra, would later say. “I just liked the idea.”

The film’s current popularity is in some ways accidental: It met mixed reviews when it premiered in 1946 and flopped at the box office. It languished for decades until 1974, when what was likely a clerical oversight changed its fate: The film’s 28-year copyright period had come to an end because the studio that owned it failed to refile for a second term. It’s a Wonderful Life entered the public domain, and TV networks, availing themselves of its new royalty-free status, began airing it. Repeatedly. And eventually, as sometimes happens, the repetition led to love.

It’s a Wonderful Life is 75 years old this year, now beloved both because and in spite of the fact that it is about a man convinced by an affable angel that the world is better because he is in it. I’d remembered the film as a giddy blend of styles and characters: comedy, tragedy, magical realism, a celestial being whose angel-rank is Second Class and whose name is Clarence Odbody. I’d understood it through George’s descent from a would-be adventurer to a reluctant businessman, as a meditation on dashed dreams—an argument that growing up is, in part, adjusting the hopes you’ve had for the ones you might come to hold.

Watching the movie this year, though, I found that it landed very differently. It read even more darkly. What struck me this time was the dreams’ manner of death: They were extinguished not in an instant, but by repeated dousings. George, played by James Stewart, is a hero whose journey is quite often stuck in the “being tested” phase of things. He tries, so hard, to have adventures away from his small hometown; circumstance, again and again, keeps him homebound. The recurrent nature of his trials seems especially acute right now. The pandemic that looked, earlier this year, like it might be under control has resurged with a new variant. The chance leaders had to do the bare minimum to forestall the planet’s furies has been squandered once again. American democracy, new and ever-fragile, is under threat once more. George Bailey was never just George Bailey; he has always doubled as a collection of decidedly American metaphors. This year, though, he looks more like an omen.

The first thing audiences learn about George is that he is possessed of an intrinsic heroism. As a child, he saved his younger brother, Harry, from drowning after the ice of a pond they were skating on broke. George, without thinking, dived in; Harry lived; George came away with an infection that rendered him deaf in one ear. And then the cadence that defines much of the film—circumstances requiring his sacrifices—sets in. George dreams of traveling the world; he wants the scope of his universe to grow larger than life in Bedford Falls can afford. His initial plans for adventure get curtailed, at the very last minute, because his father has a stroke. He stays. Not long after, George is about to leave for college; minutes before he’s set to depart—the cab is idling outside—he learns that the family business, Bailey Bros. Building & Loan, will survive only if he takes over as its head. George has no interest in finance, but he does what must be done. He stays once again. Later, just as he’s leaving for his honeymoon—he and his wife, Mary, are in the cab this time—he sees a crowd in front of the Bailey Bros. office. There’s a run on the banks. Everyone wants their money back.

Again: George does what he has to do. He stays in Bedford Falls. He sacrifices once more. The circumstances are coincidental; for George, though, they amount for much of the film to a senseless resilience. He is tested and tested and tested, with a notable absence of relief or reward. The hero with a thousand faces is left, instead, with a thousand loan accounts.

The end of It’s a Wonderful Life reliably makes me cry: the community coming together to save George, the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” in the Baileys’ living room, the moppet Zuzu Bailey reminding her father that “every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings”—it’s mushy and saccharine and I love it. This time around, though, a much earlier scene brought the tears. George, having taken over the building and loan, is meeting Harry, who had gone to college in his older brother’s stead, at the train station. After four years away, Harry was going to move back to Bedford Falls and take over the business: the brothers swapping timelines, but both fulfilling their dreams.

And then, at the station, Harry disembarks with his new wife, Ruth. George learns that Harry will be taking another job, with her father’s company, outside of Bedford Falls. The camera zooms in on George’s face as he takes in the news, his expression ranging from horror to panic to resignation to despair. For a moment, the quintessential Capra film summons Hitchcock. And then George readjusts his expression into a smile. He understands what the world expects of him: compliance, sacrifice, resilience. Again, he does his duty. It was at that point, specifically, that I found myself tearing up.

How to Move into a New Space or Lease Your First One

How to Move into a New Space or Lease Your First One

How to Move into a New Space or Lease Your First One

5 Steps to Find, Lease and Occupy a New Space

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Whether leasing office space for the first time or moving to a new location, the process of assessing space needs, creating a budget, touring space, and moving can be daunting. One of the elements that makes leasing space so challenging is that there is no universal lease, nor standard building. The good news is that even though the particulars of the leasing journey will differ for every tenant, the general path each must follow is very similar.

