A Grand Opening for Citywalk@Akard, Where the Fire Alarms Work Just Fine

While Central Dallas Ministries CEO Larry James had our attention last week with news on his latest urban rebooting project -- his "center of hope" at the southeast corner of Malcolm X Boulevard and I-30 -- he drew attention back downtown Thursday afternoon to 511 N. Akard St. to toast the grand opening of Citywalk@Akard.

Dallas's first permanent supportive housing project is "95 percent done," James told us, as Central Dallas CDC waits to receive its permanent certificate of occupancy before the bulk of the residents can move into the building's 206 units, 50 of which are reserved for the formerly homeless. The first residents began moving into the fourth floor late last year, and James expects to close next week on the deal to put a 7-Eleven on the ground level.

Even as guests trickled in before the big ceremony, something tripped the fire alarm (we were told it was a water pressure issue in the sprinklers), but the party went on under the slow strobe of the alarm lights and a steady buzzer for a soundtrack. The voice from the walls repeatedly asking to "cease operations and leave the building" made quiet moments, like Bishop Keith Ackerman's opening prayer, a little less reassuring. The buzzing cut off halfway through Mayor Tom Leppert's time at the mic. He thanked James and Central Dallas CDC director John Greenan after the two joined him onstage, and Leppert called Citywalk@Akard a "tremendous example of how to put something together that not even the banks can understand."

A reception on the third floor showed off the view from the roof deck, where the building's refurbished mid-century modern accent pieces were best displayed. Furnished apartments on the fifth floor were opened up for snooping around as well. We've got a slide show for your perusal too, with a few more looks at what they've done with the 52-year-old downtown high-rise.

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