More Residential Development in West Dallas is a Boon For The Entire City, Says DMN Editorial Board

I have to agree with The Dallas Morning News editorial board on this one: More residential development in West Dallas benefits everyone. How they arrived at the conclusion is another matter.

Take this paragraph for example:

While this might sound like a chicken-or-egg question — which comes first, housing or residents? — the answer is clear: It’s housing, especially single-family homes, that is key to a neighborhood’s rebirth. Fresh signs of that rebirth are showing up in West Dallas and North Oak Cliff.

Is it really all that clear?


Or is it pent-up demand that comes first? Would investors build housing units if the demand for them wasn’t already there? All you have to do is see some of the high-end apartments built in the Cedars and Oak Cliff, and see how highly sought-after these developments are, and the kind of rates they command, and the obvious conclusion is that a more moderately priced version in an up-and-coming development would manage that pent up-demand for high-quality housing.

That leads us directly to Steve Brown’s piece on the overflow from Uptown:

“It is getting very difficult to justify dirt cost in Uptown, if you can even find a site,” said Ryan Miller of apartment builder Wood Partners. “With higher dirt prices, escalating construction costs and concern for rents capping out, it makes Uptown more and more risky.

”We have been targeting alternative submarkets that are just as close to jobs and nightlife with dirt at a lower basis, which means we can keep our rents in check,” Miller said.

Wood Partners has rental communities under construction at the Farmers Market, in West Dallas and in the Medical District on Maple Avenue.

Most of these are neighborhoods that developers wouldn’t have crossed the street to look at a decade ago.

“We’ve done an incredible job in Dallas of pushing successful development into unproven areas,” said Greg Willett, vice president of Carrollton-based apartment consultant MPF Research. “We’ve done it with the Knox-Henderson area and the Design District.

“And I’m optimistic about the development that’s going to these other areas,” including West Dallas and the Farmers Market area, Willett said.

As demand increases, prices increase, and to mitigate a price increase, housing supply must therefore increase. That’s ECON 101.

But let’s not argue about how we got here. Instead, let’s celebrate the probable outcome of this increase in development: More property tax dollars, middle-class families returning to the city, more involvement, and more investment. Now, sure, apartments are good and all, but for me, I have to agree with Rudy Bush (who probably wrote the editorial, but since they’re unsigned, we may never know):

Freshly minted apartment units are important, but new homes represent a different level of commitment to a neighborhood and its school district. As a newspaper that has long urged economic redevelopment in neighborhoods south of the Trinity River, we see these as critical developments.

This boom could have a significant effect in Oak Cliff and an even greater impact in West Dallas. Banks, grocery stores and other vital businesses and services are likely to follow, generating economic benefits and stabilizing neighborhoods. That’s what happened in the West Village. When housing hit a certain threshold, retailers opened businesses and services to support the new residents.

A neighborhood-appropriate version of that pattern appears to be taking hold in North Oak Cliff and West Dallas, now, too — a great sign for neighborhood rebirth.

What’s your perspective?