Below, we’ve summarized five major steps in the leasing process. Those steps include:

1. Understand Leasing Process.
2. Assess your space needs.
3. Develop a budget.
4. Select a location and a building.
5. Move in!

1. Understand Leasing Process

By understanding the steps in the process and how much time each can take, you can set realistic expectations about the amount of lead time required for you to procure a new location. Small blocks of 500 square feet may take a few weeks to button down, but larger blocks of 5,000 square feet or more may require months to secure and build out to your company’s specifications.

There are a few critical activities to carry out during the early stage of the search. For the most part, these tasks involve time, focus and organization rather than an outlay of cash. They can be completed concurrently and will take between one to six months to complete.

Be clear about why or if your firm needs a space.

A company’s stage of life is often a good guide for determining why, or even if, a company needs a space. A nascent business looking to move out of the founder’s house might consider a coworking or executive suite arrangement. An established business may be growing, so a larger office suite or an additional office in a different location might make sense.

Core Activities

Understanding the needs of the key people involved with your business is very important. So, determining if there is a client base you need to be close to or if employee commuting patterns are a priority is a good place to start. Do you want to be located close to public transit or major highways? These are just some of the considerations you will need to attend to when assessing locations and buildings.

2. Assess Your Space Needs

Figuring out how much space to lease and how the office will be laid out is an important early step in the process. To get started, conducting a back-of-the-napkin calculation can help you generate a reasonable estimate. To accomplish this, multiply the number of employees you need to accommodate by the average number of square feet per worker in the U.S. According to CoStar, this figure currently sits at around 190 square feet for an office use.

So, if you have 6 employees that will each need their own desk or office, you will likely need 1,140 square feet. This figure will rise or fall depending on a host of factors, such as conference rooms or a kitchen that your firm may require; if you will need more offices than cubicles; if you will create a reception area; the column spacing and window line of the buildings you are considering, etc.

3. Develop a Budget

Understanding how much you can afford to pay in rent is critical. Here again, a back-of-the-napkin calculation can help generate a decent approximation. Continuing with the example above, if you lease 1,140 square feet and pay $22 per square foot per year in rent, your monthly rent will be $2,090.

Concerning the $22-per-square-foot figure, you will need to be clear about whether a space is being offered on a full-service or a triple-net basis. The former means that all taxes, utilities and management fees are included in the rent and the latter indicates that you will pay for those expenses in addition to the $22 rent figure. We offer both, depending on the building. Also, those operating expenses can vary widely, anywhere from about 5% to 25% of the base rent.

Remember, if you are looking at a space with a NNN asking rent, you have to factor in all of these additional costs to “gross up” the rent to be equivalent to the other asking office rent types: “net of electricity” or “full service gross.”

Spaces that generally quote by a “net of electricity” and “full service gross” amount include the NNN base rent, plus the operating expenses and janitorial services. The only difference in a “net of electricity” lease is that the tenant pays separately for electricity. Universally, rents quoted on a net of electricity or full service gross basis are more expensive on the surface, but since they include all of the additional cost elements, they may not be as expensive overall relative to a NNN equivalent.

Key Categories to Budget for Early

For overall context, here’s a list of the major upfront expense items to consider when searching for a space. They are organized into three broad categories: lease-related expenses, construction-related expenses and move-related expenses.

Lease-related expenses

  • First month’s rent.
  • Security deposit (refundable).

Construction-related expenses

  • Construction costs.
  • Construction management fees.
  • Permitting fees.

Move-related expenses

  • New furniture.
  • Equipment (new and/or relocation of existing).
  • Signage.

4. Select a location and a building.

In addition to considering where your employees live, you will also want to evaluate where your customers are located. This factor will be particularly crucial for customer-facing organizations, such as retail or medical tenants, but it will also notably impact professional services tenants, including hair salons or . This element also needs to be appraised in reverse; perhaps your company doesn’t host its clients very often, but your employees frequently visit their customers. As with your employees, conducting an analysis of customer zip code information can reveal the most convenient locations for your business from a client perspective.


Commercial leases typically cover long periods of time. During that kind of interval, a lot can change for your business. For this reason, we offer greater flexibility than most companies, flexibility that can be critical when evaluating a potential property. You’ll want to be assured that you’ll have the ability to grow or adapt.

5. Move in!

Notifying clients, filing certificates of occupancy, determining what furniture to keep, purging old files and ensuring that the lights are on at the new office location are all components of a business move. This is the last step in the process after searching, touring, calculating costs, and possibly constructing. While the steps involved in moving may seem intuitive, it is important to plan for the move and set expectations, especially among any employees. Being prepared for each phase of the process will ensure you are open for business in your new location.