Dallas Bar-Owners Unhappy About New School Ruining Their Neighborhood

Usually when you see reports about a flashy new charter school going into a neighborhood of bars and nightclubs, it’s about how local families are thrilled about the area taking a turn for the better. But bar-owners in Dallas’ Deep Ellum area are hoping to 86 the school’s plans of bringing education to the block.

“Why you would pick to do it where you have nine other bars within feet of school property,” asks the owner of one bar down the street from the building where the school is slated to open. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Aside from changing the character of the neighborhood, the bar-owners have concerns about the impact the school would have on zoning in the area.

See, while all the existing bars and clubs would be grandfathered in, no new bars could open up within 300 feet of the school. This also means that if a bar were to shut down, it could not be replaced with a different gin joint, beer hall, wine bar or whatever you call a place where people drink absinthe.

A rep for the Uplift Education, the folks behind the charter school, tells CBS Dallas that the educators are not necessarily trying to drive anyone out of the area: “We know that sometimes there are establishments like bars or strip clubs that are near us. In fact one of our campuses is a quarter of a mile away from a strip club.”

As someone who went to high school across the street from a sewage treatment plant, having a bar or strip club down the block sounds like a pretty good deal.

Bar Owners Fight To Keep School Out Of Deep Ellum [CBSLocal.com]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cat says:

    I see this as revenge for “You can’t build a bar / strip club near our school, our precious snowflake might see it!”

    Revenge, that’s all. And I’m good with that.

    (“Snowflake” would be an awesome stripper name.)

  2. Ilovegnomes says:

    I’ve never been to Dallas. Are they running out of room to build? Why would they want to put a school in a neighborhood like this one?

    • MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

      Probably because someone on the school board has a friend who owns the property where the school is going to be.

      • thefncrow says:

        Actually, the property is owned by Baylor Hospital. However, the company that operates the school has strong connections to influential real estate developers in the area.

        A common conspiracy theory about this is that the school has chosen this site to drive the bars out of the area, forcing the owners to sell so that the real estate developers can buy up all the land and redevelop the whole area into something entirely different. There’s been talk for years about developers wanting to transform Deep Ellum, since it’s rather prime real estate being directly adjacent to the downtown core.

        • Dallas_shopper says:

          That’s what I’m hearing too.

          I’ve also heard that nobody’s going to bid for Valley View so they’ll be forced to unload it cheap to turn it into a “multi-use” property. Like anyone would want to live in that shithole neighborhood.

          But yeah…Dallas business = corrupt as hell.

        • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

          I am guessing this is correct. I read a whole big article a few years back about people wanting to develop that area, build apartments, etc… Sounds like a perfect plan to run out the bars/tat parlors/etc… to make that happen. And, once deserted, the land might be really cheap.

          • cowboyesfan says:

            Of course, the only reason anyone wants to live there is the bar scene.

            There are former/current crack houses a mile away that you can buy for $30k.

            It’s a very poor and crime ridden area of town populated by auto shops and old manufacturing plants.

        • Coalpepper says:

          Another city trying this? Brick Township New Jersey tried to force an adult bookstore out by opening a school across the street. Didn’t work. Few years later i think they finally got NJ’s law done away with, since it was really rather ridiculous (in most of the state it was illegal to open an adult establishment).

    • thefncrow says:

      Not really. In fact, DISD just shuttered 11 schools. You would think that this charter school could go in and set up shop in one of those schools, but, no, they want to move in to an Adult Entertainment District.

    • Doubting thomas says:

      Because it is downtown, in a traditionally under-served portion of the city as far as education and residential infrastructure are concerned.
      That doesn’t make it a good idea. Dallas and especially the Deep Ellum neighborhood and business associations have spent years, and millions of dollars, in revitalizing an area that had gone from Vibrant club/bar scene, to deserted, boarded up buildings and was once again becoming a destination area.

      • TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

        Anyone who moves a “family” into Deep Ellum is a f*cking moron to start!

  3. FreshPorcupineSalad says:

    TIL bars can’t open 300 feet from a school, but a school can open 300 feet from a bar.

    • Emperor Norton I says:

      You make a good point.
      The bars should get a lawyer with a background in constitutional law & sue under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause to keep the school out.

    • thefncrow says:

      It doesn’t work both ways.

      Now, normally, zoning laws would prohibit this. However, in this case, the zoning laws were, apparently mistakenly, written in a way that the area is zoned Adult Entertainment District but also allows for the operation of a school. As such, the school needs no permission from the city to open down there, despite the fact that they’re moving into one particular block that contains something like 5-10 bars.

      The only real thing that could stop the school from going in almost immediately is that the school is filing for a parking variance, which is its own issue.

      Deep Ellum has had a large number of restaurants for years, but for a while those restaurants were basically only open for dinner. The reason was that the buildings are all built close together and basically none of them have their own parking allotment. The street parking is all metered, and if you can’t park on the street at a meter you go park in a commercial parking lot that’ll charge an arm and a leg for the privilege. To facilitate a lunch crowd for those restaurants, the city changed the operating hours on the meters so that street parking was free in the daytime hours.

