Photo reveal: The truth about the Four Season’s outdoor market

There has been a lot of talk about the European style market that many in the Richardson Heights neighborhood would like to see come to the Heights shopping center. This is a proposal by the Four Seasons Market, which has a Saturday location on Campbell Road and another in Frisco. The proposal is for a market on Sundays, late morning to early afternoon, at the Heights shopping center.

More than 20 letters of support were written to the Richardson City Council, but instead of granting a special permit for the Heights market, they tabled it until a city-wide ordinance can be created to regulate open-air markets in the city. This may not come up into October, and then it could be too late for the market to open this year. This decision may have been guided by misinformation received by the Council.

The decision by the Council was contrary to the community’s wishes for an open-air market, whether you want to call it a farmer’s market or a European style market. Out of the 150 respondents in a 2013 survey of the Richardson Heights neighborhood, a farmer’s market was the top preferred new businesses they wanted to come to the Heights shopping center. This is a pretty huge show of support

The new city ordinance is being created without public input, unless you want to count negative input which has described the market as a dirty flea market that would draw rats and trash-out the shopping center.

Since a picture can speak a thousand words, this past Saturday, Aug. 30, we went to the Four Seasons Market location on Campbell Road with a camera and a notebook.

First thing to note is that the Four Seasons market isn’t a farmer’s market. It’s an open-air European style market book ended by two produce stands. In between the produce stands there are local cottage businesses – some making their products with the help of commercial kitchens and almost all with some kind of an online Web store presence – selling goods they’ve created by hand, grown, or produced. Goods like local honey, Texas olive oil, tamales, organic chips, hand-woven baskets from a women’s cooperative, handmade soaps, pasta, baked goods, dresses, plants, gourmet coffee, preserves, jewelry.

The variety of produce and locally made foods and items for sale is what makes this a European-style market.

Everything here is handmade or home grown – they are intimately connected to their products,” said Richardson Heights resident Mary Ann, who has a booth at the market selling her handmade jewelry. “A lot of these people are people who live here.”

Instead of a trash-strewn flea market, the Four Seasons Market is clean, orderly, and friendly. Take a look.

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Vanessa Vyles and her dog Moose drive down from their Plano home to visit the market as frequently as they can. “I get olive oil, pasta, vegetables, bread – I get something every time I come,” she said. Vanessa also appreciated that the market was dog friendly.

The organic chips are sold by Betty Kinsey of the Richardson Northrich neighborhood. “We have organic corn chips, low-fat queso, salsa, fresh roasted coffee,” she said. “This market has been here for years. There are a lot of loyal followers.”

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Karen Piggins and her son Edouard are setting up their shop, Body Harmony. They sell handmade soaps and jewelry, along with woven baskets made by women in a free-trade cooperative in Africa. They have been with the Four Seasons market for four years. “We work with over 400 women in Ghana. The money we pay them helps pay for schools, helps single mothers as their job to help sustain their lives in their villages.”

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Grant Loring is making his first sale of the day to Patrick Krejs from University Park. Patrick said he was dropping off his son for a soccer game at UTD when he saw the market’s temporary sign along Campbell. “So I dropped him off and came back.” Patrick ended up with jars of strawberry-jalapeno jam that Grant’s wife Diana makes for their business, Designs by Diana. Grant said his wife, with the help of a commercial kitchen, makes 500-600 jars of preserves, jams and jellies a week, which they sell at area markets.

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Justin St. Clair, “That Cactus Guy,” sells numerous varieties of cactus and also promotes his xeriscaping business at the market. “I sell plants that can make it in our climate,” he said. “It’s a good market. I get a lot of xeriscaping business, teaching them how to save water because we need that.”

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Cassandra Adams of Stardust Soaps, makes her own skincare products and soaps. A licensed cosmetologist, she has been selling her hand made products at the Four Season markets since 2009. “It started as a hobby and then friends talked me into selling it,” Cassandra said. “I make it in small batches so it doesn’t sit around. Even though my customers can buy online, the majority tell me they’d rather come to the market.”

And that’s what makes the market such a community amenity. People want to come to the market to browse, chat with friends and vendors, get a little fresh air and some locally made and grown products.

