Officials announced this week that a 26-acre Dallas park is coming to the Cadillac Heights neighborhood, a place where the city bought scores of homes in the past to remove families from flooding.
Cadillac Heights is near the Trinity River where a new levee is also in the works with federal money to help reduce future flooding.
Now city officials believe a park on the city-owned land will be a catalyst for neighborhood improvement.
Roland G. Parrish Park will be at the southeast corner of Cedar Crest Boulevard and Morrell Road.
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“This is a transformation if you will and a project with a purpose,” Dallas City Councilmember Carolyn King Arnold said.
Homes that once nestled under the big trees in Cadillac Heights were demolished after the city buyouts removed families from the flood-prone area.
Tony Bueno is one of the few remaining residents, on a side street where many homes once stood.
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“It’s kind of sad to see all the people move out because they were all friends or families,” he said.
NBC 5 visited the neighborhood in July 1990 when many of those families were trying to recover from a major May 1990 flood.
Many homes had severe damage. One man was still living in his car after the flood that he photographed ruined his home.
Through the years, the city of Dallas also considered building a new police academy on the Cadillac Heights land it acquired. A police academy is now planned at the University of North Texas at Dallas campus instead.
Pollution concerns from nearby industry were also a factor in the city buyouts of former Cadillac Heights residents.
“We want to make sure that environmental justice is part of our social justice with this park,” Arnold said.
Finally putting the city land to a public good, the Roland G. Parrish Park will be named for a successful Dallas businessman.
It will include an athletic field for soccer, football and even cricket at the site that now has fewer adjacent industrial land uses.
“It will include a loop trail throughout the park. It will include a playground, basketball, all kinds of amenities for families,” Dallas Parks Director John Jenkins said. “It’s something that can be the centerpiece of the community.”
Other things are happening in the Cadillac Heights neighborhood that many people would never have expected just a few years ago.
Right across Cedar Crest Boulevard, four new townhomes have been completed. Several more are under construction.
Blocks away on Morrell Road, 153 more units of housing in a 7-building complex are under construction in the neighborhood that had been passed over for new construction until now.
Swede Hanson with Smart Living Residential, the developer of that project, said the Dallas boom has spread to this part of the city.
“It started in Deep Ellum, went to West Dallas, moved over to Bishop Arts,” he said. “There’s been a huge net migration in. It’s Economics 101, supply and demand. There’s a huge demand for housing.”
He said the Cedar Crest Cadillac Heights area has topography and many advantages, very close to Downtown Dallas and the nearby park will be a welcome addition.
“You drive by and see all the natural trees and green space. It really ties in with what we’re trying to do here,” Hanson said.
City Councilmember Arnold who represents the area said the park investment also demonstrates the city’s commitment to equity.
“It makes Dallas a city that stands by its word for equity in all parts of this city that have been under-resourced,” she said.
Resident Tony Bueno said past Dallas offers to buy his home was not even close to enough to get another one somewhere else.
Now he is concerned that the big new park might increase the value of his property and boost his tax bills, which has happened in many other booming Dallas neighborhoods.
“It is going to hurt some of us, but it will be nice to see the kids with a great smile with a park,” he said.
Jenkins said $8 million for final design and construction is in the bank and ready to be used now.
Completion of the Roland G Parrish Park in Cadillac Heights is expected by 2025.