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Woman sues Dallas apartments, crane company after she ‘skimmed death’ in fatal collapse

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Updated at 5 p.m. June 12: Revised to include additional information from attorneys for Chiasson and Bigge Crane and Rigging.

A woman who is suing after her Dallas apartment complex was ripped apart Sunday by a falling crane says she’s still in shock after losing everything in the collapse.

Macy Chiasson, a 27-year-old UFC fighter, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Dallas County, claiming negligence led to the accident that killed 29-year-old Kiersten Symone Smith and and injured Chiasson and several others.

Macy Chiasson, a 27-year-old UFC fighter filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Dallas County.

She and more than 500 other residents of the Elan City Lights apartments have been told they won’t be allowed to return to their homes.

The lawsuit seeks more than $1 million in damages from the owners of Bigge Crane and Rigging, Elan City Lights and The Gabriella — the unfinished complex where the crane stood.

Greystar, the company that owns Elan City Lights and The Gabriella, did not respond to requests for comment about the lawsuit Tuesday and Wednesday. Randy Smith, corporate counsel for Bigge, declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday.

Chiasson said she’s still coming to terms with her close call.

"It’s been a little bit of shock and thankfulness, as far as being alive and just skimming death," she said. "I’ve lost everything."

She had just returned to her first-floor apartment Sunday afternoon and was folding laundry when she heard a loud boom. Immediately, she heard something crashing through the floors above her.

I just want to thank @DallasPD for coming to Elan Apartments and risking their lives to get people out. I was on the first floor below the crane and had to run out with my pup as it was happeneing. Thank you to the officer Kayla on patrol at the time for helping us. https://t.co/hX1MxW5NAW

— Macy Chiasson (@macy_chiasson) June 9, 2019

She whistled for her dog, T, as she saw smoke billowing, glass breaking and cars plummeting to the ground.

Chiasson grabbed her phone and a pair of shoes but had to run out of the apartment barefoot, suffering cuts from the broken glass around her.

In the apartment’s courtyard, people were running in their underwear, bleeding and covered in dust and debris, she said.

She saw one bloody woman still on the second floor who was calling out for help.

One death and several injuries were reported after a crane fell into the Elan City Lights apartment building and parking garage in Old East Dallas close to downtown, as a severe storm passed through Dallas on Sunday afternoon

"I couldn’t do anything," Chiasson said. "As much as I wanted to help her, the apartment behind her was not there. That was the hardest thing for me to watch because I just wanted to go and help her, and there was just no way."

Chiasson said she’s grateful to have her life, her dog and the clothes on her back. But she has lost everything else.

She says she’s been told her apartment is inaccessible because it’s not structurally sound.

Her driver’s license and passport are trapped inside, along with everything else. All of the undefeated UFC bantamweight’s gear and a trophy she’d won are lost.

Her attorney, Jason Friedman, said he met Chiasson while she was still wearing the clothes she fled in.

The lawsuit asks that a judge grant a temporary restraining order that would allow an inspection of the crane and construction site.

Chiasson’s lawsuit had asked a judge to grant a temporary restraining order that would ensure the complex and the crane company would not alter evidence at the construction site.

But Friedman said Wednesday said counsel for both Greystar and Bigge had agreed to preserve all evidence, rendering the need for the temporary restraining order unnecessary. Friedman said the defendants said that the site is under the control of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as its crews investigate.

"We wanted to be sure that the apartment complex and the crane company and the contractors aren’t there altering the crane or altering evidence or moving things," he said.

"You see that one crane — that was weathervaning, it was pointing in the wind," he said. "You look at the one that fell, it wasn’t facing that way."

An operator should unlock the brake on a crane before leaving work, so it can swing freely in the wind.

Barth said that though the grainy video was shot from far away, something was clearly wrong.

"You’ve got to know, they were facing in different directions and they should have both been facing the same way," he said.

Frank Branson, a Dallas lawyer who has represented workers who have suffered catastrophic injuries, said he thinks the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will find Bigge responsible for the collapse.

"The National Weather Service notified the public three hours before the winds, so operators knew serious danger was on the way," Branson said. "They have an obligation to the people who live in falling distance of it and to those on the job site to make sure they’re safe."

