The Oakglen Apartments are, for lack of a better term, a craphole. Long-abandoned with boarded-up windows and, unless City Hall made good on its promise to mow the city-owned property on Wednesday after WFAA ran a story about neighbors' complaints, completely choked with brush and weeds.
It's not supposed to be like this. We don't mean in the abstract sense that apartments are built to be inhabited or that property owners, city of Dallas included, are supposed to keep their properties up to code. We mean there were concrete plans, and that those plans were funded with $850,000 in the city's HUD money. Today, the 64-unit Oakglen Apartments are supposed to look something more like this:
Piecing together exactly what happened isn't easy, as neither the city nor the developer has returned our calls, but the broad strokes are easy to follow. On February 23, 2011, the City Council approved the loan to a North Carolina-based nonprofit called Builders of Hope, a rookie on the Dallas housing scene that should not be confused with the well-established, well-respected local nonprofit Builders of Hope CDC.
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Builders of Hope's Dallas arm was EcoLogical Community Builders, which was established by Oak Cliff stalwarts Zac Lytle and the late Bennett Miller. The group also got $200,000 to rehab residences on Starks Avenue in the Bexar Street corridor into senior and workforce housing. Aside from the DISD portable they repurposed into a house, that also failed to get off the ground.
Property records show that BOH/ECB did indeed buy the Oakglen property with the HUD funds, but the rest of the proposed $2.6 million redevelopment never happened. Why? Perhaps the property needed more work than the nonprofit thought. Perhaps rehabbing properties in blighted parts of southern Dallas is a different beast than in a gentrifying Oak Cliff. In any case, the city's back to square one.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.