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Jason Robinson, of Empire Painting, works at the Dallas Senior Center on Tuesday.

Itemizer-Observer

DALLAS — The opening of long-awaited new Dallas Senior Center has suffered its latest setback in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s the latest in a lengthy stretch of delays and changes the project has experienced since the Dallas Area Seniors (DAS) began working on moving out its current facility, a room in the back of the Dallas Public Library building. The library, at 950 Main St., has been the center’s home since 1992.

The DAS began searching for a place to build a new center around 2001, and had to change locations twice in that process — once after design plans and mandatory site reviews were complete. The seniors had to await approval of a Community Development Block Grant application to begin work at the current site, at the corner of Church and Mill streets, and the Dallas Urban Renewal District had to pitch in money to cover expenses beyond the original cost estimate.

As grants come with time limits for project completion, the city and Polk Community Development Corporation, which administers the grant, had to ask for two extensions on the funding to finish the building. 

At long-last, the building is nearly finished, said Brian Latta, Dallas City Manager, last week.

A final grant extension was approved last month on the project, which broke ground in April 2019. It was scheduled for completion in late 2019 or early 2020, but missed that deadline. However, Latta said it should be ready to open once restrictions on public gatherings are lifted. He said that crews are completing wrap-up work on the facility.

“There’s some landscaping and parking lot painting that still needs to be done,” Latta said.

While that is happening, Latta and DAS will negotiate an agreement for operation of the center.

“I’m working with Dallas Area Seniors and Northwest Senior & Disability Services to get operation and use agreements put in place,” he said.

Once the building and contracts are finished, all that will be left to do is wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to end.

“The virus has postponed the move in and opening,” Latta said. “Those activities are TBD.”

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