Oak Cliff redevelopment plan met with contention, fears

MIKE McGEE | 10/2/2017, 5:50 a.m.
Notable and historic sites, such as the Freedman’s Cemetery, Forest Theater and McKinney Avenue Baptist Church – turned Hard Rock ...
The Golf Club of Dallas was beyond standing room only Sept. 6 when a town hall meeting was held by Councilman Casey Thomas II about the future development of the property. Mike McGee

The Dallas Examiner

Notable and historic sites, such as the Freedman’s Cemetery, Forest Theater and McKinney Avenue Baptist Church – turned Hard Rock Cafe – had fallen into neglect before their rediscovery, while others ended up fully demolished, such as the Bluitt’s Sanitarium, the city’s first African American hospital.

Similar fears manifested about the fate of The Golf Club of Dallas during a Sept. 6 community meeting regarding its potential redevelopment.

The gathering drew hundreds of locals, filling the club’s Green Room beyond capacity many times over. Supporters hoped an “upgrade” to the area would bring improved businesses and renew property values. Those opposed had concerns that the location – which opened in the Wynnwood Hills development in 1953 – may be next for the proverbial wrecking ball.

District 3 Councilman Casey Thomas II headed the meeting, The Future of the Golf Club of Dallas, along with District 8 Councilman Tennell Atkins, District 3 County Commissioner John Wiley Price, city of Dallas staff and Philip Huffines, founder and co-owner of Huffines Communities Real Estate Company.

The general outline of the development plan is that the Huffines company would purchase the formerly-named Oak Cliff Country Club from its current owners and the area then be turned into a housing community. Huffines would not build houses, but rather develop the land – remove trees, form lots, provide sewer services, etc. – then sell the land to builders.

“There’s been a lot of rumors, a lot of misinformation, and so what we wanted to do tonight is give you an opportunity to hear directly from the developer,” Thomas, a supporter of plan, announced as he began the session.

The first official speaker was Matt Houston of the City Plan Commission.

“About a week and a half ago, I heard about a day before the rest of the citizens … about the potential closing of the Golf Club of Dallas and changing it into a residential establishment where there are various-types housing, creating some kind of density of about 400 or 500 units here,” he began. “At that time … I specifically called the city of Dallas to ask… what exactly is the zoning here with this golf course. And this zoning is currently under R75.”

R75 is a code referring to residential single-family lots that are a minimum of 7500 square feet.

“That means if someone wants to create something that’s smaller or denser, like 3800 square feet, which I’ve heard, they will have to go into Planning and Zoning” to file an application, he explained.

He added should such an application be submitted to the city, a planner is assigned to the application to offer a professional opinion and the city has to publicize the proposal to the community. After that, it has to go through the city planning commission.

“And me, as vice-chair, I’ll tell you now, I am not going to support a downzoning from R75,” Houston stated.

After a burst of applause, he said that such smaller houses would be inconsistent with the mid-century Modern custom homes that have been in the area as long as the club itself.