Hidden Treasure: a doser look at Oak Cliff real estate

Ask almost anyone who lives north of the Trinity what he thinks about Oak Cliff, and the answer is predictable: “I wouldn’t go down there . . . especially at night.” Ask if the person has ever been there: “Well, no, except to the zoo when I was a kid.” tilt’s not the river that separates those who live north of the Trinity from those who live to the south. It’s a barrier far more immovable, one as historical as it is classic: Blue collar/white collar. Black/white. Wet/dry. City sophisticates/country cousins. The right side of the tracks/the wrong side of the tracks. That’s the image. |And over time, image has a way of becoming truth: “Oak Cliff isn’t the right place to live.” Developers stay away. Realtors steer clear. Businesses locate elsewhere. Lenders redline. And plain folks? Well, they just talk. And talk can be deadly. But Oak Cliff is fed up with being the stepchild, with staying home while everyone else goes to the development ball. It dares those north of the Trinity to see through their myopia, to look past the image. “Down there” is about as precise as most folks can come to pinpointing Cliff on a Dallas city map. And there’s a reason for the area’s clouded identity. Even those who live in Oak Cliff draw the boundaires differently.

The western and southern boundaries pose no problem: Oak Cliff includes all the area within the Dallas city limits down to the suburbs of Duncanville and DeSoto on the south and Grand Prairie on the west. By most accounts, it’s bordered on the north by 1-30, the Dallas/Fort Worth Turnpike.

The eastern boundary is the one that has a way of moving around, depending on the point a person is trying to make: If your purpose is to raise the percentage of whites to blacks, the boundary is drawn right down Highway 67 (Marvin D. Love Freeway). If you’re trying to boost the statistics of middle- and upper-middle-aclass houses and the country club that goes with them, the boundary moves to the east, to 1-35 (R.L. Thornton Freeway). If you want to increase the area’s size and population or if you believe that an area that traditionally bears the name Oak Cliff (often referred to as Southeast or East Oak Cliff) should be included, the boundary moves all the way to the river.

“Any time you find 300,000 people living in an area about one hundred miles square, you’re going to find some that would like to be distinguished from others,” says Richard D. Mathis, an urban sociologist and adjunct lecturer at SMU. “You’re going to find a variety of communities.” And that’s perhaps the real story of Oak Cliff: variety. The area is about as homogeneous as alphabet soup.

Yet this area, which includes up to one-third of the city’s land and population, has a very singular image: poor, black, uneducated and crime-ridden.

“People in leadership positions, the press and others tend to have an overgen-eralization of what’s south of downtown. They refer to it as South Dallas. Yet South Dallas is a very small area,” says Ray Stanland of the city’s Department of Planning and Development. In fact, South Dallas is across the Trinity from Oak Cliff and immediately south of downtown.

Many Oak Cliff residents, promoting their Chamber of Commerce’s “Take a Closer Look” campaign, attribute the tunnel-vision perception of their area to the fact that Oak Cliff is often the place people drive through to get to some other place. The windshield view isn’t one that residents believe reflects the true Oak Cliff.

“You’re driving down 1-35 or across 1-30. All you see are our worst developments or lots of trees which cover our best developments. In those trees, though, are $100,000 and $300,000 homes. Yet you drive down the Dallas North Tollway, and you can’t help but see the mansions because there aren’t any trees,” says Jim Fite, a seventh-generation resident of Oak Cliff and president of First Mark Realtors/Judge Fite Co., Inc.

If you exit into Oak Cliff-from 1-30 onto Sylvan or Hampton or Westmoreland-you’ll see just about anything you want to see. Oak Cliff is much like Texas’ quickly shifting weather: If you don’t like the first few blocks you encounter, wait a minute; drive a bit further down the road, and you may like the next block. Oak Cliff is a series of tiny, recognizable neighborhoods.

For a broadstroke view of Oak Cliff, take a couple of quarter-hour side trips off the freeways. Take the first exit off the turnpike and head south on Sylvan.

Though you’re only three to five minutes from downtown, the change is so abrupt that you’ll have difficulty believing you’re still in Dallas. Check your rearview and side mirrors. That Trans Am that was muscling in on you is no longer there. Central Expressway, this is not.

Many Oak Cliff residents, in fact, get a chuckle out of pointing out that, while those who live in North Dallas are still bumper to bumper on Central, they’re already at home with their feet propped up.

