Tax Credit Housing Deals Worry Dallas Farmer's Market Neighbors

Council declines to rank projects applying for state tax credits

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Monday, Jun 4, 2012  |  Updated 7:52 PM CDT
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Dallas residents near the Farmers Market argue over homeless housing projects in the area that they say may affect economic growth.

Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News

Dallas residents near the Farmers Market argue over homeless housing projects in the area that they say may affect economic growth.

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Confronted by worried opponents and anxious supporters of four different tax credit homeless housing deals, Dallas City Council members Monday sidestepped ranking any of the projects for state review.

Three of the four deals are near the Dallas Farmers Market.

Market neighbors worry that more nearby homeless programs could spoil efforts to expand business or add more upscale housing around the market.

The city is currently reviewing bids received last month from two developers offering to take over operation of the market and make substantial private investments there.

The city's Bridge homeless assistance center is just a block from the Farmers Market, and the neighbors say it discourages investment in the area.

"We have to be very, very careful what happens in the neighborhood so it does not negatively impact the economic future," said Tanya Ragan, Farmers Market Stakeholders Association president.

Each year, the city reviews the Dallas housing projects applying to the State Department of Housing and Community Affairs for tax credits.

Four remain on the Dallas list this year, but city officials believe just one may receive the tax credits needed to make an affordable housing project work because of limited state funding.

The Dallas City Council Housing Committee heard a briefing on the four Monday, which included recommended rankings from city staff.

"What's our reasoning to stick out our leg, selectively, at a couple of these competitors?" Councilman Scott Griggs said.

Housing Department Director Jerry Killingsworth said the same City Council Housing Committee last year asked the staff to make recommendations.

"If you choose not to do that now, we're fine with that," Killingsworth said.

The Farmers Market neighbors strongly oppose one of the projects.

Cadillac Apartments would offer 164 units for single adults at the site of a former auto showroom at Cadiz and Ervay streets.

The building was used as a Dallas homeless assistance center before The Bridge opened. It is proposed by Central Dallas Community Development Corp., which also renovated the 511 North Akard building for affordable housing.

A 7-Eleven store is also a tenant at the Akard building, and the company said the Cadillac Apartments would be of similar quality.

"We think it's a good project, and if people knew more about it, they'd support it too," CDCDC Executive Director John Greenan said.

The Farmer's Market neighbors support one of the projects.

Evergreen Residences would provide 130 units for homeless families on what is now a vacant lot at 1701 Canton Street.

First Presbyterian Church is a partner in that deal.

"The homeless are with us. Poverty is with us. This is one of our ways to reach out," said church representative Buddy Jordan.

A third proposal, also near the downtown area, would offer 164 family units at 1401 Browder Street.

A fourth project, Hatcher Square has been in the works for years. It would offer 136 family units near a Dallas Area Rapid Transit Rail Station at Hatcher and Scyene.

Even though the city has endorsed Hatcher Square before, Killingsworth said it has less chance of winning tax credits from the state because it is not as close to jobs and transportation downtown.

"I think we just let the chips fall where they're going to fall," Councilwoman Pauline Medrano said.

Because the council committee decided not to rank the projects, the state agency will decide on rankings in late July.

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