Remember That MLK Blvd. Business Facade/Revitalization Program? Um. Well.

Probably, oh, once every couple of weeks I get a call from a South Dallas shop owner complaining that the city won't turn over some of that long green from the MLK Blvd. Business Facade/Revitalization Program, which, as we mentioned last February, was supposed to be funded with the $92,522 in federal funds left over from the so very failed Bama Pie project. Well, long story short: There isn't an MLK Blvd. Business Facade/Revitalization Program.

Oh, there might be one day. But not today. Not tomorrow. Not ... well, you get the picture.

Here's how I found out.

I was looking at the council's agenda for Wednesday and noticed that the South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund is loaning $92,000 to something called the MLK/175 Gateway Project -- which, as it happens, is a former auto-repair shop owned by Richard Knight (and, yes, that would be former Dallas City Manager Richard Knight, who's now chairman and managing partner of Pegasus Texas Holdings LLC.) I called trust fund administrator Leo Hicks to see if the two were related. He said, no, absolutely not. This is money being spent on creating a new auto-repair shop. So, I asked him, "Whatever happened to the MLK Blvd. Business Facade/Revitalization Program, anyway?"

He said he didn't know but that I should talk to Lee McKinney, the Southern Dallas Assistant Director for the Office of Economic Development who happened to be working out of the trust fund's office today. So ...?

"It has not been created yet," says McKinney.

"The reason is, you have to create all of the parameters for the project. Seven, eight years ago we did a facade program in the Jefferson Corridor, where businesses put in new awnings and so forth, and it was eligible use of community development block grand money. But you have to put together a program, which means it would be available to all the people who meet the parameters. And, the bottom line is we have not put together parameters for the program."

And when will that happen? "Unfortunately, I am not the person who does that, and I don't know when it will be done. I don't know if there was an urgency to get it done."

McKinney knows there are businesses in the area who'd like some of that money -- she hears from them every so often, she says. But they want it all, and that won't happen. More than likely, she says, if and when the project gets off the ground the money will be doled out in small increments -- say, $8,000 loans, tops. But that's only after the city sets those parameters. And after HUD signs off. And after the city council says okee-doke.

So, there ya go. Now stop calling me. Feel free to keep calling McKinney though.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky