Courtesy photo

The Dallas City Council has chosen the lucky developer who will manage phase one of the massive expansion of Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas.

According to a release, the council awarded a $71 million project management services contract to Inspire Dallas, a team led by Matthews Southwest, Kaizen Development, and Azteca Enterprises.

They'll oversee Component One, which includes the convention center expansion, a deck park over I-30, and demolition of the existing center.

It's time for a bulleted list. The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center expansion concept includes:

  • 170,000 square feet of ballroom space
  • 260,000 square feet of meeting rooms
  • 800,000 square feet of exhibit space
  • Accommodations for visitors with disabilities, such as those with mobility, hearing, or visual impairments.

Construction is expected to begin late 2024, with the portions of the existing convention center remaining operational throughout the build.

Prior Matthews Southwest projects include the Omni Hotel, Gilley’s, South Side on Lamar, and the Canvas Hotel, as well as the development of the Gailbraith, workforce housing they did in partnership with the City of Dallas.

Inspire Dallas includes 28 subcontractors of which 75 percent are local Dallas businesses and more than half are a Minority, Women, Business Enterprise (M/WBE).

In 2022, the Dallas City Council approved plans for an expanded 2.5-million-square-foot convention center that was later placed as a ballot measure on the November 2022 ballot and approved by voters. It authorized a 2 percent increase in the city’s portion of the hotel occupancy tax to be used to fund the expansion and designated improvements at Fair Park. In addition to the 2 percent hotel occupancy tax increase, the Master Plan will be funded with a project financing zone.

Quorum Architects, Inc.

Dallas animal pros propose new shelter with more modern, humane design

Animal News

The storied history of public animal control and sheltering in Dallas is preparing for its next chapter, with a proposed $114 million facility seeking to be part of the city's $1 billion city bond election in May 2024.

As part of a campaign for new quarters, leaders of Dallas Animal Services, the city’s publicly funded animal shelter and control department, are stressing the space strains being placed on its facility off I-30 and Westmoreland Road in West Dallas, which opened in 2007.

A larger in-house clinic, more room for visitors, and space for holding classes and seminars on animal care would be part of the proposed 120,000-square-foot compound, about double the spread of the current location.

"Other cities in this country have better facilities, more progressive facilities," Rachael Gearing, a member of the city’s appointed Animal Advisory Commission, said in a commission meeting on August 24. "It will make a huge difference. If we all love animals, why wouldn’t we want a new facility?”

Voters in several DFW towns and counties agree, as they have approved new or renovated animal services in Carrollton, Rowlett, and Garland in the past four years.

Voters in Houston and San Antonio last year also approved bond packages that included millions in funding for animal services. Collin County will ask voters to sign off on a $6 million expansion of its animal shelter in November as part of a $700 million bond package.

Preliminary design of the Dallas animal service building includes a central building with pod-like animal quarters, more parking, and expanded outdoor areas.

Outdoor space has become particularly important in shelter design, with play areas used as a way to help animals decompress and present better to potential adopters. According to the proposed conceptual design by Quorum Architects, Inc, the outdoor spaces will consist of more than 60,000 square feet for outdoor runs, meet & greet playyards, and exercise yards.

The new facility would be located on land owned by the city’s parks department about a mile away from the current building.

DAS shelterOutdoor spaces will consist of over 60,000 square feet for outdoor runs, meet & greet playyards, and exercise yards. Quorum

But first, the concept needs to be included on the bond package.

“This is not even a slam dunk to be on the ballot,” says MeLissa Webber, director of Dallas Animal Services.

The shelter will compete with other department pitches for a spot in the bond package, such as funding for streets, parks, flood control, and economic development. Recommendations will be presented to the city council in December.

The animal services need is driven, Webber said, by both time and traffic.

"The current Dallas Animal Services was built when the world was a different place, and this was more about catching stray dogs and holding them until their owner could get them," says Webber, who came to Dallas after working in similar roles in Los Angeles, New York, and San Diego. "It was public safety and strays rather than life-saving programs."

In 2018, a "Dallas90" plan was established to use innovative operations and increase community engagement. The plan spurred new volunteer and foster programs aimed at increasing the number of adoptions and bringing down the number of euthanized animals.

"All of these programs are in place, and they take people to run them," Webber says. "So my foster and rescue team[s] are working out of a storage closet."

The shelter has 300 kennels, and on a recent afternoon, cages were set in hallways to accommodate the overflow, a reported 385 dogs in residence in July. Parking has for years been a problem at the facility and even on a slow day, the spaces are limited.

