Picture of the Dallas skyline.
Jan 14, 2022

Axios Dallas

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⛅️ Today's weather: High of 70 before temperatures drop again for the weekend.

🎵 Sounds like: "You’re Still the One"

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Today's newsletter is a loving 876 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: New convention center would benefit wealthy developers

Developer Ray Washburne hopes the city's new convention center will help him turn the former Dallas Morning News building into an entertainment district. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

If Dallas follows through with plans to build a new convention center, the most direct beneficiaries will be some of the richest men in North Texas.

Why it matters: The proposed new convention center would be the focus of a redevelopment plan for the southwest corner of downtown that could cost a reported $4.5 billion of public money, according to a recent feature in D Magazine.

What’s happening: As some council members have pointed out, the proposed plans for a new convention center that stretches across I-30 would greatly increase the value of all the land nearby.

  • Public records show that much of that land is owned by some of the wealthiest people in Dallas.
  • Last month, Council member Cara Mendelsohn called the project a "land grab."

Details: Ray Washburne owns the former Dallas Morning News building, which he hopes to turn into an entertainment district.

Jack Matthews is a longtime real estate developer who owns much of the land east of the proposed convention center.

  • He and his companies own several parcels of land that would benefit greatly from an infusion of public funds both in that part of downtown and around Fair Park.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban also owns some of the land on the other side of I-30, per the recent D story.

  • Advocates for the new convention center have floated the idea of Cuban building a new facility for the Mavericks near the redeveloped space. (Cuban hasn’t said that himself.)

Developer Mike Hoque, CEO of Hoque Global, owns much of the land around the Farmer’s Market and behind City Hall.

  • His company also owns several restaurants downtown, including Dallas Chop House and Wild Salsa, both of which are currently closed until further notice.

Between the lines: The economic models showing big returns to the city are foggy at best.

  • UTSA professor Heywood Sanders wrote an entire book about the dubious promises cities make in order to secure public funding.

The intrigue: Former Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze noticed developers purchasing nearby land more than two years ago, though he wasn’t sure at the time why.

  • The new convention center is only the latest in a long string of proposed publicly funded projects that would raise property values in that corner of downtown, including the now-defunct Trinity Toll Road, the Omni Hotel and Harold Simmons Park.

Of note: A decade after the city-owned Omni Hotel opened, the current convention center and hotel are still hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, according to the DMN.

Worthy of your time: D Magazine’s Peter Simek recently published a feature that explains why this redevelopment might be a terrible idea—before also endorsing it.

2. 🏈 Everything you need to know about the Cowboys playoff game

In Dak we trust. Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Cowboys host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon in what will be Dallas’ first home playoff game in three years.

Why it matters: If the Cowboys lose, that’s it. The season's over. See you next fall.

  • If we win, the Cowboys will play either the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers or the winner of the Cardinals-Rams game.

Of note: Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson offered a public wager with the mayor of San Francisco. If the 49ers win, Johnson will ship some authentic Dallas barbecue.

  • It’s not clear what Johnson gets if the Cowboys win. RiceARoni maybe?

By the numbers: Dallas is a three-point favorite.

Our thought bubble: 🙏 🙏 🙏

3. 📸 Pic du jour: MLK's Texas ally

Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Ahead of this year's MLK Day, here's a photo of the man himself riding a Montgomery bus with Texas Rev. Glenn Smiley.

  • Smiley didn't just ride next to King at the front of the bus: He spread the word about the Montgomery bus boycott to congregations across the Southwest.
4. 🗞 Burnt ends: Bite-sized news bits

A reminder to push up your glasses. Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🥵 Last month was the warmest December since 1889 with an average daily temperature 12 degrees above normal. (Texas Tribune)

⚕️ Texas Christian University will run its medical school alone after the university and the UNT Health Science Center dissolved its partnership. (Fort Worth Report)

🇺🇸 The Granbury man who founded the far-right Oath Keepers militia group was arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with last year’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. (Axios)

Black Lives Matter crosswalks were unveiled at the corner of MLK Jr. Blvd and Malcolm X Blvd. (CBS DFW)

🐕 Animal abuse cases are rising all over North Texas, including an apparent increase in the number of dogs being shot. (Dallas Observer)

💻 Two men accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl are now facing federal child pornography charges. (DMN)

💬 Quote du jour:
"What got us here was a misstep — I think shortsighted."
— Dallas PD Major Devon Palk, discussing the seizure of more than $106,000 cash from a Chicago woman who wasn’t arrested at Love Field last month. (Daily Beast)
5. 🥒 One mocktail to go: Hulk

This drink won’t make you angry. Photo: Tasha "Helth" Tsiaperas/Axios

Is juice a cocktail? It is at Whiskey Cake, which has locations in Plano and Las Colinas.

  • You can add gin or vodka, but we kept it nonalcoholic for Dry January.

What to order: Hulk — cucumber, basil, pineapple, lemon, honey, soda.

Where: Whiskey Cake, 3225 Regent Blvd., Las Colinas

Cost: $5.50

Pro tip: If you haven’t given up everything fun for your resolutions, get the whiskey cake.

Six-word review: Drink the juice, earn the cake.

🤔 Know of a tasty beverage we should try? Surely we’re not alone in this dry month. Hit reply and tell us.

Our picks:

🙈 Mike is already excited and nervous about the game on Sunday. Mostly nervous.

🤠 Tasha is considering heading to the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo this weekend, to watch real cowboys.

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