Financing issues delay development

By John Wright News Editor

Developer hopes work can begin on project at Cedar Springs, Douglas Avenue by March


As one major development project on the Cedar Springs strip nears completion, another remains stalled in the financing stages, leaving two large apartment complexes vacant but still standing for almost a year.

Last week the developer of Ilume, a five-story mixed-use project southwest of Cedar Springs Road and Douglas Avenue, announced that the first phase of the project is slated to open in July, with the remainder coming on line by the end of the year.

But on the opposite side of Cedar Springs, a chain-link fence surrounds boarded up buildings northeast of the intersection, at the site of a project that was initially scheduled for completion around the same time.

The Atlanta-based Lane Co. plans a 240-unit multifamily development at the site of the old Douglas Park and 4242 Cedar Springs apartment complexes, which have been vacant since the company purchased the property and closed them in March 2008.

The company initially said it planned to begin construction last spring. But Mark McHenry, development partner for the Southwest Division of the Lane Co., in Dallas, confirmed last week that the company has been unable to secure financing for the project, which is expected to cost more than $30 million.

"I would say that every real estate project in the country right now has an issue with financing. We’re not alone in that regard," McHenry said. "It’s a good project. It’ll get built. It’s just a challenging time in the real estate market right now."

McHenry added that he now hopes the project, which is expected to take approximately 18 months, can begin by the end of March 2009.

In the meantime, in addition to fencing off and boarding up the old units, the company has hired security to patrol the 4-acre property at night, McHenry said. Last year, Dallas Voice reported that several people were still living in the complexes after they’d closed, prompting police to conduct a sweep resulting in multiple arrests for trespassing. 

"We’re trying to take all the measures we can to make sure the property is not disruptive until we get the thing knocked down," McHenry said. "We still occasionally have the random vagrant that our security cops run off, but it hasn’t come to my attention that we have an issue like we did earlier."

Mick Rossley, vice president of the Crosland Group, which is developing Ilume, said he hopes to see the vacant buildings torn down soon.

"It’s too great a piece of dirt to not eventually get developed," Rossley said. "It’s an eyesore."

The city of Dallas could try to force the Lane Co. to demolish the buildings under an ordinance enacted last year, according to Chris Bowers, first assistant city attorney.
But Bowers said that’s unlikely unless the property is creating a nuisance and the owner isn’t diligent in keeping it secure. 

"I’m not sure if we’ve yet taken any cases to the Municipal Court seeking demolition on those grounds, but we plan to use that provision," Bowers said.
 
Scott Whittall, owner of Buli Café and president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said he’d also like to see the property developed. But Whittall said there are advantages to not having too much construction under way at once.

Members of the Merchants Association, made up of business owners on the strip, are still recovering from major road construction projects nearby in recent years, Whittall said. And in addition to Ilume, a large-scale renovation project is under way at Cedar Springs and Throckmorton, in the building that once housed Crossroads Market.

"I just think it needs to happen a little at a time," Whittall said. "Obviously in the end it’s going to help us all, but right now we need it to be easier to get into our neighborhood."

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 30, 2009.

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Soundout • January 30, 2008

By Praveen Sathianathan

5 questions with Erin Moore


Erin Moore is president of the Stonewall Democrats. A native of New Orleans, Moore moved to Dallas in 1992 and currently works in the advertising industry. Moore is very active as a political and gay rights activist. She is a former chair of National Coming Out Day, a former member of the Human Rights Campaign Board of Governors and a former president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. She is also a former co-host of Lambda Weekly, a radio show providing news to the LGBT community.

What is Stonewall Democrats?
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas is an organization of politically active individuals working for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community in Dallas and the surrounding areas. We work to get fair-minded Democratic candidates elected and then work with them to sensitize them to the needs of the GLBT community.  

How did you become involved with Stonewall Democrats?
I had been involved in many LGBT organizations but most of them were non-partisan. After the Prop. 2 loss in 2005 when the Texas Constitution was amended to prevent gay marriage, I had had enough of mostly Republican hateful legislation and wanted to actively work for Democrats and only Democrats. 

What do you hope to achieve this year as president?
I think the election of Barack Obama is a real turning point in the LGBT community. We can finally breathe again and have hope that we will be heard. I also hope this is a turning point in reaching out to communities that traditionally vote Democratically but against the gay community. Also, we just helped to get a lot of folks elected. We need to make sure they hear our voices and don’t forget about us now that the election is over.

In your opinion, what was the best part of Inauguration Day?
It’s really hard to narrow it down. The whole day was the realization of a long season of hard work and disbelief that we actually have a real president. I enjoyed every minute of it. I had a permanent smile on my face the whole day. I guess, if I had to narrow it down, it would be watching it at the Resource Center with other members of the community and seeing the different emotions people were experiencing.

