Commercial Real Estate

Dallas Catalyst Project Continues, Despite Coronavirus

The Real Estate Council Foundation provides update on several Forest District projects.

As uncertainty from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues,  The Real Estate Council (TREC) Foundation says its work to further the Dallas Catalyst Project (DCP) effort in the Forest District pushes on.

The ongoing Dallas Catalyst Project is a community-driven partnership between TREC Foundation, Cornerstone Baptist Church, St. Philip’s School and Community Center, and CitySquare to revitalize the Forest District neighborhood in South Dallas. TREC Foundation has committed more than $2.5 million over three years as well as professional services toward catalytic real estate projects and community engagement initiatives within the neighborhood to ensure the Forest District reaches its full potential.

The work is part of the ongoing project to craft equitable development in the neighborhood. TREC oversees a $6 million fund provided by JP Morgan Chase that will finance development initiatives in the Forest District and two other low-income communities The Bottom and West Dallas Census Tract 205, lacking retail, commercial, and private development.

Here is a recent update TREC gave on the projects:

ALC Class Project: Cornerstone Community Market
This year’s ALC class is working alongside Cornerstone Baptist Church to install a small market next to the Cornerstone Community Laundromat and fill the second of three sites in a shopping center on South Boulevard. The market would provide Forest District residents with access to low-cost household items. To date, the project has received $78,550 from TREC Foundation. ALC Class Chair Matt Ballard, Project Managers Mike Galindo and Jacob Price, and class members are also helping Cornerstone apply for gap funding from the City of Dallas to construct a community kitchen in the remaining vacant space. The kitchen would be used to provide additional opportunities for local entrepreneurs and small businesses as well as culinary education classes for Forest District residents.

Young Guns Foundation Project: We Creation Innovation Center
First announced at last month’s Young Guns Casino Night, the 2020 Young Guns Foundation Project is to construct the We Creation Innovation Center for St. Philip’s School and Community Center. The facility will help St. Philip’s students, Forest District residents, and community organizations solve their most complex challenges through collaboration, project-based learning, and human-centric design. Project Managers Patrick Henning and Tara Harandi have been assembling their project team and working on logistics so that construction can begin in earnest once shelter-in-place orders have lifted.

Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Retail Space
TREC’s team, led by Developer Scott Rohrman and Volunteer Project Manager Mandi Giles, is preparing for construction on 1632 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and has recommended a local, minority-owned general contractor for the work. The storefront is one of several retail sites TREC is developing with St. Philip’s School and Community Center along 1632-1644 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. David Fazio, who is serving as Project Manager on the overall project, has worked with St. Philip’s officials on vetting small businesses and community organizations as potential tenants. One tenant has been secured, while two others maintain interest. To date, the retail project has received $475,000 in TREC Foundation funding to beautify the neighborhood, create jobs, and bring services back to the Forest District.

Better Block Forest District
The Dallas Catalyst Project and The Better Block Foundation are partnering on a two-day installation and celebration of the Forest District neighborhood. Initially scheduled for May 8-9, the event has been postponed until they can once again gather in person. Better Block Forest District aspires to show residents and community leaders the possibilities for activating spaces along a portion of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, one of the neighborhood’s main corridors.

Cornerstone Community Center Project
TREC members from Brasfield & Gorrie and Omniplan will help renovate the former Cornerstone Baptist Church building, located at 2815 S. Ervay St. The facility has been used for childcare services, educational programs, and other events. Brasfield & Gorrie’s Andrew Myers and Jason Weeks and Omniplan’s Meredith Rooker and Emma Smith are working toward designs for a more functional multipurpose space for Cornerstone. TREC Foundation’s $100,000 commitment toward this project comes from one of three Dallas Catalyst Project grants pledged last year.

Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Streetscape
TREC’s project team, made up of TREC members Emily Henry, Matt Lucas, and Patrick Kennedy has been working with our Dallas Catalyst Project partners, the City of Dallas, and the North Central Texas Council of Governments to develop a plan to make the streetscape along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard safer and more walkable for Forest District residents.

Forest Theater Restoration
CitySquare’s Forest Theater was about to start construction before the COVID-19 outbreak, so unfortunately the project has been delayed. During this time, they are hoping to fundraise for additional infrastructure improvements outside the theater, grow in their partnerships and relationships, and prepare for future construction. They are also working on building their capacity to provide the students at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Learning Center (soon to become an Exploratory Arts Academy) as well as the additional Dallas ISD schools in the area access to the services being provided in their facilities.

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