New Deal to Save Planned Salvation Army Homeless Shelter

Full Dallas City Council votes on plan Wednesday

Two months ago, neighbors worried a new Salvation Army homeless shelter planned on the Stemmons Freeway near Regal Row would ruin the Northwest Dallas neighborhood.

Now, neighbors and the Salvation Army expect the Dallas City Council to approve the project Wednesday after a new deal was struck to please all sides.

The 20 acre site was donated to the Salvation Army to replace the overcrowded Harry Hines Boulevard shelter.

"Both sides have kept the lines of communication open," said Blake Fetterman with the Salvation Army.

The area is all commercial and industrial properties with no homes nearby so it seemed like a good location for a new shelter.

But there are many vacant commercial buildings in the area and property owners feared the shelter would only make it harder to attract tenants.

A high rise office complex right beside the Salvation Army site lost a $3 million lease right after the Dallas Plan Commission endorsed the shelter proposal in March.

Leobardo Trevino runs the office complex and other commercial property in the area.

"Our area has been struggling to get caught up with the rest of Dallas," Trevino said. "So we wondered how we can prepare for it, so everything works and we're not just left alone to try to solve it ourselves."

Dallas City Councilman Omar Narvaez, who represents the area, supported a Neighborhood Empowerment Zone designation for a triangle shaped area bounded by Stemmons Freeway, John Carpenter Freeway and the Trinity River. The zone would include the Salvation Army site.

The city would offer tax abatements for future development and provide other support to help boost the neighborhood and attract new business to the zone.

Narvaez spoke in favor of the plan Monday at a City Council Committee meeting where the Empowerment Zone was unanimously endorsed.

"We want to make sure we protect this area. We want to develop this area, make sure it grows. There's a lot of tax dollar potential in this area." Narvaez said.

In addition, the Salvation Army offered to focus job training programs at the new service center on skills that are needed in the neighborhood.

"We host a lot of call centers and they are always looking for people to hire," Trevino said. "So imagine this. You have people going through the program. As soon as they come out, they're going to have a company waiting for them."

Fetterman said the Empowerment Zone helps the Salvation Army, too.

"If you invest in this area it's going to generate more jobs, and it's also going to make it safer in the area, which is good for everybody," she said.

Both sides praise Narvaez for brokering the deal, which they hope the full City Council will approve at Wednesday's meeting.

"The way that I see it, it's a win, win, win. Dallas wins. Salvation Army wins and our neighborhood wins," Trevino said.

The Salvation Army intends to invest $95 million in the project to greatly expand services for homeless people.

"This could be a model to allow other non-profits to go into other communities, and create similar programs," Fetterman said.

The City Council will have separate votes Wednesday on a zoning change for the shelter site and on the Empowerment Zone designation.

Contact Us