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Dallas Housing Authority is seeking redevelopment proposals for seven of its properties, including prime real estate in Uptown, Oak Lawn and Oak Cliff.
The housing authority is betting that developers can come up with plans that will provide much needed capital and partnerships to create more affordable housing for Dallas. The parcel of properties that DHA is hoping to get real estate developers interested in redeveloping includes at least 650 public housing units and nearly 146 acres of land.
DHA officials stress that nothing has been predetermined and their goal is to increase the number of housing units in their portfolio. But, whatever happens, they acknowledge it won’t be fast.
"We have identified several land holdings we have control of that are part of our five-year plan for redevelopment. Some of it may not be an outright sale. Some of it might be partnership where we are a co-developer," said Troy Broussard, president of DHA. "This isn’t something that will happen overnight"
The agency owns nearly 3,900 public housing units in total as part of its housing program.
The properties DHA is seeking developer proposals for include the Little Mexico Village community on Harry Hines Boulevard in Uptown, the Cliff Manor apartments on Fort Worth Avenue in West Dallas and the Cedar Springs Place apartments between Maple Avenue and Cedar Springs Road in Oak Lawn.
The high-rise Park Manor building on U.S. Highway 175 south of downtown and Brooks Manor in Oak Cliff are also on DHA’s redevelopment list. And two vacant tracts of land in Oak Lawn and in South Dallas are up for grabs.
The properties have more than 650 affordable housing units.
But the DHA is hoping to parlay the funds generated by its redevelopment strategy to build more much-needed affordable housing.
"The federal government has no provision for capital with its funding of housing programs like ours," said Albert Black, DHA board chairman. "They send no money for us to build projects for the future — none.
"If we are going to have a future developing projects, we’ve got to earn it," Black said.
Black, the former chairman of Baylor Health Care System who grew up in Dallas’ Frazier Courts housing project near Fair Park, said he wants the housing agency to be able to build more mid-market and first-time family homes.
"We want to take advantage of the robust real estate market," he said.
Black said the DHA has been mired by government regulations and court decrees for years.
"However, that doesn’t exclude the kind of imaginations that have driven fabulous real developments in Dallas," he said.
Real estate brokers say the appeal of the property locations — particularly the Little Mexico Village apartments in Uptown — will allow developers to overcome the obstacles of regulation and rezoning the real estate.
"Everybody is going to want to take a look at it," said John Alvarado, senior vice president with commercial property firm CBRE. "I would expect it to be a long process."
DHA execs say that they aren’t in a hurry to sell or redevelop the properties.
"There are federal approval processes," Broussard said. "There is financing. There is community meeting. There are a whole series of milestones that have to be achieved."
Broussard said the agency also has to assure its residents that they won’t lose their housing.
"Our residents will be engaged in the process," he said. "They’ll be part of the planning strategy and they all have a voice — as well as the community — about what is being redeveloped."
DHA officials know that their property proposals have the potential for consternation.
The Little Mexico Village in particular is a landmark because of its connection to the Hispanic community that once flourished in the area. But land in the Uptown district surrounding the 76-year-old housing project now sells for over $200 per square foot. High-rise office and apartment buildings tower over the old apartments.
"Little Mexico is an area and not an apartment complex," Black said. "We want to be able to raise the kind of money in order to get the celebration of Little Mexico through curating the artifacts of Little Mexico Village.
"We want to bring in developers with experience in creating those pedestrian environments that celebrate the neighborhood that was there before the buildings were built."
The Cliff Manor Apartments located on Fort Worth Avenue in Dallas is one of the properties the DHA has put in play.