Check out other vendors and customers at the market.IMG_1192

 

 

 

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Copy and paste – Starbucks proposal for Heights shopping center

Copy and paste template for Starbucks comments

State in your words why you think dine in would be successful at that location and state your personal desire for it. It’s best to us your own words. If you can’t think of anything here are some ideas to start you off. Copy the content below if needed and paste it into an email.

Email to the addresses below and make sure you copy the president@richardsonheights.org address so we can record the comments.

Subj: Richardson Heights Starbucks proposal – indoor dining requested

TO: Chris.shacklett@cor.gov, Jon@SterlingDesignAssociates.com, Wayne@SterlingDesignAssociates.com

CC: president@richardsonheights.org

As a resident of the Richardson Heights neighborhood, I am writing to voice my support of a dine-in coffee shop business in or near the Richardson Heights shopping center. This type of business is long overdue and would be immanently successful.

I strongly recommend that such a business include inside sales in addition to drive-thru sales. I believe there is strong demand for such an establishment in the immediate area.

I am excited that there is interest by Starbucks. I respectfully ask that those plans be re-considered to include indoor sales.

Best regards,

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Continental Inn Postmortem

I’ve been collecting my thoughts following the Council’s unanimous decision to approve the restaurant development project at the old Continental Inn site.

First, a quick update on why I didn’t support the project, nor oppose it during the Council hearing.

Personally, I felt that there were enough people in the neighborhood disappointed with the site plan, as well as the process that led up to it, that I couldn’t come out and support it. Further, I felt that our quick response to oppose the original zoning request, and the City Plan Commission’s unanimous recommendation to deny it, was a strong message that the West Spring Valley redevelopment strategy needs to be followed.

I stand by that and will continue to support and defend the city’s WSV regulations.

That said, the developer made, in my view, a good faith effort to listen to neighborhood feedback from the City Plan Commission meeting, and from myself and others. A great deal of that feedback was incorporated into the revised plan. I couldn’t and can’t condemn them for trying, and seeming eager to continue to make improvements.

So, does it match up with the WSV strategic blueprint? No. But I think it is now in the bleacher seats.

We made a difference

I know there is disappointment from a lot of people. But I think we can hold our heads high that we were able to drive substantial changes to the site plan, thanks mostly to your feedback in the CPC meeting and to posts we made in our Web pages. I also have to thank the developer for being willing to listen.

I don’t think it serves us to mull over the “could of’s” and “should of’s” and “if’s” and “but’s.” This project has a lot of them, and trust me, it’s easy to let those pull you into the weeds.

I agree with Cottonwood Heights NA President Jason Lemons that we do need to have a lessons learned session with the city.

Reversing misconceptions and serving your clients

If you watched the hearing on public access, you’ll recall that most of the speakers and several of the Council members had legitimate questions and concerns about this development.Tow in point,

  • Is it really going to be a catalyst?
  • What happens the next time someone wants to change the strategic blueprint?

I think there is also still quite a bit of misconception about how this project was handled with the neighborhoods.

In my private and professional life I’ve learned that the client or customer is always right, even when they are wrong.

My point is, there is a belief from some that communications was well and good with the neighborhoods on this project. That is simply not the case from our point of view.

When you serve a client, and they tell you over and over that something is wrong – in this case that your communications and process isn’t working – you don’t come back and say, “It is working.”

You always come back and ask your client: “How can we make it better?”

Going forward

  1. I meant what I said at the hearing. We, not just city management and the developer, have a responsibility to continue collaborating and driving toward the best possible outcome for this project. I think all of us want this to be successful.

    So, you get 24 hours to bemoan and complain the Council’s decision, then, as so many of you tell your kids, you have to get back on your feet, dust yourself off, and move on.

    Moving on, in my book, means working together to help make this a great project. 

