Locked Out of LTV Tower Redo, Developer Sends City Council a Very Pointed Letter Today

Curtis Lockey and Craig MacKenzie, erstwhile developers of the LTV Tower 1600 Pacific Building and subjects of my column in the current edition of the paper, have sent to Dallas City Council members and city staffers a letter alleging deliberate discrimination against low-income persons and families on the part of -- you guessed it -- the Dallas City Council and the city officials to whom the letter is addressed.

This has to do with Forest City's Continental Building project. Last week there was a hearing in a back room at the Dallas Public Library, attended by me and about three other people, at which Forest City presented its new, suddenly very revised plan for the Continental, calling for lots of affordable housing spread all over the building in an even mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

But up until that hearing, as MacKenzie and Lockey document in their letter (signed by Lockey and available after the jump), the Dallas City Council had approved a Forest City plan calling for scanty few affordable units at the Continental, all of them one bedrooms "at the back of the bus" on the rear façade of the building facing an alley.

Families need not apply.

MacKenzie and Lockey got hold of that scheme only through an Open Records demand. I would guess that last week's very revised Forest City plan was the result of somebody looking at the kind of quite unfriendly questions the city has been getting from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development since Lockey and Mackenzie started raising Cain about the Dallas City Hall's deliberate flouting of federal rules for HUD-supported projects.

The rules call for a lot more affordable units than Dallas has produced. How many has Dallas produced? The city wouldn't answer that question for me directly, but I did come across a city council briefing last year in which assistant city manager A.C. Gonzales told the council the number of affordable units downtown in HUD-supported projects was zero. Zip. None.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in HUD money spent downtown over 20 years. HUD guidelines say buildings subsidized with that money should be 51-percent affordable. And ours are at zero percent?

Man. Those dudes at HUD are suckers, eh? We should all apply for HUD money. I'm going to spend mine on kayaks. But I will be careful to stipulate that these are HUD-supported kayaks. Yes, sir, you bet.

The fact that Forest City completely revised its original plan and agreed to do lots more affordable at the Continental may be a signal some people are thinking of taking another tack. I think its called contrition. I hope they don't have the same problem I always do with contrition. I'm always late.Curtis Lockey's Letter to Dallas City Council

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze