Longtime residents say they can’t believe how different Bexar Street looks today.
A new development called Bexar Street Village comes after years of resident complaints about crime and blight and years of planning at Dallas City Hall about how to respond.
"People wouldn’t think this is South Dallas. People might think you’re in the Highlands somewhere, like North Park,” said neighbor Fonte Kimble, who marveled at the wide sidewalks, streetlights and banners on Bexar Street on Monday.
The city purchased land that once supported liquor stores and rundown homes and apartments, investing more than $5 million, mostly from federal grants for community development.
The land was turned over to nonprofit developers who invested more money for the mixed-use redevelopment project. The city is also repaving side streets leading into the surrounding residential neighborhood from Bexar Street.
The intensive program is a new path for Dallas City Hall when compared to the traditional approach, in which many neighborhoods receive smaller shares of the pie.
"You don’t get the impact," said Cobbie Ranson, of the Dallas Housing Department. "This is all about leveraging the city’s investment, and that’s one way of being able to maximize the total impact that you’re able to see."
Resident Gwendolyn Williams watched the transformation occur from her front door.
"You could just see people up and down the street doing things they shouldn’t," she said. "And now, they’re buying property and building up the town homes. It’s a lot better."
The first eight townhomes, with a purchase price starting at about $95,000, are nearly completed. Five units already have been sold.
Several buildings with a combination of retail, office and more residential housing are due to break ground later this year. And a Dallas police storefront office is planned for Bexar Street.
Even with a serious budget crisis brewing at City Hall, council members hope to continue investing federal grant money and city bond funds in what they consider traditionally under-served neighborhoods to help boost the tax base for recovery.
“It’s a prototype," said Ranson about Bexar Street. "We hope to replicate it in different neighborhoods."