The City of Dallas Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee voted today to recommend approval of a new housing project near the Home Depot at Forest Lane and 75. Cypress Creek at Forest Lane, 11520 N. Central Expressway, would be funded in part using housing tax credits and would host a 50/50 mix of 200 low income and market rate units.
Opposition to the project has built slowly over the past couple of weeks, as residents of nearby Hamilton Park and the area surrounding Stults Road Elementary heard about the city’s plans over social media. City planners hosted a public meeting last Wednesday via Zoom to answer questions about the development, but attendance was low due to widespread power outages during the snowstorm.
“My neighborhood’s concern is that this would be the fourth project related to low income housing or homelessness,” said Woot Lervisit, who lives near the proposed development. “Projects in the planning stages include Parkland’s charity clinic [in the Greater Cornerstone Baptist Church], the new St. Jude homeless center at LBJ and 75 and City of Refuge at 12000 Greenville. We would ask the city and county, ‘What are you trying to turn our neighborhood into? Why are you trying to concentrate poverty here?’”
The project, along with other similar mixed income developments in other areas of Dallas, will move to the full city council for approval Wednesday. Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough, who represents Lake Highlands and Hamilton Park, said he’s not ready to vote yes.
“They have not done the community engagement they need to do,” said McGough of city staff and Austin developer Bonner Carrington. “I asked the development team that very first time we met to reach out to the neighborhood groups and stakeholders, and I was told that it was happening. The first meeting I was invited to was Wednesday the 17th at the peak of the weather issues. As I sit here right now, I can’t support it.”
McGough contrasts involvement of the neighborhood on the development with projects like City of Refuge at Lake Highlands, modeled after Bonton Farms in South Dallas. After many months of consulting with neighbors, he says, the community backs the plan because it serves the vulnerable while providing community assets.
“[Housing] is certainly something we need across the city,” continued McGough, “it’s just a question of where and how. I would be on board if it were senior housing – especially with the proximity to Hamilton Park.”
Also a factor, McGough explained, is the makeshift tent city nearby.
“The neighbors in that area are justifiably upset with the way the city has allowed 75 and Forest to decline with tents and panhandling. While that’s not connected to this project, there’s an issue of trust. I went to speak to [the panhandlers] and try to get them some help during the storm, and they’re not going anywhere. They consider that their home. The city has just failed us. We’ve got people getting naked in the street. There is no enforcement – we’re basically just their trash service.”
McGough said he welcomes input from neighbors on the issue before he and other council members vote on the project Wednesday. Councilmembers can be emailed here or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’m still in the listening phase,” said McGough. “I want to hear the community’s thoughts on this project. Will it add value to the neighborhood or is it something people are opposed to? There has not been enough engagement, and what neighborhood engagement we have had has been opposition. At this point, I have to vote with the community.”