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Developer releases proposal to clean up East Sixth Street

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 by Kali Bramble

Following years of public outcry over the deterioration of East Sixth Street, Dallas-based Stream Realty has stepped forward with aspirations to give the notoriously rowdy block a facelift.

Real estate attorney Richard Suttle stopped by last Wednesday’s meeting of the Historic Landmark Commission to share a preliminary look at Stream’s vision. Increasing height and density, introducing a more varied mix of uses and opening the street back up to through traffic are all on the table.

“The folks that have been there a long time are crying out for help,” Suttle said. “The police officers are wringing their hands and pulling their hair out, they don’t know what to do. But we all agree we’ve got to change the mixes of uses.”

Since the onset of the Covid pandemic and temporary shuttering of the downtown bar scene, Stream has acquired dozens of properties along East Sixth. To make a return on its investment, Stream hopes it can redesign the space to welcome a wider variety of businesses and rehabilitate its “dirty” reputation.

Concerns over Sixth Street’s safety have intensified with four high-profile shootings occurring in the past year alone. Last June, a mass shooting that left 13 injured and 1 dead galvanized passage of the Safer Sixth Street Initiative, directing staff to develop public safety strategies to mitigate violent crime and underage drinking.

Stream Realty has embraced this momentum, incorporating a number of Safer Sixth Street recommendations into its proposal. Chief among these is reopening the streetscape, which is currently closed to through traffic on weekend evenings. The “street party” effect of such closures attracts underage crowds and facilitates drunken altercations, Suttle said. To accommodate heavy foot traffic, Stream hopes to reduce the street from four to three lanes and expand sidewalk space.

Stream also shares the city’s goal of bringing a mix of uses back to the district, with ambitions to introduce hotels and office spaces that will stimulate daytime commercial activity. To accomplish this, however, Suttle explained that the existing 45-foot height limitation dictated by the district’s national historic designation would need to be amended to 122 feet in select areas. Preliminary renderings show the addition of several stories to buildings along the 500 and 600 block of East Sixth (between Neches and Sabine streets) at a 15-foot setback that would preserve street-level facades.

“We’re not talking about high-rises here,” Suttle said. “Just a little more space to pay for the infrastructural changes we need on Sixth Street.”

While the project is still under development, Suttle said landmark commissioners can expect to see a code amendment request to address height limits hit their desks in the next few months. Then, they plan to roll out certificates of appropriateness and partial demolition applications to make way for new structures.

“We think we can do this aesthetically pleasing and historically accurate,” continued Suttle continued. “But without change, we’re going to be destined to have the same problems, and more people will be killed or injured … we have to do something radical.”

Photo by Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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