Questions swirl around Dallas development – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
A no-tender deal to donate city land to a nonprofit group for homeless programs sparked pointed questions Monday at the Dallas City Council committee meeting.
The Far Northeast Dallas site, located at 12000 North Greenville Avenue, off I-635 LBJ, is a former state highway department maintenance site that is now owned by the city. from Dallas.
City Councilor Adam McGough, who represents the neighborhood, is the spokesperson for the video supporting a new plan for the Atlanta non-profit site called “City of Refuge.”
For several years, the city of Dallas has been trying to use the site to help homeless people.
The first plan which was strictly for housing the homeless was killed with strong opposition from the neighborhood and complaints from Councilor McGough.
Next, Bon Ton Farms in South Dallas offered a combination of an urban farm, vocational training, and housing, but canceled the deal, deciding to stay focused on South Dallas instead.
Now, City of Refuge, with over 20 years of experience in Georgia, has formed a Dallas entity “Dallas Refuge”, which has entered into a land lease for up to 80 years on city property.
In return, Refuge would build a facility similar to the one it has in Georgia for vocational training and housing to help the homeless.
“I have been transparent from the start about my interest and I think it is good for our community and for our city and I will continue to stand up for it in this way,” said McGough.
Retired banker Michael Veale reviewed the lease agreement and cited many concerns.
“The objective of this effort is notable. The question is whether this has been successful and has it been developed and progressed properly at Town Hall, ”Veale said. “The local community should have been involved. It should have been announced like many other projects.
Dallas City Councilor Chad West said a request for proposals should have been issued by the city of Dallas before negotiating with Refuge. West said the lease on the table had more holes than “Swiss cheese”.
“What opportunities are we missing that we might have had had we gone through a formal bidding process here,” West said. “This is a land lease without a call for tenders that has no guarantee.”
Gay Council Member Donnell Willis said Dallas-area nonprofits have been snubbed.
“I think the back we are turning to them is really shameful. And if there is a tenant in that, it’s a matter of integrity. I think that should be removed, ”Willis said of the lease.
City of Dallas staff members involved in the lease said it was a good deal.
“I’m not aware that any of our nonprofits have come to the table to pitch a project,” said Dallas Chief of Staff Kim Tolbert.
Dallas Economic Development Chief Eric Anthony Johnson said there was no underwriting because there was no debt unlike other deals where organizations also want money from the city for their projects.
Refuge is responsible for raising at least $ 8 million and building a facility on the property, the first groundbreaking of which is expected to begin in May.
“And at the end of the day, if they don’t work, we just resume,” Johnson said.
Performance requirements are lacking in the lease according to critics.
“Unless they move their entire management team here to manage the project, who is going to manage the project? Who has the skills? Who has the time to do it full time? It can’t be like a few hours a week for the people of Atlanta to make that happen, ”Veale said.
Councilor McGough said local organizations could still be involved in the operation of the project.
“It’s a collaborative approach. He tries to bring together all possible partners. And we’ve been working with partners across town, particularly in the homeless space, from the very beginning, and will continue to do so, ”said McGough.
The Economic Development Committee voted 4-2 to send the rental agreement to the entire Dallas City Council for a final vote on Nov. 10.