Monday, April 04, 2005

Downtown Dallas and The Down and Out

Same old, same old.

That's how I read the story in Saturday's paper ("Downtown plan may be at hand," The Dallas Morning News, B1, 6). Oh, the story sounded very exciting. Developers from out-of-state appear to be interested in a redevelopment project involving the historic Mercantile Bank clock tower, the old Statler Hilton (most recently and now defunct Dallas Grand Hotel) and the four-building complex recently donated to the City by Atmos Energy.

According to the story, the City will provide tax incentives of $60 million to spur the development of high-end condos and retail venues. Further, the overall plan creates a "Dallas Connection" zone that will reach from the southeastern sector (where the Mercantile sits) to the north across Woodall Rodgers Freeway into Uptown. To encourage new action in this special redevelopment zone the City will offer up to $123 million in tax incentives to interested parties.

In addition, the City plans to employ nine new staff members who will focus all of their attention on downtown redevelopment. Currently, only one staff member has responsibility for core city issues.

Sounds like a plan!

An all too familiar one.

Possibly I am wrong. But it sounds to me as if the plan for redevelopment gives absolutely no attention or thought to the hundreds of Dallasites who already live downtown. . . on the streets.

Many people will dismiss these words as the rantings of a lunatic, do-gooder. Someone out of touch with reality. I guess that could be true.

Funny though, every other great American city that has seen genuine revitalization of its central city has included a plan to actually respond to the chronic problems associated with homelessness.

Most successful cities have employed a multi-faceted approach that includes the development of Single Room Occupancy apartments (SROs). You'll recall that the City's recently appointed "Homeless Czar," Tom Dunning, called for an intensive effort to build hundreds of these units to attack the problem.

I didn't read a word about SROs in the story on Saturday.

It makes you wonder, doesn't it? Will Dallas ever emerge from the Jurassic era?

1 comment:

John said...

It seems to me that one of the requirements for the approval of the project -- especially with the tax input they have -- that the developers should be required to include a certain amount of affordable housing as part of the project. That would lead to an integrated solution for both ends of the housing needs or oppotunities and would produce a more vibrant and diverse population in the area.