Oak Lawn activists are happy with the good neighbor agreement and changes the housing authority made to new planned complex


Mike Harper

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer

An Oak Lawn neighborhood group and the Dallas Housing Authority recently came to an agreement on a proposed public housing development on Kings Road.

DHA agreed to scale down the property, give preference to people who are employed and provide additional security to ensure the property becomes a good neighbor.

When plans for the complex were announced last summer, area resident Mike Harper put together a neighborhood group to negotiate with DHA.

“They’ve taken most of the concerns of the neighborhood into consideration,” Harper said.

Among those concerns was the density of the complex, a varience requested for fewer parking spaces and crime in the area.

Previously, 222 units stood on the property. DHA proposed 410 new apartments on the land. In addition, another DHA property with 182 units stands across the street. Once the new property is built, this would become the highest concentration of public housing in the city.

DHA was requesting a zoning varience to build four-story buildings on the property. After discussions with Harper’s group, DHA agreed to limit the height to three stories, which is within current zoning, and build only 366 units.

The housing authority continues to request a waiver of the number of parking spaces. Neighborhood groups objected to that provision because they worried guests would fill the limited parking area and on weekends overflow onto the surrounding streets.

“At one point in time, that was a contentious issue,” Harper said.

Recent surveys of its other properties show the need for less than one space per unit. The agreement calls for one space per apartment plus an additional 50 to 60 visitor spaces.

DHA agreed to realign the property so its entrance will be on Hawthorne Avenue facing the existing public housing property.

An exit on Kings Road would be for emergency vehicles only. DHA would like that to be an exit-only for all cars. Dallas City Council will decide that issue when the proposal is discussed at its March 26 meeting.

One of the concerns is the amount of traffic on Kings Road if residents use this as an exit. Since the old property was torn down in 2012, most of the opposite side of the street from Maple Avenue to Cedar Springs Road has been redeveloped with high-density, four-story condos and apartments.

Crime was the most contentious issue.

When the older complex on the site closed two years ago, crime in the area dropped from 953 criminal offenses in 2011 to 303 criminal offenses in 2013, according to the Dallas Police Department.

DHA and the neighborhood association came up with a number of creative ways to address the issue.

Preference will be given to families with members who have been working full-time at least nine months.

“They’d move up the list ahead of someone who doesn’t have a job,” Harper said.

All one-bedroom apartments will go to the elderly or disabled.

One apartment would be set aside for a Dallas police officer to live in rent-free. Office space would be set aside as a Dallas police office.

Security cameras will be monitored by police.

A number of amenities would be added to the property including a dog park, playgrounds, landscaping and a clubhouse with library and fitness center.

The property is in Councilman Adam Medrano’s district. He said this has been the most contentious issue in his district since he took office last May. He likes the good neighbor agreement between the DHA and neighborhood group.

“The Dallas Housing Authority and community have been working together for months to make it right,” he said. “Both partners are responsible for certain areas to make the project right for the community.”

He said he was concerned about traffic on Kings Road as well because of all of the new properties. He suggested that even if the Kings Road exit is initially used as an exit only from the complex, it could be closed after several months if it contributes too much traffic to the neighborhood and all parking along Kings Road will be banned.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 14, 2014.