A good-neighbor agreement that could chart a new course for how it works with neighborhood groups is a first for the housing authority
The Dallas City Council on March 26 approved plans for Cedar Springs Place, a complex it plans to build to replace a housing project torn down in 2012. The Dallas Housing Authority agreed to make several changes to its original proposal, which included concessions from both sides.
One of the neighborhood’s concerns focused on the number of parking spaces planned for Cedar Springs Place, a DHA property in Oak Lawn. In the negotiated agreement, the council will allow the housing agency to build less parking than zoning requires. The agency believes the parking spaces will be enough based on studies of its other properties and proximity to public transportation.
The complex will include 366 units — more than the 220 that once stood on the site, at Kings Road and Hawthorne Avenue, but fewer than the 410 originally proposed.
Access from Kings Road to the housing complex will be restricted. Neighborhood advocate Mike Harper said the amount of additional traffic on that street is a major concern. The council voted to allow only an exit gate from the complex to Kings Road. The entrance will be on Hawthorne Avenue.
A good-neighbor agreement was a first for DHA, and some of the items included in that pact are more specific than others and address issues from security to landscaping.
Residents currently living in that area said they’re concerned about safety and want the drop in crime they’ve experienced to continue. After a former DHA housing complex was torn down in 2012 on the site, crime dropped. In 2011, the last full year that complex was occupied, 953 criminal offenses were reported in the police beat. In 2013, the first full year after the apartments were gone, only 303 offenses were reported.
Dallas Police Department has agreed to monitor the security cameras that will be installed throughout the property. One unit at the complex will be reserved for an officer to live in rent-free.
The neighborhood and DHA, with Councilman Adam Medrano as mediator, negotiated the good-neighbor agreement that includes guidelines for who will be approved to live in the complex. Working applicants will be given preference, and the elderly and people with disabilities will be given priority for all one-bedroom units.
“Councilman Medrano did an outstanding job representing the views of the entire neighborhood,” Harper said. “He assisted in representing the community and opening a dialogue with Dallas Housing.”
Medrano said working with both sides has been the most challenging, yet rewarding, project he’s faced since taking office last June.
“This is a good example of sitting down with both sides and how Dallas Housing Authority and the neighborhood can come up with a compromise,” Medrano said.
He praised the community group for tackling the issue of development and called the resolution a good example of what can happen when two sides work together. With the agreement in writing, he believes DHA will deliver what it promised.
“The good neighbor agreement is a good tool to make it happen,” Medrano said.
A fight between the neighborhood and DHA about the housing complex began last August when DHA announced plans to replace the Cedar Springs Place property. At that time, neighborhood residents believed the housing authority originally planned to sell the property. Instead, they found that DHA had picked Oak Lawn as the site for its largest housing project. When added to another DHA property across the street on
Hawthorne Avenue, the entire complex would be more than twice the size of any other low-income housing project in Dallas.
In October, DHA began working with the neighborhood, and Medrano mediated to come up with the best solution. After a few months, both sides began coming together to develop an agreeable plan.
Harper said neighborhood residents want to continue having a say in how the area develops.
They met at the Lure Apartments on Kings Road on April 10 to organize a neighborhood association. The area includes all blocks from Cedar Springs Road to Maple Avenue and from Maple Springs to the Tollway. Harper said he hopes homeowners, renters, business owners and developers will be part of the neighborhood association.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 11, 2014.