Bigge was cited for an Arkansas crane collapse in 2013 — for which the company was fined $56,700 and later settled for a lower amount.

Branson said Sunday’s collapse could be more troublesome for Bigge because the people who were hurt had nothing to do with the construction project.

"It would certainly make a difference to me if I were sitting on a jury," he said. "All of these people were injured in the safety of their own homes."

Staff writer Sarah Sarder contributed to this report.

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To reel in a big corporate campus, Fort Worth might repurpose public housing site

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Where is the best spot to build Fort Worth’s next big corporate campus?

Some regional planners say their favorite candidate is roughly 40 acres of developed but underused land — today filled mostly with public housing — just east of the city’s downtown.

The area in the middle of Fort Worth is shaped like a triangle, wedged between Interstate 35W, I-30 and U.S. 287.

Today, it’s home to several hundred residents of the Butler Place public housing area, and next door is the historical I.M. Terrell Academy — once a segregation-era school for African American youths from all over North Texas, and now a science and arts academy.

But Butler Place is in disrepair, and the city housing authority is in the process of relocating residents to other accommodations in the city.

Once those relocations are complete, much of the land in the 40-acre triangle could be ripe for repurposing. And, the area is adjacent to Fort Worth Central Station, which is already a transportation hub that in the coming years could be a stop on a high-speed rail line.

"Can you imagine a high-speed rail station and corporate relocation on this land?" said Michael Morris, transportation director for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Morris spoke this week to the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition, a nonprofit group that advocates for mobility improvements in the western part of Dallas-Fort Worth. Morris told the group that several agencies were working closely together to identify potential future uses for the land, which could someday be served by a bullet train connecting Fort Worth to Arlington, Dallas and Houston.

This conceptual rendering shows a North Texas passenger station (center, with blue roof) in Dallas for a proposed bullet train connecting Dallas and Houston. Other proposals would extend the route to Fort Worth.

Morris said unnamed parties have "been working discreetly to buy land between I-35W and downtown" — just west of the triangle-shaped land — "to create an opportunity for Uber or Amazon or whomever to relocate." He didn’t elaborate on those prospective purchases.

Redevelopment of Butler Place has been in the works for years.

A panel from the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Urban Land Institute assessed the property and surrounding neighborhoods in 2015, offering suggestions for redevelopment.

At the time, Fort Worth Housing Solutions (formerly the Fort Worth Housing Authority) decided not to move forward with redevelopment, but since then more affordable housing properties have been built in the city.

Fernando Costa, an assistant city manager, said a corporate headquarters is just one option for the land. Other ideas include a high-density development that mixes commercial and residential space, likely with affordable housing options, or a research institute campus.

The city would need to decide if it should apply development restrictions to the area or allow the market to dictate how the land evolves, Costa said. A series of meetings will be scheduled with several groups, including downtown business interests, surrounding neighborhoods and residents, for feedback on Butler Place’s future.

There may be historical elements worth preserving, he said.

"We want to balance these interests and do what’s best for Fort Worth," Costa said.

The property just east of downtown lacks easy access to the rest of the city — a major hurdle for development — although streets that already serve the area include Luella Street, Morgan Street, East 19th Street and I.M. Terrell Way.

A 34-unit apartment project south of downtown Fort Worth is being constructed out of 76 steel shipping containers.

Interstates 30 and 35W and U.S. 287 wall off the triangular area, which can be noisy because of highway traffic. Costa said the city could consider a special tax district to pay for improved access.

Built in the early 1940s, Butler Place is one of the city’s oldest public housing complexes and one of the last. (Cavile Place in east Fort Worth is also being redeveloped.)

Though remodeled a few times, the nearly 80-year-old complex has fallen into disrepair.

Butler Place was approved for the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, a program that transfers ownership of public housing units from the federal government to the local housing authority, allowing Fort Worth Housing Solutions to do what it pleases with the property.

Households are relocating to several apartment communities around Fort Worth. Many, like Campus Apartments and Palladium, Fort Worth, are owned or partly owned by Fort Worth Housing Solutions and are fairly new. A little more than half of the 412 units at Butler Place are filled now, but the housing authority expects everyone will be relocated by the end of 2020.