Another point of local pride is the preservation of trees and green spaces in Oak Cliff. As you’re driving along Sylvan, particularly if you’re in the inside lane, you’ve probably noticed the long-fingered massive oak trees hanging over and shading the street. Many of Oak Cliffs streets are lined with these aged oaks and native pecans. And practically every neighborhood has its own park. In terms of even distribution (White Rock Lake accounts for much of the acreage in North Dallas) and quality, Oak Cliff excels.

“Oak Cliff and East Dallas have the best parks in the city. The older parks have horticulture beds and surrounding architecture that was built during the W.P.A. program that just can’t be duplicated,” says Tom Anderson, superintendent of planning and design for the city’s parks.

To find out what’s hidden behind all those massive trees, take a left turn onto any of the first few streets you encounter. In the Kessler Park area, the one that Oak Cliff residents like to refer to as their version of the Park Cities, you’ll find $100,000 and $300,000 homes. Houses of much the same period and architectural character are tucked into wooded hillsides along winding roads.

Now, back on Sylvan Avenue and heading south again, prepare yourself for a change of equal magnitude. You’re about to encounter the image: poor and stagnating. The houses are smaller and increasingly unkempt as you near Davis Street. Take a left there; now you’re heading back toward the Central Business District.

You’ve just entered Rural, USA, circa late-Fifties. You don’t need a history book to tell you that time has stood still here. Like a coloring book, a clash of images hits your eyes. An unimaginative box-shaped building, covered with cheap siding, sits next to a curious old structure with ornate curlicues at the roofline. But you can’t see the architecture for the clutter. Handwritten signs posted in windows are no more sightly than the litter that blows across the street in front of you.

This is the diversity of old Oak Cliff.

For an entirely different view, trace the development to the south. Head down Highway 67 and turn off at Camp Wisdom Road. You’re almost in the suburbs now, and that’s the character of this immediate area. To the east is street after street of large brick houses on well-manicured lots. To the west is giant Red Bird Mall. But for a more rolling terrain and a well-integrated population, you could be in the suburbs – anywhere in Dallas.

A MOTORIST’S VIEW of Oak Cliff may tell you of its diversity, but it doesn’t get down to the nitty-gritty. When you buy a house, you buy the neighborhood -its schools, its crime, its economy. You determine who you’ll live next to and with whom your children will play. How does Oak Cliff stack up on these critical issues?

Image or Reality: Oak Cliff is a high-crime area.

Should you lock your doors, roll up your windows and carry a revolver when you cross the Trinity to the south? The crime index system, which divides Dallas into 33 districts, tells the straight story.

The city reports crime in terms of incidence of major violent crimes (homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault) and property crimes (burglary, theft, auto theft) per 1,000 people. For comparison, it’s important to know the range in 1981: Ranking first, with 138.9 major violent and property crimes per 1,000 persons, was Fair Park; the lowest ranking, 33rd, went to Mountain Creek, a large area in western Oak Cliff, that had 18.4 crimes per 1,000 persons.

The three areas that make up the older, northern sections of Oak Cliff rank ] 2th (81.3 crimes per 1,000 people), 14th (76.2) and 30th (45.0) out of the 33 districts. Looking at two areas similar in age and proximity to downtown, East Dallas and Oak Lawn, you’ll find that they rank seventh and 10th with 95.2 and 86.8 crimes per 1,000 people, respectively. The area that ranked 30th, one in northwestern Oak Cliff, has only 1.9 more crimes per 1,000 people than Highland Park.

The central areas, one on the west side of 1-35 and the other on the east, are quite similar to the northeastern section of Oak Cliff, with rankings of 13th and 11th.

The Red Bird Mall and Airport area, a relatively new section in southern Oak Cliff, ranks 20th (65.8 crimes per 1,000 people) and has a crime rate that is less than half that of the worst section of Dallas. By the numbers, it is lower in crime than the Love Field area (67.2) and somewhat higher than the area in North Dallas that is bounded by LBJ Freeway, Loop 12, Central Expressway and the Dallas North Toll way (60.7).

Cross over I – 35 to the east, and the rate drops slightly to 57.9 crimes per 1,000, or a ranking of 24th. Compare this to what is considered a safe, northern suburb-Richardson-and you’ll find that the North Dallas suburb had only 3.2 fewer crimes per 1,000 persons.

As you move out to the Trinity, to an area that most longtime Oak Cliff residents no longer consider part of their community, you might think about rolling up your windows and locking your doors. These two long, narrow zones across the river from South Dallas are ranked second and fifth in crime by city police.

