Progress but Problems.. The Story of Many Dallas Neighborhoods

City Manager visits Buckner Terrace to hear concerns and offer answers

Buckner Terrace in East Dallas is an example of the progress being made in many older Dallas neighborhoods with nagging problems that still hold them back.

The neighborhood South of I-30 and west of Buckner Boulevard was first developed in the 1960’s, with newer homes and apartments added over the years.

“It was integrated from the very beginning,” said former Buckner Terrace Homeowners Association President Darlene Reynolds. “As the originals retire, young families move in and it’s the perfect mix, to me of a quiet, peaceful neighborhood where everybody gets along as a community.”

Schools in Buckner Terrace are being renovated with Dallas Independent School District bond money.

Investors are flipping homes. One property in the 5800 block of Hillcroft Street currently listed at $299,900 was listed last year at $185,000.

Homebuilder Victor Toledo is investing in Buckner Terrace, too. He’s constructing 53 new homes near Skyline High School that will be priced between $220,000 and $275,000 on smaller lots. The area was zoned for another apartment complex that neighbors did not want.

“The community wanted the stability that single family brings,” Toledo said.

In return for the cooperation, the City of Dallas is partnering with Toledo to support the development.

“Part of the infrastructure costs were born by the city for streets and utilities. We committed the rest,” Toledo said.

The developer said Buckner Terrace progress is an example that other Dallas neighborhoods can follow.

“We think so. We believe so. It does start at the community level,” Toledo said.

But he and the neighbors also have complaints for which they would like to see more support from the city.

Near the new homes are problem apartments from which many crimes have been reported. A man was found murdered early Monday morning in a burning house on the east side of Buckner Terrace.

“It’s very alarming,” said Reynolds. “Crime is a problem in one quadrant of our neighborhood.”

Older shopping centers in the area have not been upgraded including several along Samuel Boulevard near Jim Miller Road.

“It looks like it maybe was great in the 60’s and not a lot of money has been put into it since,” Reynolds said. “We need encouragement for the business community to make some serious investments in this area.”

Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax visited the Buckner Terrace Homeowners Association Tuesday evening, a follow up to his visit a year ago when he had just arrived in town from Tacoma, Washington.

“I think it’s another community that has not seen the same type of progress and attention that some areas have,” Broadnax said before Tuesday’s meeting.

In the past year, Dallas has adopted a new housing policy to guide city support based on market value analysis that could promote areas like Buckner Terrace where private investment has started to happen. A new economic development policy is in the works based on community input to guide future city incentives.

Broadnax said city spending priorities for basic services are also being revised for the next city budget.

“So we want to hopefully over the next several months as we approach our budget, look at how we can do things differently, see if we can provide some level of enhanced services to give those types of assurances that those areas have not had in the past,” Broadnax said.

It could address the crime, code enforcement and economic development solutions people in Buckner Terrace are still seeking, building on progress that has been made.

Broadnax said Buckner Terrace is similar to conditions he is finding in many other older Dallas neighborhoods. But rising property values also bring fears of gentrification that he has heard from people who think they may not be able to afford the improving neighborhoods.

“We’ve got to find ways to make sure while that redevelopment is happening, that the people who’ve been there for so many years can continue to be there,” Broadnax said.

A contractor was recently hired to help the city write the new economic development policy this year.

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