The design and creation of a new facility was one of the department goals Webber was tasked with by the City Manager's office when she took her position in 2021. She's the shelter's third director in the last decade; the turnover rate for shelter managers is high. Her master plan was published as a part of the 2023-2024 budget book.

"This is a shelter that would take us into 2050 and beyond,” Webber says. "I won't be around then, so it's for the city of Dallas, it's for the animals. It's for Dallas Animal Services."

Photo courtesy of PCF

Sign up to offer your 2 cents on city of Dallas' new annual budget

Budget News

The City of Dallas is seeking input from residents on the upcoming Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget, with a hearing on August 23.

The proposed $4.63 billion budget was released by City Manager T.C. Broadnax on August 4 with a general fund budget of $1.84 billion, up 8.1 percent from last year.

The crowd-pleasing element is that there's a decrease in property tax rates which is possible mainly because property values have increased.

The budget requests an increase in the minimum wage for city employees to $18.50 per hour, and hopes to hire 290 new police officers and 100 new fire department employees.

It also allots $4 million to keep all city libraries open six days per week.

The City of Dallas holds public hearings to provide residents the opportunity to speak on the proposed budget for FY 2023-24. Town halls have been hosted in each district with the final one taking place on August 24; the schedule is here.

A hearing will be held at Dallas City Hall in the Council Chambers on Wednesday, August 23 no earlier than 1 p.m. Spanish interpretation will be available.

The deadline to request to speak is 5 p.m. Tuesday, August 22. Five people have already registered. You can also watch online.


Fentanyl dealer in Carrollton arrested after pills found in microwave

Animal News

A top supplier of fentanyl in a case in Carrollton that has resulted in four deaths has been arrested and charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl.

According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice/U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Leigha Simonton, Julio Gonzales, Jr., 18, was charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and arrested at his residence on July 20. His roommate Adrian Martinez-Leon, 19, was also arrested, and charged with drug conspiracy.

During a search of their residence, DEA agents found:

  • thousands of fentanyl-laced M-30 pills stuffed in the microwave
  • a partial kilogram of cocaine tucked in a plastic food storage container
  • bulk U.S. currency hidden in the closet
  • numerous firearms, including a pistol equipped with an illegal Glock switch, littered throughout the home

Gonzales and Martinez-Leon are the 9th and 10th defendants charged in an ongoing juvenile fentanyl case in Carrollton which has resulted in at least 14 juvenile overdoses and claimed the lives of four middle and high school students.

According to the complaint, in February 2023, a 16-year-old dealer who delivered fentanyl pills that killed a 14-year-old girl in December 2022 allegedly identified Gonzales — whom he called "J-Money" — as his supplier. In text messages, the 16-year-old discussed J-Money with Eduardo Navarrete, one of the first dealers who has already been charged in this scheme.

At least four other cooperating defendants also allegedly identified J-Money as their source and tied him to an address in Oak Cliff. Three identified a photograph of Gonzales as J-Money, and one told agents that thousands of pills sold during a DEA-controlled operation were from Gonzales — deals that were corroborated via Instagram messages.

In June 2023, agents observed Gonzales allegedly conduct a drug transaction with a subject who ducked into a nearby alleyway, crushed the pills, and smoked them. They also observed Martinez-Leon allegedly conduct a transaction outside their front door.

If convicted, Gonzales and Martinez-Leon face up to 40 years in federal prison.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dallas Field Office, the Dallas Police Department's SWAT team, and the Carrollton Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rick Calvert and Phelesa Guy are prosecuting the case.

Dallas seeks citizen scientists to help create city-wide heat map

Hot News

The City of Dallas will participate in a national project to track where the hottest parts of the city are, and is seeking volunteers.

Dallas will join 18 other communities in the Eastern hemisphere to "map" where people are most at risk during extreme heat waves.

Volunteer citizen scientists drive through their neighborhoods in the morning, afternoon, and evening on one of the hottest days of the year, with heat sensors mounted to their cars. The sensors record temperature, humidity, time and the volunteers' location every second.

The data they collect creates a high-resolution map of the city’s hottest neighborhoods, which is then used to plan cooling projects, tree planting, and other climate action strategies.

CultureMap Dallas approves of any project that involves a map.

The initiative is by the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and began in 2017. Since then, more than 60 communities including Houston and Austin have followed this model, executing their own mapping campaigns and using the information to make their cities more resilient and equitable in the face of extreme heat.

Urban "heat islands" — areas with more pavement, which absorbs heat, and fewer trees — can be up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than nearby neighborhoods with trees, grass, and less black asphalt.

The day of heat which Dallas will measure is August 5, says Dallas Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability (OEQS) Director Carlos Evans.

