On Wednesday, the city of Dallas gave John Greenan the good news: The executive director of the Central Dallas Community Development Corporation was told that, yes, finally, he could begin moving people into 511 N. Akard Street, otherwise known as Citywalk @ Akard. More than four and a half years after Central Dallas Ministries first toured the vacant 15-floor office tower downtown with the expectation of turning much of it into affordable housing, the city gave Greenan a green temporary certificate of occupancy and told him he was free to fill the first five floors.
Amd so, tomorrow he and his staff will move in three new downtown residents -- one of whom, Joyce Bennett, has been sleeping on a relative's couch and has no possessions save for her clothes.
"It was the best Christmas gift," Greenan tells Unfair Park. "We've been scrambling so much to get it. It was nice to let everyone go home and celebrate the holiday without the stress." Greenan says he expects to have all 206 units -- 50 of which, scattered throughout the building, will be made available to the homeless -- finished "within 60 days." Eleven of the 15 floors will consist of affordable housing. The ground floor will consist of retail; no tenants have yet signed a lease, but Greenan says 7-Eleven has signed a letter of intent. Office spaces, including CDM's new home, will occupy the second and third floors.
"The one thing I am sorry about is I couldn't get people in here before Christmas," says Greenan. "But at least it's before New Year's." He will now turn his attention toward building that self-sustaining block downtown -- right, that one. Says Greenan of Re:Vision Dallas, "March is when we'll really kick off the work on it."