Director Mary-Margaret Lemons said the relocation is a "major upgrade." Unlike Butler or Cavile, these apartment communities are mixed-income and feature modern apartment amenities like pools and fitness centers. They’re also closer to schools and job opportunities, she said.

Regardless of Butler Place’s condition, Fort Worth Housing Solutions has moved away from the traditional housing project model, opting for integrating income levels.

"We believe we create better citizens when you’re exposed to different incomes and backgrounds," she said.

Gordon Dickson and Luke Ranker, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TNS)

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Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda Named Title Sponsor of Texas Half-Mile

Best Apartment in North Dallas

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 28, 2019) – In the weeks leading up to the highly-anticipated third round of its 2019 season, American Flat Track announced today that Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda will be the Entitlement Sponsor of its Texas Half-Mile event. The Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda Texas Half-Mile presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys will roar into Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 20.

“Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda is a key supporter of American Flat Track and the Texas Half-Mile,” said Cameron Gray, COO of AFT Events. “The dealership is a powerhouse presence in the area, and we couldn’t be more excited to continue our partnership for the event. AFT fans can look forward to better racing, an enhanced VIP experience and plenty of family-friendly fun at the track.”

An active supporter of the sport, Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda also sponsors the Richie Morris Racing team, featuring Mikey Rush and fellow Roof Systems AFT Singles presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys competitors Cameron Smith and Cole Zabala.

“We are pleased to once again be a part of American Flat Track’s event at Texas Motor Speedway,” said Al Lamb, owner of Dallas Honda. “North Texas has rich history in flat track racing. As long-time flat track fans and racers, we are proud to support the sport with both event and race team sponsorship. We invite all fans out to enjoy the event and meet the racers.”

In addition to dealer activation and presence from Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda, fans at the event can look forward to live music by The Pete Barbeck Duo, an Easter egg hunt for children and performances by the Dallas Cowboys Rhythm & Blue Drumline.

American Flat Track’s highly-anticipated third round – the Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda Texas Half-Mile presented by Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys – roars into the iconic Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 20, 2019. Tickets start at just $40 online

Family-owned by proud Texans, Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda has grown from its 1977 suburban-based dealership into a Texas-sized powerhouse, proudly staffed by knowledgeable motorcycle enthusiasts. The dealership houses over 35,000 square feet of new and used motorcycles, ATVs, side-by-sides and power equipment (www.DallasHonda.com).

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Art museums in Dallas and Fort Worth team up for first exhibition together

Art museums

Mariano Fortuny y Marsal (Spanish, 1838-1874), Beach at Portici, 1874. Oil on canvas.
William Merritt Chase (American, 1849-1916), Idle Hours, 1894. Oil on canvas.

For the first time, Dallas’ Meadows Museum and Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum of American Art will pair their paintings together in one exhibition, doubling the summer fun for art lovers.

Meadows will present the focused exhibit, pairing its recent acquisition Beach at Portici (1874), by Mariano Fortuny y Marsal (1838-1874), with a loan from the Carter, Idle Hours (1894), by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916).

"At the Beach: Mariano Fortuny y Marsal and William Merritt Chase" will explore Chase’s admiration of Fortuny, through the two paintings — one by the American artist and one by his Spanish predecessor — going on display together June 24-September 23, 2018.

The pairing makes sense. Although the artists were separated by time and geography and never actually met, museum officials say, their paintings represent a dialogue that speaks eloquently of a bond between them. In both paintings, the artists each use beach scenes to showcase their skill at rendering light, for example. Also, both artists portray their respective families in fashionable white garments lounging near a curving coastline— Fortuny’s in southern Italy and Chase’s on Long Island, New York.

Finally, the paintings share similar compositions, the organizers say — defined by strong diagonals and a balance of land, sky and figures — as well as loose, fluid brushstrokes that capture the effects bright summer sunlight on earth, sea, sky and skin.

“Chase said of Fortuny, ‘Everything he did was interesting.’ And he was not alone in his admiration for the Spanish painter, who was extremely popular in America at the turn of the century," says Amanda W. Dotseth, co-curator of the exhibition with Mark A. Roglán, director of the Meadows Museum, in a release. "But while Chase never knew Fortuny the man, he certainly knew Fortuny’s paintings, including Beach at Portici, which Chase would have had ample opportunity to see in America — most notably at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, the year before he painted Idle Hours."