      The school doesn’t have enough parking to meet city requirements, but the school has come up with a solution: file for a variance with the city based on adequate free street parking. Except if you grant them that variance, the school will take up all the free street parking and crowd out the lunch crowd that had been revived by providing street parking for free.

  4. Swins says:

    If you are worried, create a corp, bar owners are a member of a corp, when they want to sell, just change officers.

    One must wonder though the logic behind the school locating there.

  5. az123 says:

    Have to wonder what the people opening this school are thinking… good reason for the rule from the city, and if it was opening in an area near 1 bar I could see it being reasonable. But really opening a school in the middle of an entertainment district with 30+ bars in the area, they either have anterior motives or are complete idiots

  6. Rachacha says:

    “having a bar or strip club down the block sounds like a pretty good deal.”

    I can see the signs already outside of these clubs. “Free lap dance/shot with every “A” on your report card”. Actually this might be a way to encourage kids to attend class and study hard.

    • TheUncleBob says:

      heh… “hard”

    • dadelus says:

      Makes the $10 an “A” deal my parents gave me seem like a total rip-off.

      • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

        It’s better than I got–my mom would take my sibs out for fancy Mother-Daughter or Mother-Son dinners if they had C’s or better, but me? “Attagirl.”

        Attempts to point out the gross injustice were met with their non-logic of “We don’t need to encourage you to do well in school, because you already do.”

        (Oddly enough, that’s when I started collecting considerably lower grades. I did maybe 5% of my algebra homework the entire following year.)

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      You said “hard”

  7. Darrone says:

    “In fact one of our campuses is a quarter of a mile away from a strip club”

    That quote is on the inside cover of their brochure.

  8. CubeRat says:

    Eat, Drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. (downs shot).

    I agree with the bar owners & strip clubs. These are legal businesses that are in a neighborhood without schools – let the school build elsewhere. If allowed to build there, I predict that sooner or later some group will decide to picket/protest these places because they are near a school.

  9. Coffee says:

    Also, when you’re driving and you’re really fucked up, crossing guards look kind of like DUI checkpoints, which is scary as hell, I’ll tell ya.

  10. Coleoptera Girl says:

    If the bars aren’t being forced to close down, the only problem I see is that a building configured to be a bar will have to be changed to suit a completely different business if/when the bar shuts down. It reduces the value of the building. *shrug*

    In the end, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the school failed because of its location (if the bar owners fail to block the school). Who wants to send their kid to a school where they can walk to several different strip clubs and bars?

    • thefncrow says:

      Actually, there are no strip clubs in the area. Deep Ellum is mostly bars, nightclubs, live music venues, tattoo parlors, and restaurants. Associating the bars with strip clubs was just something that the representative of the company that wants to open the charter school decided to associate with the area on her own.

      • Coleoptera Girl says:

        Duly noted! I can’t help but wonder why the rep would want to associate the area with strip clubs, considering that they chose it for their school’s location, though.

        • thefncrow says:

          No idea. In fact, that particular line in that interview seems to have got the bar owners’ dander up even more, since Dallas has had a little crusade to drive the strip clubs into only the seedy corners of town or outside of the city limits. Accordingly, you can imagine why they don’t want to be associated with strip clubs.

    • longdvsn says:

      It has a cascading affect. No new bars can open, and existing bars cannot close down and re-open under new names/remodeling/etc. This means a) certainly no growth of the entertainment industry in the neighborhood and b) a likely slow (but accelerating) decline in the industry in the area.

      As old bars close and the area becomes more bleak and deserted at night, people will find new areas of town to go out. Few people will want to go to the area of town with just one old bar…they want to have options and be near others.

      The school would essentially force the bars out. Maybe not immediately, but it’ll happen – I’d give it 10 years before they’re all closed.

      • cowboyesfan says:

        The city has refused to fix the sewars for many years now and they back up quite frequently in that area.

  11. mk says:

    I agree that it doesn’t make sense to open a school in that area – however, I went to school across the street from an adult bookstore (Chicago) and am not that much worse for the wear.

    • Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

      Except for that carpal tunnel syndrome you developed at 17 right?

    • varro says:

      In Portland, there’s a school (Ockley Green K-8) directly across the street from Fat Cobra Adult Video.

      I…pass by there frequently.

  12. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    How much do you want to bet that the parents will be the first ones to complain about the neighborhood atmosphere, when the bars etc. were there first?

    • dolemite says:

      And then it will be brought up at the town hall, and they’ll all express outrage at the indecency near their kids’ school, and they’ll rezone so the bars have to move or close down.

  13. rockelscorcho says:

    it’s likely that the education learned at the school is far less than the education learned in a bar.

  14. Martha Gail says:

    Can’t they put the school in one of the 11 public schools they’re closing?

  15. Straspey says:

    Actually – if you stop to think about it for a minute, this sounds like the perfect business model.

    Those students who are less interested in school, have poor work ethics, exhibit behavioral problems and receive grades at the low end of the scale, will tend to prefer any of the bars nearby and begin the process of dropping out early – and some (if not many) will be happy to find those types of jobs for which a high school diploma is not a requirement.

