In the Cedars, Central Dallas Ministries Struggles to Find Support for Housing Project

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On Tuesday, the Dallas City Council's Housing Committee discussed 13 projects seeking low-income housing tax credits, among them Akard Plaza, which is being developed by Central Dallas Ministries' 7-year-old affordable-housing subsidiary Central Dallas Community Development Corporation. Central Dallas CDC's seeking $2 million from the city for what's expected to be a $25-million development at 1011 S. Akard Street, site of the former Sheraton, Ramada and Plaza hotels -- and a building currently owned by Ted and Larry Hamilton, who've been involved in some of the highest-profile redos downtown.

Only last month, Central Dallas Ministries hosted a design charette attended by Mayor Tom Leppert, council member Pauline Medrano and Mike Rawlings, the city's so-called "homeless czar." Also in attendance: members of the Cedars Neighborhood Association, with whom Central Dallas Ministries president and CEO Larry James has met often in recent months to win their support. But as James wrote on his blog Wednesday, the housing committee "voted to recommend to the full council at its meeting next Wednesday, February 25, that the city withhold support for our planned development."

That's because the CNA's membership voted overwhelmingly against supporting the project. Wrote James, "Thirty-nine relatively affluent people may be able to deny decent, high-quality housing to some of the residents in the district who need it most."

As KTVT-Channel 11's Bud Gillett reported last night, "Next-door neighbors at the Buzz Condominiums voted 29-3, over the weekend, to tell Dallas City Hall they don't want it either." And Medrano is likely to withdraw her support if Akard Plaza doesn't have area residents' OK: "If the neighborhood is not in agreement, then the project would not go forward."

It is indeed going before the council on Wednesday: It's Agenda Item No. 79, which points out another issue:

This project is within one mile of another Housing Tax Credit multifamily project that serves the same population and was funded within the last three years. State law prohibits approval of new tax credit projects that are located less than a mile from another tax credit project funded within the same year unless the projects are serving different clientele. In this case, the applicant will have to seek to get approval for a waiver for the one mile three year rule because the Akard Walk project located at 511 North Akard and within one mile of the Akard Plaza project received a 9% tax credit carry forward allocation for the 2007 funding year in July of 2006.

That project, of course, is also a Central Dallas Ministries development: Citywalk @ Akard.

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