August 26, 2014

Stadium Drive work squeezes out Arlington businesses

The city of Arlington is buying property along Stadium Drive to widen it from four to six lanes. The project will displace eight businesses.

Cindy Cabadas deftly feeds sheet after sheet of crisp white paper into a humming, 106-year-old letter press, the pride of her east Arlington business.

Around her, employees at Up Front Letterpress on Stadium Drive fold and assemble instruction manuals, create custom business cards, hang tags and even playing-card boxes ordered by other printing companies that don’t have the special machinery needed to meet their clients’ needs.

But the bustling shop Cabadas opened a decade ago will soon be gone.

Up Front Letterpress is one of eight tenants in buildings along Stadium Drive that the city of Arlington plans to buy and tear down to widen the street from four to six lanes to improve traffic flow through the entertainment district.

Although the city is paying Cabadas’ expenses to relocate, the search for a suitable location and the arrangements to move the machinery, some which weighs 3,000 pounds, has been stressful, she said.

“We planned to stay here until we retired,” said Cabadas, who runs the shop with her boyfriend, Brian Austin. “We really don’t want to move. It’s a perfect location.”

Stadium Drive, a gateway to the entertainment district and a link to Interstate 30, will be widened between Division and Abram streets sometime next year.

A traffic study found that widening Stadium Drive, one route to AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park, would reduce annual traffic delays by 3,408 hours and reduce collisions at a Union Pacific railroad crossing by 67 percent.

“It will help north-south mobility,” said Keith Melton, the city’s public works and transportation director. “It’s a critical roadway to Interstate 30 and north of Interstate 30.”

The estimated $13.3 million project, paid for by city and county bonds approved in 2006 and 2008, also includes “quiet zone” improvements – such as adding a median and enhanced railroad signal arms so trains don’t sound their horns while crossing Stadium Drive.

Earlier this month, the City Council approved agreements to reimburse Up Front Letterpress up to $45,000 and the nearby Dunn Deal World of Wheels up to $30,000 for relocation costs. Agreements with the other tenants are pending.

The city expects to have all the land acquired for the project by November, said Roger Venables, assistant director of community development and planning.

Cabadas said the only location she could find that was move-in ready comes with higher rent and a higher insurance premium.

“I was going to hire another employee, but with the extra money I have to put out I don’t think I can afford it,” said Cabadas, who has three employees. The city “put a crimp in my plans. They said I wouldn’t be out of pocket for anything. I already had to clean out my savings account to pay for a deposit and first month’s rent.”

Brandt Segers, whose A+ Battery & Charger Service shop is a few doors away, is waiting for the city to approve his relocation expenses. Segers moved his industrial battery delivery business to the 15,000-square-foot shop on Stadium Drive just two years ago. He said he was unable to find another ideal location in Arlington or Mansfield, so he is moving to Lancaster.

“The more I thought about it, forget it. I’ll take my tax dollars somewhere else,” Segers said.

Segers said he will continue operating during the transition, but Cabadas said she expects to lose at least 21/2 days of revenue because of the move.

“This is 12 years of my life,” said Cabadas, who started Up Front Letterpress out of her garage in 2002 before moving to Stadium Drive. “I don’t make any money out of this, enough to put a roof over my head and food in my belly. We’ll do what we have to do to survive and keep our business alive.

“This move doesn’t make me want to support the city of Arlington.”

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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