U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox (center) announces the guilty plea of former Dallas City Council Member Carolyn Davis, and the indictment of Dallas developer Ruel Hamilton.

Former Dallas City Council member Carolyn Davis pleaded guilty to taking bribes from a local developer, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced Friday.

AmeriSouth Realty Group founder and CEO Ruel Hamilton was indicted on two counts of bribery as well, officials said. Documents for both Davis’ plea and Hamilton’s indictments were unsealed Friday.

US Attorney Erin Nealy Cox told reporters Friday that her office has “relentlessly” addressed public corruption cases in the last 14 months.

“And today, the reckoning continues,” she said.

Carolyn Davis

Davis admits to taking bribes while she was Housing Committee chair, sometime between November 2013 and June 2015. Her plea agrees that she took $40,000 from a developer for her assistance in getting an affordable housing project passed.

While Davis’ charges do not name Hamilton directly (he is called Person A), Hamilton is charged with two counts of bribery regarding local government receiving federal benefits.

Davis’ official charge is conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs using federal funds.

“In return for the money — plus the offer of a consulting contract once her tenure at the City Council concluded — Council Member Davis admits she lobbied and voted for the authorization of a $2.5 million development loan to fund the Royal Crest housing project, along with a City of Dallas resolution supporting 9 percent tax credits for Royal Crest, which was competing with another project,” the DOJ’s press release said.

On its website, AmeriSouth touts 14 projects in six Texas cities, including Royal Crest. (more…)

Update: Jennifer Gates’ office just sent the following statement: “Following yesterday’s Public Auction sale of the Forest/Nuestra ‘library land’, I want to provide an update to the community.

 As you may recall from my previous communications, a minimum bid was set in Executive Session by the City Council. The minimum bid amount was based on the most recent appraisal of the property plus expenditures already incurred by the City of Dallas.

 The reserve amount for the property was not met, therefore, no bid was accepted. It is not confirmed at this point, but we anticipate to go out for bid again, possibly with a contingency.”

You know that patch of land at 5639 Forest Lane in Melshire Estates, not too far from the Dallas North Tollway overpass, about 3.5 acres, that the City of Dallas put up for auction yesterday?

This was supposed to be the site of a brand-new Preston Hollow library to replace the one on Royal Lane, just about a mile south. Yes, that building is old and small, but it’s charming, and I rather enjoy taking my grand-daughter there because it evokes memories of taking my son and daughter there. So full disclosure, I’m kind of glad we are going to use the proceeds from the auction sale of this property to fix the old one up. But a library or dog park or mini Farmer’s Market would have been great here — pipe dreams.

But about the auction: it didn’t meet the city’s reserve. So the council and appropriate departments have to analyze the highest bid, which was $2.4 million, and decide whether to take it. Or not.

I’m told the “successful bidder” is a church, I’m just not sure which one. Very disappointing, would have loved to see there what the neighborhood really needed: the aforementioned or townhomes or zero lot downsizer homes like lock and leaves but the neighbors were dead set against anything but single-family residential. Which is likely never going to happen: even townhomes would be tough to turn, given the price of the land and the tollway so close. The church apparently bid about $2.4 million for 3.5 acres. This will be like deja vu. And do churches pay property taxes?

(more…)

Midway Hollow

Law enforcement, neighbors, and Atmos work crews gathered Saturday at a cookout organized to provide a hot meal to residents without natural gas, and to thank law enforcement and work crews (photo by Bethany Erickson).

[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2019! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at CandysDirt.com!]

Bethany: In the aftermath of a deadly gas explosion that killed one child and injured several of her family members, two neighborhoods in North Dallas began to realize that their lives would also be upended as Atmos enacted an unprecedented evacuation of more thousands of residents for several weeks. But in all that turmoil and heartache, neighbors began working together in ways large and small. 

I’ll be honest. At first, when I first had the idea of writing about how the neighborhoods impacted by the deadly home explosion two weeks ago — and the aftermath — I was thinking of a straight news story.

But I realized fairly quickly that I couldn’t. You see, I know these neighborhoods. My child goes to school with the children from these neighborhoods, and for almost 10 years, I lived quite close to one of the neighborhoods and in the other one, on a street just a block from Marsh Lane.

These are my friends, my son’s friends, and my neighbors. And how they’re dealing with the turmoil and sadness is a story worth telling — but one wholly unsurprising to anyone who lives in either of the neighborhoods that hug Marsh Lane. (more…)

DallasWe read a lot of bad news on a near-hourly basis. But today is Christmas, and we’d like to think about the positive things that happened in Dallas this year. And as we head toward a new year, we’d also like to think about what we hope will happen.

To that end, we asked a few city and real estate leaders to give us their thoughts. We asked two questions: “What is the best thing that happened in Dallas this year, and why?” and “What are some of your hopes for the city in 2019?”  (more…)

He was the father of Texas Real Estate.

