May 12, 2014

Royce West: MIA on #UNT-Dallas and south Dallas development

Jim Schuetze of the Dallas Observer has had a series of pieces on how Dallas City Councilman Tennell Atkins has refused to pay to run new sewer lines to the vicinity of UNT-Dallas before retail developers officially commit to come there first. The latest, with exposure of some prime Atkins hypocrisy, is here.
He wrote (in the Dallas Morning Snooze): "Evidence of tangible public support is critical to the process of obtaining viable development partners and leveraging other capital sources."

This happens to be exactly the same argument that the same city councilman has consistently rejected for the area in his own district around the new University of North Texas-Dallas campus. There, landholders have been begging Atkins to free up funding already authorized for a sanitary sewer system -- something they have never had before -- so they can lure serious investors to develop much-needed student housing.
And Atkins has repeatedly refused.

First, whether elected officials like it or not, that's not the way said developers work.

Second, where the hell is state Sen. Royce West, the man who pushed for years and years to get UNT-Dallas started? I know that his primary goal was having a university inside the Dallas city limits, but having been in the news biz during that whole run-up time in a Best Southwest suburb just across I-20 from where UNT-Dallas was being built, I always had the assumption that UNT-Dallas was just step 1 in larger development of this area.

That's certainly the impression Schutze has, too:
If you were looking for something in southern Dallas on which to capitalize, it's hard to imagine a better bet than the glamorous new UNT campus that opened four years ago near the intersection of Interstate 35E and I-20. But Atkins has been adamant that he's not going to let the city risk bond money on a sewer system until the developers are already outside his office door with plans rolled up under their arms.

I asked him once about the mayor's "Grow South" initiative to spur economic development in the city's segregated southern hemisphere. He said, "That's the mayor's deal. Ask him."
Unfortunately, Atkins is wedded to the idea of revitalizing the carcass of Southwest Center Mall, aka Red Bird Mall. What an idiot. Even if there are sewer lines there, traditional malls are a dying breed.

As for West?

Who knows? Maybe he's like "our man downtown," Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, with his attempts to get the mayor of Wilmer give his buds some business help in work related to Union Pacific's intermodal facility there, as part of his illustrious alleged history of following the money, including reportedly kicking his own constituents in the nuts for Ross Perot Jr. money, an alleged shakedown which reportedly had friend of JWP trying to cut West in on a piece of the pie.

Maybe West hasn't leaned on any city of Dallas folks because he doesn't have friends involved, or nobody is trying to get friends of his involved. 

I have the distinct impression, though, that if Royce West really wanted to make development happen near his baby, he could make it happen.

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