What Qualifies As "a Relatively Small Public Investment"? Let's Take a Look Downtown.

400nakard.jpg
400 N. Akard
This morning, the council's Economic Development Committee will take up whether or not to give Dean Foods a $250,000 economic development grant (and $1,673,964 in tax abatements) for that new factory in the southern sector, which Ron Natinsky mentioned last week.

At the same time, the committee will consider another grant almost as large: $200,000, which was requested by Houseman Building LLC, the owner of the ca.-1921 building at 400 N. Akard Street.

Right now, the 40,576-square-footer -- which has been advertising renovated spaces for lease -- has but two tenants on the ground floor, including an AlphaGraphics, both of which have leases about to expire. Owner Ken Good, with whom the city's been working on the Olympic Arts building rehab near Deep Ellum, wants to use the dough to redo the building, re-up the leases and bring in new businesses -- including a barber shop and a restaurant. Also, says Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez's memo to council, nearby First Baptist Academy of Dallas "will create a new playground in the northern portion of the park area and Houseman will open the building to the park and create an outdoor seating area that can be utilized by park patrons and cafe visitors."

Problem is, Good's promise to invest $1.75 million "to purchase and renovate the building" (which he actually bought in May for $1.4 million) doesn't come anywhere near the minimum eligibility guidelines laid out by the city's Public Private Partnership Program, which insists an owner create at least 250 jobs or invest $25 million in order to qualify for an economic development grant. Which is why three-quarters of the council will need to sign off before it's approved at Wednesday's council meeting. Writes Gonzalez:
Staff recommends approval of the economic development grant. For a relatively small public investment, the property owner will completely fill and previously vacant small downtown building, add ground floor retail space and work with nearby property owners to reenergize a small public open space.

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18 comments
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Dommerdog
Dommerdog

First Baptist is going to build a playground at the north end of the park that's at the north end of the building? Take a look at that little park. The entire thing isn't big enough for a playground. It's big enough for an outdoor cafe but will only work if they cut down the trees. Run over and take a look. The entire park is so coated with bird poop that the benches are unsittable.

The east side of that building reeks of urine, as it's a popular pottyground for homeless men (at least it's only men I've seen over there marking the walls of that building).

Jay
Jay

Reminds me of the suspicious loans doled out by the Fair Park Trust Fund. In each instance, the fund trustees or city staff elected to ignore the program rules, and substituted their own personal judgment. Of course, all the little piggies are equal, some just seem to be more equal than other.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I guess that makes JimS the old horse. (or is that horse's ass?)

Downtowner
Downtowner

Run the fountain at Main Street Garden instead, like Wylie H said. There's an area by the fountain that's been boarded up and surrounded by caution tape for a while. It looks like an abandoned repair job, and I assure you that everyone at the Statler Hilton press conference last week saw it. What the hell is it?

This deal just looks bad, and it'll just encourage other property owners to ask for a handout for nonessential improvements.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I support the use of these funds for infrastructure, especially common infrastructure like streetcars, street lights, parking renovations--things for the common good that might draw people. I would support the use of these funds for historic or architecturally appealing buildings. It sounds like there are limitations along these lines but they are considering averting these sensible restraints. I hope they do the right thing.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I'm not sure I understand the City's rationale in this case. The application states that Mr. Good will purchase and renovate the building.... but he has ALREADY purchased the building.

Is he saying that he WON'T fix up the building and lease it unless the City pays for it? That doesn't seem very rational.

It sounds like he's just using his connections with the City to get them to give him a bunch of money he isn't entitled to to encourage him to do something he has either already done (purchase the building) or would do anyway (fix it up and lease it).

Also, how are they planning on ensuring the promised benefits (a cafe with outdoor seating area fronting on a park) are actually delivered?

If the City focused on doing things it is SUPPOSED to do (i.e. maintain quality public infrastructure), they wouldn't have to consider bribing businesses to do things they are SUPPOSED to be do (i.e. investing in businesses that create jobs and provide other ancillary benefits).

If the City doesn't think $250,000 is a lot of money, then why can't they run the fountains in the parks?

Here's an idea, spend money to operate the fountain in the Main Street Garden and maybe some private businesses will choose to locate in the area without the City having to bribe them.

Enrique De La Fuente
Enrique De La Fuente

What about your Trinity outing?

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Gots ta get the pics off my camera. The boy took a million.

m
m

RW- Ken was promised that money.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Like I tell any family member who wants me to invest, If its that good of an Idea go to the bank !Think the city will give me a tax break or a development grant to fix my fence or Rewire my house ?

We are a city not a flippin ATM Machine.

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

"as all the firms he leased too are growing firms needing more space."

Dude, read the story, . . there are only two existing tenants and their leases are expiring shortly. So where are these jobs?

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

If Ken Good was promised the money in 2010 as a condition precedent to his purchase of the property, why is no mention of that key fact made in the briefing document?

TimCov
TimCov

This should be a no-brainer (but rarely is for politicians). The Dean foods plant will provide many more jobs (and thus more taxes for the city) than the building. The problem will come from if Mr. Good has enough political connections to get what he wants.

RandyE
RandyE

"The Dean foods plant will provide many more jobs (and thus more taxes for the city) than the building."

Got any data to support that? $1,673,964 in tax abatements, how long does Dean have to exist,,,,,,,at what pay scales to justify more welfare for millionaires?

TimCov
TimCov

I don't have data. But, more jobs at the plant means employees spending money around the plant (stopping at convenience stores, eating meals, etc.). Also, people tend to want to live closer to where they work, so the employees will either come from that area (which means increased income and more spending) or want to move nearer to their work (which would mean increased property values). It is definitely a bigger plus for Dallas than paying someone to buy (something they have already bought) and renovate yet another fairly ugly office building.

heart and soul
heart and soul

Go and get some data, I don't want to live next to a plant. You are not going to attract exciting retail around a plant. Duh. Dean is asking too much. If we are just giving away millions then we can do much better, Thanks but no thanks. I say we keep the money and save it for something better.

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