Adds Roglán, "Despite their differing career trajectories, each artist achieved fame as a cosmopolitan painter. They were celebrated for these canvases, which present painterly beach scenes with scintillating summer light while celebrating the extraordinary beauty to be found in everyday moments with family."

The museums have not announced if the companion works will go on display at the Fort Worth museum in the future.

Meadows in January announced the acqusition of Beach at Portici, the final painting of the famed 19th century Spanish artist, for an undisclosed amount. The recent acquisition complements the only oil painting by the artist currently in the museum’s collection: a small study composition of the same stretch of beach at Portici.

The following public programs will complement the summer exhibition:

Three Thursdays, May 31, June 7, and 14, 6-7:30 pm
Lecture series: "Light, Camera, Landscape: The Rise of International Impressionism" by Nancy Cohen Israel, art historian and owner of Art à la Carte
This series will trace the rise of Impressionism in France, the offshoots of painters in Spain and Italy, and the aftershocks sent throughout the West. $40 for the 3-part series; free for Museum members and SMU faculty, staff, and students; registration required at 214-768-8587.

Saturday, June 23, 10 am-1 pm
Community Day: A Day at the Beach
Spend the day at the beach and take in the light of late 19th century masters Mariano Fortuny y Marsal of Spain and William Merritt Chase of the United States. This dedicated community day will include art making, gallery talks, a storyteller, refreshments, and more. Free.

Thursday, June 28, 6-7 pm
Lecture: "At the Beach: Mariano Fortuny y Marsal and William Merritt Chase" by Mark A. Roglán, director of the Meadows Museum, and Andrew Walker, executive director of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art
This special double lecture will examine the creation of Beach at Portici and Idle Hours. The two painters turned to more private and personal scenes in their later work, which will be the subject of this special program held in conjunction with the summer installation. Free; reservations required at 214-768-8587.

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25-year-old man arrested after posing as Dallas ISD high schooler, officials say

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A 25-year-old man is facing charges after he reportedly posed as a Hurricane Harvey refugee and enrolled at Dallas ISD schools.

Rashun Richardson

Sidney Bouvier Gilstrap-Portley was arrested early Saturday and booked into the Dallas County Jail.

He faces charges of tampering with government records. He has since posted bond and been released from jail.

Gilstrap-Portley had enrolled under the name Rashun Richardson in August at Skyline High School at a time when the district had opened its doors to hurricane evacuees. It was not immediately clear why he decided to enroll in the high school.

"He took that as an opportunity to gain access to our schools," Dallas ISD spokeswoman Robyn Harris said.

He unenrolled then re-enrolled in October at Hillcrest High School.

The school learned that Gilstrap-Portley may not have been the student he said he was when a former coach from North Mesquite High School saw him playing basketball at the end of April at an AAU basketball tournament, Harris said.

At that point, the Mesquite coach alerted the Hillcrest coach to say that "one of my former players who graduated a time ago is playing for you," Harris said.

Gilstrap-Portley graduated from North Mesquite High School in 2011.

District administrators began an investigation and an alert was put in place in case Gilstrap-Portley showed up at school, but he didn’t return to class after his last day April 25.

Police took him into custody Saturday at his apartment

Hillcrest Principal Chris Bayer said in a letter to students and parents Tuesday that the school immediately notified the district and local authorities once it "became aware of a student enrolled at our school under false pretenses claiming to be a displaced Hurricane Harvey victim."

"We believe it is absolutely essential that every young person, especially in times of great difficulty, feels safe and secure, and that was the guiding principle when we were welcoming students displaced by the hurricane," Bayer said. "This is a unique situation that shows us areas that need improving when we open our doors to students in times of need. "

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University School and Western Kentucky QB Mike White taken by Dallas Cowboys in NFL draft

Former University School quarterback Mike White, pictured during the 2012 Class 3A state championship game against Madison County, was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth round of the NFL draft on Saturday. (Stephen M. Dowell / Orlando Sentinel)

For the second NFL draft in three years, a Broward County quarterback to go through Western Kentucky was selected.

Former University School signal caller Mike White was taken by the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth round with pick No. 171 on Saturday.

He follows in the footsteps of former North Broward Prep standout QB Brandon Doughty, who also went through WKU and was selected by the Miami Dolphins in 2016.

