First off, as promised yesterday, here's that Statler Hilton update, which was posted last night to the city's website as the cumbersomely titled Filling in the Missing Pieces Downtown Upcoming Redevelopment Projects Former Statler Hilton Building / Former Dallas Public Library Building (Downtown Connection TIF District), which is also the name of the next Fiona Apple record. It outlines in greater detail what the city hopes to get out of Leobardo Trevino in exchange for around $16 million in TIF funds -- a could-be retail-hotel-residential condo development that'll be entirely asbestos-abated, stripped down, polished up and partially moved-in by December 31, 2013. But it's not the only downtown project at the TIF till: Tim Headington's Joule expansion is presently under review ...
But Friend of Unfair Park "Lakewoodhobo" had more pressing questions yesterday, like: What's the upcoming agenda item related to City Lights? Which, for those who don't recall, was supposed to be Margaux Development Company and Matt Malouf's massive mixed-use development extending from Bryan to Live Oak near Good Latimer. It's been in and out of City Hall for, what, six years now? (Here's a 2008 briefing on the subject.) But the city, land owners, the developers and neighborhood associations got crossways, and just like that, a $175-million development was back to zero. Then, suddenly, it was a go again in May 2008 after council OK'd a land deal. And then ... dead again, because of a provision over a parking garage. But that was then; this is now.
Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez told the council in a memo posted yesterday that the city's ready to sell its land across Live Oak from the Latino Cultural Center, where the broken promise of that public parking garage in 2008 more or less led to the death of the deal. Let's let the city manager explain:
Finalization of development plans for this development requires acquisition of City-owned property. The sale price will be fair market value as determined by an independent appraisal. The sale will require separate City Council action.
The City Lights development will be located at the northeast corner of North Good Latimer Expressway and Live Oak Street. Minerva Partners, Ltd., a Texas Limited Partnership represented by Matt Malouf, currently owns approximately 4 acres of vacant land located adjacent to a City-owned tract of land to the east. The City-owned site contains some vacant buildings and parking. It is no longer utilized for City operations and has been declared surplus property.
The City previously attempted to sell the property to Mr. Malouf in 2007-2008. The contract was contingent on Mr. Malouf designing and constructing a garage located at the Latino Cultural Center. Due to changing financial conditions, it was impossible for Mr. Malouf to finance and build a public garage. He worked with Latino Cultural Center staff to develop construction plans for the proposed garage which will be transferred to the City of Dallas as a contingency of the land sale.
Says Gonzalez, the sale should close before end of the fiscal year, which is but months away. As for whether this means City Lights is about to power up again, hard to say: Readers of the Dallas Fort Worth Urban Forum remember Angela Hunt once saying, "It's gonna happen. Expect good news very soon." That was in October 2007. I'll make some calls Monday ...
And, finally for now, maybe you remember how back in July of last year the city coughed up $100,000 to help developer Jack Matthews turn a S. Lamar warehouse into a film and television production facility. At the time, it was desperately needed: Fox was here shooting The Good Guys, which was about to get booted out of its Fair Park home for the State Fair of Texas. And Dallas was, for the first time, overflowing with network productions, including NBC's Chase and Fox's Lone Star.
But right now there's nothing: Good Christian Bitches or Belles or Bores or whatever ABC's calling its Park Cities-set series will actually shoot in Los Angeles. And TNT's still finishing that next-gen Dallas pilot, after which it'll decide if it's a go -- and where it'll shoot. And maybe you remember: When the series was originally on the air, it barely filmed in Dallas -- maybe about "20 percent of the time," Linda Gray told Unfair Park a few weeks ago.
But the city's convinced: Matthews needs another $235,000 in an economic development grant to finish out the 150,000-square-foot facility, which presently lacks air conditioning. Writes Gonzalez:
Once this grant is authorized, CCH Lamar Partners I, L.P. will be able to enter into agreements quickly with companies wishing to produce television series feature films and relate creative industry projects. Assisting with the development of ths film production facility will stimulate business and commercial activity in the municipality. But for the City's assistance developing this facility, future projects will be lost to competing cities and states, including the first season of the new TNT Dallas television series now in final negotiations with the city.
Staff [meaning, Dallas Film Commission director Janis Burklund] has determined that assisting to develop this production facility is imperative for successful recruitment of productions such as the Dallas television series to this location in the Cedars and to the municipality. Not having suitable space that meets the needs of these production companies has put Dallas at a competitive disadvantage.
Say Gonzalez, Matthews -- the developer behind South Side of Lamar, the Beat condos, the new NYLO and the convention center hotel -- will only get the quarter-mil if he gets someone to sign to a six-month lease by June 21, 2012.
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