Sunday, September 16, 2007

Is Southlake "The Place People Love to Hate?"
Not To Me...

I was somewhat surprised to see a sound-off forum in the editorial section of yesterday's Morning News entitled "Is the animosity toward Southlake deserved, or is it a sign of envy?" Huh? Animosity toward Southlake? Where did that come from? Then I noticed that the editorial pointed to an article in this month's issue of D Magazine called "Southlake: Welcome to Perfect City, U.S.A." Here's a sample:
They’re good at everything in Southlake. If you’ve never been, there’s something a little Pleasantville about it. The streets are cleaner than your streets, the downtown more vibrant, the students more courteous, their parents more prosperous. Everyone is beautiful in Southlake. Everyone smiles in Southlake. Everyone is a Dragon in Southlake. This last fact, especially, is central to understanding the city. The kids and their mothers coming out of Central Market. The retired men who eat barbecue at the Feed Store. The white collar professionals strolling through the shops of Southlake’s Town Square. They are all Dragons.
That may sound a little snarky, but the rest of the well-written article has a nicer tone, and it also contains a rather good narrative of the founding of Southlake and how Carroll Dragon football helped put the town on the map.

The DMN forum has some interesting contributions, but most of the respondents aren't hatin' on Southlake; if anything, they're saving most of their ire for the usual suspect, Highland Park. But most are talking about how envy isn't a good thing to be carrying around in the first place, and some even note that the success of any North Texas community makes the whole Metroplex better. I wholeheartedly concur.

And as for me? I love Southlake; in fact, I've been there the past three Saturday nights and one other time besides that. The main object of my fancy is Southlake Town Square, the older cousin to Firewheel that serves as the de facto downtown, containing both City Hall and the post office. I can't remember how I happened upon it soon after it opened (I'm guessing it was an article in the paper), but, since I have an alumni meeting every month in nearby Bedford, it's only a short detour from my normal route. Once I saw the place festooned in holiday lights, I've been back there at night every December, and it's turned into my little hangout before the alumni meeting ever since I started attending an earlier church service a while back. (You have to admit that "festooned" is a great word, right? I try to work it into a post whenever possible.)

The D article also speaks kindly of Town Square:
All that money, inevitably, drew one of those fashionable “new urbanism” developments to Southlake. In 1999, something called Town Square sprung up out of the prairie: a 131-acre mixed-used development designed by David Schwarz, the same architect who built the American Airlines Center and the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Hilton Hotel on the far west side of Town Square sits across the street from Truluck’s and Taco Diner, which are down the street from Barnes & Noble, which is near the Cheesecake Factory and Snuffer’s. There’s 1.2 million square feet of this—a Lane Bryant here, a Starbucks there. Just like Plano, just like Addison, just like everywhere else.

Except in Southlake it’s different. It works. It works because it’s beautiful. The main entrance of Town Square is a two-square-block public space, with a lawn in the foreground and mature trees shading parts of a fountain. Behind that there’s a gazebo and behind that another lawn with intersecting sidewalks, like a college quad. City Hall is here, too. And the post office. The development, perfectly huge and perfectly planned, does something most unusual in these parts: it gets people walking. Elderly couples, kids with their skateboards, mothers with their strollers. They’re everywhere. Go ahead. Try not killing someone while driving through the place.

The day Town Square opened, developer Brian Stebbins walked around it. It was much smaller then, not yet built out, and Stebbins was thinking of staging a photograph to capture what he envisioned for the future. “That very first morning,” Stebbins says, “there were kids playing by the fountain and people playing Frisbee. And none of them were hired.”
As I've said before, I like New Urbanism. The old-school architecture and the mixture of commercial and residential is appealing to me, as is the walkability; weather permitting, I walk as much of the place as i can on every visit. If money (and my commute to the college) were no object, I'd buy a Brownstone (complete with a Wenger module for practicing, of course) and be happy as a clam living in Southlake. As someone noted in the D article, the people I've run across out there don't seem to act like they have lots of money.
And I'm already a fan-from-afar of Carroll football (as I noted last year after their then-football coach, Todd Dodge, got hired at my alma mater, UNT), and I was none too happy when their 49-game winning streak (dating back to a 2003 loss--by one point--in the state finals) came to an end last night at the hands of Florida powerhouse Miami Northwestern.

But in the meantime, I'm happy with the (at least) monthly visits. Needless to say, the presence of Copeland's in the new HIlton makes trips on non-alumni days even more likely. (That explains one of the trips during this three-Saturdays-in-a-row stint, in case you're wondering. The other two visits were precipitated by a rather substantial gift card that I had been given for one of the other restaurants in Town Square; the food was worth the drive.)

So there's not a shred of Southlake envy on my part. I'm glad the place is there. What about you, fellow Metroplexites? Is there a place in the area that you "love to hate," and if so, is it Highland Park? Plano? Frisco? (Those seemed to be the top vote-getters in the DMN forum.) Or do you agree with the people who say that any area's success makes the whole Metroplex better? And if you're not from this area, feel free to chime in about someplace similar in your locale.

Friday Night Darks: Speaking of high school football, a game in Arizona had to be called off this week after thieves stole the copper wire that helped power the stadium lights.

1 comment:

Eric Grubbs said...

I love where I live. That's all I'll say . . .