  2. I believe strongly that a Council member has an opportunity to take a leadership role in our redevelopment strategy. As the Mayor said, most of Richardson’s empty space is built out. Going forward the emphasis is going to be on redevelopment.
  3. I agree with those Council members who said it, that this is the first project of its kind and it was not easy to do, and there are lessons learned. Let’s document those, but not in a vacuum. The lessons learned should include not just neighborhood representatives, but anyone from the community who is interested.
  4. Make public what worked and what didn’t, and what is the plan for correcting the issues.
  5. Set up milestone dates for completing the corrective actions.
  6. We’ll review lessons learned as a neighborhood. I’ll be the first to say that there are processes we can improve. Some of the lessons learned:
    1. Communicate more often.
    2. Try to find alternatives for group input – meeting places are hard to find on short notice. What else could we do?
    3. Stay vigilant when it comes to redevelopment in our area.
    4. Keep our ears to the ground – do not wait for the city or anyone to inform us. Actively seek out information.
    5. Broaden our knowledge about what redevelopment means. In this project, I noticed from people in our neighborhood and we saw it with the Council last night, that not everyone has a clear, definitive idea of what our redevelopment strategy means. Frankly, this was a baptism by fire for me and I had to try to learn fast. I’m still learning. There’s no shame in not knowing everything, which leads to the next lesson learned…
    6. Ask a lot of questions.
    7. Can we do something to better promote our area and help prospective developers know how they can take advantage of our help and collaboration, and streamline approvals?

I’ll close it here. If you have suggestions, I believe you can post them in the comments area under this message. Or email me at president@richardsonheights.org.

Thanks,
Richard

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Council votes – Continental Inn development proposal

At 7:30 p.m. today the Richardson City Council will hold a public hearing on the development plans for the old Continental Inn site located between James Drive, Floyd Road, and Central Expressway.

The site’s developer is appealing a ruling by the City Plan Commission. That ruling denied a zoning request that would have allowed the project to be outside the scope of the West Spring Valley (WSV) Corridor regulations.

There have been changes, both to the site plan, and in their request. It’s no longer for a zoning change, but for a major modification, which is within the Council’s scope to grant or deny within the existing zoning. In other words, the project could go forward, leaving the existing zoning intact.

The zoning was developed by a collaborative, community-wide approach to lay down a blueprint for redeveloping the southern edge of Richardson from Dumont Drive, south along Central, and east along Spring Valley to Coit Road.

There are five sites in that corridor that could be considered as possible catalysts for further redevelopment; the old Continental Inn site being perhaps the most well known.

I hope you can come out and make your voices heard. Whether you support the development plan, oppose it, or you’re unsure, this is the time to let the city hear your opinion. If you can’t make the meeting, send an email to sam.chavez@cor.gov. One or two paragraphs are sufficient. You can also send them to the Mayor and City Council (email addresses).

Whatever you think about the project, I believe we all have a common goal to grow reinvestment in Richardson and improve the quality of life for its residents.

The City Council has a difficult decision before them tonight. On the one hand, reinvestment is needed for the area and there is a strong opinion that any development is better than no development.

There are equally strong opinions that if we as a city disregard our blueprint for WSV then we are essentially committing the reinvestment strategy to the dustbin. They ask, why did we bother with all the thousands of hours of work and taxpayer expense in developing it in the first place?

For myself, I cannot support any catalyst development plan that isn’t in the scope of the West Spring Valley strategy. I also cannot condemn a project, though it started off outside the blueprint of the WSV strategy, which has undergone substantial changes in the past month.

The developer’s revised site plan has gone from a row of four restaurants on a big parking lot, to a reconfiguration that includes a pavilion between three of the restaurants and the possibility for mixed use in one building. An expanded green space is also new to the revisions.

There are a number of other revisions to the original plan. These are included thanks in part to the developer’s willingness to listen to community feedback.

I think the Council now has the task to answer the question: does this project fit within the scope of the WSV plan?

I personally expect the Council, if they do decide to approve the revised site development plan, to ensure that the improvements are codified. If they do not approve the plan, the Council must come back with a strategy to get this or another development project on track as quickly as possible.

I believe the Council’s responsibility, along with this community’s, doesn’t end with tonight’s vote. We must continue to work for improvements to any development plan, not just for this catalyst project, but for any in our city.

Thanks,
Richard Dotson
President, RHNA

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Appeal hearing Monday, May 19 for Continental Inn site development

Richardson Heights appeal hearing scheduled for Monday, May 19th.

Richardson City Council Meeting
What: City Council Appeal Hearing on Continental Inn plan
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 19
Where: City Hall, 411 W. Arapaho

The Council is scheduled to hear an appeal of the City Plan Commission’s 7-0 vote to recommend denying Hermansen Land Development’s requested zoning changes for the former Continental Inn site. The developer has the right under city ordinances and the city charter to make this appeal. Because of the plan commission denial, they need to receive a 6-1 vote or better from the Council to pass their proposal.

