It’s not a transformation, assures Michael Nazerian, Exxir Group owner-CEO and charming face of the often-discussed new development in Bishop Arts District. “We’ve made huge efforts to simply weave it into the existing neighborhood. We want it to be an extension of Bishop Arts that embodies the precepts of the existing district.” If you haven’t been keeping up with real-estate gossip, Nazerian, scion to the family dynasty, is referring to the vast amount of land—about 12 acres—his family is developing just south of the Oak Cliff neighborhood. It will entail a retail main street, outdoor piazzas and parks, a boutique hotel, live-work spaces, apartments, an event venue and a multivendor market aimed at supporting small businesses. The family broke ground on the first two phases of the project in October, a 500,000-square-foot start that will cost roughly $150 million to build out with Gensler architects. Most surprisingly, Nazerian has managed to garner the support of the people next door—no small undertaking in a neighborhood where the residents are wary of developers trying to rain on their parade of low-key cool. As a whole, they’ve been supportive. “I’ve personally been in the neighborhood for 10 years, getting to know people and allowing them to get to know me. It’s made for a different approach,” says Nazerian. “Most developers in Dallas buy, build and flip in less than 2 ½ years. Their concern is returning money to their investors. We have no investors. Not having to answer to anyone and being able to employ a long-term approach allows us to align our goals with the neighborhood. We just want to build something creative and beautiful that will be a gathering place in the city for generations.” It helps that he’s giving up a stunning amount of allowable density when building, aiming for a charming, “human-scale” experience rather than occupying sheer space. Buildings along Bishop Avenue will go up only two stories, while the ones farthest from Bishop, and only along the backside of the project, max out at five stories. Nazerian wants to continue the legacy of Bishop Arts, making it Dallas’ most diverse and culturally interesting neighborhood for future residents. It’s a future he seems to be wholeheartedly invested in.