This morning’s panel discussion on Oak Cliff: Challenges + Opportunities for the Urban Neighborhood was a strikingly honest — almost uncomfortably honest — conversation, both between the panelists and in the Q&A. The panel brought together two well-established Oak Cliff developers — David Spence of Good Space and Monte Anderson of Options Real Estate — and two newer developers — Michael Nazerian of Exxir Capital and Wade Johns of Alamo Manhattan. The DFW REimagined breakfast seminar was hosted by one of Munsch, Hardt, Kopf, & Harr’s recent additions to their law team, Angela Hunt, who is overseeing zoning and development regulations.

Conversation cues were well-curated. We learned of Anderson’s “gentle-fication” process, Nazerian’s pivotal “ah-ha!” moment in the West Village, and the stark contrast in development processes Johns has experienced in Seattle and Portland versus Dallas.

They all seemed to agree that “Developers create the canvas for people to bring the place alive,” as Nazerian put it. And that even developers with good intentions can get “pushed around by the market,” Anderson said.

The agreement began to unravel when Hunt started asking about gentrification, which resulted in one of the most educated discussions on this topic as I’ve ever heard. Many who think of developing in Oak Cliff imagine the pushback from engaged citizen activists, such as those who attended the first community meeting with Alamo Manhattan in the Second story of Eno’s years ago.

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Monte Anderson fave

City Hall has been incredibly quiet about the Humann Foundation proposal for Fair Park.  We thought it would be on the agenda last Wednesday, when the City harangued the budget. In fact, money is in the new city budget for the Foundation’s first year.

But no word. We assume, that is, I assume, that the three City Council peeps assigned to hammer out the contract that was unappealing to the City Council August 30 are still working away.

Or this could be the reason. Mayor Rawlings has received an email from at least one developer (that we know of) asking for 30 days to get another proposal on the table:

From: Monte Anderson <monte@optionsre.com>

Date: September 20, 2016 at 3:56:26 PM CDT

To: Mike Rawlings <mike.rawlings@dallascityhall.com>

Cc: adam.medrano@dallascityhall.com, adam.mcgough@dallascityhall.com, philip.kingston@dallascityhall.com, willis.winters@dallascityhall.com, chris.bowers@dallascityhall.com, larry.casto@dallascityhall.com, paul@paulsims.com

Subject: Request to Submit Proposal for Fair Park

Dear Mayor Rawlings,

Michael Jenkins and I have put together a team to present an alternative proposal for the management of Fair Park.  We think we can improve upon the economics of the Humann Plan that is currently being considered.

We are asking you for 30 days to present our proposal.

Respectfully,

Monte Anderson

Options Real Estate

214-546-1200

Whoa Nelly: is this another plan for Fair Park that might include a park from the get go?

When it comes to developers who have had incredible success developing real estate in the not so savory neighborhoods of Dallas, the name Monte Anderson comes to mind rapidly. (more…)

Monte Anderson, right, with Wana Smith, an agent for Options Real Estate that focuses on Oak Cliff. Photo: Monte Anderson

Monte Anderson, right, with Wana Smith, an agent for Options Real Estate who focuses on Oak Cliff, champion the idea of small business ownership to rebuild communities. Photo: Monte Anderson

Monte Anderson thrives on shaking up standard ways of thinking about development in Dallas.

After he sold the historic Belmont Hotel five months ago, a bellwether renovation and restoration project that put his name on the map in 2005, he got right back to work doing what he does best.

“I took all the money from the hotel sale, and we invested it into more ugly properties to turn around, every penny of it,” he said.

Those “ugly properties” are in south Oak Cliff, around South Polk Street and South Beckley Avenue, and Anderson is ready to perform microsurgery.

“With microsurgery, you go into an area that has good bones, like Elmwood southwest of Bishop Arts, and you start by buying one property and fixing it up or building one small building and making it into a good retail or residential space,” he said.

He’s one of the original Dallas pioneers of urban “gentlefication,” moving into distressed neighborhoods and slowly redeveloping in an effort to reduce crime, create harmony, and build community.

