Mayor's Report Card for Southern Dallas
Since Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings implemented his Grow South initiative in 2012, the tax base in Southern Dallas has increased by almost $900M; triple what it was when he started his plan to reinvigorate, build and connect the southern half of the city. He gave his annual progress report last night and listed his top 10 action items for Southern Dallas.
The mayor—here amidst ULI North Texas executive director Pam Stein, Herrin Commercial Real Estate principal Sharon Herrin, and co-chairman of the mayor’s task force on poverty Regina Montoya—says the efforts in Southern Dallas are not just about money and graded how the Grow South initiative has done in the past year.
1. Strengthen Neighborhoods – B
He’d like to see more neighborhood associations created, but is positive on a new program called Neighborhood Plus. The program will have a neighborhood planning committee and its own general manager to oversee cooperative efforts between local governmental entities, nonprofits, healthcare, educational agencies and the for-profit community.
2. Culture of Clean – B-
More than 250 structures were demolished as part of an effort to protect the community from undesirable properties and the people who frequent them. Mike says the City was part of the problem and tore down about 25% of its own dilapidated buildings, sold some and is working on the rest. There’s also a project to track the owners of these properties and hold them accountable. Another big issue: stray dogs. Dallas Animal Services has a new technology to track reports of strays and follow up.
3. Strengthen Schools – B
More than 1,000 students applied for about 350 openings in a summer job program that the City operates, but there’s far more to do to improve the schools, the mayor says. The Mayor’s Rising Star Council (pictured are students from the program at James Madison High School), which supports emerging high school student leaders, prepping them to be community leaders, was expanded and multiple out-of-school initiatives have been implemented, including summer reading clubs.
4. Branding & Debunking Myths - A
An ad campaign was launched to attract investors, developers and business leaders to grow and invest in Southern Dallas. The Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce also launched the Grow South website, which tracks new developments and much more.
5. Private Investment Fund – A-
By the end of this week, the mayor says, there will be a $25M fund raised to invest in projects in Southern Dallas that will start this fall. Projects are in the identification process now, he says. We snapped some folks who are critical to that project: Civitas Capital managing director Drex Owusu, TREC president and CEO Linda McMahon, TREC Foundation director Robin Minick and Plains Capital Bank EVP Robert Chereck. Linda and Robert are both on the Impact Dallas Capital board of directors, which is a nonprofit geared to stimulate investment in the area.
6. Downtown & Near Downtown – A
Downtown is hot, Mike says, with many new developments and redevelopments including the Farmers Market, a new Alamo Drafthouse movie theater under construction, the Parkland Hospital at Hatcher Station and the streetcar that runs to Jefferson, among many others.
7. West Dallas – A
There’s more than 1,700 new multifamily units planned in the area from Sylvan/Thirty to Alexan West Dallas and others. There’s also new retail at Sylvan/Thirty as well as the Sylvan Avenue bridge opening, the Trinity Skyline Trail, the Continental pedestrian bridge and the West Dallas Gateway Plaza.
8. Lancaster Corridor – B+
Corinth Properties accomplished a monumental task with the opening of a grocery store in the area at Glen Oaks Crossing, the mayor says. That development has a Walmart, Wingstop and event a Pizza Hut (which the mayor called his alma mater). We snapped Corinth Properties EVP Terrence Maiden, City of Dallas’ Opal White and Frost Bank SVP Tim Maiden (yes, the guys are twins).
9. Jefferson Boulevard – B+
The Oak Cliff Streetcar line has opened and Jefferson Office Tower (pictured) is fully leased. The retail is 90% leased and the Jefferson Lofts are fully occupied, the mayor says. There’s a coffee shop and a BBQ joint, but more retail is needed, he says.
10. Education Corridor - A
The new Highland Hills Public Library opened and construction started on a new rec center, but as the geographically largest area of Southern Dallas, the mayor wants to see more housing in this area. Infrastructure is going in to support more single-family and multifamily homes and a development plan for housing is in the final stages, he says. There’s also a Save-A-Lot Grocery store coming to the area.
Conclusion: Expect to see the mayor creating more task forces to address his Neighborhood Plus plan, deal with bad landlords, and increase the number of single-family homes in the area.