White, who was the eighth quarterback taken and will be behind starter Dak Prescott in Dallas, was the championship-winning quarterback for the Suns (they now go by the Sharks) in 2012 as they came away with the Class 3A title.

“Although blessed with the innate athletic talent, he’s a product of great parenting with love and outstanding family support,” said former University School coach Roger Harriott, who now leads St. Thomas Aquinas and was even White’s elementary school physical education teacher. “To witness his growth from youth to adult and running around the P.E. court to being drafted into the NFL is God’s grace at work.

“This next chapter of his story will be even better. Stay tuned.”

He transferred to the Hilltoppers from USF and started after Doughty left the program. In 2016, White threw for 4,363 yards, 37 touchdowns to seven interceptions and completed 67.3 percent of his passes.

Last fall, he had a 65.7 completion percentage, 4,177 yards and 26 touchdowns to eight interceptions dealing with troubles in pass protection.

With a baseball background as a pitcher who threw a fastball in the 90s (mph), White is scouted as a pocket passer who possesses plus arm strength.

White’s teammate at U-School, cornerback Quincy Wilson out of Florida, was drafted in the second round last year by the Indianapolis Colts.

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Live The Beach Life In Arlington’s Viridian Neighborhood

The Beach Life

ARLINGTON, TX — Live the Viridian Life in Arlington’s premier beach-side resort neighborhood. Centered in a perfect area between Fort Worth and Dallas, you’re sure to love your new community. See other listings just like these on Realtor.com.

Price: $356,473 Square Feet: 2135 Bedrooms: 3 Bathrooms: 2 Full and 1 Half Baths Built: 2018 Features: Located a mere 20 minutes from both downtown Dallas and downtown Fort Worth, work and fun are within easy reach. Residents benefit from being part of the state and nationally recognized H-E-B School Districct, with Viridian Elementary located within the community itself. Enjoy the Lake Club, tennis courts, beach volleyball, 20+miles of hike and bike trails and 9 major parks. This gorgeous home offers 3 beds, 2.5 baths, an open concept kitchen-dining-family area with huge island perfect for entertaining. Designer touches include wood flooring, granite counters, stainless appliances, and so much more! Ask about our 1-2-10 Year Warranty and save big with the EnergySaver Program.

This listing originally appeared on realtor.com. For more information and photos, click here.

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Dallas Unveils Plan to Meet Fair Housing Obligations

Fair Housing

Dallas City Hall. (Photo by dcaloren via flickr)

Early next month, the Dallas city council is expected to vote on a new housing plan that aims to produce 20,000 homes for low- and moderate-income families over the next three years. The plan is intended not only to overcome a shortage of affordable housing in the city, but to chip away at patterns of racial and economic segregation that have developed in the city over the course of decades.

For Dallas, a new approach to housing has been a long time coming, officials say. In 2014, the city entered into a settlement agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development related to complaints that it had distributed federal housing money in ways that reinforced segregation, rather than working against it, as required by the Fair Housing Act. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a case brought against the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs by a Dallas nonprofit group, that policies which create disparate outcomes in housing violate the Fair Housing Act, even if they aren’t driven by intentional discrimination.

“The idea of the Fair Housing Act is to give people access to more upwardly mobile communities,” says Raquel Favela, chief of economic development and neighborhood services for the city. “And that’s exactly what this plan seeks to do.”

The city’s new plan, which was unveiled in March, is the work of a new cohort of housing officials brought on by city manager T.C. Broadnax last year, including Favela. It’s based on a deep dive into the city’s housing data called a Market Value Analysis, as Next City previously reported.

The proposal recommends different types of investments in three target areas identified using the Market Value Analysis: Stabilization Areas, where the housing market is gaining strength and there’s a risk of displacement; Redevelopment Areas, where projects with potential to transform a market are already underway; and Emerging Market Areas, where there is a very weak housing market and problems with public safety and code enforcement. It calls for a mix of public and private investment to help fund 20,000 new homes over the next three years, with slightly more than half of the homes reserved for homeownership and the rest for rental. New affordable housing production would be focused in areas with stronger markets, through zoning for increased density and loans to fill financing gaps.