What do you think is the biggest political issue dividing the LGBT community?
Politically it would have to be marriage rights. It’s still a fairly new discussion and a lot of people don’t know where they stand, how hard to push or not push, if it should be civil unions or full marriage equality. I don’t know that it’s a division so much as a lively debate.

Soundout is a weekly column featuring people whose jobs and interests have an impact on the daily lives of members of the LGBT community. It features those who often go unnoticed by the press and community. If you’d like to recommend someone to cover in this column, editor@dallasvoice.com.

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LOCAL BRIEFS • January 30, 2008

By Staff Reports

SMU hiring full-time counselor for Resource Center program
Southern Methodist University is hiring a full-time employee to staff a recently launched counseling program at the Resource Center of Dallas, RCD spokesman Rafael McDonnell said.

The counseling program, a partnership between the Resource Center and SMU’s School of Education and Human Development, offers reduced-cost sessions for LGBT individuals and couples. The program, launched in November, covers topics including crisis intervention, grief management, depression, substance abuse and coming out issues.

Until now, the program has been staffed by one SMU graduate student working under the supervision of faculty members. However, McDonnell said the program is expanding to include two graduate students as well as a full-time employee who will have an office at the Resource Center. The addition of a full-time employee will allow for nighttime intake appointments.

"It took a little bit of time to get rolling, but we’re getting a steady stream of calls," McDonnell said of the program.

For more information on the counseling program, call 214-393-3680 or go to www.rcdallas.org and click on counseling. To apply for the position, which closes Feb. 16, go to www.rcdallas.org and click on employment.

Rainbow Garden Club monthly meeting to focus on ‘Landscaping with Stone’
Rainbow Garden Club holds its monthly meeting Sunday, Feb. 8, at 2 p.m. at Smith-Hawken Garden Center, 3300 Knox St.

Martin Kelley will give a talk and demonstration on "Landscaping with Stone."

Martin has been a landscaper for 10 years, and currently owns and operates Blackwater Landscaping Co. in Dallas. For more information, and directions, check the Events page on the Rainbow Garden Club Web site at www.rainbowgardenclub.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 30, 2009.

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Deaths • 01.30.09

 

Erich Adelbert Austin, 42, died at his home in Dallas on Jan. 6.

Austin, who had made Dallas his home for the past four years, was a native of Atlanta, Ga. He was recently employed as head merchandising designer for Craig Bachman Imports, Inc., at the Dallas Market Center. He had also worked in Dallas with Coldwater Creek and Ann Taylor Loft stores in sales and merchandising. A retail veteran of more than 25 years, he had affiliations with Federated Department Stores and the Belk Stores.

Austin was a graduate of Georgia State University and was active in community life with the West Tennessee Cerebral Palsy Center, the Carl Perkins Child Abuse Center and numerous other organizations. He and his partner of 23 years operated Holland’s, a specialty floral, gift and gourmet business in Tennessee.

Austin loved the outdoors, was an avid reader, loved movies and nostalgia and enjoyed his numerous trips traveling the world.

He is survived by his mother, Wanda Love of Fort Worth; his sister, Heather Love of Fort Worth; his partner, William Holland of Dallas; and his cat, Trevi.

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 1 p.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Worth. The family requests that those wishing to do so make memorials in Austin’s honor to the charity of their choice.





Joel Howard Ihms, gifted singer and music enthusiast, died Sunday, Jan. 25, at Medical City Hospital in Dallas, from pneumonia and complications due to undiagnosed HIV.

Born March 20, 1978, Joel graduated from Highland Park High School in 1996, and attended Stephen F. Austin University on a singing scholarship for one year. His voice secured him a long tenure with the Turtle Creek Chorale, joining the prestigious male chorus in August, 1997 as the youngest member during that time.

Ihms, a tenor II, was also a member of the ENCORE! Ensemble and was featured as a soloist many times, beginning in 1998 with "Seasons of Love." He recorded solos on eight CDs, and his theatrical credits include regional productions of "The Sound of Music" and "Showboat" among others. He also performed with the Turtle Trio at the Oak Grove United Methodist Church on a regular basis. Ihm’s last performance was in December in "Hottest Holidays Ahead."

Ihms was front desk associate manager at Exhale Spa at the Palomar Hotel after joining the company in 2006. His engaging personality made him a favorite of guests as well as employees of Exhale Spa.

He is survived by his mother, Gaynelle Hines Ihms; father, Randall Gene Ihms; stepmother, Margarite Ihms; grandfather, Lester Ihms; aunt, Debbie Boultinghouse; great-aunts, Peggy French and Lylia Coffman; uncles, Chris Hines, Orlan Ihms and Keith Ihms; and many cousins. He is also survived by his many brothers at the Turtle Creek Chorale and his two dearest friends, Meredith Buhl and Stephen Price.