David Lewis Fair

Everyone knew and loved David Lewis Fair, 77, who passed away Oct. 11, 2018, after a five-year battle with Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease. David was born in Dallas on August 15, 1941, to parents William Wren Fair, Jr. and Doris Elizabeth McCommas Fair. He attended Highland Park High School and graduated from Southern Methodist University with both his bachelor’s degree and a law degree. David founded Plano Title Company in 1965 and then later purchased Hexter-Fair Title Company from his father in the late 1970s. David eventually sold Hexter-Fair Title Company in 2012 and retired in early 2015 after 50 years in the title business.

David was well-known across Texas for his expertise in real estate transactions. In fact, he served for many years on the Texas Real Estate Broker-Lawyer Committee, helping to write much of the language in the standard/promulgated contract forms that are used in Texas real estate transactions to this day. Over the years David taught many classes to real estate agents and mortgage lenders, mixing his sage advice with his well-known sense of humor. For his work in the title industry, David received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 from the Collin County Association of Realtors. Outside of work, he was known to love playing guitar and was an avid runner, completing twenty marathons across the nation including multiple finishes at the renowned Boston Marathon. David also was a passionate supporter of the SMU athletic program.

David is survived by his loving wife Robin Fair, whom he married in 1999. He is also survived by his adult children: daughter Ellen Fair Terrell and her husband Charlie, of Dallas; son Britt Fair and his wife Sue, of Dallas; son Logan Fair, of Dallas; and son Grayson Fair, of Taos, NM; his two adult step-daughters: Anna Dupree Browning, of Dallas; and Heather Dupree Goodrich and her husband Matt, of Dallas; by his nine grandchildren: Ryan Brady, Charlie Terrell III, Will Terrell, Olivia Fair, Jackson Fair, Tori Fair, Beau Browning, Reese Browning, and Caroline Goodrich; and by many other family and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and by his brother, William Wren Fair, III.

A memorial service will be held at Highland Park United Methodist Church (3300 Mockingbird Lane in Dallas) on Friday, Oct. 19, at 1 p.m.

collapse

A screen capture of a video on Megatel Homes website shows the buildout of the Soho Square development in West Dallas, and construction of what appears to be three-story townhomes.

From staff reports

Editor’s Note: Overnight, Megatel Homes responded to our questions, and provided a statement. Those responses have been added to this story.

A townhome collapse in West Dallas Monday afternoon that killed one and injured five more is believed to have been caused by the weather.

Dallas Fire and Rescue spokesperson Jason Evans told reporters Monday evening that there were six workers inside the three-story townhome on Borger Street, near Singleton Boulevard, when the fire department arrived. Five were transported to local hospitals, and one was a fatality.

The five injured were in what Evans termed the “collapse zone.” (more…)

Dallas

Photo courtesy skitterphoto.com

Want to provide the city of Dallas with input regarding a comprehensive strategic economic development plan? Now is your chance.

The city rolled out two separate surveys — one for businesses, and one for residents — that will help determine how the city approaches its economy in the future, including how it can improve Dallas’ business climate and improve capital investment in communities. (more…)

Photo courtesy Flickr/Arul Irudayam

Thanks to a new interactive tool, we now know what opportunity looks like in all areas of Dallas. And that tool confirms what many who follow income disparity have known all along — it frequently is manifest most in geography, where decades of policy have wrought pockets of opportunity gaps throughout the city.

The Opportunity Atlas is the result of work done by economist Raj Chetty, his Harvard colleagues, and Census Bureau’s Sonya Porter and Maggie Jones. It uses tax and U.S. Census data to track people’s incomes from one generation to the next.

What it found is that opportunity and income go hand-in-hand, and that in most if not all areas, blocks and neighborhoods don’t magically and suddenly become low income and low opportunity hot spots — they’ve been that way for years.

And more discouraging, children who grew up in those neighborhoods frequently reach adulthood and have families of their own, and make the same low wages their parents did.

“We’re excited that the Census Bureau can provide the public with access to social mobility estimates for the first time through the Opportunity Atlas,” said Ron Jarmin, Deputy Director, and Performing the Non-Exclusive Functions and Duties of the Director of the Census Bureau. “The Atlas has great social significance because no one has ever had access to social mobility estimates at such a granular level.”

The Opportunity Atlas measured average outcomes of Americans by the neighborhood they grew up in. A sample of almost 21 million Americans born between 1978 and 1983 were tacked back to the neighborhoods they were born and raised in, and then income tax returns and census data were used to measure annual earnings.

As part of my research, I looked at the census tracts around three Dallas ISD schools that currently or have had the Improvement Required designation from the Texas Education Agency, meaning that they did not meet state standards. (more…)