Editor’s note: This story also appears in the March edition of Park Cities People.
The Miracle Mile stretch of Lovers Lane once was among the trendiest hubs for luxury shopping in Dallas. These days, while its collection of specialty shops continues to draw customers, its look has become more eyesore than eye candy.
So count Connie Sigel among the proprietors who are happy the city of University Park is going through the preliminary steps of a renovation project for the area that could help it reclaim some of its past glory.
“The curbs are in disrepair. It’s been on the backburner for so long,” said Sigel, who owns the clothing boutique Elements. “There’s a heritage there that needs to be preserved.”
The city has the money in its budget during the next two years for a project that has been discussed several times before. Now it finally seems to be gaining traction, with an engineering firm hired to begin a conceptual design and traffic consultants also on board.
Among the points of emphasis are replacing the pavement on Lovers between Dallas North Tollway and Douglas Drive, as well as widening the medians to possibly include landscaping and decorative lighting.
One idea under consideration is to replace the current head-in parking with more traditional parking spaces that are perpendicular to the buildings. That proposal would likely reduce the total number of parking spaces by about 10 over a four-block area.
“I know there’s not enough parking out there anyway, but in order to accommodate fire lanes and such, I think this is a good thing,” said Bud Smallwood, University Park public works director. “I don’t think leaving the parking the way it is, is in the city’s best interest.”
Traffic also will be studied carefully in a stretch that not only deals with pervasive congestion, but has seen 31 accidents in the past three years.
“We’re trying to look at the most efficient way to handle traffic. There are some changes that are being suggested with these medians,” Smallwood said. “We want to make sure to do something that can improve traffic and traffic safety.”
While there is no official timetable yet for the project, he said construction could begin as soon as early 2015.
In the meantime, Smallwood said the city plans to consult with business owners to get input on the project. He said splitting construction into multiple phases could help to minimize inconvenience to merchants.
“Getting this built, as with any project next to a commercial area, it’s gonna be pretty tough on those folks to maintain their customer base. That’s my biggest concern,” Smallwood said. “But the street really does need to be replaced. When we do it, we want to do it right.”
Sigel, whose business has been at its current location since 1989, said she hopes the bulk of construction will take place during the summer months, when business in the area is generally slower.
“I think it’s long overdue,” Sigel said. “It could use an upgrade.”