Site plan for Cypress Creek at Forest Lane

Dallas City Hall played the blame game Wednesday as they approved Bonner Carrington and Sycamore Strategies’ application to build Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) apartments at Forest and 75. City Manager T.C. Broadnax blamed councilmembers who opposed the project for insulting his staff and their unsuccessful efforts to fight crime at the troubled intersection. Councilmember Adam Bazaldua blasted citizen commenters for referencing criminals near the development and said their opposition was “quite frankly about race.” Developer Zachary Krochtengel blamed Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough for failing to provide a list of neighborhood reps to conduct community engagement sessions.

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Neighbors participating in the meeting said they were just flat-out tired. Tired of being threatened by violent homeless persons along Cottonwood Trail. Tired of finding their belongings stolen near the now-approved housing development. Tired of fighting off aggressive panhandlers as they sit at the light on Forest Lane. Tired of explaining the tent city to their children in the car.

In all, five people spoke in favor of Cypress Creek at Forest Lane, the housing project planned for 11520 N. Central Expressway – one resident of District 3 in southern Dallas and four employees of the developers. Seven residents of neighborhoods near the development logged on to express their opposition.

“If you drive up and down the Skillman/Audelia corridor, you will find plenty of housing that is considered affordable,” said Rachel McGowen, whose family has lived in Northwood Estates for more than 40 years. “We do not need more of the same in our area.”

Lake Highlands, she said, has naturally occurring affordable housing in its many multifamily apartment complexes spread throughout the neighborhood. “In 75243 alone there are 17,300 apartment doors,” she said. “We need to do a different type of development in this area until we get our structures cleaned up.”

Corey Dennis, another Northwood resident, agreed.

“My wife and I just bought a house in this area. In the 9 months we’ve been here, the problem with the homeless has increasingly gotten worse,” he said. “The encampment is literally in our backyard. I’ve had tools stolen off my property. There’s just not a lot being done. It’s just not safe. I have a 17-month-old boy, and once construction is finished, I wonder if it will be safe to go outside our front lawn. As of right now, it’s not.”

Darryl Baker, representing Fair Share for All of Dallas, focused on the city’s need for affordable housing to host workers earning low wages and providing essential services. Target tenants in the 50/50 mix of market rate and low income units would include custodians (salary $28,300), bus drivers ($29,800), teaching assistants ($30,600) and mail carriers ($38,400). The site earned a high score of 61 out of 74 points based surrounding amenities and low poverty rates.

“The responsibility for providing affordable housing is a citywide responsibility,” he said, “and we feel here in District 3 we’ve done our fair share and most of everyone else’s fair share as well.”

McGough opposed the plan primarily, he said, because developers failed to communicate with neighborhood residents or with Richardson ISD, which could see an influx of students when the 200 apartments are finished.

“As I tell every developer who comes to the city, if you want help from the city, if you want our support, if you want $15 million in tax credits, you’ve just got to go talk to the people in that neighborhood. Communicate with respect. Treat them with dignity,” McGough said. “That just didn’t happen here.”