Last night the Parks and Recreation Board held a special meeting seeking public comment on the soon-to-be-voted-on management contract for Fair Park. You may think you’re experiencing déjà vu, and you may be, but from when?  There have been so many Fair Park plans tossed on the fire they make the current California blazes look small.

Most recently you probably recall Walt Humann’s Fair Park Texas Foundation plan (elbowed in by Mayor Rawlings) that made it right up to the precipice of passage before being scuttled in October 2016. (Full transparency: we at CandysDirt.com wondered early on why the Humann plan was being pushed so quickly, and why the city’s share of costs escalated over time rather than decreased.) The scuttling forced the city to initiate a real request for proposals (RFP). Three ultimately responded – Monte Anderson’s Fair Park Conservancy, Humann’s Fair Park Texas Foundation, and the winning Fair Park First (FPF). (Download a copy of the full August 2, 2018 briefing here)

Fair Park First consists of the nine-member FPF Board which is responsible for fundraising, subcontractor supervision, historic preservation and community engagement and outreach. Fair Park management, capital improvements (except those funded with bond money) and Minority and Woman Business Enterprise initiatives will be handled by Spectra. Rounding out the team is Biederman Redevelopment Ventures (BRV) whose job it will be to update the Fair Park Comprehensive Plan and design and program the neighborhood park(s) within the whole of Fair Park.

What this plan delivers is experience. Both Spectra and BRV have done these jobs a multitude of times – and done them very successfully. BRV has transformed over 100 parks – including Klyde Warren. Spectra manages 319 properties – including the California Expo & State Fair. Their résumés speak volumes to what they can and would do for Fair Park. It’s a breadth of experience neither of the other two bidders could match. Fair Park and southern Dallas have been diddled too long to give a project of this scale to those reliant on learning-by-doing.

It’s part of the reason FPF scored 87.54 points out of 100 when judged by their financial plan, experience, project approach and Business Inclusion and Development. The other two bidders scored 65.16 and 78.34 points. (more…)

Credit: NASA

There’s gonna be two kinds of stars in DFW this weekend: the kind that walk the red carpet and the kind that light up the sky.

On Saturday night, April 21, into early morning Sunday, April 22, North Texans can check out the Lyrid meteor shower, which coincides with Earth Day this year, when as many as 20 meteors can be seen “falling” in the night sky every hour.

Just look for the burning shards of rock and natural debris slicing through the sky at tens of thousands miles per hour. The experts at Accuweather say this should be one of the best shooting star displays of late on Earth. Depending on clear skies here in the Metroplex, you can catch a glimpse of these stars streaking across all areas of the sky, with no telescope required. 

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fair parkToday’s Dallas Under $100,000 is in the Fair Park area, and is an example of how the smallest, cheapest things can help sell a house.

The home we’re looking at this week is at 3815 Wilder Street, about 10 minutes from Fair Park. Built in 1927, this home has been on the market one day, and has three bedrooms and one bathroom. (more…)

vote

The fate of the embattled Dallas County Schools is on today’s ballot – but several other important things are on there, too (Photo courtesy Dallas County Schools).

Today is Election Day, and since there aren’t any candidates, very few will likely bother to vote, despite the fact that some very important things are on the ballot.

How can I say that with such confidence? Early voting totals show that a little more than 2 percent of registered voters in Dallas County have voted so far.

I don’t think it will get much better today.

In the off chance that you haven’t voted yet and weren’t planning to, I thought I’d outline what your Dallas County ballot will look like, and what you’ll be voting on. Full disclosure: I waited until today to vote as well.

This isn’t meant to be endorsements of any of the measures on the ballot, but instead is a rundown on what you will see. We’ll go in the order the measures are found on the ballot, too. (more…)

If it’s Red, full steam ahead; if it’s Yellow, say “hello;” if it’s Blue, you might’ve missed your queue.

