Local Commentary: Seeing Dallas change from a bird’s eye view

Casey Thomas | 6/16/2014, 8:51 a.m.
I was recently appointed to serve as the chair of the Community Development Commission for the city of Dallas. I ...
Casey Thomas

The Dallas Examiner

– Part I –

I was recently appointed to serve as the chair of the Community Development Commission for the city of Dallas. I have served on this committee at different intervals for the past 10 years. As an appointee of the late City Councilman Leo V. Chaney Jr., I had an opportunity to see many community-based projects go from on-paper to on-the-ground. Last Saturday I was able to go on a bus tour of the Neighborhood Improvement Plan areas in the city of Dallas.

This is a plan that was implemented over five years ago to identify low- to moderate-income areas where housing projects could be built and development in the area would be centered around housing. The purpose of the plan was to concentrate on five areas with the city where over the course of several years visible progress would take place. Two of the focus areas initially were South Dallas and West Dallas. As the appointee of Chaney and Councilwoman Carolyn Davis, I have been able to see areas of South Dallas that at one time were considered undevelopable begin to grow and prosper.

The bus tour was made up of members of the Community Development Commission, members of the city of Dallas staff, Councilwoman Sandy Greyson and the administrative assistant for Councilman Adam Medrano. The first stop on our tour was to see the Lancaster Urban Village. This is a beautiful development of Lancaster Road in Oak Cliff, right across the street from the Veteran’s Hospital. We actually were able to get off the bus and take a tour of this development.

As we walked in the front of the apartment complex, the lobby was beautiful and welcoming. There was breakfast and juice that awaited us. Sherman Roberts, who is the president of Citywide Development Corporation, met us at the door and guided us on our tour of the facility. The office manager was available to answer any questions that we had. We started out by going to a model apartment that was fully furnished. We were told each apartment had an island kitchen. One of my fellow commissioners was so impressed he asked for an application right on the spot.

We left the apartment and went to see the pool area. We were completely blown away at the beautiful view for the pool and the deck. After we left there, we went and saw the parking garage, which will hold parking for the retail (yes, I said retail) and the residents who live in the apartments. Since the facility is adjacent to the Urban League of Greater Dallas, there are parking spaces that are available for employees there as well. Once we left the parking garage, we went back to the front of the building where we saw where the retail will be located. We were all extremely impressed as we loaded back on the bus.

Our next stop was to Jubilee Park in East Dallas. Billionaire T. Boone Pickens donated hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the re-development of this area and that money to this point has been well spent. The area was at one point among the highest crime areas in the city. Thanks to a united effort by the residents, we now see kids playing in parks and families out having a good time. There is a Head Start facility and a community center that is also located there. Just driving by you could feel the good vibrations of the community and how a change had come to that area.

Next we rode down Dolphin Road, and saw the development that has taken place in Dolphin Heights. Thanks to Anna Hill and her determination to see her neighborhood improve, there is a new state-of-the-art apartment building for seniors that is the crown jewel of the neighborhood. Also, street toppers let those who are driving through know that the neighborhood is cared for and loved by those who live there.

Next week, I will continue with part two which will tell the story of the re-birth of the South Dallas community.