DALLAS — Hundreds of West Dallas residents and developers say calling the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge a "bridge to nowhere" no longer applies.
That's because a compromise in a controversial zoning case has cleared the way for those businesses, while protecting the neighborhood next to the city's newest landmark.
One group — West Dallas Investments — plans to build restaurants, retail shops and entertainment venues on a 15-acre site called Trinity Groves along Singleton Boulevard. But, skeptical it would be swallowed up, the La Bajada neighborhood to the north dug in and remained until Wednesday’s compromise.
Mayor Mike Rawlings was pleased with the deal. "There's a lot of work to be done yet, but thank you all for your hard work, your patience on this issue,” he said.
Most in the neighborhood of some 330 property owners wanted buildings restricted to two stories. But the developers didn't want those restrictions on residential lots they purchased adjacent to their project, where they'd like to put retail, apartments and a parking garage.
Feelings got heated when those with ties to the neighborhood — but who don't own land there — didn't want to compromise.
Paulo Sanchez said he grew up in La Bajada and attends a church there. "They are taking over this little spot right now, but sooner or later they are going to take more,” he said.
But the sides reached a deal when the developers agreed to submit detailed plans, which the City Council must now approve.
That was fine to Raymond Salinas, president of the La Bajada Neighborhood Association. "The protection is still there to preserve, enhance and protect the neighborhood as it was intended to be,” he said.
With some limits on its property, West Dallas Investments says it can move forward. Restaurateur Phil Romano is one of the principal investors.
"After talking to them, everybody understood what we're trying to do, and we understood what they wanted, and we think it's going to be good for them and good for us," Romano said.
He said construction will speed ahead now, with three or four restaurants open by Christmas.