I'll leave it to Schutze, who's covered this subject at great length, to explain precisely how Larry and Ted Hamilton wound up including more affordable-housing units in their Atmos Complex project downtown. Perhaps Jim will do so as early as tomorrow morning, when, I see here, the Downtown Connection Tax Increment Financing District board will meet with the Downtown Dallas Development Authority to discuss the Hamiltons' project -- specifically, a dramatic increase in the number of affordable units (from 23 initially to 170 when both phases of the makeover are completed by December 31, 2016) and an extension on groundbreaking and move-in-by deadlines.
The Hamiltons, who've fretted over this project for a long while, were unavailable today; messages have been left. But the head of the city's Office of Economic Development, Karl Zavitlkovsky, tells Unfair Park this afternoon that the developers received that low-income housing tax credit from the state and "scored high on it, because this is a redo of an existing property." (As you may recall, Forest City got the four-building property as the result of its deal with the city to rehab the Mercantile and then gifted it to the Hamiltons after insisting the Statler Hotel stood in the way of an Atmos Complex makeover.)
The tax credits, says Zavitkovsky, "allowed us to get more affordable units downtown and create a different configuration. They'll convert the newer complex on the west side and put many of the low-income units in there, and do a combination of affordable and market housing in the historic buildings, with parking in the middle, and the they'll have common amenities." He says there will also be some changes made to the structure of the Hamiltons' TIF deal.
Zavitkovsky says the new financials in place are significant because they'll create "more affordable units downtown, which we want to achieve." And the new tax credits quite simply make it an easier deal to finance as well -- because, as Forest City found out even before the market took a dive, that's a hard property to extreme-makeover for myriad reasons, the Statler being just one.
"It's impossible to redevelop conventionally," says Zavotkovsky, "so I think we've hit upon a fix where we're satisfied with the uses and getting something financeable, which has been a real challenge."
He walks about the possible uses for it -- maybe student housing for the University of North Texas law school that's planning on moving into the old Municipal Building. Who knows. Hard to say at present. This much he does know: Groundbreaking should begin in the "late second, early third quarter of this year," with a certificate of occupancy due by February 28, 2013, for the first of the two phases of redo.
"There are all kinds of possibilities there," says Zavitkovsky. "It's also a gateway to the Farmers Market. And keep in mind: The Downtown Dallas 360 plan will be presented to the council on the 16th, and to be able to link that whole Main Street-Commerce Street corridor, that's pretty significant linkage. And getting another dysfunctional building off the market is good too."
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