This is radically different from gentrification, which usually forces out low-income residents with high-income folks seeking the next hip place. Gentlefication helps long-term residents take back their neighborhoods, stabilize property values, and build safe communities for their families.

It’s also different from what Dallas is doing with its Grow South plan, Anderson said.

“The mayor’s Grow South plan is nothing but superficial marketing—it has no sustainable wealth-building characteristics,” he said. “Find the one deal that has changed somebody’s life that lives in South Dallas. It’s typical Dallas thinking: the rich people in Dallas think it’s got to be big; it can’t be good unless it’s big. Yet all the special places we love are small.”

Anderson is a self-proclaimed “hard-core new urbanist,” spreading his message of gentlefication with his company Options Real Estate, which specializes in southern Dallas County.

“Owner-occupied neighborhoods is really the message I have for gentlefication,” he said. “The only way they can get in and own is to get in early…I’ve got so many of these kind of business success stories, everything from pet stores to call centers and yoga studios to insurance offices and restaurants, all kinds of people that own their own buildings now, not to mention the housing.”

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DHLbootcamp2015

A week ago, I had the opportunity to attend the 17th annual Neighborhood Boot Camp, which is offered by the Dallas Homeowners League. It was my first time to attend, but I have to say – it’s a must for anyone who has had trouble getting help from City Hall in the past – or who belongs to a neighborhood association or crime watch.

The morning was chock-a-block full of useful information from the beginning panel discussion moderated by the Dallas Morning News‘ Robert Wilonsky (panel members included Monte Anderson, Patrick Kennedy and Wick Allison), to the workshops after covering things like navigating City Hall, defining a strong neighborhood, adapting to change in neighborhoods, supporting and promoting DISD, historic preservation and water conservation tips.

I attended the workshop on navigating city hall, conducted by Philip Kingston, and the workshop on promoting and supporting DISD, conducted by Melissa Kingston (more on those tomorrow).

The morning began, however, with a panel discussion on the challenges Dallas faces, as well how to build a vibrant downtown Dallas. “Many of us live in neighborhoods with terrible streets,” Wilonsky acknowledged, adding that many neighborhoods lack amenities you can walk to, as well.

One question the group tackled was how to reconnect downtown to the city neighborhoods – and how to navigate city hall while trying to do so.  (more…)

Photo courtesy Oak Cliff Blog

The clock is ticking for the old Mission Motel in West Dallas as Trammell Crow Residential begins work on a new development on the site and adjoining lots, which will include 300 rental units, as well as 14,000 square feet of retail space.

“We are tearing it down. We just finished asbestos abatement and will start demo soon,” said Matthew Enzler, Managing Director for Development at Trammell Crow Residential.

We reported on the developer’s purchase of the Mission Motel last July. Over the holidays, the developer tore down an old bank at Fort Worth Avenue and Yorktown Street. The Mission Motel and two other nearby properties will also be cleared soon, Juan’s Body & Frame and Nino’s Body Shop. Jump to read more.

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Monte Anderson

On Tuesday night, the Greater Dallas Planning Council honored North Texas developer Monte Anderson with its inaugural Urban Pioneer Award at the Urban Design Awards.

Anderson is the president of Options Real Estate, a multi-service real estate company that concentrates its work in southern Dallas and Ellis counties, specializing in creating sustainable neighborhoods that invite “gentlefication,” as opposed to gentrification.

Here’s a great working definition of “gentlefication”:

Moving into a neighborhood in an effort to reduce crime, create harmony, and build community. As opposed to “gentrification,” which changes neighborhoods by forcing out low-income residents with high-income folks seeking the next hip thing. Gentlefication helps long-term residents take back their neighborhoods, stabilize property values, and build safe spaces for their children and grandchildren.

“The award means a lot because it means people are staring to recognize that incremental development, or ‘microsurgery’, not big silver bullet deals, works in our southern Dallas neighborhoods,” he said. “My approach is to come in and get other small developers and entrepreneurs to come in very early and be a part of the change. These are the people who make it cool, like artists and restaurateurs, and they [usually] end up not owning anything and getting pushed out in the end.” (more…)