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A second deck park coming to Dallas looks to reconnect a community

A second deck park coming to Dallas looks to reconnect a community
A second deck park coming to Dallas looks to reconnect a community 02:07

DALLAS — The dirt is moving, and the excitement is building as Dallas' newest deck park takes shape.

"We're standing on it!" exclaims April Allen, President & CEO of Southern Gateway Public Green Foundation."It's real. It's here!"

After all, the Southern Gateway Park being built over I-35 between Ewing and Marsalis, near the Dallas Zoo, will be more than a place to play.

"That is enormous," explains Allen. "And especially given the history of our city - we do have divides, north-south, east-west, and here in Oak Cliff, you know when the freeway came through back in the sixties, it did divide the community. But we have this opportunity now to really bring it back together and to solidify the roots that are already here."

Roots that are just aching to spread.

"This is going to be, I think, a monumental project," explains AJ Ramler, Proxy Property Historic Restoration. "And to hopefully have some healing and connectivity between the two sides of the highway, because this is Oak Cliff!"

Ramler loves Oak Cliff. He lives and works there as well. For the past few years, he's been restoring a former church on the east side of I-35 to create a community co-working hub, art space and theater. And he says the deck park will also lay the foundation for economic opportunities in the area.

"We're planning to do 10 to 15,000 feet of retail. So that'll be a really exciting thing because also to do retail next to the park, we would not be doing that project if it was not for the park."

Even Oak Cliff institutions like 'Charco Broiler,' operating in the area for some 60 years, are looking forward to this new season of deck park excitement.

"Yes, we were actually fourth generation," explains Broc Cordova. 

Cordova says his great-grandfather started the restaurant and over the decades they've weathered many economic ups and downs. While he's proud of what he sees looking back, the view forward is now great as well.

"Yeah, it can only help," explains Cordova, "because, more feet on the ground, more attention to the area. And, you know, that's exactly what you look for as a business owner."

Recently, the US Department of Transportation awarded the park a $25 million grant as part of its Reconnecting Communities program, an effort to undo the damage to communities from transportation projects of the past, once considered progress.

"And with the investment from the Department of Transportation, we are thrilled to also be able to say that we have the momentum and the commitment to build the second phase deck," explains Allen, "and really get that going here in the coming years."

For now, the Southern Gateway's first phase is slated to open early in 2026.

"I'm going to go visit," shares Cordova. "I want to do all that stuff. So we'll be here."

For another six decades, at least.

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