Brother, Can You Paradigm? A Look at a New Plan For Troubled Dallas Neighborhoods.

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Just rode up to the briefing room with Tennell Atkins, who -- and I'll try not to take it personally -- seemed awful anxious for those elevator doors to open on five, and we're shooting the breeze in the gallery as the rest of the Economic Development Committee trickles in -- Natinsky another of the first ones in, taking a stroll along the rail to meet his public.

A guy with a shattered iPhone is talking Angry Birds with the guy beside him -- "You put them little birds in a slingshot and you hit these little trolls," he explains -- and it's appropriate, because the City of Dallas is about to get the thing those birds could use most of all -- a bold, new shift in strategy: "A New Paradigm: Strategies for Revitalizing Dallas Distressed Neighborhoods."

Natinsky's getting things rolling, promising a high, "25,000-foot" look at a plan to be presented by Bill Carson, VP and Director of Sustainability at McCormack Baron Salazar (part-owned by the good people at Goldman Sachs), who'll deliver the presentation on this new plan for bringing development to Dallas' inner-city. Linda McMahon of the The Real Estate Council just spoke briefly, explaining how glad she was to have helped fund the study -- $275,000 from TREC and the same amount from McCormack Baron, we're told, so no money for this study came out of the city's general fund.

Carson has launched into the PowerPoint now -- it's not posted on the City Hall site -- by running through a description of each branch of the McCormack Salazar family tree. Altogether, he says, they're the "leading for-profit developer of mixed-income housing in the USA."

Carson says the report they're presenting "represents the collective knowledge" of each of those branches of the company, based on think-tank research and repeat trips to South Dallas.

Carson's pulling us up to "a 40,000-foot view" of development now, with a list of 11 bullet points they assembled for development projects, beginning with community involvement. So what are Carson's last 10 ingredients to shift our paradigm? Join me in the comments.
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Phelps
Phelps

They aren't trolls, they are pigs. Evil, green pigs.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

and they'll have their eggs! In this life or the next!

Urbanist
Urbanist

Yes so glad to see all the community input this "plan" has embedded in it. I mean really as a taxpayer, it pi$$es me off that city hall wastes time listening to presentations from any developer who wants to march in with PowerPoint and yet has not spoken to a single person in the area to be "improved". Other programs with far more community input are much farther down the line than this pie-in-the-sky thing is. Yes, Harold Hill has left the building and the people of Dallas are not buying his snake oil. Hopefully, neither are the city councilmembers.

Pam
Pam

Just think how angry you'd be if city paid the consultant to survey taxpayers, paid the consultant to develop a plan that was accepted by the taxpayers, then came back and said there was not enough money in the budget to fund any of the recommendations that the consultation and the constiuents agreed up.

I've seen it happen, here in Dallas.

DOes anyone have numbers on how much consultants are paid by City of Dallas? Or how how many of their recommendations sit on the shelf gathering dust?

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

OK! "It's 11:09.56 and we are adjourned!" Natinsky announces, and while Carson's runs to catch his noon flight out of Love, promising the council he'll return to Dallas someday soon, I'm down to the parking lot where I'm pretty sure they'll have a ticket on my windshield by now.

If it's anything like the last one I got, though, that's less than $4 a bullet point.

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

So, it's a pitch for public money?

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Got than right. I think these guys will suck up almost all of the city's funds available for affordable housing/community development for the next five years.

Another other local developer will be SOL.

You check with your sister publication the River Front Times in St. Louis on these guys. They've been around for a long time andhave a mixed record.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Davis wants to know about the "deal-makers" she keeps hearing Zavitkovsky talking about. How do you line up the people to attract Starbucks, "community-box type of retail" to these new developments."

Zavitkovsky says that's why they've brought in McCormack, because "that's exactly what they have done" in their other developments.

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

Great headline capture. Also great article by Michaels in the paper edition about gypsys tramps and thieves............

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Thanks Jack -- though I should cop to cribbing the headline idea from one Patrick "Buzz" Williams before I went to this thing.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Davis says in the past, profit-oriented developers haven't come to South Dallas, so she's excited by the efforts non-profit developers have made there. She wants to know if McCormack "works with developers." To which a slightly confused Carson is obliged to explain, "We are developers."

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Well, with the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee starting up here at 11, Natinsky says it's getting on time to wrap things up, though Salazar promises there'll be plenty more talk about all of this at this afternoon's Housing Committee meeting.

But first: one minute for Carolyn Davis before the meeting clears out!

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Kadane wants to know how Carson would "keep all of the units from looking the same." My guess: Carson will tell him that every project is different, from 50,000-feet.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

"From a big-picture standpoint," Carson tells him, they work with local architects to ensure their project "has a local sensibility."

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Sheffie Kadane asks about the difference between an "inner-city project" and a "neighborhood project." Carson: "No two developments are the same."

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Carson jumps in to offer that one trouble with working in Texas is the state policy requiring a certain number of units in these developments to go to supportive housing and elderly housing. It'd be a lot easier without those requirements, he says. "There's no way that developments like this can get of the ground to reach a critical mass" with those regulations, he says.

