Turning vacant eyesores into productive properties

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on October 17, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 17 at 7:59 PM

Planned food pantry

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DALLAS — The former South Dallas convenience store on Pennsylvania Avenue near Interstate 45 has stood vacant since 1994.

But to Terry Flowers, headmaster of St. Philip's School and Community Center next door, the nuisance now shows promise.

"There's a lot of work to be done to get it up to where the vision wants it to be, but it shall be done," he pledged.

And when it's done, the building will be remade into a St. Philip's Food Pantry, serving some 600 families in the neighborhood.

The city owns the building, after foreclosing on the owner for failure to pay taxes. But instead of relying on the usual process of waiting years for a bid, the city took a new approach — a direct sale.

This unloads the property more quickly for a purpose that benefits the surrounding community, and that's a critical need — especially for southern Dallas.

The city likes this idea that the City Council must approve, since it sees a lot of eligible commercial buildings.

"So they've done it, we can hold this out as a model to other non-profits, other communities, so they can almost have a cookbook approach to how they can make this happen in their neighborhood<' said Theresa O'Donnell, director of the city's Sustainable Development and Construction Department.

With the help of a non-profit agency, In the City for Good, St. Philip's must now raise almost $300,000 to renovate the dilapidated store. But with this novel way to deal with old buildings, the area will soon have a new place to shop.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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