Map showing the Dallas housing plan target areas layered with the Market Value Analysis areas. (Credit: City of Dallas Department of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization)

The plan seeks to build on market strengths by helping residents access homes built for market-rate tenancy, rather than subsidizing developers to build low-income housing in low-income areas. In the “emerging market” areas, the city would focus on strengthening neighborhood groups and investing in infrastructure and code enforcement. The idea is to make stronger markets more accessible for low-income residents, rather than providing low-income housing only in the most distressed areas.

“It doesn’t make sense for us to build housing in areas where those things are a big concern,” Favela says of the emerging market areas. “It really isn’t a housing choice if people feel like that’s the only option they have.”

But that aspect of the plan doesn’t sit right with some groups that have been involved in providing affordable housing in Dallas for decades. After the plan was released, representatives of the city’s Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDOs, pronounced “chodos”) complained that they were being left behind by the plan—and so were the parts of the city that were struggling the most.

Annie Evans, executive director of SouthFair Community Development Corporation, a CHDO that works in South Dallas, says groups like hers have been working to provide housing in areas where private developers won’t build for years. The CHDOs are committed to improving the city’s most-distressed areas, Evans says. And she questions the housing plan’s emphasis on areas of market strength.

“Why would you wait 3-5 years to address these type of areas when the need is now?” Evans says. “The CHDOs, we’re working in these areas now.”

Together, the CHDOs were seeking an investment of $50 million to support their low-income housing development work, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News. (Representatives of other CHDOs did not respond to requests for an interview.)

But the CHDOs have been too slow to produce housing, and haven’t shown the financial or organizational capacity to complete projects on a reliable timeline, Favela says. Their opposition to the plan wasn’t a surprise to her.

“The practices that have been in place in Dallas have been in place a long time,” says Favela. “And the only change that’s welcomed is the change that we create, so by virtue of this not being a change that they were initiating, I expected that they would not embrace it.”

Besides, the whole point of the housing plan is to produce affordable housing in a more integrated way than the city has in the past. It’s more effective for the city to do that by serving low-income residents in neighborhoods with stronger markets than it is to try to build mixed-income housing in areas with weak markets, Favela says. Nothing in the plan prevents the city’s CHDOs from continuing to work in their selected areas, but providing incentives to target low-income housing in low-income neighborhoods is the very practice that runs afoul of federal policy, she says.

“The plan is about providing housing choice and mobility, which is at the crux of the Fair Housing Act,” Favela says. “This is about providing mobility for low-to-moderate income families.”

Favela says she plans to present the plan to a city council committee again on May 2, incorporating public comments that her office has gathered over the last few weeks. The council is expected to vote on the plan on May 9. So far, Favela says she’s met one-on-one with all but two city councilmembers to discuss the housing plan. She expects the majority will support it.

Some councilmembers, like Tennell Atkins, who represents the 8th District in South Dallas, have been expressed doubt about approving the plan, at least in its current form, according to news reports. (Atkins’ office did not respond to requests for an interview.) But other councilmembers are openly supportive of the new approach.

“Our housing department and our housing policy has just been such a disaster,” says Lee Kleinman, the 11th District councilman who describes himself as a “fiscal conservative” on Twitter. “I just don’t think that anybody wants to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”

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Looking back at the Best Real Estate Deals Awards in photos – Dallas Business Journal

Real Estate Deals Awards

Here’s your chance to relive some of the highlights from the Dallas Business Journal’s Best Real Estate Deals Awards.

The 26th annual event was hosted at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas on April 11, and showcased the results from our judges’ picks for the top transactions and developments in North Texas for 2017.

Click through the attached gallery for a look at winners and other events from the evening’s awards celebration. If you’re interested in seeing even more photos from the event, check out dbjphotos.com.

For a full report on the winners and details around the finalists in each category, click here.

You can learn more about nominating for Dallas Business Journal awards programs by visiting this link.

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First Ever Dallas Housing Policy Faces Opposition

Housing Policy Opposition

After years of discussion, the new housing policy heading for approval by the City Council next month is attracting opposition from people who have been building affordable housing in Dallas for years, Thursday April 5, 2018.

Dallas has never had a housing policy for developers and non-profits seeking city support for their projects, according to City Council Members.

