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At Mockingbird Station and Elsewhere, DART's Looking at Long-Term Leases

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Dallas Area Rapid Transit spokesman Morgan Lyons called back to answer some questions raised by the minutes from last month's meeting -- as in, is DART looking to lease or sell properties adjacent to some of its light-rail stations? Says Lyons, DART's really hoping to sign long-term leases -- specifically, at this point, at Mockingbird Station, where, he says, Cityville parent company Inland American Communities has been in discussions with the transit agency about dropping an apartment complex in the DART 735-space parking lot. But it's been delayed, Lyons says, "because the economy continues to stink."

From the briefing itself, a little more detail:

Chair [John Carter] Danish asked why some projects, such as Mockingbird, become hamstrung? [Jack] Wierzenski replied that Mockingbird, and other similar projects, has been immobilized by the prevailing poor economy. He continued that financing for any of the projects is problematic; in the case of the Mockingbird development, financing for a four-story apartment complex is available but financing for a full tower (as planned) is not expected to materialize until the economic climate improves. Chair Danish reasoned that the scarcity of financing would apply to all TOD's (Transit Oriented Developments) for the coming year.

That said, at last month's Revenue Committee meeting, many of DART's properties were examined to see what kind of long-term revenue they could generate. And while there was some talk about maybe offloading some of them, that's not really an option at present.

"As you can imagine we have a lot of real estate, so the purpose of the briefing was to pull together the parcels and have a conversation about maximizing those properties," Lyons says. "Could you lease something and let a developer work on it where you can still provide the parking you need, especially at Mockingbird Station, but do something that brings in more money and creates density around stations? [Selling the properties] is not one of the things we want to do. A long-term lease is a continuing revenue stream."

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