He was preceded in death by his aunt, Terriann Hines; and grandparents, Vernelle and Terry Hines and Janet Ihms.

A young and spirited heart, Joel sang for humanity and enriched the many lives he touched through song. 

A memorial celebration will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to the Turtle Creek Chorale, P.O. Box 190137, Dallas, Texas 75219.

TO PLACE A NOTICE
We print notices of deaths of members of the GLBT community at no fee. A questionnaire is available to assist you in organizing the information. Certain information is required. The questionnaire can be e-mailed, faxed or mailed to you. You may supply photos as prints (color or B&W) or scans (min. 300 d.p.i. at 3X5). For more information or to submit a notice, e-mail nash@dallasvoice.com or call 214-754-8710 ext. 128.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 30, 2009.

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ANNIVERSARY



Dallas residents Marty Malliton, left, and Rebecca Covell celebrated their 12th anniversary on Jan. 25. Malliton is an event and marketing consultant, and Covell is an attorney. Both are committed volunteers and supporters with various organizations.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 30, 2009.

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PETS OF THE WEEK: TAYLOR



Taylor is a 1-year-old cream-colored shepherd-chow mix. She was found as a stray just before Christmas. Taylor is extremely friendly and loves giving kisses. She’s playful, eager to please and good with other dogs.

SNOWSHOE
Snowshoe is a 2-year-old seal point Siamese mix with brilliant blue eyes. She’s gentle, calm and sweet-natured. Snowshoe is good with other cats, enjoys snuggling and loves playing with toys.

Taylor, Snowshoe and lots of other cats, kittens, dogs and puppies are available for adoption from the Dallas Animal Services Adoption Center, located at 1818 N. Westmoreland at I-30, just minutes west of Downtown Dallas. The shelter is open 7 days a week: Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 to 3:30 p.m. The cost to adopt is $85 for dogs and $55 for cats and includes spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, microchip and more. All dogs are negative for heartworms, and cats have been tested for FeLV and FIV. For more information, visit www.DallasAnimalServices.com or call 214-671-0249.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 30, 2009.

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Amazing father-son team ‘Amazing Race’ casts Soulfource’s Rev. Mel White and screenwriter son


In 1993, Mel White came out publicly when he was installed as dean of the Dallas Cathedral of Hope.  Now he’s the founder of Soulfouce, an organization that tries to cut off homophobia at its source — religious bigotry.

White is also the father of actor-director-producer Mike White ("School of Rock," "Nacho Libre, "Chuck & Buck" and "Year of the Dog.") And the White men recently added another credit to their resumes: reality TV stars.

They are one of 11 teams on the 14th season of "The Amazing Race," where they’ll race around the world for $1 million. White, by the way, is 68 years old and the season’s oldest competitor.

Here’s a blurb from their team online profile: "Mel, a gay rights activist, has worked as a writer, professor, filmmaker and a pastor and is eager to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience with his youngest child. He’s confident that his people skills will give him an advantage over some of the other racers. He describes himself as energetic, caring and passionate and he enjoys scuba diving and racquetball. When asked who he would model his style of game play after, he pointed to Season 7 winners Uchenna and Joyce, while Mike will model his game play after the ‘never say die’ attitude of Charla and Mirna."

This will be the first time that the "Race" has traveled to Siberia and Romania, on a jaunt that will span 40,000 miles and nine countries over 22 days.

There is one Texan in the cast, Jodi Wincheski, a 39-year-old Houston-based flight attendant.
The new season premieres on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m, on CBS.


DVR ALERT
"The Amazing Race: 14" premieres Sunday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. on CBS.

‘Push’ a Sundance hit
The Sundance Film Festival’s prizes for best U.S. drama on Saturday went to "Push," the dark yet hopeful story of a young woman finding her way out of nightmarish circumstances in 1980s Harlem.

"Push" tells the moving story of overweight, illiterate, sexually abused teenager Precious Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) whose life is changed thanks to the guidance of a lesbian teacher. Director Lee Daniels assembled an exceedingly eclectic African-American cast for this drama, including comic Mo’Nique (as Precious’ toxic mother), Paula Patton, Sherri Shepherd, Mariah Carey, and Lenny Kravitz.

Based on the 1996 first novel by the poet Sapphire and directed by Lee Daniels, "Push" won both the grand jury and audience awards.

Sam Rockwell’s ‘Winning Season’

When you think of the WNBA, what’s your next thought?

That’s right: Sheryl Swoopes.

And your next thought after that?

Exactly: lesbians.

So why are there never any teen lesbians in TV shows or films featuring girls basketball (or any sports for that matter)?

The closest Hollywood will get is allowing the tough-girl protagonist of the little-seen "Stick It" to escape the third act without a male love interest.

