During Debate Over Supportive Housing Near Farmers Market, Suhm Reveals City Will Seek Private Operator For Market Within 10 Days

CraigMelde.JPG
Craig Melde
For the last two days my inbox has been flooded -- flooded -- with emails from residents and property owners around the downtown farmers market, each one of which more or less says the same thing: Those two supportive housing projects being proposed downtown -- Larry Hamilton and John Greenan's Cadillac Apartments on Cadiz and S. Ervay in the shadow of City Hall and First Presbyterian and Family Gateway's Evergreen Residences at nearby 1701 Canton -- are bad for the area, especially given their proximity to The Bridge. They each point to high crime around the market, and the crumbling buildings that line that side of the Central Business District. No more homeless, they say; enough's enough. Which all sounds very, very familiar.

And so, once again, the familiar names and faces -- among them Dallas Farmers Market-area property manager Tanya Ragan, resident Leslie Ingendorf, architect Craig Melde -- lined up to offer the council their myriad reasons for opposing the projects. Said Melde, who wants to do more development in the area, putting more supportive housing down there "will not contribute to that positive environment" the city claims it wants for the market; added Ragan, "Last year we opposed two supportive housing projects in the farmers market area ... and fortunately both were stopped. Flash forward one year, and there are two more."

But Melde noted during his speech in opposition that he's on Economic Development's task force looking at privatizing the Dallas Farmers Market -- this, after an earlier effort to do so came up short. At which point City Manager Mary Suhm chimed in with further explanation, telling the council that Assistant City Manager Ryan Evans has been working on the request for proposals for "the last several months" while also "working with individuals who are interested" in taking over the market.

"An RFP will be going out in the next week, 10 days," Suhm told the council. "I believe that's a very viable opportunity to improve and expand the life of that area."

Angela Hunt asked Suhm to come to her Quality of Life Committee sooner than later with a briefing outlining plans to grow the area. Because, said Hunt, she too has spent several months, along with Mayor Mike Rawlings, meeting with The Bridge higher-ups and Downtown Dallas Inc. execs about crime in the area and issues involving "the accessibility of nonprofits during the day" and how "that leads some of the homeless to the farmers market area and leads to many of the problems we've heard about."

Said Hunt of the Dallas Farmers Market itself: "Having been at the farmers market numerous times I've seen those problems, and we need a plan to address that, a plan of action of how we're going to work with those property owners to get this resolved to the best of our ability. The farmers market is such a big asset, I feel like we're floundering, and I hate when I go to these other cities and see their markets thriving, I'm so jealous. I don't want to be jealous."

Hunt's colleagues Sheffie Kadane and Sandy Greyson joined with the so-called Farmers Market Stakeholders -- as it read on their red T-shirts -- in opposing the projects. Kadane says it's too much, too close. Greyson asked what happened to the "zero tolerance" to crime the council was promised when it voted to put The Bridge on that side of downtown. Said Kadane, "That's one of the things told to the owners and businesses there [and] they've got more crime down there most anywhere in the city, from what I've seen, and we still have not taken it to zero tolerance."

Those housing developments, of course, are no sure thing: Jerry Killingsworth, head of the city's Housing Department, told the council that they're still a ways off on deciding which of these project should be eligible for those low-income housing tax credits being offered by the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs, which has just $7.6 million to spread around Dallas, Denton, Collin, Tarrant and Grayson counties this year. Only one or two Dallas projects will get some of that money, he reminded council, and those that don't probably won't survive.

Rents, he explained, would be paid for using vouchers. And that, he said, "is not sufficient to cover the debt service without the tax credits. Either one of these projects, if they don't get tax credits, these deals don't go forward." Which is why, for now, council voted to keep moving ahead with letting city staff rank the projects before forwarding them to Austin. We hit the "pause" button till June, as the city begins discussions with neighborhood groups affected by the proposed projects.

"We gotta get all over this farmers market thing," said Rawlings, who noted that he's thrilled the city is once again putting out an RFP for the market.

