Under a tent along Bexar Street in South Dallas this morning, city officials treated a crowd of more than 100 to an enthusiastic display of back-slapping and upbeat progress reports for the neighborhood revitalization underway around them. Surrounded by blocks of mixed-use construction and new brick townhomes, Mayor Dwaine Caraway reminded the crowd that this is the "Bexar Street from back in the day," and praised "my hardest working colleague," Councilwoman Carolyn Davis, for shepherding the Bexar Street Corridor project all this way.
"When she's taking on the strides, she takes them in stride," Caraway offered.
After thanking a handful of neighborhood leaders and elected officials, Davis recounted her history with Bexar Street in prepared remarks. "They've given me something to say, and I'm going to say it," Davis said. "Finding the funds to jump-start this project was my first priority" when she took her place on the council, she said.
From there, Cobbie Ransom, who heads the city's Neighborhood Investment Program, pointed out the development's progress so far -- most of all, he said, the mixed-use building at Bexar Street and Starks Avenue, where they're ready to begin leasing. "And I know councilwoman Davis wanted me to be sure and mention the retail that's going in there," he said, ticking off the four businesses that are ready to move just in as soon as they get their certificates of occupancy.
Sure enough, the brick-and-earth-tones building oozing mixed-use charm a block away already has the names of the businesses lettered on its black canvas awnings: "Owens Grill & Ice Cream," "Half Price Paints," "Everybody's Dollar Store" and "Da Nu U Barber Stylist."
Though there's none of the big-chain retail Davis often mentions looking forward to seeing move into her district, Ransom did point out that T.C. Grocery, just past the police barricades set up for the event, had been remodeled outside. Sure enough, its wall facing Bexar Street is newly painted to match the new development -- even if inside, cramped aisles and wood paneling still exist beneath dim lighting.
As the development moves along through its three phases, Ransom said, building will include new housing -- some built by Habitat for Humanity -- a culinary skills training center and a Dallas Police outpost with a community prosecutor.
Folks from Habitat were on hand for the ceremony, as were reps from Ecological Community Builders, the home re-use developers with that converted Dallas ISD portable Robert mentioned earlier this week. If the city signs off on their plan, there'll be five old converted portables parked in that spot as housing for adults ages 55 and up, and 30 total homes around Dallas.