Deep Ellum: The Neighborhood that Refuses to Die

May 15, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

By Fernando Valdes

Barry Annino, president of The Deep Ellum Foundation, moved to Deep Ellum during its heydays in the 1990s. Annino saw Deep Ellum thrive. He remembers having a Deep Ellum MasterCard, starting the Deep Ellum Film Festival and driving through a graffiti covered tunnel to enter the neighborhood.

Today, none of those things exist.

Deep Ellum was once one of the most vibrant entertainment districts in Texas, known for its rich history, live music venues and restaurants. Today, after having survived a major downfall, Deep Ellum is once again transforming into an integral piece of Dallas city life.

During the mid 2000s, Deep Ellum became plagued with crime and saw many tenants go out of business. The decline of Deep Ellum led to the abandonment of the neighborhood. Empty streets and vacant buildings filled the landscape.

Many residents and loyal visitors knew the community had gone through this before and would once again revive itself. Today, community residents and organizations, such as The Deep Ellum Foundation, are working hard to give the streets of Deep Ellum new life.

“It’s booming now and thriving and going on its own,” said Kayce Phy, a Deep Ellum resident for more than 12 years.

The green line of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has helped improve the neighborhood by connecting Deep Ellum to Downtown and other parts of the city. This has alleviated parking issues and brought more visitors to the area.

According to Paula Ramirez, a Deep Ellum resident and a member of the Deep Ellum Enrichment Project (DEEP), the streets are no longer desolate during the day. Ramirez has seen an influx of people walking in the streets and enjoying the neighborhood.

During the past year, many new businesses have sprung up in Deep Ellum. Several iconic restaurants, bars and music venues, such as Trees and Club Dada, have also reopened.

Mike Turley, co-owner of Serious Pizza, is one of many business owners who decided to open their new restaurants in Deep Ellum. After searching around the country for the perfect location, the Orlando native and his business partner, Andrew Phillips, discovered Deep Ellum and immediately knew they had found the perfect location.

According to Turley, the culture of the neighborhood combined with the cheap rent sold them on the neighborhood.

“Deep Ellum has been a great time,” said Turley. “The community is awesome.”

According to Annino, restaurants, bars and music venues are opening in Deep Ellum because the rent is cheap and it is conveniently located close to downtown, Baylor Medical Hospital and a major police department center.

Additionally, Annino said venues will benefit from the plans the City of Dallas has to improve Deep Ellum. The city has proposed making all streets two-way streets, widening all of the sidewalks and adding more benches and trees around the neighborhood. This will allow restaurants and bars to have patios on sidewalks. It will also make streets pedestrian friendly and slow traffic down exponentially.

Although Deep Ellum is well known for its nightlife and restaurants, visitors sometimes overlook another aspect of the neighborhood.

“People are going to realize people actually live here,” said Ramirez. “It’s not just bars. There is a community.”

Members of the community have been putting in the work necessary to revive Deep Ellum and make it a unique and vibrant place to be.

“People talk about Brooklyn, they talk of these neighborhoods, like cities it reminds them of, but they can’t say they have the closeness of their neighbors like they have right here,” said Phy.

The 170-acre community, which houses nearly 2,000 residents, is mostly comprised of people in their 20s and 30s who are looking for an inexpensive, diverse neighborhood near downtown Dallas.

Inside the walls of Deep Ellum, you will find people brimming with creativity. The neighborhood has always been known for its diverse and eclectic artists.

“There’s a lot of talent here,” Annino said. “It’s not a sophisticated talent in that it’s not a rich group; there’s not a lot of money necessarily… but they do what they do special. You can see it in the art, the pillars, the music.”

The residents of Deep Ellum know their neighborhood has a history of ups and downs. During the 1920s, Deep Ellum was known as one of the premier areas for jazz and blues musicians in the South. Several iconic artists, such as Blind Lemmon Jefferson and Bessie Smith, played in clubs all over the neighborhood.

By the time World War II ended, the city had expanded and Deep Ellum had lost many iconic music venues and nightclubs. Slowly, the residents moved out of the neighborhood and Deep Ellum became a warehouse district.

Deep Ellum came roaring back to life in the 1990s, when it became known as Dallas’ liveliest entertainment district. By 1991, the neighborhood had 57 bars and nightclubs. Artists from all over the country started to book performances in the area.

But once again, crime, zoning restrictions and the rise of other entertainment districts led to the decline of Deep Ellum.

History seems to be repeating itself. Residents and enthusiasts say Deep Ellum has a bright future.

