March General Meeting Recap - "What's Going On Downtown?" With the City of Dallas
Thank you to all who attended the March General Meeting of the Dallas Downtown Association. At this meeting, we hosted the City of Dallas to come and talk about what is happening with downtown.
City Manager Brian Latta spoke about the issue of homelessness and the complexity of solving the issue. He also spoke about how the City of Dallas focuses on dealing with the issue in a humane way, and that the days of bussing people out of the city or state are simply over. Further, he discussed how the vast majority of the homeless in Dallas are from Dallas or Polk County, and have connections here. Recent federal rulings have protected the rights of the unhoused to camp on public property, but the City of Dallas ensures that these individuals are not littering, or using the restroom on public sidewalks.
Mr. Latta also spoke about the commitment the City has made to downtown by hiring on city staff to work part of their week directly with the DDA and other non-profit organizations in the community, and he believes that the City will always commit resources to downtown to support the area and its businesses.
After Mr. Latta spoke, Charlie Mitchell, the Economic and Community Development Director spoke in detail about many of the programs the City has to assist the downtown. He spoke in length about the Urban Renewal district and the funds from that program that are used to help business owners with building improvements. The district recently spent the majority of the funds for this program, but the City Council allocated $200,000 to the district to continue funding these grants with money provided by the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act, ARPA. $100,000 was allocated to businesses next year, and Mr. Mitchell expects that the remaining $100,000 will be allocated this year to the eight (8) businesses that applied for grants.
Additionally, he spoke briefly about the $1,000 Minor Improvement Grants that are available year-round to downtown businesses to make minor improvements like window and door replacement and painting. You can apply for those grants here.
One of the major projects the City is looking towards is the redevelopment of the property at 791 Main Street (formerly a Bank of America branch). The City is in the process of closing on the property, where they will work to demolish the current building and clean up the known environmental hazards on the site. Next, they will work with an architect to design some concepts for what the building would look like, and take those concepts to the community for feedback to see what the community would like to see on the site. Mr. Mitchell would like to see the site provide the maximum economic impact possible to downtown and the community overall.
Finally, Mr. Mitchell spoke about some of the other projects the city is working on, such as the new master plan for the LaCreole node and the redevelopment of the former mill site. You can learn more about those projects below:
During the Q&A, a question about the allocation of the ARPA funds across the city was asked, and while Mr. Latta was not available to answer that question, he provided this breakdown via email.
- Building Improvement Grants ($200K)
- Grant Match for Japanese Garden ($150K)
- Police Vehicle ($75K)
- Fire Training Facility ($1M)
- Fire Living Quarters ($500K)
- Citywide Security System ($400K)
- New Ambulances ($500K)
- La Creole Master Plan Update ($150K)
- Library Restroom Remodel ($100K)
- Bulk Water Station ($60K)
- Contingency/Inflation ($600K)
Again, thank you for everyone who attended the meeting, and thank you for your continued support of DDA and the downtown! If you want to join the DDA, you can sign up here.