Guest
Guest

But Dallas is waiver city for that kind of thing.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

He wants a timeline from Karl Zavitkovsky and A.C. Thompson, and Zavitkovsky says, while it all depends on how the project's HUD grant comes through, this study's going to make the Lancaster Corridor update happen much faster.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Jerry Allen promises to be real quick, which is nice because my meter's running out in the lot downstairs. He thanks TREC for helping to fund this deal, and says the "critical mass" aspect is most important -- we need some density to serve people with afterschool centers and education. "Quality product mixed with that whole holistic approach to living in a community, so that our kids do have something to do when they do come home... that's the key to me."

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Carson's answer, sure-handed and bold as ever, goes like this: The SF Bay Area is a great example, he says, like BART's light rail (the light rail there is Muni) down the middle of the street, but you just can't tell. "It's all contextual. It varies from community to community."

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Atkins says his focus, "30,000-feet and coming down," is on the Lancaster Corridor, and the DART rail that's slicing the street in half. He wants to see a way to develop both sides of the street when there's a "train right down the center. It's a liability."

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

"This has been a project long-awaited, and it's moving forward," Caraway says. "I don't like to have meetings just to have something said. I like to have results!" Amen.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Caraway wants to know about adding DART stops around the veterans' hospital and down Lancaster. "Our direct competition is not just from folks out of state. It's those suburbs right around," Caraway says. He wants to draw people back into southern Dallas from Cedar Hill and Duncanville.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Dwaine Caraway is also a fan -- wants to know where Carson is from, then asks, "What can we do to relocate you to Dallas?" So smooth.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

"Your money was put to real good use here... I'd like to see Dallas up on one of your slides where you've got one of your developments right here," Natinsky says, which probably wouldn't bother Carson much either.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Natinsky's asking for a short answer from Carson -- how do you keep the prospectors at bay while you redevelop troubled neighborhoods?

Carson offers his first take saying there are two words which rhyme with -- something I missed, but it rhymed with "eminent domain."

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Carson clarifies: "There are a number of different strategies, but it varies from community to community." So there.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Now time to grill the man! Natinsky lays in first, asking him about the 12-unit-per-acre goal he mentioned. Carson's waffling now, saying it might be more like 14 units per acre as his goal. Carson says shortage of space in inner-city communities isn't a challenge, because the populations in those neighborhoods, across the country, is shrinking.

Natinsky's not surprised. "California, St. Louis, Detroit, they're all coming here."

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Carson closes with a photograph -- "one of my favorites" -- of a boy on a trike beside a moving van in a McCormack development in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Representative of other closing bullet points on this slide: "Decreasing Crime = Improved Social Conditions"

"When you develop the right way," Carson says, "and you think long-term, you can start to create places that are designed for that little guy."

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Steve Salazar just sat down, doing his best to look immediately engaged while he might be wondering, fairly, just why he's listening to this right now.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

And there you have it! If you hadn't noticed the change in air pressure, Carson announces he's just given us "the 30,000-foot view" of their urban redevelopment plans, and he's in a lengthy, measuredly enthusiastic description of McCormack's Renaissance Place project in St. Louis.

Any second now, someone on the council's going to ask about Dallas, I can just feel it.

Gnome
Gnome

1. Spend $275,000.2. Look at things from 40,000 feet.3. ?????4. Profit!

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

I've always felt investment in the children is key. The way I see it, they are the future.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

11! "Ongoing Operations and Property Management," which Carson says is about making affordable housing not look like affordable housing, attracting people from all income levels and walks of life. Like McCormack's developments in Los Angeles or St. Louis, where they're sure to include "grassy knolls" -- a statement that shakes the room into an awkward, pregnant pause before Carson corrects himself. "Grassy hills," he says.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

10! "Human capital development," which I'm led to believe is referring to people. Early childhood development! Jobs training! All of these things will be surprisingly helpful in inner-city neighborhoods!

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Seven! "Sustainability and green practices," the stuff Carson says gets him up in the morning, which, as a map Carson has thrown up on the board shows, his company knows all about. Just look at all the green dots across the map! There are quite a few.

Eight! Develop with an eye on public transit! Carson suggests putting people near bus and train lines to, maybe, "completely eliminate the need for an automobile." I know we are flying high at 40,000 feet, but a local detail or two might do a lot to break the BlackBerry perma-gaze around the room.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Where is this Inner city ?

Guest
Guest

Inner city may not be the appropriate term, but I'm sure you know the neighborhoods being addressed. Let's not quibble over semantics.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Six! On to the money: A "blended finance model" to fund the "physical" and the "human capital" redevelopment, with a mix of mortgages, government investment, city land banks and philanthropic contributions.

While many like to thing the high-cost housing is subsidizing the low-cost housing in these developments, Carson actually likes to think of things the other way around, and meanwhile there is something hilarious on Natinsky's cell phone keeping him and Caraway rapt.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Four! Get a mix of family and young "transients" in the apartment complexes. Five! Big mixed-income buildings that fit in with the architecture in the neighborhood.

This is a heck of a pitch, I guess, but mighty short on details about what these guys will be doing here in Dallas.

Patrick Michels
Patrick Michels

Whew. We're breezing through the bullet points nearly as fast as Dave Neumann can twiddle his BlackBerry and Linda Koop can cross her arms here, as Carson outlines the importance of -- two! -- "public-private community partnerships" and -- three! -- "critical mass and land assembly," which is about watching out for prospecting developers trying to take advantage of a housing rush.

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