    The students which remain, will be – by default – those who enjoy school, have excellent work and study habits, behave like model citizens and – most importantly – receive high grades…which the school then uses to demonstrate their very high success and graduation rates, which translate into increased funding – which means more money to pay teachers and administrators…and so forth.

    What a great idea !!


  16. brinks says:

    In downtown Columbus, OH, we once had a dying downtown mall. They couldn’t find new retail tenants to replace the ones that bolted, and eventually a charter school opened up in a former store space. I know the rent was dirt cheap, so I’m wondering if that’s the reason here.

  17. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Can they not pick a better area? Seems like their doing it on purpose to drive them out over the long term.

  18. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    There is a little more to this than just what is being presented here. The big issue isn’t necessarily that no new bars could open up. It’s that the existing bars can’t ever change ownership.

    In Texas, liquor licenses are completely nontransferable. If you buy a bar, or even gas station that sells beer, you don’t get to keep the liquor license. You have to reapply as a completely new applicant, and your location is NOT grandfathered. If a school has been built since the previous owner got his license, you aren’t going to have a license at all. Period.

    I’m sure these bars have been set up as corporations/LLCs, but that means substantial change in ownership might kill the existing license and require a new one, which will be impossible to get. So the owners can never sell the businesses. That’s the issue they’re fighting.

  19. regis-s says:

    After the school opens, I wonder how long it will take for the parents to start agitating to have the peeler bars and clubs closed down.

  20. Eyeheartpie says:

    …or whatever you call a place where people drink absinthe.


  21. Cat says:

    As I understand it, Minors are not allowed to patronize bars or strip clubs.

    So why is there a problem?

    • The Lone Gunman says:

      The answer I’ve always used is that “the Puritans cast a long shadow” over how Americans react to the risque. It’s finally reached us here in Texas.

  22. human_shield says:

    Don’t see what the problem is. Imagine all the business they’ll get with the off campus lunch program.

  23. gttim says:

    Step 1: Move next to airport.
    Step 2: Complain about noise.

  24. maxamus2 says:

    Those damn schools just ruin it for everyone.

  25. Dallas_shopper says:

    Yeah…I live in this area and this is a SUPREMELY bad idea. It would be hard to find a less appropriate location for a school in the whole of Dallas. Seriously. WTF.

  26. varro says:

    I guess it’s “Minors will see that drinking is ‘normal adult life’…..”

    Personally, I would keep kids out of churches until 13 or so…..scaring kids with hellfire is pretty much child abuse.

  27. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Deep Ellum… sounds like a porn star name.

    • SecretAgentWoman says:

      It’s a nickname based on an Ebonics pronunciation of Elm. So, deep downtown Elm street became Deep Ellum.

      And I agree putting a school there is crap. It is quite intentional, and the bars should sue.

      /used to party down in Deep Ellum in my young ‘en days

  28. britswim04 says:

    Deep Ellum has been dead for the better part of a decade. My vote goes to the school on this one.

    • pot_roast says:

      When was the last time you were actually down there?

      I was down there on Friday night. It’s turning back into a fun area. Just saying… it would suck to see it all gone because some stupid charter school wants to open up nearby.

      As far as I’m concerned, the school can move a little farther away.

      • thefncrow says:

        Especially since what killed Ellum last time, necessitating the recovery that is currently going pretty well, was a bunch of underage kids hanging around.

  29. MECmouse says:

    They’re closing 11 schools in Dallas. They can’t make one of them a Charter school? Gotta LOVE Dallas politics! Idiots.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      This is why I live in Richardson.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      This is why I live in Richardson. Who wants to pay taxes to support the DISD, the asshole of Texas public education?

      I went to DISD schools K-12 in the 80s and into the early 90s and they were bad then; I hear they are much worse now. I feel sorry for anyone who has to use this shit-ass school system, I really do. DISD blows chunks.

  30. Stilor says:

    A rep for the Uplift Education, the folks behind the charter school, tells CBS Dallas that the educators are not necessarily trying to drive anyone out of the area: “We know that sometimes there are establishments like bars or strip clubs that are near us. In fact one of our campuses is a quarter of a mile away from a strip club [… so our students could spend their lunch monies or even earn a little stipend there]”.

    Oh, wait, that’s illegal. Then what was the point of that “rep for Uplift Education”? Is he proud to have a school right by a strip club?

  31. jp7570-1 says:

    I live in Dallas and for all the “good” the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) does, I can kind of see their point. If this charter school is chartered under the DISD, then then fun should really start. DISD, currently leaderless, has had a history of crooked and ethically-questionable superintendents, with their cronies getting high-paying top jobs. The last DISD super did a good job, so naturally he was recruited away by another district.

    Maybe the proposed charter school can focus on the food and beverage industry?

  32. madsquabbles says:

    there were 2 strip clubs up the street from my elementary school and i passed a bar that my friend’s dad owned on the way to school (we walked). it never affected my education. though on occasion when the tittie bars would leave the doors open we’d try and get a peek! never saw anything though since they had black hallways with a wall at the entrance… drats!