"This is a great opportunity for our community volunteers to not only learn more about Dallas, but to play an active role in keeping fellow residents safe from the heat," Evans says.

Using specially designed sensors mounted on their vehicles, community volunteers will drive prescribed routes to record ambient temperatures and humidity during three specific times.

Communities chosen for the 2023 program include Chicago, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Toledo, Little Rock, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Framingham and Brockton, both in Massachusetts, and Sedona, Arizona.

They're also doing one international city: Santiago, Chile. This will be the third NOAA-funded international campaign. Campaigns were completed in Freetown, Sierra Leone and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil earlier this year.

Residents can sign up here to participate in the Urban Heat Island mapping campaign on Saturday, August 5, 2023.


Anti-gun-violence groups peacefully protest NRA's possible Richardson relo

Gun News

A grassroots group is hoping to discourage the city of Richardson of becoming the next headquarters of the NRA.

The group is Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement fighting to protect people from gun violence, and they're coming out in response to the news that the National Rifle Association is considering relocating its national headquarters from the state of Virginia to Richardson.

The group plans to express its opposition to the idea at a meeting of the Richardson City Council on July 10.

According to the Dallas Business Journal, the NRA has explored office space previously owned by State Farm Insurance. Real estate veteran Steve Triolet told the DBJ that the NRA has already toured the State Farm facility.

"They’ve got it down to a shorter list where they have physically inspected properties," Triolet said. "That doesn't mean that they will ultimately land in Richardson or Dallas-Fort Worth. They could go somewhere else in Texas."

Moms Demand Action works with communities and business leaders to encourage a culture of responsible gun ownership. They have a volunteer chapter in every state and are part of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with nearly 10 million supporters.

They'll attend the Richardson City Council meeting at 6 pm to "peacefully oppose the NRA relocating its headquarters to Richardson."

In addition, a petition has been launched by a group Richardson residents, religious leaders, and businesspeople expressing their opposition to the possible relocation.

"We, concerned citizens of North Texas, oppose the proposed State Farm sublease of space at their headquarters in the CityLine development in Richardson, Texas, to the National Rifle Association (NRA). We also oppose the NRA moving into other cities in North Texas," the petition says.

"We are citizens, employees, business owners, parents, teachers, members of faith organizations, and more. We are consumers, the service industry, medical professionals, first responders, and mechanics. We are neighbors."

They describe the NRA as a "dishonest organization that not only promotes increased gun sales and use, but also lobbies against common sense gun laws," and that "historically, invites division and unrest to the communities in which its headquarters are located."

In 2021, the NRA was sued by the New York Attorney General's office for fraud and abuse. The lawsuit accused the NRA of misusing charitable funds to the tune of millions of dollars. tried to wriggle out of a lawsuit but was rebuffed by a bankruptcy judge in Dallas. The NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and said it plans to register as a nonprofit in Texas.

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New H-E-B stores in DFW top this week's 5 hottest Dallas headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that listhere.

1. H-E-B continues Dallas expansion with 3 new supermarkets in the suburbs. Texas supermarket chain H-E-B continues its Dallas-Fort Worth expansion, with three new stores in the works. The retailer is opening stores in Melissa, Prosper, and Rockwall. This comes just as the chain opens a new store in Allen.

2. Country's largest hot springs pool complex coming to Grandscape in The Colony. The newest attraction headed to Grandscape in The Colony is a wellness spa-amusement park: WorldSprings, a nine-acre outdoor mineral springs experience, will debut in spring 2024.

3. Award-winning Mexican restaurant hits the jackpot at new location in Denton. A DFW restaurant that's earned national acclaim has opened in Denton: El Rincón del Maiz, previously of Garland, is now located at 1431 E. McKinney St. in Denton where it's winning over locals with its Tex-Mex classics and vegan dishes.

4. New burger joint in McKinney with chef toppers and full bar is a sizzler. McKinney has a new burger joint that is already lighting up the Collin County foodie scene. Called Loyo Burger, it's part of the Local Yocal empire, and is newly opened in downtown McKinney at 216 W. Virginia St. #102.

5. Pickleball-restaurant with chef-level food paddles into Farmers Branch. A new pickleball concept is paddling into Farmers Branch: Called At Fault, it's a pickleball-restaurant facility, opening its first DFW location at 2330 Jett St., in spring 2024.

Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 best new happy hours

Where to Drink

Maybe because it's fall or maybe because we're just lucky, but it's an especially rich time right now for happy hour offerings, with five spots that have either just debuted new happy hours (or are about to debut). There's a chef take at a restaurant-bar on Greenville Avenue; a fun music bar in Bishop Arts; a chance to sneak into a upscale steakhouse in a Dallas high-rise; and a restaurant-bar overlooking a tranquil golf course in Frisco.

