Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I'm loving "Neon" Deion!

If you are a Dallas Cowboys fan at all, you know who I'm talking about already.

Deion Sanders, the flamboyant free safety for the team back in the glory days of the 1990s, has always fancied himself as a "Prime Time" player.

In my opinion he made his case big time recently when he announced plans to lend his name and his backing to a housing and economic development venture in the heart of Fair Park--South Dallas.

Deion's company, Prime Time Development Corporation, will enter a partnership with the SouthFair Community Development Corporation, a highly respected non-profit with whom we at Central Dallas Ministries have cooperated in the past.

Sanders intends to build approximately 200 single-family homes in the Jefferies Meyers neighborhood. In addition, the plan will include two retail and business centers. Sanders and his team hope that the retail portion of the plan will offer a "wider-than-neighborhood" regional appeal to consumers.

Homes in the new endeavor will start at between $108,000 and $115,000. The hope here is to attract middle class wage earners to bring economic diversity back to the South Dallas community.

Sanders is thinking correctly.

Economic segregation is one of the most challenging obstacles to neighborhood health in Dallas, as well as in every major inner city area in the nation. The concentration of low-income families in neighborhoods above a density proportion of 40% dooms such areas to intractable poverty, unemployment and generations of difficulty (see Paul Jargowsky, Poverty and Place: Ghettos, Barrios, and the American City, 1997).

Public policy makers need to do more to incentivize developers like Sanders to accomplish more of what actually will bring neighborhoods back.

Sanders' notion is correct.

In fact, it is so informed by common sense that it escapes most folks.

Low-income communities can do better if infused with residents and consumers who operate with more capital than has been true of the majority of residents for many years. Once development begins, surprising rejuvenation often follows as inner city markets are given a new opportunity to work.

No doubt the proposition seems risky. Few for-profit developers are rushing into this part of our city to make deals.

Deion "Neon" Sanders played football with risky and reckless abandon.

The game he finds himself in now involves higher stakes.

I'm betting he picks off an opportunity and scores big for the community.

Whatever the final score, I'm a bigger fan now than ever before.

Go Deion, go!


Jeremy Gregg said...

This is great news! Any idea what timeframe we're dealing with?

IBreakCellPhones said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
IBreakCellPhones said...

Argh. Crazy formatting.

Now this is good news, assuming he isn't directly getting any government money for it. Look! It's that libertarian streak in me again!

For more information on that streak, read The Law by Frederic Bastiat. Larry, for livable architecture, I think you would be highly entertained by his Petition of Candlestickmakers.

JBS said...

Deion reminds me of what a complex conflicted mixture of virtue and vice we are. On the one hand, he is launching this wonderful development. On the other, he built something like a 48,000 sq. ft. house out in Prosper. When he built the house, I remember thinking "how many poor people could be housed in all those bedrooms that Deion will never use." I was outraged by such useless extravagence and mindful of the neglected poor. Amazingly, the same person is an example of the problem between rich and poor in America and the solution. There is probably some Deion, both good and bad, in all of us.

owldog said...

I agree JBS with the fact there is some Deion in all of us. Deion is taking care of a young man from Flordia who is an outstanding football player (he lost his parents) A lot of accusing going on saying if the kid could not play football Deion would not be helping him out, I do not know about that but the fact is Deion could give a lot of orphan children a home.

Rick said...

As an avid Eagles Fanatic I find it difficult to admit my admiration for Deion's efforts in this project.

A quick question/random thought:

Do you think his star power allows pastors/civic leaders to partner with Deion where they might not be willing to give up control/power to other outsiders and how much does that fear of loss disable our inner cities from experiencing growth?

Hoots Musings said...

What an amazing work the Lord has done in his heart! As I recall, his behemouth home in Prosper was before he came to know the Lord. Did he ever move in?

I cannot knock him one iota. He has put his money where his mouth and heart are.
Besides, I always liked him.

Thankful God sees us as what we can be instead of what we are.

Larry James said...

Rick, the "star power" doesn't hurt! The fact is that people aren't lining up to do developments in this part of town. The good work that has been underway has been orchestrated by leaders like Hank Lawson, our friend who runs the SouthFair CDC. Deion understands one very important fact: community renewal will never occur if all we are up to is charitable works. He knows that mixing income levels in a neighborhood is the way to go. I commend him.

epic said...


Is there really any difference in 48,000 sq.ft. and 3,000 sq.ft.? Generosity is generosity. I suspect God may not care about the size or expense of the home. I like to think He isn't much of a bean counter.

JBS said...


I don't want to sound like a bean counter but there is a big difference between 48,000 sq. ft. and 3000 sq. ft. The difference is 45,000 sq. ft. which could = 45 loft apartments @ 1000 sq. ft. or 30 1500 sq. ft. starter homes. If Deion (or any of the rest of us) could bear to survive in a 3000 sq. ft. house so that 30-45 other families had housing then the difference is HUGE.

It seems to me that what Larry has tried to make us aware of over the years is that excess is a big deal because the excess of some translates into the poverty of others. I am convicted by this and aware of my own tendency towards excessive comfort and security. I am constantly called by the gospel to simplify my life, spend and consume less, give and serve more. The call of the Christian life constantly calls me to face the excesses in my own life and realize they are a big deal.

I realize this is an idealized view of the world but I think it is the world imagined by scripture. God imagines a world where rich people cut square footage off their houses so the poor can have a house. God envisions a world like the one Deion, Larry, and other may create with these type of housing projects. Larry has taught me that we cannot compartmentalize the gospel and remain blind to how personal choices effect our public faith. It was such an awareness that made me flinch at the thought of any family living in a 48,000 sq. ft. house.

Charles said...


I think what Epic was referring to is the fact that most of us who live in 3000 sq ft houses could live in a 1500 sq ft house (or less!) if we got rid of excess stuff and put the rest to work for our God and our community. I still don't know how to feel about this as I'd like a little more room than I currently live in, but don't know if I can justify it.

JBS said...


You describe the struggle well. I may have done a poor job articulating myself but I feel the same struggle. Thanks.

epic said...

Charles is right. My point is that most of us have pretty big logs in our own eyes and I have a little discomfort with judging anybody else on this issue.

My 3,000 ft house may be much more driven by greed or pride, etc. than Deion's larger house. I think God is much more interested in me being generous than in me pointing out some other person's possible lack of it.