Dallas' Deep Ellum Tries to Rebound
By Catherine Cuellar, KERA 90.1 reporter
Dallas, TX –
Catherine Cuellar, 90.1 reporter: Deep Ellum has been plagued by a few high profile crimes this year. In addition to two shootings, assaults resulting in the death of one man and the paralysis of another were reported for weeks after they occurred. Brandt Wood, who co-owns three Deep Ellum clubs, thinks media coverage has been unfair since crime has decreased almost 7 percent, and violent crime is down more than 10 percent since January.
Brandt Wood, The Entertainment Collaborative, President: We're stemming the tide if you will. Between midnight and four on Fridays and Saturdays you could see gangs of youths running up the street, pushing people over, kicking garbage cans, fighting each other. I'd never witnessed it before in my life. But we basically stopped that by putting the law on the street. We feel there was an opportunistic crowd of thugs that came in and started to have their way, and they caught us napping.
Cuellar: Wood has lived and worked in Deep Ellum for eight years and says city officials are finally doing something about it.
Wood: We've had to go and rap on the door and be the squeaky wheel and I'm happy to say the new police chief and council folks that represent this area have taken notice and stepped up. It's a little bit, not late, but it's unfortunate that it wasn't heeded earlier, like a year ago. But we're getting attention from the city and it's working.
Cuellar: Tom Landry, who opened Pharmacy in Deep Ellum almost two years ago, isn't so sure. Lack of business forced him to close for four months.
Tom Landry, Pharmacy, Owner: It seems like Deep Ellum is dying and it's sad because it's kind of a historical place, and it doesn't seem like it's been given the attention it deserves.
Cuellar: But Landry says this summer's problems have led to grassroots action. Deep Ellum owners formed a coalition to support the work of the Deep Ellum Association, which is working with the Dallas Police and TXU to improve security. Brian Harvey is the new Deputy Chief of Police over Deep Ellum.
Brian Harvey, Dallas Police Department, Deputy Chief: We're trying together in partnership to establish a crime strategy, and the Deep Ellum Association is being real cooperative in that regard. They got TXU to repair broken lights. Then they went through and got TXU to upgrade their lights to brighter lights. Then they have just gotten TXU to install 22 additional lights in dark areas, side streets. They're also looking at lighting to go on private buildings to light up the street at closing time.
Cuellar: That partnership has been led by Mark McNabb, who became director of the Deep Ellum Association in April.
Mark McNabb, Deep Ellum Association, Director: The thing I discovered in the last six months is Deep Ellum's in a little bit of an identity crisis, and that's because we haven't been communicating. So there are clubs haven't talked to their neighbors. And there's sort of a negative competitive spirit that has developed instead of saying we're competing with Addison or we're competing with the West End.
Cuellar: And one amenity competing entertainment districts are offering is free parking. In an attempt to attract patrons back to Deep Ellum, the City of Dallas initiated a parking test October 1st, making metered spaces and public lots free after 6 p.m. weekdays and all weekend long. Again, Chief Harvey:
Harvey: From our standpoint, anytime we can centralize the parking, it helps us because it makes it easier to patrol the parking for car break-ins and property crimes and any time the parking can be in closer proximity to the bars it makes it easier from a public safety standpoint to patrol patrons coming to and from parking.
Cuellar: Free parking will end late Sunday night. The city will review its effect and decide whether or not to reinstate it. Owners say it will take a combination of parking, security, and cooperation to bring business and patrons back to Deep Ellum. For KERA 90.1, I'm Catherine Cuellar.
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