Yesterday, the results of the PD-15 authorized hearing had their first airing with City Plan Commission. Those expecting a knock-down, drag-out were disappointed. Those relishing hypocrisy, dipped in pretension, were not disappointed.

It was explained that because the opposition to the city’s PD-15 draft had paid the fee to postpone the meeting originally scheduled on March 21, the meeting had to take place that day because a postponement sets a clock ticking. Because of that, and the unavailability of the much-awaited traffic study, the CPC hearing was ultimately split into two parts. Traffic issues and more discussion will take place at the June 6 CPC meeting.

CPC chair Gloria Tarpley set out the game plan from the beginning so everyone understood what was being accomplished that day. Zoning cases usually have an applicant (someone wanting to do something) but the authorized hearing didn’t. So the meeting disposed of the usual presentation of whizzy graphs and ambitious drawings. Instead, Tarpley opened it up to public comment for those in support of the city’s recommendation and those opposed.

First up were those in support (myself included – I’m a PD-15 resident). I’m going to call it 10 people who spoke. Their comments can be bucketed into:

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Vital. Groups. Knee. That’s the three-word address of Dallas City Hall – no number, no street, no zip code.

It’s how you would find 1500 Marilla using What 3 Words. The company has covered the world in a 3-meter square grid (10 feet) and assigned each one a unique three-word code. What appears to be a party game at first glance is a lot more (click here to explore your address).

The operation was founded in 2013 because addresses were imprecise for deliveries – which loading dock, which section of the park, etc.? Beyond that, over 75 percent of the globe has poor or non-existent addresses – and then there’s the oceans and seas.

Precision of location is the name of the game and investors have taken note with millions invested in the technology. For consumers and real estate agents, there are great uses for the free app available for both Android and Apple users. First is the location pinpointing. If you’re in a rural area, the accuracy is unlike what you’re used to. Using What 3 Words for selling property with considerable acreage definitely makes meeting a buyer or Realtor on-property a snap (no more arm waving, horn honking, and light flashing). The location is within a 10-foot-by-10-foot square.

You can also tag photos with What 3 Word addresses so not only can a buyer find the property, but they know precisely where the agent snapped pictures. For the digital egotist, you can add the What 3 Word designation to photos of your lunch or the sunset you just enjoyed. The apps also support speech recognition so you can tell it to remember or find a precise location without typing.

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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…)

Windmass Capital’s Vision for Colorado Blvd at Marsalis Ave in North Oak Cliff

After over a year of meeting with neighbors, stakeholders, and City of Dallas staff, the WindMass Capital development team has thrown in the towel just before this Wednesday’s City Council meeting where they would have been on the agenda to move forward on a very complicated deal.

WindMass owns the Founders Square Apartments. Over the decades the building became surrounded on three sides by Oak Cliff‘s Founders Park. Long story short, they hoped to swap their 1.37 acres for the adjacent 1.37 acres on the corner of Colorado Blvd. and Marsalis Ave., build a new mixed-use apartment building with retail on the ground floor, then demolish their old building, give it to the city all cleaned up like park land should be, and give a half million dollars to the city for additional park improvements. Sounds pretty crazy amazing, doesn’t it?

As Willis Winters, Director of the Park Department, said at the last Park Board meeting, the city has tried to purchase this property for years to make Founders Park more contiguous, but hasn’t been able to afford it.  This project would essentially accomplish that goal for the Parks Department.

Even neighbors and stakeholders were in support, a rare feat in itself!

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Reinvestment Fund’s Market Value Analysis of Dallas neighborhoods.

On Monday, the City of Dallas hosted the first of four virtual town hall meetings to gather community input for updates to its Affordable Housing Strategy. It comes less than two weeks after the Jan. 17 Dallas City Council briefing on a Market Value Analysis report by Reinvestment Fund, a nonprofit conducting this research and analysis for cities across the U.S. The data tool is playing a leading role in the development of the City’s new 3-year rolling strategy.

The technology used for the meeting was especially impressive. I’m a little concerned how the city had my number to begin with, but once I opted in by text, it was seamless. I received a call at the appointed time, watched at dallascitynews.net or on Facebook live, could easily ask questions, indicate I wanted calls for future meetings, and even submit my email for followup info – they hired the right consultants to put this together.

