North Oak Cliff is indeed getting a Sprouts Farmers Market, but it wasn’t the slam-dunk approval that it appeared to be.
A casual observer at Wednesday’s Dallas City Council meeting probably wouldn’t know that the unanimously approved rezoning request was the result of a hard-fought battle almost two years in the making.
The City Plan Commission deferred the matter seven times in 2022 before ultimately recommending the denial of the Sprouts Farmers Market in August because it didn’t comply with the zoning overlay for the Planned Development District.
Specifically, the PD calls for storefronts, rather than parking lots, facing the main thoroughfare. In this case, the developer couldn’t make that work because of grading and elevation challenges.
The site at Fort Worth Ave. and Hampton Road is currently developed as a 10,000-square-foot restaurant built in 1991 and a 26,850-square-foot general store built in 1946. The site was approved as a Planned Development District in 2005.
Sprouts Farmers Market
Despite the compliance issues with the PD zoning overlay, North Oak Cliff residents wanted a Sprouts.
So District 1 Councilman Chad West did what he does. He hit the pavement, surveyed more than 1,500 neighbors in English and Spanish, and worked with all involved parties to reach a compromise that was met with applause in Council Chambers Wednesday afternoon.
“PD 714” was written almost 20 years ago by three neighbors, one of whom spoke in support of the grocery store Wednesday afternoon. In fact, no one opposed it.
In addition to a walkable, pedestrian-friendly project with greenspace for families and pets, Sprouts is proposing a restaurant with a patio and several environmentally friendly factors including bioswales, permeable pavement, more landscaping, and more trees, West said.
“The community survey showed overwhelming support for environmental enhancements,” he said. “We love that in Oak Cliff.”
West’s motion involved a revised development plan and numerous stipulations.
District 12 Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn said a Sprouts opened two weeks ago in her district, and it’s been a perfect fit.
“I like that you found a solution that doesn’t fit the rules because it fits the need,” she said. “We often talk about uniform solutions for a city that is too big for uniform solutions. We need the right solution for the right area, and I think you found that here.”
West is seeking re-election in May, running against Mariana Griggs and Albert Mata.
Several residents spoke in support of the project before the Dallas City Council on Wednesday.
Tim Herfel, representing Fort Worth Avenue Development Group, said the plan for Sprouts meets the group’s mission of providing well-designed development that is bike-friendly, pedestrian-friendly, and includes augmented green infrastructure.
Brian Maynard, who lives about a block away from the site, said the grocery store would be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
“This corner has been a nuisance for the 15 years that I’ve lived there,” he said. “It’s not well-maintained. It’s a magnet for vagrancy and panhandling.”
Numerous concessions were made to reach a compromise on which residents could agree, said Jane Hamilton.
“We really did turn a corner, and we did that by getting community input,” she said. “This is a good example of what it looks like when our voices are heard.”
The proposed grocery store will not only bring healthy food choices to North Oak Cliff, but it could also add about 100 jobs to the area.
Rob Baldwin, representing the developer, commented on the public engagement process and said the project ended up better than it started.
“I’ve never worked with a group of neighbors that have been so competent, compassionate, and passionate about Fort Worth Avenue,” he said. “We have a very good compromise here. Council member West was no pushover on this. He stuck to his guns. I think we were able to get him where he wanted to be, especially the large lawn in front of the restaurant. I think it’s going to be a great community gathering space.”