On March 4, 2012, the Monday after the weekend-long celebration that opened architect Santiago Calatrava’s bone-blanched Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the neighborhood that found itself suddenly connected to the snarl of interstates a half-mile off, went back to looking the way it had for the better part of the previous century. West Dallas’ corrugated steel warehouses and low-slung brick storefronts that date back to the 1920s and 1930s hardly took notice of the few extra cars that began rolling down a recently widened Singleton Boulevard. The vacant lots that had been quickly laid with decomposed granite and crushed concrete for parking were empty after the brief deluge of traffic. And yet, there the bridge loomed, an indelible ribbon of bent steel in the sky, while West Dallas remained—at least on the surface—the same.
It wasn’t. Underneath the neighborhood’s seemingly indifferent urban landscape, a tectonic shift was beginning. For eight years, three investors from North Dallas had been working to forever alter the neighborhood, to build their dreams. The trio—Stuart Fitts, Larry “Butch” McGregor, and the famed restaurateur Phil Romano, the culinary visionary behind brands such as Fuddruckers, Macaroni Grill, and Eatzi’s—began buying land in West Dallas in 2005. Over the better part of a decade, the three partners sunk more than $45 million into the rundown neighborhood, nabbing upwards of 80 acres of property in an area delineated by the Trinity River on the east, Sylvan Avenue on the west, West Commerce Street on the south, and the residential neighborhood of La Bajada on the north. Today, just a year since the opening of the bridge, signs of change have sprouted: restaurants, a brewery, a home decor shop, a huge culinary event space located in a remodeled warehouse. Dirt is flying on the centerpiece, a former loading dock that by the end of 2013 will boast a mix of new restaurants and shops, a so-called “restaurant incubator.”
Yet this development, called Trinity Groves, is only the start of the big plans Romano and company have in store for West Dallas, taking up less than 20 percent of the land the three partners have assembled as part of the investment group West Dallas Investments.
Click here to read the full D Magazine article by Peter Simek.