Recently, a group of CDM leaders, along with an architect and a couple of commercial realtors “explored” the inside of an old and cavernous building that sits empty in downtown Dallas.
Twenty-two stories of abandoned stone and steel, it rises from the street with no current purpose or utility.
As I walked through the building, climbing dark stairways with a flashlight, making my way through office areas and peering out from the upper floors through grimy windows, I could see community lost.
On the ground floor a staircase sweeps smartly up to the mezzanine level where a once busy coffee shop, surrounded by novelty stores, overheard the banter and conversation of hundreds of urban workers. Around lunch tables, across office desks, in conference rooms and even down in the engine rooms, this building housed a thriving community years ago.
Today it is dead.
But, I have to tell you; we can see community rising from the ashes of this place, or one much like it.
We continue to explore a radical, but very possible dream of bringing life to such a place again. We can see two hundred single room occupancy (SRO) apartments carved out on the upper floors of such an abandoned place. New homes for very low-income persons who simply need just that—a place to call home.
We can see thriving offices down below where our administrative and development functions could be housed alongside our law firm, the Central Dallas Community Development Corporation and CDMWorks, our employment training arm. We see other community development partners housed with our team in such a space.
I can see, better, I can smell the coffee brewing and I can hear the conversations ignited again in the restaurant and in the shops.
Best of all, I can observe folks getting life together after long journeys into far countries of confusion and isolation!
Home at last!
Stay tuned for the details.