The three upcoming meetings will go a little more in-depth than the first topic, “How Residential Development Gets Financed”, or what I’d call “Introduction to the Housing Market.” (more…)

District 14 Dallas City Council member was officially reprimanded by the council after using his office to post a video on Facebook about a fundraiser.

By Ashley Stanley
Special Contributor

Dallas City Council members engaged in a lengthy discussion on Wednesday about the so-called “Kingston ethical lapse.” The body was charged with voting on a recommendation from the Ethics Advisory Commission to reprimand Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston for using his city office to film a campaign video — a clear violation of the ethics code recently approved by Kingston and his colleagues.

I was there hoping to come away with a story about economic development and performing arts because I attended a presentation at The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth the day before. I wanted to see how this meeting would go and what outrage might ensue, especially with the bond program vote concluded, which included funding to repair several cultural and arts facilities such as the Wyly Theater.  I missed the arts item, but I did hear enough to appreciate Dallas Observer columnist Jim Schutze’s bathroom-wall article posed early (4 a.m.!) this morning.

Schutze referred to his weekly paper as the dish. If that is true, then I write for the dirt! Councilmember Lee Kleinman called Kingston’s lapse “going too far” and said it was “just wrong,” according to a story in The Dallas Morning News by Tristan Hallman. I missed that part of the conversation, but I sat down in time to hear Councilman Adam Medrano (a personal friend of Kingston’s) say, “Philip made a dumb mistake.” Or did he? Who knows? Who cares? This meeting was all about Dallas City Council member Dwaine Caraway, and I heard every word from that dude. Council meetings with that guy in office are free, front-row tickets to the funny show.

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Dallas Housing Director David Noguera addresses members of the Greater Dallas Planning Council

The new City of Dallas director of housing and neighborhood revitalization, David Noguera, has jumped in with both feet — and seems to have a good handle on what he’s up against. The Greater Dallas Planning Council invited him to address to a group of dedicated local professionals last Thursday, and he made quite an impression.

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This statue of Robert E. Lee overlooks Lee Park in Dallas. Could removing this statue celebrating a controversial Confederate leader hurt Turtle Creek real estate?

[Editor’s Note: This post reflects the opinion of the writer and should not be interpreted as the editorial position of CandysDirt.com.]

I lived in Dallas for at least 10 years when I asked someone, “Who is Lee Park named after?” I assumed it was a great city forefather.

Robert E. Lee, I was told; the man who surrendered to Union troops in the bitter War Between the States, the only civil war in U.S. history.

Now, a movement that is growing like a snowball rolling down a mountainside — and crescendoed Saturday night at an anti-hate rally reportedly attended by thousands in front of Dallas City Hall — wants our city to rid itself of Lee Park’s eponymous statue. Duke University removed their statutes yesterday. However, this is also not an overnight movement: some Dallas City Council members have been working on a removal since last April.

I’m not sure if changing the name of the park will follow. The statue was built in Dallas during the Depression in 1936, when the Civil War was well over. Though the war ended, deeply rooted racism was not wiped out with Lee’s unconditional surrender at Appomatox Courthouse in 1865.

I’m not a native Southerner, so I have to wonder why the statue was erected in the first place. This is not Lee’s hometown; he was a native of Virginia. After Virginia, Texas has the largest collection of  Robert E. Lee monuments in the nation.

Why look up to a man who fought to let human beings own other human beings?

And last week, Jennifer Staubach Gates, City Councilwoman in District 13, who is making a lot of mayoral-like noise, wrote her conservative, wealthy constituents that the statue must come down:

My office has received a number of inquiries about the removal of Confederate statues in the City of Dallas, so I want to be clear on my position. 

I strongly support the removal of these statues. Symbols of white supremacy, neo-Nazis, the KKK or other hate groups are unacceptable and must be removed from public spaces that serve all of our citizens, including our public schools. The issue should not be whether or not they are removed, but rather the process of how they are removed, and I look forward to an open dialog on moving forward. 

The sooner we complete this process and remove these unacceptable symbols in public spaces, the stronger we will be as a City. If you have questions about this issue or thoughts on the process, please feel free to contact my office.

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