Here’s why it’s important for you to attend
 
The developer is submitting revisions to their plan for a restaurant complex on the site. That plan should be available later today for review. (When the Council agenda documents are published online, we will send an email with details and also post them on our Facebook group page.)
 
We hope you can attend Monday’s meeting and make your voice heard, whether you support or oppose the project. The fact is that many of you who spoke about the original proposal may be for or against the revised plan.
 
Update
Last week, I along with Cottonwood Heights President Jason Lemons, and Richardson Heights VP of External Relations Andrew Laska met with the developer to discuss the proposal and share feedback and concerns about the plan. 

Jason and I followed up this week with a joint statement to the Council. The statement represented our point of view and was not meant to represent the views of the Richardson Heights and Cottonwood Heights associations or its members. You can download it here.

In summary, the statement made these points:

  • We did not endorse or oppose the development plan at this time.
  • Progress had been made toward the ideals of the West Spring Valley (WSV) plan, but that the new site plan was still some distance away.
  • That the WSV plan was city policy, which was supported by a broad base in Richardson.
  • Concern that the newly revised plan may or may not be a true catalyst project for the WSV corridor.
  • Support for the WSV plan and zoning. 
  • A list of 14 items we believe are required, at a minimum, to allow the developer’s plan a chance of being a true catalyst project, though it still may not achieve that status.

We urge you to attend Monday’s City Council hearing. Whether you endorse or oppose the developer’s plan, this is your opportunity to make your voices heard.

Regards,
Richard Dotson
President, RHNA

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Help your neighbor day – April 5

By Scott Rhoades, RHNA Board Civic Chair

A few months ago, a handful of Richardson Heights neighbors were meeting together and started talking about how to help our neighborhood.

Help Your Neighbor Day:

Date: April 5
Time: Meet at 12:30
Place: Meet at Durham Park

Let’s get out there and help our neighbors!

Contact info:

Volunteer Coordinator
Scott Rhoades: scottrhoades@mac.com

Do you know about a project or are you in need?
Contact Tim Kahle: timkahle@yahoo.com.

 

From those conversations, the Richardson Heights “Help Your Neighbor Day” was started!

The sole vision of this project is to get together with neighbors like you in order to help other neighbors that might need assistance with small projects. The first ever Richardson Heights “Help Your Neighbor Day” is just around the corner. On April 5 we are setting out into the neighborhood to rake leaves, clean up trash, repair fences, etc.

The volunteer teams will meet together at Durham Park around noon, set out for our projects, and then everyone will finish out the day back at the park for a barbecue. 

Our two biggest needs are volunteers to help serve and also a list of neighborhood projects.  We especially want to focus on houses of the elderly, and families who might be in need. Our hope is to have volunteer teams from each block helping with projects on their street.

Don’t be shy. If you want to help, know of a project that needs doing, or you need help, then contact us. Just like when neighbor helped neighbor during the December ice storm, we want to capture that spirit for those in need. This is a great way to get out and serve our neighborhood!

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Next neighborhood event coming Feb. 23

Meet the Mayor and City Council at our Annual Membership Meeting on Feb. 23

The Honorable Mayor Laura Maczka, Richardson’s first directly elected Mayor since 1957, and Richardson City Council will be on hand to discuss great things happening in Richardson and they will answer your questions.

Date: Sunday, Feb. 23
Time: 4-5:45 p.m.

Where: Aboca’s Party Room, Heights Shopping Center, 100 S. Central Expressway

We will also:

  • Review of the year and see what we can expect in the current year. 
  • Elect a new board.
  • Update our by-laws to allow us to be more dynamic and take on great neighborhood projects.
  • See what we have in store for our 60th Anniversary.
  • Enjoy some light food from Aboca’s.

Join us afterward for a Happy Hour at Glass Half Full inside the Alamo Drafthouse (Approximate start time 6 p.m.)

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Welcome to our new home page!

Welcome to Richardsonheights.org.

We just launched a new look and feel to our neighborhood home page.We hope you like it. Take some time to explore. We don’t have a lot of content yet, but that will change over the coming weeks.

This site is going to continue to provide you with basic community information – contacts, quick links to resources. But because we have moved to a content management system, you are going to get more detailed news about our community that you’re not going to get from our Facebook group or other news sources.

 

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