Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has a Top Ten List to “grow” Southern Dallas. KERA’s BJ Austin says it includes a “culture of clean” – getting rid of neighborhood blight, and a “private” investment fund to spark development.
Mayor Mike Rawlings promised a focus on Southern Dallas economic development if elected. He unveiled his plan to a large crowd at the South Side Studios on Lamar. The Mayor wants to rebrand Southern Dallas and debunk the myth that it is crime ridden and a charity case instead of an asset. The plan calls for stronger neighborhoods, including 30 new neighborhood associations in the next year; stronger schools -- the mayor is adopting four; and a “culture of clean” – getting rid of neighborhood blight, litter and graffiti.
Rawlings: To sell Southern Dallas, we must get this area market ready. If you’re selling your house, then you invest the time in getting it market ready. You clean it up a little bit, dontcha?
Then, says the Mayor, private investors will be ready to move in.
Rawlings: I will initiate a private, not a public, investment fund of 20 million dollars plus with investments provided by dozens of investors in Dallas who can potentially offer not only their dollars, but also intellectual capital that can enhance these projects as well.
Mayor Rawlings is focusing on several areas ripe for short-term results that will set the stage for longer-term development: including upgrades to Jefferson Boulevard, the Lancaster Corridor near the VA, West Dallas, and around UNT Dallas. The Mayor says he takes responsibility for the list and intends to keep a scorecard on the progress.
That’s interesting to State Representative Helen Giddings and True Lee Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Donald Parish. They say they've seen Southern Dallas plans come and go over the years, but maybe this one is different.
Giddings: This plan has more specifics and is much more detailed. And in addition to that, the scorecard to make sure the accountability is there.
Parish: If he’s willing to stake his political career on getting something done, then I think something will happen.
Mayor Rawlings predicts the plan will grow the Southern Dallas tax base by 50% over four years.