Bishop Arts Neighbors Complain Development Site Is a Nuisance

Neighborhood city council member disputes claims made by property owner

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Developers are snapping up property for new buildings in many Dallas neighborhoods. Residents on West Eighth Street in the Bishop Arts District complain one potential site has become a nuisance.

Property co-owner Andrew Strange said Monday the developers are looking for "entitlements" from the City of Dallas to get work underway. That could mean tax breaks that some projects receive when the city wants to encourage development.

In the Bishop Arts District, developers are competing with one another to buy land and get projects off the ground without tax breaks.

Neighborhood city councilman Chad West said Dallas developers should not assume there will be entitlements and these owners are at the top of the list of code violators in his district. He said the developers should work to communicate with neighbors.

“It’s certainly not a good first step in the right direction,” West said. “The property owners need to get this property under control.”

Officials from two City of Dallas departments were at the properties again Monday: the Office of Homeless Solutions and Code Compliance.

The properties are 111, 115, 117 and 119 West Eighth Street. They include two vacant houses and two vacant lots.

At 111 West Eight Street, notices from several past code enforcement citation visits for open, unsecured structures were clearly visible Monday with dates March 30, April 4 and April 14.  

Neighbors said they are the ones who actually boarded the properties to keep visitors out. The neighbors said trash and uninvited guests at the properties date back even further than the recent notices.

“This could be a situation where they’re trying to make everyone sell and lower our property value and get everyone so fed up, and sell for cheap, and say, ‘Hey I don’t want to live next to a dump, here you go.’ And that’s when they decide to develop,” said Benito Moriel who lives beside one of the properties.

Moriel said one of the property co-owners was at the site earlier Monday.

“’Hey, how is it going neighbor?’ That’s how he greeted me this morning. 'Not great. How do you think, I’m doing?'” Moriel said. “They’re irresponsible.”

Neighbor Alan Perry, who lives across the street, said the vacant properties are zoned for buildings up to six-stories tall, the sort of development that has already happened just a block away. Another new construction crane is visible down the street.

“This is mixed-use. It’s zoned for mixed-use. It’s zoned for commercial. I expect things like that to happen in my neighborhood, but I also expect that developers will take care of the lots that they buy,” Perry said.

Strange also said Monday that problems like this just happen at vacant Dallas properties. He said the owners have been doing the best they can to keep the site clear but homeless people keep messing it up.

“I disagree with everything that was said. This doesn’t happen all the time. Vacant buildings can be secured and cared for by absentee owners while they're waiting to do something else,” West said.

Strange later provided a text message:

“Due to the homeless issues we are pulling demolition permits and clearing the site along with the trash,” the text message said.

Neighbors said they would welcome improvement.

“I’ve been here for 8 years, this is the worst this block has ever looked,” Perry said.

West said the City of Dallas has been granting incentives for developers who include affordable housing units for residents with limited income, which would be desirable in Bishop Arts where housing is increasingly expensive.

“Bishop Arts is not a place where things are not happening,” West said.

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