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Ura Considers Old Armory Property

Urban Renewal committee recommends buying land for development

Saturday's Wine Down gives people a chance to taste wine and explore downtown Dallas.

Saturday's Wine Down gives people a chance to taste wine and explore downtown Dallas. Photo by Jolene Guzman.

DALLAS — The Dallas Urban Renewal Agency Board reversed course on its decision last year to not purchase the former Dallas Armory site on Church Street in downtown.

The board approved moving forward with a $100,000 sale Monday, following a presentation by Urban Renewal District Advisory Committee chairman David Shein.

“As you recall, the middle of last year, we recommended against acquiring the property,” he said. “There was a whole laundry list of reasons why. All of those circumstances have now changed from unfavorable to favorable.”

The most critical issue at time was environmental remediation required on the site.

The process didn’t have a clear end date.

Now it’s nearing conclusion, said a representative of current site owner Oregon Military Department.

The department estimates the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality will clear the site this fall and issue a “no further action” letter, said Art Arroyo, of OMD.

Arroyo said the process has taken so long because the OMD has had to monitor the site for three years. It has tested clean after OMD’s clean-up efforts.

“We have no intentions of selling the property until we have the no further action letter,” Arroyo said. “Until we see that letter, we’re not going to release the property because we don’t want that liability going somewhere else.”

Shein said another factor is the reduction in the price from $125,000 to $100,000, to be paid for with a $10,000 down payment and three annual payments of $30,000 interest free.

“Which gives us plenty of time to turn the property around and sell it and get the money back,” Shein said.

In another change from last July, there’s a buyer interested in the property, a local resident who plans to build a bakery on the site. Arroyo said that party approached OMD to purchase it directly, but OMD preferred to sell the property to the URA.

“The way that worked out, we had the buyer, but we didn’t have any real control over what they were going to do, but the city does,” Arroyo said. “That’s why it seemed more logical for us to sell it to the city. The city would, in turn, sell it to her and would be able put the controls on to what the development would be going for.”

City Councilor and board member Ken Woods Jr., he’s concerned the agency will buy the property at $100,000, but not be able to sell it for that price.

In response, City Manager Ron Foggin said he would recommend issuing a “request for proposals” on the property.

“In determining in the sale of this property, what is being recommended is we do and RFP process to identify anyone who would be interested in buying this property,” he said. “That may be one person who has expressed an interest, it may be 10 people.”

Foggin said the RFP process would be in-depth, requiring people to have architectural designs and a business plan.

Shein said considering the new developments the advisory committee recommended the agency purchase the property, contingent on OMD receiving the DEQ letter.

“It has everything that we wanted and didn’t have when we rejected it before,” he said. “Now all those dominoes have fallen into place.”

Councilor and board member Kelly Gabliks requested that a closing date be added to the sales contract to assure the process doesn’t drag on for months or years.

“That would be fine and rest assured we are working to get this done by September,” Arroyo said. “Our mandate is not to hold on to property.”

The board approved the purchase unanimously.

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