This batch of Dallas news includes a ton of transportation tidbits, some free coffee, and a new affordable housing development. Meanwhile, the Dallas City Council went easy on VisitDallas.
Here's what happened in Dallas this week:
VisitDallas clings on
The Dallas City Council voted on November 13 to retain its relationship with VisitDallas, despite an audit in January 2019 that found a number of serious problems with the agency's spending practices, performance, and salaries.
The agency has a contract with the city that lasts until September 30, 2020.
Former council members Scott Griggs and Philip Kingston previously recommended starting from scratch by inviting competing applicants to submit request for proposals for the job of promoting the city as a tourist destination. But Griggs and Kingston are no longer in office.
Among stipulations on the new contract amendment is one that says VisitDallas can only promote, advertise, or sponsor events in the city of Dallas, unless the city approves otherwise; many of the destinations on VisitDallas' website tout suburbs such as Addison.
VisitDallas' Board of Directors is being reduced to 21 members, and in addition, the Dallas Film Commission being moved to VisitDallas to manage.
Redbird affordable housing
The City of Dallas, the Dallas Housing Finance Corporation, and Palladium USA broke ground on a multifamily, mixed-income development on property that used to be part of the Redbird Mall, and is part of the overall Reimagine Redbird redevelopment.
The building will be four stories tall with 300 units: 70 percent affordable and 30 percent market-rate. Residents will get access to all the planned retail, restaurants, and commercial activity at Redbird.
Construction is expected to be completed by December 31, 2021.
Rideshare company Lyft has debuted eco-friendly rental cars for its drivers in Dallas-Fort Worth. Called Flexdrive, it's a program where Lyft drivers can rent hybrid cars at an exclusive weekly rate, and not have to buy cars to do the job.
Lyft previously introduced a program with Hertz where drivers could rent cars; it's available in Houston or Austin. This expansion uses Hyundai Ioniq hybrids.
DART street repairs
Dallas street repair projects have been approved by the DART Board after the city identified 13 projects totaling $9,619,105.
Projects include quiet zones on DART rail lines; sidewalk zones on DART bus routes; traffic signal priority updates; plus improvements to bus stops, pedestrian crossings, and bus lanes.
DART is plowing ahead on its Silver Line Regional Rail Project, aka the Cotton Belt, which will extend from northeast Garland/Plano to DFW Airport. Design-builder Archer Western Herzog began field construction along the $1.1-billion 26-mile alignment in mid-November.
Specifically, they are removing abandoned rail along the DART Right-of-Way from the Dallas North Tollway in Addison to west of Synergy Park Road in Richardson; and relocating utilities along Hillcrest Road from north of McCallum Boulevard to south of Wester Way.
CBD rail replacement
DART continues its track improvement program in downtown Dallas with a big push over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend that will shut down trains in the Central Business District from Friday November 29-Sunday December 1.
During this three-day shutdown, Red and Blue Line trains will not run between West End and Pearl/Arts District stations, and the Green Line will not run from Victory Station to Deep Ellum Station. The Orange Line will operate on a shortened route between DFW Airport and Victory stations.
Shuttle buses will be in operation between all affected stations.
For those attending the Dallas Stars game on Friday November 29, DART will provide post-event buses from Victory to SMU/Mockingbird, which will board and unload at the red Rail Disruption signs located near each station.
Coffee with cops
The Dallas Police Department is partnering with McDonald's of Greater North Texas to host its biannual Coffee with Cops events at four McDonald's in Dallas. The event lets residents engage with local officers - all while enjoying complimentary McCafé Coffee. Guests will also get to sample McDonald's new Holiday McCafé offerings, including the Cinnamon Cookie Latte and Chocolate Donut Sticks. It's on November 16, from 9-11 am at these locations:
- 3520 Storey Ln.
- 3802 Gaston Ave.
- 5960 Greenville Ave.
- 705 W. Jefferson Blvd.