Dallas ‘Grow South' Initiative Gets Mixed Grades

Progress praised, more sought

The annual report card for Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings' signature "Grow South" campaign includes mixed grades in the fifth year of the program.

Rawlings said the headline is 25-percent growth in the Southern Dallas tax roll, far ahead of North Dallas.

"I don't believe Southern Dallas is a charity case. It's an investment opportunity," Rawlings said.

The 10-point initiative focuses on neighborhoods, schools, code enforcement and private investment.

Five individual target sections of Southern Dallas are also graded on progress.

This year's report was presented to invited guests at the historic Texas Theater on Jefferson Boulevard. The thriving area of Oak Cliff around Jefferson Boulevard includes a new trolley extension and apartments under construction. It received an "A-" grade.

Downtown and near downtown Dallas areas received a "B" grade.

In the Cedars neighborhood just south of downtown, Dewayne Bryant was working with a contractor Tuesday on a new outdoor patio for his event venue called "10-11" on South Lamar Street at Corinth.

The building looks nothing like the drive-through beer barn it had been before he opened the venue four years ago.

"We were coming here because of expectations and there's been a lot of expectation that's been met so far," he said.

New apartments almost completed nearby will soon bring hundreds of new neighbors. Other entertainment businesses just north on Lamar give him confidence about upgrading his.

"We're going to start a coalition, a merchant coalition. And we're going to bring more awareness to the area like some of the surrounding areas – you've got Bishop Arts, you've got Deep Ellum," Bryant said. "When you think about what's coming in the next three years, we're set for a victory over here, down here in the Cedars."

His contractor Edward Rheams is an old college friend whose firm "Another Level Restoration" specializes in upgrading old buildings.

Rheams said Southern Dallas areas near downtown like the Cedars offer opportunities that are no longer affordable in Uptown and North Dallas.

"That's kind of tapped out to a point where it's kind of saturated. But these areas that are vacant, that's where everybody's coming," he said. "This is not a dream anymore. It's actually happening. It's a reality and that's a good thing about it."

Other parts of Southern Dallas have not seen the same upgrade. The Lancaster Corridor received a "D" grade in the 2017 Grow South grades. A large development planned on Lancaster Road across from the VA Medical Center has not gone forward. The street with a Dallas Area Rapid Transit rail line down the middle is dotted with rundown buildings and vacant lots.

Rawlings said there is more work to do in Southern Dallas.

"From population, to investment in our homes, to kids going to school, to property crime, we're going to look at each one of those things," the mayor said.

The city is now working on adopting "Grow South" strategies as routine city programs, to continue the momentum even after Rawlings is no longer Dallas mayor.

As Southern Dallas becomes more equal to other areas, Rawlings said he hopes the city can move away from "Grow South" to emphasize unity and prosperity for the entire city.


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