A parking lot between the DART stop at Mockingbird Station and a nearby Kroger could be turned into a 429-unit apartment complex. Developers, who are asking for $29 million in tax incentives from the city, say at least 20 percent of the apartments would be made affordable to people earning 80 percent or less of the area’s median income. That caps a renter’s salary at $48,300 or $68,950 for a family of four.
A Dallas City Council committee on Monday recommended that the full council sign off on the funding for the $117 million project from the Trammell Crow Company, which also plans to build a three-level underground parking garage that would replace most of the more than 700 parking spaces now on the lot.
As is, those parking spaces are sparingly used by rail commuters taking DART up on its offer to “park and ride.” More often, most of the lot is empty.
The money from the city would be taken out of a tax increment financing, or TIF, district intended to support such “transit-oriented development” near light rail stations. Mockingbird Station, with its movie theater and retail and apartments, is one of only a few examples of any such development actually happening around a DART stop. It says something about Dallas’ track record on this front that even the poster child of transit-oriented development in Dallas has for years abutted a huge, empty parking lot. But not for much longer.
DART and city officials are meanwhile eyeing other such “park and ride” lots. The plan is to pitch developers on the potential at the sites, finally spurring the transit-oriented development—along with more affordable housing—that these rail stations have long promised but seldom delivered. Mockingbird Station should be the rule, not the exception.