Here's five hot new happy hours for our latest installment of Where to Drink:

Quarter Acre
Greenville Avenue restaurant has a new “Garden Hour” happy hour program Tuesday-Friday from 5-6:30 pm on the patio or at the bar, featuring snacks, three for $11, such as the Watermelon Bite, Crispy Pork Belly with avocado whip and sour lime, Half Shell Oyster with kiwi bubbles and rosé mignonette, and Mushroom Croquette with goat cheese. Select cocktails are $8 including the Front Deck Spritz with Aperol, passionfruit, and bubbles; and Bumble Bee’s Knees with Ford’s Gin, honey, and lemon. Three bottles of wine are $40: Pierre Sparr “Brut” Cremant d’Alsace, Mahua Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2022, or Black Cottage Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2021.

Revelers Hall
New Orleans-style bar in Bishop Arts has a new summer happy hour Monday-Friday from 4-7 pm, with good deals: half-price food, $6 wines, $5 well drinks, and $4 beers. They also have live music daily, featuring a variety of genres including jazz, bebop, Cumbia, and Latin jazz. Plus indoor and outdoor seating, and now is the time of year for that.

Ryder Cup Grille
Restaurant-bar at the Omni PGA Frisco Resort — one of 13 restaurants and bars at the resort — has a new happy hour with postcard-worthy views overlooking the Fields Ranch golf courses. It's an early one, running Monday-Friday from 2-5 pm and includes some domestic beers for $6, house wines for $10, and Ranch Water for $13. Food specials include Parmesan fries ($7), a guacamole and salsa flight ($9), chicken tenders with Buffalo sauce, Deep Ellum blue cheese dressing, and ranch ($11), nachos with brisket and refried beans ($12), and Cobb salad ($12).

SER Steak & Spirits
Steakhouse on the 27th floor of the Hilton Anatole has a Social Hour Tuesday-Thursday from 5-6:30 pm with $10 cocktails, $10 wines by the glass. A new bar menu features oysters, beef tartare, and gochujang chicken, priced from $9 to $23. They also have two new cocktails: Fall Berry Bush with tequila, Chambord, lime, rosemary, and sage; and a boozy lemonade with vodka, lavender, dill, lemon juice, and soda water.

Whiskey Cake
A new $7 Social Hour begins September 26, and runs Monday-Friday 3-6 pm with cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Margarita, Daiquiri, and a CYOM (create your own martini) with vodka or gin, clean or dirty, wet or dry, shaken or stirred, with a twist of lemon or olives, all for $7. House wines are also $7 and beers are $5. A menu of bar bites includes Wagyu corn dogs, BBQ spiced pork rinds, and blue cheese kettle chips.

Famous doner kebab restaurant makes Dallas debut with location in Frisco

Kebab News

A big name in doner kebabs is coming to Dallas-Fort Worth: German Doner Kebab, famous for pioneering gourmet doner kebabs in the UK and worldwide, will open its first location in Frisco, at 12025 E. University Dr. #100.

According to a release, it'll open on September 25, with seating for 77, making it the brand’s largest North American restaurant in terms of capacity.

Doner kebabs are a street food, centered on meat cooked on a rotating vertical spit. The name comes from two Turkish words: 'Doner' meaning rotate, and 'Kebap' meaning grilled meat. It's similar to a gyro, but döner meat is made from lamb or pork, while gyros are lamb or chicken.

German Doner Kebab, abbreviated GDK, is known for its distinctive waffle bread, in which the pita-like bread is imprinted with a waffle pattern. The company opened its first restaurant in Berlin in 1989 and is headquartered in Scotland. There are now 100-plus locations across UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

They made their U.S. debut in 2021 and have locations in New Jersey, Astoria, Queens, New York, and Sugar Land, Texas, outside Houston, which opened in 2022.

Their menu features doner kebabs made with toasted waffle bread, halal meat, vegetables, and signature sauces. GDK locations have an open kitchen so you can see the food being prepared to order.

In addition to the waffle bread, you can get the doner as a wrap, a panini, or in quesadilla form. Other items include a burger topped with Doritos and cheese sauce - like chips & salsa on top of doner meat, but all inside a bun; a black bean veggie burger; spring rolls; jalapeno poppers; and fries in a quartet of options including cheese fries, flaming fries, and curry fries.

“Many Americans are familiar with gyro, shawarma, and shish kebabs, however our ‘doner kebabs’ will be a new experience in both taste and format to most," says GDK North America managing director Nigel Belton in a statement.