“The city is making a lot of changes,” said Phy. “I think it would be hard to tear apart the love that this community has for the actual history and for what we all together see as the future.”

Personal Finance: When Daddy’s Credit Card Expires

November 8, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Liz Collinsworth

There comes a day when the bird has to leave the nest and is forced to fend for itself. So what happens when students are cut off and parental funding reaches an end? How can students graduating from college learn to manage their own funds and begin to plan for the future at a young age? There is no textbook for life and no syllabus to guide fresh graduates step-by-step through life after college. Luckily, there are experts, tools and tricks to aid in post-graduation financial decisions.

Money management can sound intimidating, but can be tackled with the right plan in play. Post-college life can unveil hidden expenses and bills that many students don’t even realize exist. A basic understanding of costs such as insurance, rent and utilities, car payments and taxes is crucial to developing a financial plan.

Amanda Klassen, an 18-year-old student at Collin College says that while she is aware of taxes, she is unfamiliar with how they work.

“Right now my employer takes taxes out of my paycheck and my parents file them for me,” Klassen said. “I admit that I am completely clueless as to how the whole process takes place.”


Developing familiarity with finances early on is crucial to managing money

The key to financial success in the future is to develop and maintain a plan, and it is never too early to begin saving, says B.J. Collinsworth, chief financial officer of The Pinnacle Fund and an experienced certified public accountant.

“Start thinking about retirement the day you start working,” Collinsworth said. “Put together a financial plan and stick to it. Live within your means and start saving something beginning with your very first paycheck.”

While it may sound ridiculous to begin thinking about retirement upon graduation from college, Social Security and Medicare are reaching their expiration date.

According to an article on, an online portal to aid young adults in money management skills, Social Security will “be entirely depleted by 2037.” Yet young adults are still not saving. Some 40 percent of all young adults don’t have a savings account and 55 percent are not partaking in retirement savings such as 401(k) accounts, the article says.

Freedom is a potent responsibility that can bear evil upon those who abuse its sweet power. Students graduating from college and stepping foot into the real world for the first time are often compelled to spend the money that they never had and tend to neglect saving in the rush of financial freedom and salaries. While it may be exhilarating to be set free into the business world, blind spending is potentially threatening to monetary stability.

This generation is fortunate to live in a technology era when smartphone applications and computer programs can help manage money. Apps such as DebtTracker Pro and Flixoft’s Grocery Gadget, as noted on, are examples of personal finance tools that allow users to hold a financial planner in the palm of their hand. Various technological apps and programs can help young adults keep track of payments and bills, bank balances and transactions, and even calculate progress toward getting out of debt. Smartphone users can now “hire” their own financial planner to teach them how to manage finances without paying someone the big bucks to do it for them.

“My iPhone is officially my business partner,” said Stephen Terry, a 22-year-old Collin College student. “I can find any information I need, check my online bank account and even track my stocks.”

Technology has even transformed what may have been your grandmother’s favorite pastime, coupon-clipping. Shopper’s cards, frequent buyers cards and coupons are easy ways to cut back on expenses. Conveniently, a majority of these things are now available electronically on smartphones to better cope with today’s technology.

The New York Times recently reported on the soon-to-be “InControl” MasterCard from Citigroup that declines charges when users disregard their monthly budget. If a credit card is in your future, enforces the importance of always paying, at least the minimum payment each month to avoid getting into debt. This will enable users to establish good credit.

Part of the reason graduates are falling into debt at an early age is due to financial illiteracy. According to, only 26 percent of parents with children the age of five or older feel qualified to educate their children financially.

The year 2004 turned out more individual bankruptcy filings than college graduates. Network Financial Institute says that adults between the ages of 20 and 24 “represent the fastest growing segment of bankruptcy filings.”

Advice For College Students

Let’s admit it…yes it’s great to have that gym membership and Netflix is convenient entertainment, but there are cheap alternatives. allows viewers to watch missed TV episodes and even select movies online for free, and running outside is just as effective as running indoors on the treadmill. Furthermore, free Internet is available via Wi-Fi at various locations, and while coffee at home may not be served in a cute little cup, it’s cheaper and requires no transportation. Try to limit eating out and impulse purchases to increase potential savings. Limiting excess, materialistic spending is an easy way to save.

If you feel uneducated and inadequate to fend for yourself, outsource. College finance expert J.L. Thompson discusses tips from his book, “My College Finance.” offers an entire library of online calculators and tools to help young adults manage their finances. Research financial advice online and utilize the tools that you have in your cell phones, public libraries and online.