What’s the bottom line on crime? Oak Cliff follows the pattern of the rest of Dallas: The closer you live to downtown, the higher the crime rate. The statistics, like the windshield view of Oak Cliff, reveal a diverse area.

Image or Reality: Oak Cliff is peopled by a single race-black.

“It’s unbelievable the superstition and ignorance that I witness daily about Oak Cliff. The superstition is that it’s almost a totally black area and that it’s a blighted area that has very little future,” says Rich-ard Mathis.

In fact, the 1980 census shows that the northern and southwestern sections of Oak Cliff are racially mixed: In the north, the black population is 12.6 percent; Hispanic, 27 percent. In the southwest, blacks make up 42.1 percent of the popu-lation; Hispanics, 3.5 percent. As you cross 1-35, the black population rises to 91.5 percent.

There’s no question that many Oak Cliff residents, particularly older ones, talk wistfully of the times before integration. And, as recent redistricting battles show, race is still an issue that is very much alive. But many people who have recently moved into Oak Cliff prefer an integrated community.

“One of the unique things about north Oak Cliff is that it’s a naturally integrated community. Blacks, browns and whites all opted to live here,” says John S. Pinkston, who refers to his neighborhood of Lake Cliff as a “front-porch” neighborhood.

“A lot of what’s happened is just a panic – an overreaction to the expansion and movement of the black population,” says Mathis. “To me, Oak Cliff includes the most significant black community in Dallas. A substantial portion of the black population is middle- and upper-middle class. That population is affluent and spends money; it’s upwardly mobile.”

Image or Reality: Oak Cliff schools are the worst in the city.

Isolated test scores give a cursory view at best, but they do offer some means of comparison beyond just talk. The word is that the 1 lth graders (the last grade tested by DISD) in two Oak Cliff public schools are on a par with the rest of DISD, and that two of the area’s schools fall below the standard scores of the rest of the district.

Scores are described by the percentage of students who scored at or above the 50th national percentile on the Tests of Achievement and Proficiency. For comparison, look at district averages: 31 percent of the juniors in Oak Cliff schools scored at or above the 50th percentile in reading; 29 percent in math; 33 percent in written expression.

The percentages of students scoring at this level in Justin F. Kimball and Sunset high schools in Oak Cliff were almost identical to city averages.

But 1 lth graders in W.H. Adamson and David W. Carter high schools, also in Oak Cliff, performed decidedly poorer than the DISD average. For example, only 18, 17 and 20 percent of Carter juniors scored at or above the 50th national percentile in reading, math and written expression, respectively. W.H. Adamson juniors dipped even more dramatically in math, with only 9 percent scoring at that level.

Part of the perception that the entire area has the worst schools (not that the scores are much to brag about) may come from the fact that the school bearing the Oak Cliff name, East Oak Cliff High School, has about the lowest scores in the city. (Seven percent of the juniors scored at or above the 50th national percentile in reading; 4 percent in math; 7 percent in written expression.) Whether or not you consider this school a part of Oak Cliff depends on your choice of boundary lines.

Image or Reality: You’re risking your shirt if you buy a house in Oak Cliff. Houses don’t appreciate there.

There’s no question that housing prices in Oak Cliff have lagged behind those of Its neignbor to the north. Depending on the area, prices may be only marginally lower or they may be astronomically lower than comparable homes in North Dallas.

This lessened value means bargains. The good deals are still available, though it must be said that some neighborhoods are so stable that “For Sale” signs rarely appear.

But unless you plan to live in one house the rest of your life, real estate appreciation – not just price – becomes a major factor in purchasing decisions. The scare about lack of appreciation, and even losses, can be traced to the changing population of the Sixties. But that scare – and the uncertainty that goes with it – is no longer evident from resale prices. Appreciation hasn’t always been at the same rate that it has been north of the river, but the movement has been upward. Beginning in northern sections of Oak Cliff, you’ll find a wide range of housing.

The pride of Oak Cliff, the houses in Kessler Park (northeastern Oak Cliff east of Stevens Park Golf Course and west of Beckley Avenue), never suffered the major physical decline that was experienced further south, though some houses have not been updated with central heat and air. Despite this fact, though, many of the massive homes built during the Twenties and Thirties never reached the values of comparable homes to the north. That gap started closing rapidly in about 1975, according to a number of area real estate companies. Houses that sold for $100,000 three years ago are now selling for more than $200,000, according to Jim Fite. The smaller houses that went for $25,000 to $50,000 five years ago, says Fite, now sell for about $90,000. Prices during the last year, however, have remained about the same.