After years of discussion, the new housing policy heading for approval by the City Council next month is attracting opposition from people who have been building affordable housing in Dallas for years.

Sherman Roberts is President of City Wide Community Development Corporation, a non-profit focused on the South Lancaster Road area of Dallas.

“I’m doing the things that I thought you say that you want. And now we’re going to change again. And we’re going to do studies for the next 3 years,” Roberts said. “We’ve got tons and tons of studies that we have done and they all say the same thing.”

A mother allegedly shocked her teenage son with a stun gun when she tried to wake him up for Easter, according to Phoenix police. Sharron Dobbins, 40, said she only used the noise from the stun gun to try to wake her two sons.

(Published Thursday, April 5, 2018)

The proposed new policy uses circles to designate reinvestment areas where the city wants housing development to occur. Roberts’ area is outside the circles.

City Council Member Scott Griggs said the new policy is intended to make better use of limited city resources by directing private and non-profit projects to areas where they are most likely to succeed and hopefully attract more private investment in the future without city support.

“We’re going to pick particular areas to emphasize and prioritize for redevelopment. These areas are going to be adjacent to areas that have already seen large investment of private capital,” Griggs said.

In the new housing policy map, Red circles are Redevelopment Areas where projects are already slated to occur within a year. Green circles are Stabilization Areas with strong potential but also immediate risk of decline. Blue Emerging Market Areas require intense code and crime enforcement and other city services to support current planned improvements.

All of the background colors on the map are based on a Market Value Analysis of real estate in Dallas. City officials believe the MVA provides metrics on which to justify the housing policy.

“This is more community driven. We’re picking communities and areas of town to prioritize for investment. The old way of doing things is essentially the Bank of Dallas,” Griggs said.

An usher for the Houston Rockets <a href=”https://www.instagram.com/p/BhJ-DUChqh-/” target=”_blank”>busts a move on the team’s dance cam</a> at the Houston Toyota Center. (Video courtesy Houston Rockets)

In the old practice without a clear policy, Griggs said private and non-profit groups would approach the city for investments in a project based on how much money they were lacking from other sources to accomplish the goal. City staff would evaluate projects and City Council would approve them on more subjective standards.

“It’s going to be constantly updated. And we’ll do big strategic changes at 18 months and 3 years to see how the market is changing,” Griggs said.

Roberts said the new approach with studies required for areas outside the circles may reduce progress that was already underway in other areas that need more help, too.

City Wide CDC has built two large mixed use developments in the South Lancaster Road corridor that has been a Dallas Target neighborhood in the recent past. The projects have access to the adjacent DART rail line, near the Dallas Veterans Administration Medical Center. Roberts’ agency has vacant land ready for another mixed use development on Lancaster and a single family home subdivision in the neighborhood.

“We’re talking about major projects,” Roberts said. “We need a lot of infrastructure here so why not keep doing that and not say we’re going to study because we’ll be falling behind as we do that.”

Griggs said Community Development Corporations will not be cut out of the new policy.

“The product he does, he can move over to one of these circles and he’s still welcome to do business here in the City of Dallas,” Griggs said. “We have such limited resources. We cannot put our resources in every single block of the city of Dallas.”

The Dallas City Council Economic Development and Housing Committee held a special meeting on the new policy Thursday to hear comments from the public and from Community Development Housing Organizations.

Roberts spoke for CDHO’s along with Diane Ragsdale, a former City Council Member who now leads Innercity Community Development Corporation. Her CDHO is focused on areas near Dallas Fair Park that are also outside the new housing policy circles.

“People should not have to move to upper class neighborhoods to enjoy a decent standard of living,” Ragsdale said. “There is responsibility to the neighborhoods where you have a concentration of poor people.”

Committee members said the housing policy will not remove basic city services to all parts of Dallas but it will direct the use of additional resources that developers have been able to access in the past.

“We need a policy that’s going to be good for all of Dallas,” Committee Chairman Tennell Atkins said.

Ismail Aghdam, whose daughter Nasim Aghdam was identified as the shooter who attacked employees at YouTube’s headquarters before killing herself, spoke briefly to reporters outside his Southern California home.

Atkins said he hopes to have the full City Council approve the new housing policy in May, but future amendments may be added for technical details that are not yet completed.

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