"We have a huge, huge opportunity in Dallas," he said. "Urban environments have demonstrated you can have economic growth and homeless and be successful. I remember seven years ago when people were blaming lack of growth downtown on the homeless." But, he insisted, those days are over. Now, he said, "The problem is this: The only answer to our homeless issue is permanent supportive housing, the projects Jerry is talking about. That's the only solution. Otherwise they stay on the street, the Family Gateway, The Bridge. That's the only plan that's going to work."

But nobody wants it in their backyard, he said. "Nobody wants it close." But, he said, permanent supportive housing isn't another homeless shelter, far from it. "Permanent supportive housing has demonstrated time and time again when done correctly it increases property values and crime goes down because of the supportive services that are there. That is math that has been proven across the nation. Long story short, we've got to power through this."

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21 comments
Farmers Market Stakeholder
Farmers Market Stakeholder

To borrow a comment from Chris Danger in another blog, "He (as well as I) would have to agree w/ Mayor Mike, to improve South Dallas, smart thinking and smart financing needs to take precedent over "community" politics. We can talk big game ideas, but we need real action to not only perform those tasks, but to also get rid of the bad players as well."

I don't advocate the riddance of assisting homeless, however, I do have issue with continuing to add low income/supportive housing to the Farmers Market area.  At least until the issues affecting the negative economic growth are addressed and a direction is determined and adhered to for the area.  Mayor Mike recently commented that supportive housing adds positive economic value whereever it is put.  If that is the case, then put the projects in the Arts District, next to the Meyerson or next to American Airlines.  The people who own these businesses/property will be oh so happy that the City has taken an opportunity to increase the value of their property/businesses by merely adding low income supportive housing in their neighborhoods.  What a great concept.  Wish I had thought of it. 

I keep hearing how the City (Mayor) wants to revitalize the Southern Sector.  You don't revitatilize an area that is experiencing a negative economic growth pattern for the past 3+ years with additional low income/supportive housing (BUSINESS 101).  You must initially have a plan, a vision and then move forward.  If low income/subsidized housing is the plan, the vision, I now understand the continued efforts by the Dallas City Council to continue to support every application that comes down the pipe without evaluating the publics support or non-support or the business impact.  In other words, I guess we play the political game not do what is best for the City of Dallas. 

Reed
Reed

Homeless people are, PEOPLE. They are stuck and will continue to be stuck until they get help, I was homeless for 6 years and now I'm not because I got help

youmad?
youmad?

Every city i've ever been to, the homeless outreach centers, and such are located near the mid-city(usually near or in their downtowns)...it helps with centralizing things for folks who are inhibited with having to drive somewhere(no car) and having to take public transport(no money and if they ride for free, well, that's a whole nother bit of bitching from the peanut gallery)...so city planners put things in an area where the homeless are at and can have some form of community(believe it or not folks without homes want community, too)...so, to make my long belligerent ranting short....welcome to urban society, Dallas! We've been waiting.

Replay
Replay

"Long story short, we've got to power through this"

That sounds awfully familiar........the McCommas Landfil.....flow controll........the Mayor's batting average is not very good.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

I think the lot of you should be looking into your own selfish motives  for having  such a backwards thinking and hate filled tone when All our fine city wants to do is lend a helping hand to those less fortunate than the rest of us .Our helpless Brothers and Sisters need your care and Understanding Not Scorn !

Oh and All the wonderful reasons the transitional housing will work in OAK CLIFF really apply in this story .

I know I know its not true But it sure is fun to throw NIMBY stones at others .

RTGolden
RTGolden

If supportive housing is so good for property values, why not build the projects in Preston Hollow?

Oak Cliff Clavin
Oak Cliff Clavin

Just draw a line down Main Street, poor folk, you live south of there, got it.

Pity the FM stakeholders, the Mayor is gonna ram this thing through as soon as the money is there, or even just seems to be there and there'll be nothing they can do about it. But anyone who didn't see this coming before the election is a fool. These developers are dying to feed at this trough.

Why would anyone want to venture to New Jack City, when they can just buy their oranges at Krogers or Whole Food or Fiesta?

jfpo
jfpo

So what I thought was the corpse of Sheffie Kadane rose up to oppose something besides a neghborhood stabilization overlay? Huh...

