Today, Mayor Tom to Deal With Downtown's Empty Buildings

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Two weeks ago, we posted to Unfair Park a list of some three dozen vacant buildings downtown, as identified by city economic development staffers. Mayor Tom Leppert told us in mid-September he was going to use every means available -- including City Attorney Tom Perkins -- to do something about those empty buildings, among them the endangered Statler Hilton Hotel and Crozier Tech, a city-designated landmark. Because if those buildings aren't rehabbed or torn down, he said, "It will stop momentum downtown, and we need movement. Something needs to happen, one way or another."

We're so close to finding out what that something is: Late yesterday we received a notice from Chris Heinbaugh that at 2:30 p.m. today, Leppert will be joined by other city officials to announce "details of the City's Downtown Vacant Building Initiative [which is] critical to both public safety and economic development Downtown." The release reiterated points Leppert made earlier to Unfair Park: Using search warrants, the city surveyed 12 of the abandoned structures, and the city sent violation notices to owners of six of the buildings that were deemed in "serious condition." Also: "Most do not appear to be accurately valued on the County tax rolls." Among those attending the press conference: City Attorney Tom Perkins.

The press conference will take place at 1604 Main Street, which is on the county tax rolls for $859,000. And it's an interesting property, to say the least: Owner Westmount Realty Capital, LLC once promised that it was going to turn the structure, built in 1912, into some kind of "future development."

But the city's inventory notes: "Property owner is seeking to demolish buildings due to dilapidated conditions." And it's a property that's been the subject of much discussion on the Dallas Fort Worth Urban Forum boards ... for five years. The end is near. --Robert Wilonsky

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