Artist’s rendering of Cypress Creek at Forest Lane

What do you do if you’re a developer who’s blocked from building an affordable housing complex by private deed restrictions? Simple. Sell your land to the City of Dallas, then lease it back and build away. The city’s the 800-pound gorilla. They build what they want, where they want.

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Dallas-based Sycamore Strategies’ Cypress Creek at Forest Lane is the twisted-pretzel partnership headed to city hall this week for approval. The 4-story apartment building with 189 units will be on 2.85 acres at Forest Lane and Central Expressway near Home Depot.

Despite opposition by Councilman Adam McGough, then-State Rep. John Turner and residents of Northwood Estates and Hamilton Park, councilmembers approved the project by a vote of 13 to 2 in 2021. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs approved 9% low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC) to finance the deal.

Development was delayed when a glitch was discovered: 1970s-era deed restrictions don’t permit construction of housing on the site, and here’s where the creative workaround comes in. Sycamore will sell to the City of Dallas, which will convey to the Dallas Public Facility Corporation, which will lease back to Sycamore, which will develop and manage the project.

The DPFC is a nonprofit created by the City of Dallas in 2020 to finance the development of mixed-income workforce housing. DPFC serves multiple bands of area median income (AMI), helping folks like healthcare workers, teachers, firemen and retail clerks who want to live where they work. DPFC participation gives the project an added financial boost: 100% exemption from property taxes for 75 years.

William Roth and his partners own a building adjacent to the property, and they are among many property owners subject to the deed restrictions at Forest Central. Roth is frustrated by the city’s plan to help this developer do what remains strictly forbidden for the Average Joe.

“It would be unfortunate and poor public policy for the City of Dallas to disregard long-standing private property rights granted to landowners and to attempt to override these rights,” Roth told me. “As long-time property owners who are committed to the neighborhood and who relied on the area development plans which were for office, retail and service use, evidenced, in part, by the restriction on development of apartments in this area, we would strongly oppose any efforts by the city to take away our private property rights.”

Sycamore plans to build about 100 2-bedroom units, with 68 1-bedrooms and a few 3-bedrooms. Residents will be a mix of 30%/70%/80% AMI, with an average of 55%. Market rent units will make up 46% of the total, and affordable units will be 54%. Supportive services will be provided on-site, and children will be zoned to attend Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet. The site at 11852 North Central Expressway currently sits vacant, since the building formerly there was damaged during the 2019 tornado and demolished.

“We are excited about the opportunity to bring a high quality mixed income community to North Dallas,” said Sycamore’s Zachary Krochtengel. “This Class A development will bring much needed affordable housing to a high opportunity area and become an asset to the neighborhood. We look forward to continuing to serve the Dallas workforce and provide opportunities for some of the most important members of our community to live in close proximity to their jobs.”

Cypress Creek will go before the city’s Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee this morning/Monday and will seek approval from the DPFC Tuesday at noon. Neighborhood residents who wish to speak for or against the project may sign up to address the DPFC by calling 214-670-3077 before Monday at noon.

If green-lighted, the project will go to the Dallas City Council March 8.

Cypress Creek at Forest Lane site plan.