Stevens Park (west of Kessler to Westmoreland Road) has houses of similar architecture to Kessler, though they are, on the whole, smaller. In the far western portion are a group of houses built in the Fifties. Prices drop somewhat as you go west, where $60,000 may buy a two- or three-bedroom house. Appreciation has followed the same pattern as in Kessler.

A large area in northeast Oak Cliff to the south of Kessler is undergoing extensive revitalization. And, like other renovation neighborhoods, it follows a familiar pattern: A core area – in this case, one called Winnetka Heights-has gone through extensive work already. Surrounding it are the neighborhoods where revitalization is underway; as you travel further from the core, renovation efforts are just beginning.

Traveling through the area, you’ll seemind-boggling contrasts: On one blockare houses in the worst state of disrepair-crumbling foundations, leaning porches,broken windows, peeling paint -on litter-filled, unkempt lots. Only a block away,the houses have been jacked up and placedsquarely on solid foundations. Windows,steps and columns have been repaired orreplaced and the exteriors have been transformed with paint.

“I think this area is the future Oak Lawn,” says Tony Novak, assistant vice president with the Commercial/Retail Division of Henry S. Miller Co. Interestingly, many of the purchases in the area are being made by people who are coming from Oak Lawn and East Dallas, or by those who have looked there but are seeking similar houses at lower prices or with less commercial encroachment.

As with other older, deteriorating neighborhoods, redlining by most lenders stymied revitalization efforts. But redlining in some – though not all – areas gave way to lending as a number of institutions targeted neighborhoods for loans.

Spearheading the effort has been First Texas Savings Association, which earmarked $5 million for a one-square-mile area called Jefferson/Ruthmede. Winnet-ka Heights was later included. Since the special loan policy was initiated in April 1980, $3.7 million has gone into the area. Before 1980, the institution averaged $150,000 in loans there.

“The philosophy behind the program is that you could make the perfect loan available in the neighborhood, but without the help of the city to shore up public services and without the help of local residents doing self-help, the loans would be for naught,” says Larry D. Brasel, assistant vice president and manager of urban lending at First Texas Savings.

An agreement was made with the city to improve services such as street, gutter and sidewalk repair and to improve housing code enforcement; neighborhood organizations agreed to clear up the neighborhood and report code violations. At least 2,700 code violations have been identified and corrected since the program began, says Brasel.

Another city program, initiated with First Texas Savings Association, uses the principle of leveraging for home improvement loans. The city buys down the interest rate of loans for qualified borrowers in order to make private funds more attractive. For every dollar of city money, $7.78 of private money is generated.

It’s difficult to make any single statement about the predictability of appreciation on rehabilitated houses these days, says Raymond Morgan, a real estate appraiser with Crosson Dannis Real Estate Evaluation and Consultation, Inc. This uncertainty is not because the neighborhoods are in transition, but because the financial market is in disarray. (Many of the sources of funding in the area have dried up recently.) More than ever, the value placed on a house is being determined not only by its physical structure, but also by the financing that’s tied to it.

“Six houses may appreciate while another six may not. But 1 would say that over a period of years, it would be a safe place to buy. Over time, these houses are appreciating. If the financial market settles, these houses [that don’t have attractive financing] will catch up for lost time,” says Morgan.

In terms of real estate activity, the central portion of Oak Cliff is much quieter than are other sections. Housing is diverse, ranging from tiny frame “starter” houses to large brick structures set in peaceful, wooded settings. Appreciation has nonetheless been slow and steady, according to Charlie Carnahan, a Realtor and appraiser with First Mark/Carnahan. Comparable sales figures supplied by Carnahan for a tiny (about 1,000 square feet) three-bedroom house from 1977 to 1981 look like this: $18.16 per square foot in 1977; $21.50 in 1978; $26.63 in 1979; $41.04 in 1981.

Houses in Kimbell Square (a small development north of Loop 12 and west of Westmoreland) are a contrast to these small frames. Five- to 10-year-old brick houses sit in cul-de-sacs formed around a winding stream. With a square footage ranging from about 1,800 to 3,000, the houses sell for between $70,000 and $120,000.

The country club area (in the vicinity of Red Bird Lane between Highway 67 and 1-35) is one of the city’s few integrated middle- and upper-middle-class neighborhoods. Though there has been white flight in the area in the past, housing prices never suffered the slump experienced further northeast. They do remain, however, well below the prices of equivalent houses in northern sections of the city. In recent years, the houses have appreciated steadily, according to sales records.

