Proposed $5M development in Oak Cliff would transform former library site

A developer's dream to bring new retail space to Oak Cliff could come into focus with help from the city.

If Dallas City Council approves what is on the drawing board, it would be another example of public-private partnership bringing a new footprint to Oak Cliff's Lancaster Corridor.

"Well, I'm very excited and excited is an understatement," said Dallas City Council member Carolyn King Arnold.

The plans involve an empty one-and-half-acre lot where the Lancaster-Kiest Library used to sit, at the corner of Lancaster Road and Corning Avenue.

Three new retail business buildings are planned as a part of a private partnership with the city and UCR Development.

If approved, the plan would continue the revitalization of the Lancaster corridor in Oak Cliff, which for years has been overlooked.

"It just speaks to the vision of this corridor where we're trying to go in terms of investment with businesses that also creates jobs. It also removes blight in our community, so it's just a plus as we move forward and, most of all, we want to create a corridor that just speaks to who we are as a city," said Arnold.

The proposed $5 million development will have a Frost Bank as its anchor.

"Look around, we have existing homes, we have new homes and then right in front of us they'll have a bank that they can just literally walk to," said Mark D. Cooks, the Vice President of Corporate Banking at Frost Bank.

Cooks grew up in the part of Oak Cliff.

"We're going to bring to this community additional economic development. As you can tell, we have homes all around this community, so helping the community from a consumer and from a business - we're going to inject our services - our financial services, into this community," said Cooks.

The developers could qualify for a Tax Increment Financing grant, or TIF, if they meet certain benchmarks for building in the transportation corridor.

"In this transit-oriented district, if you will, it's all about making sure we have developments that also tie in with our public transportation," said Carolyn King Arnold. "We want this to be a state-of-the-art corridor as we continue to recruit individuals and businesses to come and partner with us in the city of Dallas."

The Economic Development Committee was briefed last week. 

The full council will vote the project up or down in about two weeks.