Dallas High-Rise Plan Rejected

Dallas High-Rise Plan Rejected DALLAS, TX - plan to restore one of downtown's decaying high-rises into a major new residential development devoted in part to affordable housing has been rejected by an advisory board to the Dallas City Council. Redevelopment of the old LTV Tower at 1600 Pacific Ave. would have required tens of millions of dollars in tax-increment finance subsidy and interest. The payoff would have been restoration of one of downtown's largest vacant buildings and 590 new apartment units in the central city.

But members of the city's Downtown Connection TIF board were troubled by the project's huge subsidy requirement and a plan to set aside 236 units for lower-income residents. The board voted Monday to reject the plan.

Developers Craig MacKenzie and Curtis Lockey said the plan would be a great benefit to downtown's revival and to working residents who want to live in the city's core but can't afford market rates charged by existing buildings.

"If this project survives and moves forward, it will be the largest residential project in downtown Dallas," MacKenzie said.

For now, it appears to be an uphill fight for the redevelopment plan.

Council member Angela Hunt, whose district includes 1600 Pacific, said her concerns about the project mirrored those of the TIF board.

"Certainly this is a building we want to see revitalized," she said. The price, though, is simply too high for one project, she said.

According to figures provided by the city, the developers required up to $71 million in TIF financing plus $50 million in interest for the project, numbers that MacKenzie disputed.

In a presentation to the TIF board Monday, Lockey and MacKenzie estimated the TIF financing they need is about $46.3 million plus interest.

Either way, Hunt and the TIF board feared the project would require too big a piece of the $78 million that remains in the downtown TIF fund.

There was also concern about the plan to set aside 40 percent of the building for affordable housing.

"I'm an extremely strong proponent of affordable housing downtown, but it makes more sense to have a lot of buildings with a component of affordable housing vs. one building," Hunt said.

MacKenzie said that element of the project was misunderstood.

"This has never been a public housing project. This is for working-class people," he said.

The lowest income earner who could qualify to live in the building would have to make $25,000 a year, he said.

A third concern about the project also crept up in recent days, when the partnership Lockey and MacKenzie formed to complete the deal filed for bankruptcy.

Lockey explained that the project's financers had lost patience because of a series of delays with the TIF process.

Despite the rejection from the downtown TIF board, MacKenzie and Lockey still hope City Hall will approve their project. They are scheduled for a hearing before the City Council's Economic Development committee on Friday.
Source: DallasNews.com

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