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

I agree w/ the Stakeholders, the big challenge down there is the bum contingent, who bother and harass folks down there for money consistently, its why I haven't been down to the farmers market as much as I like to. Im for supportive housing if the said parties play by the rules, similar to whats done at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. Here's an idea: Why not hire some of these folks who live down there to work in the Farmers Market, make it a part of the requirements for them to stay in transitional housing. It'll kill two birds with one stone. They receive employment, money and a roof over their head, the stakeholders receive a tax-write off from whomever runs the market, which BTW needs to go into a public/private partnership.

Remember When?
Remember When?

Remember when? Remember when the City wanted to build the "Bridge" at its current location. Wow, the opposition was huge, and one of its most outspoken opponents was (drumroll please) Larry Hamilton. Kinda funny, what goes around comes around.

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

Hey, here's an idea. Get Evans to combine the Farmer's Market and Horse Park into one RFP. Maybe he can pull off a twofer.

DFM supporter
DFM supporter

It is great the city will once again try to privatize the DFM.  Maybe this third time will be the charm.  However, to achieve the vision all have for the DFM, one- be it priviate/public or combo of the two, will have to have the authority to significantly and seriously remove all vendors and have them re-apply for space based upon a quality standard that the City Manager and City Council will not attempt to modify on the fly.   Aside from the Council's action to place the Bridge in this area - a total disaster - notwithstanding the admirable goal to do good, this action coupled with Ms Hunt's successful campaign to allow for the spread of so-called Farmers Markets throughout the city, the City government has been the central figure in the condition of DFM as it exists today.  I am sure that is why Mary Suhm seeks once more to privatize the DFM.........she has finally realized, city government doesn't need to manage or own this asset.  Better late than never.   I do hope this third effort is successful......

Replay
Replay

I'll bet they could put a bunch of permanent supportive housing at City Hall. That place is huge, and well located.

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

Agreed. This is what happens when you elect the former "homeless czar" to be Mayor of the City.

B1ng
B1ng

neighborhood stabilization overlay = stymieing property value growth in a half-blighted neighborhood with no architectural significance, but simply a "funky culture"

Yeah, he was really terrible to require a super-majority of the neighborhood to agree in order to strip rights from property owners.

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Dear Dumb Shit, aka Chris Danger,

You seem unaware that Family Gateway is a center for homeless FAMILIES, i.e. a parent with kids. There are not "bums" [nice purgative term there].

There have been no bums, for more than 25 years weren they have been operating for at THE SAME location t serving families (i.e. parents and the the kids, dumb ass) without any negative effect or determent to the neighborhood.

It's fun to slam an organization that has helped hundreds of families and childern for almost a quarter century without know jack shit about them isn't it?

I doubt if any of the NIMBY douches have even lived in the neighborhood longer than Family Gateway.

FYI, EVERY client must pass a criminal background AND drug test, unlike any place you've ever lived in Chris.

AS for your "brilliant" ideas, please keep them to yourself, you don't have a clue how ignorant you are.

FSR
FSR

I used to live in Seattle for 4 years and Pike Place Market is OVERRUN with panhandling heroin junkies, crackheads, alcoholic bums, and other lowlifes. Steinbrueck Park next to the market is even worse.

PLEASE don't use Pike Place Market as an example of what the DFM should be like.

db
db

Getting rid of the bad apples (which is most of them), would go a long way towards solving the problems at the DFM.  By far the biggest problem at the DFM is the vendors.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

No need, the library one street over is already treated as permanent supportive housing by the bums.

jfpo
jfpo

"...in order to strip rights from property owners." So we should do away with all zoning laws? When I move next door to you, I will bring my howitzer.

I live in Sheffie's district and he is nothing but a special interest butt-boy.

Oak Cliff Clavin
Oak Cliff Clavin

Unfortunate pejoratives notwithdtanding, 100% of Hamilton's development is for single people, not families.

And, all the projects that got the thumbs-up are south of Main street.

Caraway is right, where's the shared burden?

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