Pop-Up Food Park to Open in South Dallas – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

It’s easy to drive by on Martin Luther King Boulevard on Holmes Street and in Dallas and not see the change and miss the opportunity – but it’s there.

“We’re focused on turning this lot into a grocery park this week,” said Krista Nightengale, executive director of the nonprofit The Better Block Foundation. “Creative seating, green spaces, and healthier options for dining and even some seating. We’re trying to bring all of those elements into this space.”

Better Block and The Real Estate Council are the main partners of MLK Food Park, which opens on Friday with a month-long pop-up event in the Forest District of South Dallas.

“It was a hallelujah moment when we found out that these thoughts and ideas that we’ve been talking about for seven, 10, 12 years are now emerging,” said Donald Wesson of Cornerstone Community Development Corporation. “It’s badly needed. It’s a forgotten neighborhood in South Dallas that lacks the infrastructure to build a community. We don’t have cafes or parks, but we have lots of liquor stores.”

Wesson was among those attending on a sunny Monday morning, helping transform it into a vibrant space where vendors sell groceries and families gather.

“It’s a bit of a prelude to the visible transformation that is beginning in the Forest District. And it’s the first time many of the residents here have brought some of these tangible changes to life,” said Kristen Leiber, senior project manager at The Better Block.

Better Block is a nonprofit in Oak Cliff that uses design to activate spaces and bring people together. The group interviewed residents of the Forest District and devised a plan based on their wishes.

“We want to know what they want to see and why. And one of the most important things that was asked was the art, music and landscaping in this room. So we wanted to bring them the green. We wanted to bring the sights and sounds that they to have.” wanted to see. So we have lighting. We have art. We have sculpture, “said Leiber.

The food park is open on weekends and offers a weekly rotation of food trucks and trailers, vendors as well as musicians and entertainers. Every slot is occupied.

“There’s no fee for them to be a part of it. You have to go through permission,” Nightengale said.

The funding for this comes from the Real Estate Council. Linda McMahon, CEO of TREC, said in a statement: “In 2019, TREC Community Investors’ Dallas Catalyst Project awarded Better Block a grant of $ 65,000. It was originally intended to be used for a street scene demonstration project COVID we turned to the organization of a Food Trailer Park, however. Volunteers, employees and Better Block of TREC members have been planning this since last year and the total cost of the event will exceed the costs for which TREC Community Investors will be responsible Matthews Southwest donated their property and associated additional costs. The estimated value of the project over four weeks will exceed a $ 100,000 investment in the Forest District. “

The temporary food park will also provide important information. It will serve as a testing ground to see if Dallas is ready to expand guidelines for mobile food providers.

“The guidelines we currently have on mobile grocery sales are mostly food trucks. And food trucks are great, but they’re a higher entry level. It costs about $ 50,000 to $ 250,000 to build a food truck . With food trailers it is. ” more than $ 25,000. So the city is starting to allow food tags. And we just want to show people what it could be like when we have a whole food park that revolves around different forms of mobile grocery sales, “Nightengale explained.

“This has always been something we wanted for the community. Grocery and grocery, not just to provide fresh nutrition and access to food, but also to create the food-related jobs,” said Wesson, who runs the nonprofit branch of the Cornerstone Baptist Church directs. The community is home to a communal kitchen and will allow some grocery vendors to use the space.

For 30 days, the empty property becomes a living space for families, food and community. The hope is that everyone will see what has been built and tested can work – and it can work in South Dallas.

“We want to test concepts and then there are lessons to be learned from them. So we put things to go up and down. Some people wish they would stay. Some people want to optimize, and that’s kind of a beauty in what we do, “said Leiber. “It’s a quick win for the community. It’s a quick build and helps people envision more permanent items.”

Wesson believes that the community will embrace transformation and create lasting change.

“We act by faith and belief and something bigger and bigger than us. And we also realize that we have to crack eggs to get there,” smiled Wesson.

“People will be so excited. We have so many incredible providers that I think people will be excited to come here and see the opportunity.” Said Nightengale.

1611 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
April 9 – May 2, 2021
Fridays: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturdays and Sundays: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

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