One Crisis Away, No Place To Go: As West Dallas Develops, Residents Ask Where They Fit | KERA News

One Crisis Away, No Place To Go: As West Dallas Develops, Residents Ask Where They Fit

May 16, 2017

West Dallas has been an afterthought for the better part of a century-- today it’s booming. The last four years have been a construction frenzy of new restaurants and upscale apartments. Some of the oldest residents don’t recognize the place.

KERA’s series One Crisis Away: No Place To Go is looking at the people displaced by a changing neighborhood, and development that’s just getting started.

Building Boom

In West Dallas, excavators and forklifts are ubiquitous, carving out space for development--- and hoisting the bones of new apartments.

Like everything else near the bridge—the Trinity Groves administrative offices are under construction too. An edgy concept bar is in the works on the first floor, one that will require an app for entry and help young professionals network. Trinity Groves founder and restaurant titan Phil Romano sketches out the scenario; say you’re looking for a patent attorney…

“Just press attorneys and it tells me all the attorneys in there, it tells me all the attorneys that belong to it, like our own private Craigslist, our own private Facebook," he says.

Future Plans

Romano and his partners own 70 acres in West Dallas. The restaurant incubator is theirs and they have pretty much all the land where newly built and under-construction apartments sit.  Down the road? Luxury hotels and multi-story office buildings.

“If everything pans out right, this is going be the most recognizable destination in Dallas. Where are you? We’re on the other side of the bridge. What bridge? Just can point up in the air and you can see it.," Romano says.

The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is the beacon of the “new” West Dallas. At first, critics rolled their eyes—nicknaming it 'The Bridge To Nowhere.' The building boom on the other side has silenced the scoff.

The brand new development butts up against aging homes, and families who’ve lived there for decades. Phil Romano thinks that’s a good thing.

“In general I think it’s cleaned up the area for them. We hire as many as they want to work here, that’s no problem. And even some of these neighbors down here next to us, the people that own their own buildings, we go down there and fix their porches, cut their grass, the older people. We help them out, they’re our neighbors," says Romano.

Keeping Pace With Change

One of those neighbors is Ronnie Mestas. He’s a community leader who grew up here. He sees what’s happening—the wave of new restaurants, open air patios, sleek studio apartments. He hopes residents won’t fight the tide.

“It’s a different culture now, and it doesn’t mean that you have to be afraid of it or run from it. Learn from it," Mestas says.

Learn more about the changing neighborhood and how longtime families are coping here.