Closest to the Oak Cliff Country Club, houses with about 2,000 to 4,000 square feet sell for between $100,000 and $150,000, with a handful of larger ones selling for $250,000. As you get further north, square footage goes down on both houses and lots, and prices drop to about $60,000 to $70,000.

Image or Reality: Oak Cliff is stagnant. You shouldn’t buy a house there because the whole area is going down.

Real estate prices and housing appreciation are inescapably tied to people’s perceptions of what direction a community is headed. What is the picture of the Oak Cliff economy?

Perhaps the most significant change- one that residents believe to be crucial to an image change in Oak Cliff – is the recent attention paid to the community by the city government. The stepchild spirit of Oak Cliff is not only an interpretation by residents of how others view the area, but is also a gut-wrenching anger at being last in line when city services and developments have been parceled out. A recent speech to a group of Oak Cliff builders by Don Hicks, mayor pro tern and councilman from Oak Cliff, is testimony:

“We’re the last ones to get a transfer station [for garbage collection and compaction before delivery to a landfill]. The first one was built in no other place but North Dallas. We get the last one. If it were a matter of putting something in that was bad, 1 think we would have gotten the first one.”

Though his primary purpose was to assure citizens that the transfer station would not be an eyesore, the remark brought knowing nods and laughter from his audience – one that was accustomed to underdog jokes.

But many leaders agree that the view from City Hall may be changing.

“I’ve been involved in the City of Dallas in an appointed board position for almost ten years, and I really see a difference in the way the decision-makers perceive the Oak Cliff community,” says Tricia Smith of the city’s planning board. “It used to be that growth was directed to the north and northeast. But it’s gone beyond the city limits and is eroding the tax base. They are seeing that they’ve got to turn that development southward.”

The city’s plan includes the formation of an industrial development corporation to issue tax-exempt revenue bonds to finance industrial and commercial projects. The City Council is also allowing consideration, on a case by case basis, of the use of the Area-Wide Redevelopment Program (ARP) in the southern portion of Dallas, as long as no one is displaced.

Last November 3, State Representative Steve Wolens’ plan to give incentives for the development and revitalization of depressed areas through a tax increment and tax abatement program went into effect. In order to take part in the program, each city government must designate the depressed areas and set up the guidelines.

“We’ve had Mayor Jack Evans and the city manager out here several times, and they have every intention of using Wolens’ amendment,” says publisher Ray Zauber of The Oak Cliff Tribune.

It’s too early to tell what impact the city’s plan will have on Oak Cliff, but what the private sector has been doing in the meantime is critical. Here’s how Oak Cliff stands:

〈Apartment occupancy in Oak Cliff was at 95 percent in the fourth quarter of 1981, according to Ron Witten of M/PF Research Inc. The Dallas average for the same period was 1 percent higher, or 96 percent. Rents, like housing costs, were substantially lower: For a one-bedroom apartment in Oak Cliff, the average rent was $258; North Dallas, $315.

〈Close to 25 percent of all the apartment house transactions in 1981 that have occurred in Dallas County were in Oak Cliff, according to George Roddy, chief executive officer of (Roddy Publications) Dresco, Inc.

“If you delve into this demand, it tells a story. The demand for single-family or multifamily housing has a definite bearing on the credibility of a market. The fact that people are interested and are purchasing properties in Oak Cliff says that it’s not a depressed area and that it has potential,” says Roddy. “It indicates also that there is strong potential for condominium living.”

〈Condominium construction is just be-ginning in Oak Cliff. The Stevens Park area is the site of most of the activity. With construction just completed on a $5 mil-lion project, Wedglea Place Condomini-ums, about 85 percent of the l$45,950-to-$61,500 units are sold. Developer Bill Williams plans another $4 mil-lion development nearby. In the same area, Yowell and Whitney plan to build 41 units and are now selling the $80,000 to $120,000 units off the blueprints.

Built in an old San Francisco-style to blend with the older homes of the area, Carriage Park Condominiums have just been completed. The 16 units range from the low-$50s to the mid-$70s.

By North Dallas standards, three or four condominium developments is meager. But real estate-watcher Roddy doesn’t see the numbers as those of a stagnant market.

“You first need the pioneers to do something like this. And the fact that somebody is developing condominiums from the ground up is an important factor for the vitality of Oak Cliff. It shows that there’s money being spent where a guy’s out on the limb,” says Roddy.

