In 2013, when I secured the building permits required to renovate my Athena condo, I was on the permitting office’s doorstep New Year’s morning and within a couple of hours, I left, permits in hand. When I returned a year later to get new permits to renovate the master bathroom, a similar timeline played out.

In the ensuing years since that simple, efficient timeline for simple renovation projects, the permitting office has vanished into bureaucracy, poor staffing and civil servitude. Instead of hours or even days, my permit took a full two-months to be issued – and it wasn’t because of me.

For those just joining the Penthouse Plunge series, on September 3, I purchased a 5,311-square-foot double penthouse at The Claridge on Turtle Creek. It had been on the market for four years with over $1 million in price reductions – and hadn’t been touched in 25 years. The combined floor plan didn’t work and so the only solution is to separate the units back into their original, as-built sizes and original-ish configurations.  And that’s just what I’m doing, with an endgame of selling the 2,770-square-foot corner A-unit (two bedrooms with study) and living in the B-unit forevermore. Penthouse Plunge follows the ups and downs of the renovation process and eventual sale.

Back to permitting (and its interminable waiting) which is part of the city department of Sustainable Development and Construction.

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Dallas

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

By Phil Crone
Executive Officer, Dallas Builders Association

Dallas and surrounding areas have obviously experienced remarkable growth over the last few years, especially with commercial construction and multifamily. Residential development struggles to keep pace with builders primarily focusing on infill lots and small-scale, shared access projects. Dallas permitted just over 2,000 homes last year and is on track for a similar figure in 2019.  

Dallas is also not exempt from the impact of rising housing costs. It is well documented that the city needs 20,000 affordable housing units. In the single-family context, new affordable housing needs to be priced around $250,000 to $350,000. Getting there is especially difficult in Dallas, with land prices and, in some cases, neighborhood opposition to new affordable homes. 

While some factors are out of our control, we need to take ownership of what we can. The stakes are too high not to. Homeownership remains the number one path to wealth creation for the American family, and the attainability of that dream here in D/FW remains a primary impetus to job creation. However, for too many people, homeownership is becoming less attainable, the drive to work is getting longer, and the options for safe, quality homes at a reasonable price are getting fewer. 

A major barrier to affordable housing in Dallas is the city itself. Development processes are not operating as efficiently and effectively as they should. Attempts to build attainable housing suffer disproportionately from these unforced errors. 

This is not a new issue. Builders, developers, and small business owners have bemoaned Dallas’s lack of transparency and predictability for years, yet Dallas has succeeded in spite of itself. 

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