Last week, Seth Fowler wrote about a client of his looking for a home in the sub-$200,000 market close to his job in Bedford.  “Ted” had been on a roller coaster of 43 showings and 11 contract offers … still without a home eight months on and counting. In today’s Dallas, it’s a story that’s been accelerating since the housing market began recovering in 2013. While slacking in the upper end of the market, the entry level remains full steam ahead.

Also last week, Alex Macon posted on D Magazine’s Frontburner about the legacy of redlining and a new set of charts overlaying 1930s redline maps against the current racial makeup of Dallas (U.S. Census data).  It’s clear that the 30-year pox of redlining, from the 1930s until 1968, still infects the Dallas landscape (as it does nationwide in many previously redlined areas).

But what’s the reality? I’m going to find out.

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I am so impressed with Kevin Felder, the new City Councilman for District 7, which encompasses Fair Park. First of all, I’m a little biased because he is a real estate Broker. He is also a lesson in persistence: Kevin has run for his council seat four times before FINALLY winning the D7 seat this past June in a run-off with Tiffini Young, who was favored by the Mayor.

A few weeks ago we told you about a community meeting at Fair Park, sponsored by ABI Dallas, also known as Alpha Business Images, which is owned by Sophia Johnson … the wife of Mayor Rawlings’ very, very well-connected advisor for south Dallas, Willis Johnson (Google him, says our Jon Anderson). This community meeting was to explain and solicit input on the proposed management plan for Fair Park, which the Mayor wants to give to Walt Humann to manage, while the city pays. That meeting had a huge turn out, so huge ABI Dallas literally ran out of paper. But people were not so jazzed about that meeting, felt there were not enough answers provided and too much rhetoric. Even the invitations were kind of crafty: (more…)

In reality, “discussion”was a pop quiz allowing organizers to check a “community involvement” box

My headline is a riff on yesterday’s Jim Schutze piece over at the Observer titled, “Flying Monkeys Shield State Fair Contract Just When it Should Be Set on Fire.” If last year’s citywide kerfuffle about the Fair Park sweetheart deal Mayor Rawlings tried to give pal Walt Humann, complete with a $20 million per year dowry, didn’t tick you off enough, Schutze ices that cake with a Powerball-size shaft State Fair has given Dallas taxpayers.  It’s not super long, go read it … I’ll wait.

Done? … Seriously, go read it … Yes, now … Sheesh!

Also in that piece was a snippet about the obfuscation the city is employing in seeking bids to take over the management of Fair Park (because evidence shows the city is too lazy and inept). That snippet had perfect timing since last night there was apparently the only community meeting the hired consultants will be having.

Who are those consultants?  ABI Dallas, also known as Alpha Business Images, which is owned by Sophia Johnson … the wife of Mayor Rawlings’ very, very well-connected advisor for south Dallas, Willis Johnson (Google him). Seems our mayor is unable to seek input beyond his earmarked Rolodex. First Humann (who attended last night’s meeting) now the Johnson’s.  Who’s next in the alphabet?

Ironically, it was Sophia Johnson herself who spoke about the “complete integrity” of the Fair Park process.

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Source: Coalition for Community Housing Policy in the Public Interest

Source: Coalition for Community Housing Policy in the Public Interest

Hiring outside professionals to assess the systems and structure of a condominium is often scoffed at by HOAs because of the expense.  It’s as shortsighted as complaining about the cost of toothpaste. Condominiums are larger and definitely more complex than single-family homes. It’s negligent not to have plans in place that understand the current condition of the overall building coupled with a plan for regular maintenance that stretches out as far as the longest-lived components.

It’s also critical that reserve studies are performed by outsiders.  HOAs and management companies may either lack the expertise required or want to soft-pedal the truth to avoid uncomfortable conversations with residents.  We are generally “shoot the messenger” kind of people.

Another reason for using an outsider can be managing companies that also have their own staff contracted to perform repairs.  If they’re the ones doing the capital reserve studies, isn’t that a whopping conflict of interest? Didn’t Fair Park teach us that competitive bidding is best?

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