〈In the fourth quarter of 1981, 58 single-family houses were under construction in Southwest Dallas, according to M/PF Research, Inc. That’s roughly half the number in North Dallas and just over one-fourth the number in far North Dallas.

〈Shopping center occupancy rates in Southwest Dallas have risen from 88.6 percent in 1976 to 95.5 percent in 1981, according to Ken Orr, formerly of Henry S. Miller Co.

Wynnewood Village, developed in 1949, has been the first major shopping | center to turn around. In January 1980, when the Henry S. Miller Management Corp. took over the leasing of the property, more than 100,000 square feet of retail space was vacant. Today, the occupancy rate is 100 percent, and 40 percent of the merchants have remodeled their stores, according to Peter Kosley, a vice president of Henry S. Miller Co.

Serious problems remain, however. Many commercial properties, particularly those north of Loop 12, still stand vacant. Prices in some areas indicate no activity. For instance, one property that sold for $100,000 in 1970 is listed today for $100,000.

Davis Street and Jefferson Avenue, once the hub of the areas now being rehabilitated, were hit the hardest when many businesses left for the malls. A first step to rehabilitate Jefferson Avenue is underway. With $830,000 in authorized-community development block-grant funds, work begins this month to repave the streets; to add new curbs, gutters and antique-style lighting; and to plant oak trees in widened median strips. The Chamber of Commerce and merchants have agreed to match city money in private investments. Already $870,000 has been committed.

“We’re in the process of forming a local development corporation to provide economic incentives for improvements to those businesses that are already here and to get big business to come in,” says David Jenkins, president of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce.

On the other hand, 10-year-old Red Bird Mall and the retail area surrounding it have shown dramatic increases.

“The area is just coming into its own,” says Novak with the commercial/retail division of Henry S. Miller Co. “Until two years ago, the periphery property around the mall was virtually empty. Since then, I’d say that fifty to sixty percent of the land has been sold.”

〈One gaping hole in the development of Oak Cliff is the paucity of restaurants.

“You don’t see any major restaurants. You don’t see a major hotel,” says Kosley. “They can’t serve cocktails. That’s where the profit is.”

As the largest dry precinct in the United States, the issue of wet vs. dry is deeply rooted in Oak Cliff’s history.

David L. Green, chairman of the board of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce, believes that the lack of a concentrated singles population, such as the one around Greenville Avenue, also has stifled the development of restaurants.

〈Raw land acquisitions – sometimes a prelude to development, sometimes merely a speculative show of interest – are picking up in spotted areas of Oak Cliff. The primary activity is in four areas: (1) The Stevens Park area, where condominium development is underway. Prices are already reflecting the acquisitions. For instance, one parcel priced at $25,000 an acre about 18 months ago was purchased for $40,000 an acre nine months ago. (2) Along the river and between the turnpike and Colorado Boulevard, a strip of land that overlooks downtown. Though no land sales have been recorded nor building permits filed, talk abounds in development circles that financing is being lined up for a major hotel/office/retail development in this area. (3) The areas around Red Bird Mall and Airport and in the Red Bird and Lone Star industrial parks Though a number of parcels of land-such as the 165.2 acres bought by a Cana dian firm (possibly for town house and light industrial development), the 25 acres purchased by Federated Department Stores (parent of Sanger Harris) and the 63 acres sold to an educational facility-much of the recent activity has been in paving the way for development. Some of the work, however, is already paying off.

“From my rough calculations, looking at contracts that are down and announcements that have been made, 2,000 new jobs should be available in this section within the next nine to twelve months,” says urban sociologist Mathis. Now, there are four jobs north of the river for every one and a half south of the river. (4) The land in the far western corner of Oak Cliff. Speculation in this area is a precursor to the completion of the Lakeview Lake project, a 7,470-acre lake southwest of Dallas. Though the suburbs likely will feel the impact of the Lakeview Lake project first, Oak Cliff is expected to eventually see gains from this development.

“A lot of the future of Oak Cliff is going to back in from Cedar Hill, DeSoto and Duncanville,” says Zauber. “None of these towns out here are too far apart or too far from us. I think we’re all going to grow together. That’s already happened over in North Dallas.”

Though the Oak Cliff economic activity pales in light of the explosions on the North Dallas skyline, in most critical areas, Oak Cliff shows growth. Chronic problems remain, and there are no promises that recent activity will sustain, but the darkness may be lifting in Oak Cliff.


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