Will "The Winning Season," a new feature about a down-on-his-luck coach (Sam Rockwell) and his underachieving high school girl’s basketball team (featuring Emma Roberts and Shareeka Epps), address this omission?

Early reviews out of Sundance Film Festival don’t say one way or the other. But it is an indie feature from "Grace Is Gone" director James C. Strouse, which means that the odds are better than if Disney was behind it. Here’s hoping for some balance.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 30, 2009.

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Washington state lawmakers introduce bill giving same-sex couples ‘everything but marriage’

By Rachel La Corte Associated Press

State representative says he hopes expansion of partnership law can eventually pave the way for same-sex marriage

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington state would offer same-sex couples all the rights and benefits given to heterosexual married couples under a measure that was introduced Tuesday, Jan. 27 in the Legislature.

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, who sponsored the state’s domestic partnership law in 2007, is sponsoring the expansion bill in the Senate this year; Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, is sponsoring the measure in the House.

"This is everything but marriage," Pedersen said Tuesday night.

The 110-page bill makes changes to all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are addressed. The bill would add same-sex domestic partners to state statutes ranging from labor and employment to pensions and other public employee benefits.

"Although we view this as an improvement that provides real and concrete protections to same-sex partners, it’s an inadequate substitute for marriage," Pedersen said. "Our hope is that the continuing success of this legislation helps people understand what marriage is, and that it gets them more comfortable with treating all families with equality dignity and respect."

Pedersen and Murray said that a same-sex marriage measure, also introduced Tuesday, is unlikely to go anywhere this year, but is meant to spark further discussion.

"It’s entirely possible that next year, enough things might have changed that we feel like it’s time to make a run at the marriage bill," Pedersen said. "We’re not there now. But it’s not out of the question."

Last year, both lawmakers led a successful effort to expand the partnership protections to sections of laws where previously only spouses were mentioned, including areas referring to probate and trusts, community property and homestead exemptions, and guardianship and powers of attorney.

The underlying domestic partnership law, spearheaded by Murray two years ago, provides hospital visitation rights, the ability to authorize autopsies and organ donations and inheritance rights when there is no will.

As of Tuesday, 4,940 domestic partnership registrations had been filed since the law took effect in July 2007.

"The institution of marriage has not collapsed as a result of passing domestic partnerships," Murray said.

Murray said because of the current budget challenges in the state that any aspects of the bill that have a fiscal impact, like pension benefits, will be delayed until 2012.

Joseph Fuiten, a Bothell pastor who leads the Positive Christian Agenda, a state group of Christian organizations opposed to same-sex marriage, said his group will actively oppose any expansion of the measure.

"When it says ‘everything but marriage,’ all that is, is a question of time," he said. "Whether you want to go by the freeway or the back roads, you get to the same spot."

To be registered as partners, couples must share a home, must not be married or in a domestic relationship with someone else, and be at least 18.

In a provision similar to California law, unmarried heterosexual senior couples also are eligible for domestic partnerships if one partner is at least 62. Lawmakers said that provision was included to help seniors who are at risk of losing pension rights and Social Security benefits if they remarry.

Several other states have approved either civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex couples, including Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maine, California and Oregon. Hawaii extends certain spousal rights to same-sex couples and cohabiting heterosexual pairs. Only Connecticut and Massachusetts allow same-sex couples to marry.

The domestic partnership measures are Senate Bill 5688 and House Bill 1727. The marriage bill is Senate Bill 5674.

On the Web:  Washington state Legislature: www.leg.wa.gov

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Utah Senate committee votes down LGBT rights bill

By Associated Press

Opponents say it would be a move toward legalizing gay marriage

SALT LAKE CITY — A Senate committee has defeated the first of a package of bills to give basic civil rights to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Utahns.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake, would have amended state law to allow anyone in certain types of dependent relationships, including same-sex couples, to sue for wrongful death damages.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted down the bill Tuesday, Jan. 27, with McCoy and Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake, supporting it.

The senators who voted against the bill said they were concerned that approving it would be a move toward legalizing gay marriage, which was banned in a constitutional amendment in 2004.

McCoy says opponents were trying to link the bill to marriage, but that it was specific in not being about that issue.

Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com

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Appeals court allows Christian school to expel lesbian students

By Associated Press

California Lutheran High School’s goal is to ‘educate based on Christian principles,’ spokesman says

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A California appeals court has ruled that a Christian high school can expel students because of an alleged lesbian relationship.

The 4th District Court of Appeal in Riverside on Monday, Jan. 26 upheld California Lutheran High School’s right as a private, religious organization to exclude students based on sexual orientation.

Two girls sued claiming they were discriminated against after they were expelled from the Wildomar school in 2005. A lower court said the school isn’t bound by the same anti-discrimination laws as a business establishment.

John McKay, attorney for California Lutheran, says the school’s goal is to educate based on Christian principles.

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