City Still Undecided on Hospital Site Development

A former hospital property on Hampton Road
A former hospital property on Hampton Road | Image by NBC 5 DFW

It has been more than two years since Dallas officials acquired a former hospital property on Hampton Road, but they are no closer to figuring out whether to redevelop — or even retain ownership — of the site.

During a presentation last week to the Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee, Christine Crossley, director of the Office of Homeless Solutions, outlined three possible futures for the property.

“Option one is the utilization of property to provide more affordable and supportive housing opportunities for homeless services across the city, per the financing currently designated Homeless Assistance Prop J Funds from [the] 2017 General Obligation bond fund. Option two would subdivide the property and utilize lots for another public purpose while also utilizing some of it to keep the existing purpose for affordable and supportive housing for those who are formerly homeless. And option three — the City can sell the property and have the option to include a deed restriction,” said Crossley, noting that each option could impact the tax-exempt status of the bond funding.

Crossley recommended the second of the three options.

“I know we’re talking about the Hampton property, but I also have that Independence property in my district as well,” said Council Member Zarin Gracey (District 3). “So, I want to make sure that I don’t have two properties unfunded and sitting there with the hopes of trying to accomplish some goals.”

The property on Independence Drive — a former extended-stay hotel — was purchased by the City in 2022 for $5 million before about 40 people were evicted. It purportedly remains undeveloped because of inadequate taxpayer funds.

“I just would want the community to understand that that land will probably be vacant for some time,” said Council Member Cara Mendelsohn (District 12). “It already was vacant for a number of years, but that probably is what will happen. The option one I would totally support. It’s the reason why I voted ‘yes’ to go ahead and purchase it.”

The Dallas Express reported in December that some council members were considering selling the Hampton Road property after residents in the area voiced opposition to redeveloping the property to house people experiencing homelessness.

Polling conducted by The Dallas Express found that 81.8% of Dallasites are dissatisfied with “the number of homeless individuals, vagrants, or panhandlers” they have seen in their neighborhood and “elsewhere in the City of Dallas.”

As DX has previously reported, the “one-stop shop” homeless services model used by Haven for Hope has been credited with a 77% reduction in unsheltered homelessness in downtown San Antonio. Some local stakeholders are now working to bring the model to Dallas as it has polled favorably among city residents. However, it is unclear whether local officials will support the effort.

Residents alleged that City officials did not consult with them before buying the Hampton Road site. At that time, Mendelsohn said the handling of the acquisition should be a lesson for the council, and Gracey said he supported selling the property. That option should still be considered, he said at Monday’s meeting.

“It is absolutely critical that we don’t move forward saying that [the choice] is option two,” Gracey said. “And we go back to the community talking only about option two because that’s what will get us in trouble like we did the first time. I want us to go in and openly talk about all three of these options and then from there, develop a timeline around one of those options.”

Mendelsohn called option two “a big mess” that is “lacking in focus” and said she considers that option “off the table.”

She expressed a preference for option one, describing it as the most attractive option, especially for seniors.

“I think it needs a stronger focus on seniors,” she said. “We need a place for them, and they have different needs than a younger population. … So, I would love this to be stronger defined as a senior living complex.”

Council Member Chad West (District 1) said deciding how — or whether — to redevelop the Hampton Road property has taken too long but that officials must make the right decision for residents.

“Chairman Mendelsohn’s point [that] this has been going on since January 2022, when we bought the property, and it’s projected to go into 2025, 2027,” he said. “I think we owe it to staff and to the community and to the taxpayers to give staff some clear guidance on what to do here and what to take to the workgroup. I understand the concerns with option two, and I also understand why you’re proposing it based on the feedback you’ve gotten from us in the community.”

Following further discussion, West expressed his agreement with Crossley’s recommendation for option two.

Selling the property carries potential drawbacks, such as tying deed restrictions to conveyance, tax implications linked to acquiring the property through bond funding, and rezoning considerations, officials said.

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