Food Mart with Fresh Produce Being Developed Near Paul Quinn

By LASHONDA COOKS

The Dallas Examiner

A boarded-up Popeye’s decaying away on the corner of Bonnie View and Simpson Stuart for the last four years will be given new life thanks to developers’ plans to transform it into a new food mart convenience store with fresh vegetables, meat and fruits, a gas station and space for retail leasing.

District 8 Councilman Tennell Atkins is ecstatic.

“Ever since I’ve been a councilmember that corner has been an eyesore. We’ve been trying to find different types of development [to go] over in that neighborhood. I believe when we started talking about Flow Control and talking about we going to do something in southern Dallas, people now are looking at southern Dallas as an opportunity, especially when you’re saying you’ve got over 26,000 people in that area and there’s no grocery stores and no retail there,” he stated.

According to Atkins, when the developers approached him a year ago about the spot for gas station retail, he asked them to consider adding fresh produce to their product mix. They agreed, deciding to nearly triple the size of the store from 2,500 square feet to 6,000 square feet to add a rental space for small businesses.

Two weeks ago, the council voted to award the developers $100,000 in tax abatements from the city’s public-private fund for the location.

“That investment is probably about $1.5 million. I think that those are baby steps, but it goes to show that people are willing to come there,” Atkins added.

But President Michael Sorrell of Paul Quinn College is not impressed.

“Let me be clear: I have never questioned the ability of the city to attract convenience stores to southern Dallas. That’s not what We Are Not Trash is saying. If anything, that being heralded does nothing more than drive home our point,” Sorrell stated.

He says the We Are Not Trash movement is about the students and community demanding the same type of treatment as constituents north of the Trinity.

“You wouldn’t ask people in Lakewood, Uptown, any of those other communities to celebrate a convenience store. You wouldn’t. So stop asking us to do it,” he said.

Sorrell wants the city, councilmembers and community leaders to sit down and outline a community development plan specifically crafted for the area, noting that Paul Quinn College offered to foot the bill for such a plan before the vote on Resource Flow Control was taken. The city declined that offer.

 As part of the Flow Control Ordinance, the council established a Southeast Oak Cliff Investment Fund that will begin accruing up to $1 million a year in 2012 and agreed to have City Manager Mary Suhm work with community representatives to define the fund’s operating parameters, goals, strategies and action plan. Sorrell says that no one involved in the We Are Not Trash movement has been contacted regarding community meetings for drafting the plan.

“I am proud of my students and I am proud that this is their vision and their creation. And I am proud to be able to support them. We will continue to support them. I just can’t imagine that we live in a community where people are doing and saying some of the things they’re doing and saying when the ultimate response is that they’re trying to damage a student-run effort,” he said.

Atkins, the college’s councilman, says he simply doesn’t “get” the We Are Not Trash movement:

“Tell me what is the purpose of the march, I don’t have anything against the march but they need to tell the truth: We have a landfill. We use that landfill. We put $20 million in a 2006 bond package to improve that landfill. That landfill is not going to increase or enlarge. In the future, the landfill’s going to shrink. So, I don’t understand. I really don’t get it. We’ve already voted on this. It’s been voted on. There are not going to be more trucks. There were more trucks going to the landfill 10 years ago than are going today. The community people—the people who have been living there for 30 years said ‘we agree.’ Those leaders over there are saying we don’t have a problem with the situation,” Atkins offered.

Sorrell chalks it up to a difference of opinions:

 “I’m flabbergasted, because I really think that there are people out there who will look at this and say, ‘Oh, but they’re doing the best they can.’ This cannot possibly be the best we can do. I think what we have is just two radically different ideas on what people deserve,” Sorrell added.

But it’s not over yet.

“We are not going away,” the president promised.

 

 

 

 

 

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