Rebuilding South Dallas
By: Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, Guest Contributor
The issue of affordable housing has long been a pressing one in Dallas, particularly in neighborhoods that have historically been neglected by developers. Non-profit organizations such as the Community Wide Development Corporation, began by businessman Sherman Roberts, have attempted to remedy the situation.
In June, the company that Mr. Roberts began eight years ago, will launch the Lancaster Urban Village housing and retail development project, located on 2.5 acres of land on Lancaster Road in the southern sector of our city across the street from the Veterans Administration Hospital.
The development, which will be a model for future housing developments in the area, will include 45 apartment dwellings in a gated community with state-of-the-art amenities for families with and without children. Included in the development are a 1600 square foot family- oriented restaurant, and an 8000 square foot office and residential building.
The total development costs are $30 million. I was able to secure $8.5 million in federal funding for the project. Since the very first day that I became a member of Congress, affordable housing has been a pressing issue. People need quality places to live, and the Lancaster Urban Village project will provide them with exactly that.
Throughout our country, it is clear to elected officials, business owners, community leaders and members of the clergy that neglected neighborhoods can be revitalized through the development of affordable housing, and prudent economic development. Families that are looking for good schools for their children are interested in living in areas where quality affordable housing exists.
A visionary since the time that he graduated from East Texas State, Mr. Roberts, a native of Abilene, does not intend to stop his efforts to help revitalize portions of South
Dallas with Lancaster Kiest Village.
Their long-range vision includes the development of more than 325 units of multi-family housing, and more than 53,000 square feet of office and retail space in the Lancaster Coordinator. Their plans include developing residences where employees of the VA hospital can live and raise their families.
With the cost of gas and transportation rising, imagine the delight of a VA employee who is able to walk from his or her residence in the morning to their place of employment, stop on their way in an eatery to purchase a cup of coffee, and a newspaper or plug in their mobile device. This is the future. This is what Mr. Roberts and his colleagues intend to do.
I have been supportive of their efforts to rebuild our neighborhoods, and will continue to be there for them, securing available federal funds, and encouraging them to seek other sources of support.
What City Wide has done with the Lancaster Urban Village project is consistent with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings’ “Grow South” initiative. The mayor’s plans call for strengthening neighborhoods, schools and cultural institutions in South Dallas. If fully funded and executed properly, it will help to bring about a renaissance in the city’s southern urban core.
The Lancaster Urban Village project is a crucial part of a new beginning that is long overdue. Our city will not be the same once the dreams of individuals such as Sherman Roberts and the company that he leads are realized.