Gentrification is the term for affordable, older neighborhoods becoming too expensive for the people who’ve been living there and it’s a growing fear in parts of Dallas where new development is creeping in.
The Fair Park area has new home construction underway. City leaders hope it will increase with a big plan in the works to turn operation of Fair Park over to a private group for a year round attraction.
Resident Frankie Simpson said she is concerned that rising property value and rent will force her out of the 90 year old home she leases.
“It’s not going to get any cheaper,” she said, “Quite naturally it’s going to get more expensive.”
The new City of Dallas budget plan includes $1 million to help keep existing affordable homes and neighborhoods more habitable for people already living there.
“We want to make sure that these areas get an infusion of money, to help stabilize the areas,” said Fair Park area City Council Member Kevin Felder, who is also a realtor.
Felder said the money will repair aging sidewalks and streets, and fund things like home repair and affordable housing incentives.
In the past, Felder said Dallas neglected such areas, accelerating market forces, so developers moved in faster with expensive housing that forced residents out.
Felder called this new approach a ‘paradigm shift.’
“I understand some of the cynicism because City Hall has failed this area in the past. But I think you have a new administration and a new Council person, so I think you have some hope,” Felder said.
On the other hand, Felder said new construction and new residents with more spending power are needed to support businesses.
“We have to have a mix,” he said.
Across town in the 10th Street Historic District of Oak Cliff, Realtor Angellet Jones was scouting for vacant lots Friday where she could build new homes.
The area is adjacent to a planned deck park over the I-35E Freeway across from the Dallas Zoo, just minutes from Downtown Dallas.
“So it is prime real estate in this area to be able to come in and build the most expensive things,” Jones said.
But she is hoping to build more modest new homes and not price existing residents out.
“I don’t disagree with development, but I don’t want us to develop so much that people can’t afford to stay in the communities that they love,” Jones said.
She was encouraged to hear about the new plan to fight gentrification.
“That is new and different and if the city is willing to work with the smaller developers and smaller builders, they might be more able to accomplish their goal,” said Jones.
Public meetings are being held around the city for input on the proposed city budget.