Mark Cuban's Wonderview project stalled in South Dallas

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on February 29, 2012 at 6:58 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 10:39 PM

DALLAS — The big development in a depressed area of southern Dallas — where Mavericks owner Mark Cuban planned to build a new team training facility along with offices, homes and retail — is stalled, and likely dead in its original form.

Cuban's company announced the Wonderview project with much fanfare two years ago. But there has been no major activity at the site at East Kiest Boulevard and and Southerland Avenue since then, and News 8 learned that even the federal government is reluctant to invest at that location.

Cuban's project got its name from the stirring view of the Dallas skyline looking north from the undeveloped property.

On April 14, 2010, Cuban's development company, Wonderview Properties, made a pitch to the City Council, offering an artist's conception of what the site would look like one day.

Wonderview agent Joe Cavagnaro described the project to council members as "a community where one can work, play, live, shop, do business, raise a family — all in one."

Wonderview proposed a 200-acre development over 10 years, with offices, retail, housing, and a headquarters for the Heroes Foundation, Cuban's non-profit organization for inner city children.

There would be ball fields and a Mavericks training facility.

"We hope to be part of seeing South Dallas, the southern sector, this part of Oak Cliff, take off in a big way," Cavagnaro told the council in 2010. "We're excited as we could possibly be."

The Council gladly included Wonderview in a tax subsidy district and granted a requested zoning change.

Former Mayor Tom Leppert, who's now running in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, said this about the project: "Mr. Cuban has communicated that he is in this for the long term."

Cavagnaro told the Council that work would start in the summer of 2010, and that athletic facilities would be first to be built.

But two years later, not a single baseball or soccer field is in sight.

The Wonderview site sits atop a former city landfill. Homeowners just to the south say they didn't like one part of Wonderview — a subsidized 200-unit apartment project catering to seniors.

Homeowner Neomi Taborn said she opposed the idea of ongoing construction, either. "We didn't like that because we said it would tear up our street," she said.

However, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency denied the funding sought by the developer who partnered with Cuban's company for the senior apartments.

In a letter from HUD to the developer, Renaissance Capital Group, and obtained by News 8, HUD said "no activity was evident at the site."

HUD also said it was concerned that the Wonderview site is adjacent to a wastewater treatment plant and directly over an old landfill.

Renaissance (the developer) and Wonderview (Cuban's company) have since fallen into a contract dispute, and the senior apartments deal appears dead.

Renaissance declined comment.

Worried that Wonderview is stalled, Mayor Mike Rawlings talked with Cuban late last year. "He said he was very busy last year between rebuilding the team and the [NBA players] strike, and it was something that was going to be on his plate early this year, and he was going to get back to me and talk to me about it," the mayor said.

But Rawlings added he doesn't think the original plans are feasible.

"You know, I think all projects from whence they start change 30, 40, 50 percent," he said. "They're never exactly the way they are, and I suspect that's the sort of process that'll go through this."

Cuban didn't respond to a News 8 e-mail or through a Mavericks spokeswoman for comment.

But people who live nearby, the City Council and the mayor are still waiting to learn what his plans are for the Wonderview project.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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