Friday, December 30, 2005

Your Opinion Would Help Me

I need your opinion.

Consider the following possibility.

Let's say that CDM purchased an office building in downtown Dallas.

The 15- story building, built in 1958,
will be completely renovated.

The plan is to develop 12 of the floors as very high quality, affordable apartments or condo/lofts.

Over 100 units will be studio efficiency apartments. There will also be larger studio apartments, as well as more traditional, larger, multi-room apartments and/or condo/lofts. The size of the units could range from under 400 square feet to over 1,500 square feet.

The smaller studio apartments, and possibly the larger studios, would be within the reach of people who are very poor, including many who will spend the night on the street this evening.

Every unit will be very nice.

All will be below the downtown market rates.

In addition to the 12 floors of residential development, there will be a wonderful lobby area, including several shops where people can meet for coffee or meals and take care of routine living matters.

There is also an auditorium area that could be developed as a performance and meeting hall.

Two of the floors will be leased by CDM for headquarters, LAW Center, workforce training and Community Development Corporation offices. Twenty-plus members of our staff will work in the building at least 5 days a week.

Security, including a doorman, will be provided 24-7.

There is plenty of parking at and near the building.

The building is located in a good part of downtown, near several landmark buildings on the Dallas skyline and very near our famous and most unusual Fountain Place building (the one in the photo above with all of the surprising angles).

Here is your question:

Would you consider living in such a place?

I look forward to your feedback, as well as any questions you might like to ask.

Thanks in advance for your help!


MarkS said...

I don't live in Dallas, but if I did, Yes, I'd jump at the chance to live in such a building. My work with poor innercity folks has opened my eyes to the spiritual richness, depth, and sincerety that such citizens possess. I particularly like the idea of a common area where diverse elements of the building can meet. Such will provide learning opportunities for all.

Go for it, Larry!

Larry James said...

Thanks, Mark. I appreciate you taking the time to post on this one. We have a ways to go, but answering this question is an important part of our planning and thinking.

pegc said...

My question would be about parking? How much, how little, none, some. I realize a lot of the poor do not have vehicles but if you rent to everyone, many will, some even two vehicles.

I'm not sure I would want to leave my house. I like living in a house with a yard. I like to garden. I probably would not but it would be because of the garden issue!


Larry James said...

Peggy, thanks for your post! I understand the gardening deal. There is parking attached to the building in a lot and there are parking possibilities all around the building, so, that won't be much of a problem. Also, the DART rail is very nearby for everyone to use. This will be a new urban deal for sure. One floor has a wonderful balcony/deck. Maybe we could create a co-op garden there!

Charles said...

I'd love to, if Dallas were an option. The only concerns that would hold me back would be some kind of access to greenery (although a common yard/garden would assist with that), and sound insulation. I've always lived in apartments, and the main thing I look forward to with a house is not hearing other people on the other side of one of my walls.

Drew Battistelli said...

I as a twentysomething would definitley take up an offer like this with DART nearby and with a sliding scale rent fee. I was looking at apartments for Downtown Dallas the other day (2 bedrooms costing me $1000 a month, OUCH) that's a lot for a guy wanting to move to Dallas when he gets out of college.

I think a performance/rental hall would be great, might could think of some churches who'd be interesting at renting it on the weekends to minister to Downtown Dallas folk and people in this building.

I want to find a home/community like you describe when I get out of college.

Larry James said...

Drew, stay in touch with us. If things go as we hope, we will be ready around 2007-2008.

Anonymous said...

Will the performance hall have a coffee house attached? :)

Terry said...


Here is another angle for those of us who teach and would love to be a part of an apartment building you describe. I am currently looking at employment possiblities in Dallas and other cities. This sounds like something if a teacher could afford would be ideal and could assist with tutoring at nighs or weekends. The performance hall could provide affordable entertainment and building talent shows allowing those in the apartments and outsiders to come and be a part of this community. I think this could and would be great. Go, Go, Go, Larry!

Larry James said...

Terry, thanks for your thoughts. I agree. Teachers living in the building would be a win-win for sure! We also hope to attract law students at the new University of North Texas Law School campus that will open downtown soon. Stay in touch with us. Happy New Year!

owldog said...

Sounds great for us "old people" that do not have chiildren in school anymore but would love the diversified community. Would you and your wife move there or keep the house?

Ofelia said...

Yes, I would be interested in looking at what would be available. I saw that you answered some questions about parking - will there be any covered parking? And when you say condos - does that mean some of the units will be available for purchase?
I agree that it sounds like a great opportunity to live in an interestingly diverse setting.

Larry James said...

Owldog, yes, we would consider such a move. We were discussing the benefits of renting just this afternoon.

To your question, Ofelia, yes, we have been considering for sale units. There is no covered parking on this project. Rental space that is covered I believe is available very near the building.

cierakae said...

Have you started a wait list ?
I would jump at the opportunity.
(Ref. my reply to your post of 12/06/05).
How about an activities program or some type of structure that would encourage genuine interaction between the have and have nots - (money that is)
What are your plans for the retail space? Will it be necessary (to off set costs) to go with established retailers, or will it be affordable for first time business owners? I am soon to leave a major coffee company and would be very interested.
Would CDM consider developing a portion of the retail space as a profit center for the ministry? Years ago I read of a restaurant in NYC that trained the unemployed for careers in the food industry, similar to what the Wilkenson Center did years ago, only with the added benefit of a "lab" - an actual restaurant for students to apply their learnings, build attendance history, have a job referance, and most importantly gain self-confidence.
The proximity to El Centro and their culinary arts program could provide an interesting pairing. Their senior students mentoring CDM participants.
I share pegc's concern about access to green space.

Larry James said...

Cierakae, thanks for posting. We would be pleased to place your name first on our wait list! Call me!

We will take a planned approach to community life in the building for sure. We are thinking that through currently and are being helped in this endeavor by our other big project on Hall Street in inner city East Dallas.

We would love to see you open a coffee shop in our lobby! Call me.

The entire project will "cash flow" at a profitable rate and all profits will go back into our housing corp for future developments. While we are not opposed to working with big chains, we are also very open to working with local and small investors/owners.

As to on the job training for residents in the building, if the plan is sound, we are open to that as well and have actually been thinking about this in general across our employment training division. Our Executive Director, Gerald Britt has been our thought leader on this aspect of our work. If you have ideas, call me!

Again, thanks for the input. I hope to be able to rent or sell you a condo soon!

BTW--spread the word about our project if you don't mind! That would be a big help to us.