Hey, city council: If you want to be developers, where’s ours?

Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to read our magazine cover story this month about a theoretical investment of $100 million in revenue bonds to turn a critical part of our neighborhood into a walkable, mixed-use project designed to lift everything around it. Or maybe you’ve read our Back Talk blog post about the story and formulated some opinons on the idea.

Well, in a surprisingly quick case of life imitating art, check out what the Dallas Observer is reporting happened at Wednesday’s council meeting: The council voted to spend $120,000 on a study to ostensibly figure out a way to turn the former Red Bird Mall (now Southwest
Center Mall
) in South Dallas into something productive. After reading Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway’s comments in the story, I have to wonder if the mall site could be the next real estate development project — following the proposed taxpayer-owned $500 million-plus downtown convention center hotel initiative — tackled by a city council that seems to have no problem envisioning itself in the real estate development business:

"What do we do? What do we do?" Caraway is quoted in the Observer as telling fellow councilman Mitch Rasansky, who questioned the wisdom of spending the money for the study. "We can’t allow the mall to sit idle and wait. Something has to move forward for those folks and that community, and I’d much rather be doing something than sitting and waiting."

I have no problem with looking for ways to help our neighborhoods improve — after all, that’s what our cover story was all about. And I have no problem with spending $120,000 for a study if the results of the study are going to provide something the city can actually do to improve the situation. But if the solution is for the city to take control of the mall property and, a la the downtown hotel project, just go ahead and "do something" with it, all I can say is:

Hey, where’s our city subsidy for a big project in our neighborhood? We’ve already taken care of the initial planning in this month’s magazine…


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