Officials at the Salvation Army will have to wait another month before learning if they can move forward with a planned 20-acre campus in northwest Dallas.
The Salvation Army hopes to build the $95 million facility to provide shelter and services to the homeless in an industrial area on North Stemmons Freeway, about a mile southwest of Love Field. The matter was scheduled to go before the Dallas City Council next week, but it was removed from the agenda Thursday afternoon after a property owner in the area paid to have it delayed 30 days, city officials said.
In a letter to the city dated April 1, Lawrence Siegel, president of cleaning products firm Scotch Corp., said he and other property owners in the area were in "intensive negotiations" with the Salvation Army about the project. Siegel paid a $150 fee to have the matter rescheduled.
"These negotiations are ongoing, but unless and until agreement is reached, we and other nearby owners are and will remain opposed to this project," Siegel said. "This requested delay is necessary to facilitate these negotiations."
The council is scheduled to take up the issue May 8.
Jeffrey Upperman, director of operations for the Salvation Army's Carr P. Collins Social Service Center, said he didn't expect the delay would have a meaningful effect on the project. Salvation Army officials will continue to meet with property owners in the area, Upperman said.
Salvation Army officials say they need the new campus to replace the organization's current homeless campus on Harry Hines Boulevard, adjacent to Parkland Hospital. During an interview last week, Upperman said the facility, which was built in 1986, has deteriorated over the years.
"The building's tired," he said. "It's well past its useful life."
The facility also isn't equipped to handle an intact family, he said, meaning fathers are sometimes separated from mothers and children when they come into the shelter. In cases in which single fathers come into the shelter with their children, officials have had to find areas to house them or place them in hotels until they can get them into another shelter, he said. The planned facility will allow families to stay together when they come into the shelter, Upperman said.
Before it can begin work on the project, the Salvation Army needs to have the land rezoned. Before the city can approve the request, it must poll property owners in the area about the project, said Roxana Rubio, a spokeswoman for the city of Dallas. If the owners of more than 20% of the land object to the project, the Salvation Army will need a 12-member super majority of the council to approve the zoning request, Rubio said.
The project has faced opposition from property owners worried about security at the campus. During a March 7 meeting of the Dallas Plan Commission, Andra Group CEO Tomima Edmark, who owns property near the proposed site, told commissioners she felt Salvation Army officials weren't forthcoming with information. In the earliest conversations, Salvation Army officials told property owners that the site would include a clinic and a shelter for domestic violence victims, with no housing for homeless people. But those plans changed, she said.
"Even today, we still don't feel like we know what is coming to our neighborhood," she said.
Ultimately, Edmark said she wanted enforcement mechanisms in place to hold the Salvation Army to the commitments it has made to property owners. Thursday afternoon, after the delay was announced, Edmark said she still hoped to see those mechanisms come about.
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“We look forward to working with the applicant to ensure that their representations to the community are memorialized in legally binding and enforceable deed restrictions," she said.
In an interview last week, Maj. Jon Rich, the Salvation Army's DFW Metroplex commander, said he thought the organization had dealt with the neighbors' worries. The campus will include perimeter fencing and security cameras, and security guards will patrol the campus 24 hours a day, he said.
Rich said the Salvation Army would continue meeting with property owners in the area. He hoped to bring enough of them on board with the project to avoid needing a super-majority vote.
"We have a lot of support at the City Council level," Rich said. "We're not sure we have that much."