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New South Dallas Community Rising From Old Housing Project

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
Bud is the most veteran reporter at CBS 11 News with 42 years in m...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – For years it seemed a magnet for crime and blight in South Dallas.  The Turner Courts housing project located in what was once called the BonTon area was finally torn down three years ago. But Thursday, ground was formally broken for a new complex on the very land that was once shunned.

Velma Mitchell has lived in the neighborhood adjoining the old Turner Courts for twenty years.  She admits it’s had its share of bad press.  “A lot of folks are just afraid,” she said, “because they think if they come down here they’re going to get carjacked…and people have been carjacked.”

But change is in the air; a $22 million HUD grant has spawned a $50 million complex, the Buckeye Trail Commons.

On Thursday—with earthmovers already moving land around—symbolic shovels got the dirt really flying.

Mayor Mike Rawlings was among 100 or so local residents and dignitaries who gathered for the groundbreaking.   “It’s all about people, it’s all about homes, it’s all about jobs,” the mayor said.

Mitchell added, “It’ll bring beauty, it’ll bring stability to the neighborhood and it’ll bring back people that really want to be in the neighborhood.”   She says things are much better now.   “From the time that I came here 20-years ago it’s much different, people are very friendly and folks….they want a friend, they want a chance in life.”

It’s not all taxpayer money; at least three banks have an interest, investing millions of their own money.

Capital One is not only buying the government bonds, it’s also investing $6 million in construction.  And not just to be neighborly, according to John Yochum, Senior Vice President of Community Development Finance.   He says the area has promise.  “I think it’s become a real magnet to attract long-term businesses, retail and of course the communities and homes that will serve that retail and commercial base.”

Buckeye Trail Commons boasts 323 apartments.  It will offer amenities to kids and seniors, plus continue to host job training classes, like one Keishunna “Keikei” Magee has finished offered by the Omni Hotel chain.  “I have taken the hospitality customer service class there and I see opportunities to take other classes,” she said, adding “I plan to get a job in that career.”

Magee once lived in the old Turner Courts; all in all, she can’t wait to move back.  She says the Boys and Girls clubs headquartered in a local rec center are an attraction for her children. Then there are the Buckeye Trail Commons projected amenities.  “Now I plan to go through the proper procedures so that I will be able to move back into them when they rebuild them,” she said.  “It looks like it’s going to be a better environment.”

Buckeye trail commons is tentatively set to start moving people into the complex the middle of next year.

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