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Exclusive: DCAD Just Made Downtown Land a Whole Lot More Valuable

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Mayor Tom Leppert returns from China tomorrow, and he might not get much of a chance to sleep off his jet lag. It's likely that in coming days, the mayor can expect sarcastic thank-you notes from downtown property owners whose property values -- and property taxes -- are about to go through the roof, all because of the convention center hotel he’s been pushing through the council.

According to documents obtained today by Unfair Park, the Dallas Central Appraisal District is exponentially increasing the value of downtown land -- at least, they're upping the value of the parking lot upon which Leppert would like to build the hotel. Property collectively worth just $7.3 million last week is on the books for $36.5 million today. One parcel at 702 Young Street is currently on DCAD's books for $2,077,820; the new appraised value is $10,389,100.

And it's not just the proposed hotel property either: Michael Anderson -- general counsel for Chavez Properties, which owns the land -- today provided Unfair Park with 10 appraisals for downtown parcels also owned by Chavez Properties. And while they didn’t see the 397 percent hike the hotel land did, the combined value more than doubled -- from $9.3 million to $18.9 million.

Anderson expressed concern that the majority of downtown properties will also be affected, creating “a Boston Tea Party tax revolt.” He didn’t name names, but says he knows why this happened. “It’s because of all the people against the hotel project who have used the DCAD value as part of their argument,” Anderson said.

By which he means, of course, Angela Hunt and Mitchell Rasansky, who have asked why the city's paying about $41 million for land valued only at $7 million, more or less. Hunt could not be reached for comment, and, of course, Rasansky has been muzzled.

It's unclear whether the values of all downtown properties are being substantially upped by DCAD; Cheryl Jordan, DCAD's spokesperson, refused to comment on the appraisals. This much we do know: New appraisals are being sent out to all local properties tomorrow, after which Anderson expects hell to be raised by property owners. Jordan also said DCAD expects to have a better grasp on the re-valuations' impact on downtown by May 23. --Sam Merten

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