Housing Development Breaks Ground

May, 2002

MIDLAND DOWNTOWN HOUSING DEVELOPMENT PROJECT BREAKS GROUND, CONSTRUCTION TO BEGIN MID-JUNE
City of Midland, Wells Fargo Help Fund Affordable Housing Venture

MIDLAND – Construction will begin in mid-June for an affordable housing project in Midland that is part of a downtown revitalization plan, according the David Diaz, executive director for the Midland Community Development Corp. The project will take a year to complete. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held on Tuesday, May 28 at the site for the new homes, 500 N. Fort Worth St. in Midland. It will begin at 1:30 p.m. and the public is invited to attend.

Twelve single-family homes will be located on a city block bound by Dallas, Fort Worth, Tennessee and Michigan streets. Valued at $60,000 each, the homes will have 1,250 square feet of living space including three bedrooms, two full baths and a garage. “These new homes will provide much needed affordable housing to Midland residents and is an integral component of the revitalization of Downtown Midland,” Diaz said. “We have been working with the City for the past six months and appreciate their support.”

The City of Midland donated the city block and also contributed $25,000 for administrative costs for the project and Wells Fargo donated $10,000 to the project and will fund the interim construction, according to Leticia Gonzales, chairman of the board of the Midland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The MCDC is a Texas corporation founded by the Midland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage will hold the properties’ first mortgages –each $45,000. The City of Midland will hold the second mortgage – $15,000 – and will pay them off if owners live in the homes for at least 10 years. “We appreciate the efforts of MCDC to revitalize downtown Midland, and give more Midland citizens the opportunity to achieve the American dream of homeownership,” said Ron Mullins, president of Wells Fargo in Midland.

Housing in Downtown Neighborhood

Midland Reporter-Telegram - June 17, 2003

PROGRAM PROVIDES HOUSING IN DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD

by Nora Frost

Just like new parents would document the progress of their newborn, first-time homeowners Kathy and Robert Moreno have a scrapbook documenting the construction of their new three moreno1bedroom, two bath house in the 500 block of North Fort Worth Street.

"It's ours," said a smiling Ms. Moreno. "That's the best thing. It's ours."

Shortly before the 2003 New Year began, the Morenos signed the last of their paperwork and hosted a house warming party. "We love having people over," Ms. Moreno said. "That's what I love. We have extra room for company."

Before purchasing the house, the couple and their two daughters, who are studying at the University of North Texas, spent 10 years in a rented duplex. Now, not only do they have a view of Midland's skyline from their living room, but also a virtually maintenance-free house.

"It's great, especially because it's new. We don't have to worry about it," Moreno said. The Morenos were the first homeowners to take part in the Midland Community Development Corporation, which is looking to provide affordable housing near downtown from a block of land donated by the City of Midland.

"Basically, we're taking a piece of property that had $0 value to $750,000," said David Diaz, executive director of Midland Community Development Corporation. By the end of the year, the corporation is hoping to have all 12 houses purchased and built. So far they have seven properties claimed.

MCDC is an organization that stemmed from Midland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and started in January 2000 as an effort to revitalize downtown.

Some requirements applicants must meet are they have to be a City of Midland resident for more than 30 days, be a first-time home buyer, put a down payment of at least $3,000, complete the home buyer training course, have satisfied prior government debts or tax obligations and attend a pre-purchase workshop. The applicant must also meet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development income guidelines. For a family of four, the maximum income is $36,700. Applicants don't have to apply for just the new houses squared off by North Dallas Street, North Fort Worth Street, Tennessee Avenue and Michigan Avenue.

Diaz said applicants can also request for housing in "targeted areas" as outlined in the Community Development Block Grant. These areas are generally on the east and southeast side of Midland. "The project has been very successful to date," Diaz said. "We have been in construction mode for less than nine months and we have had four families move in."

For more information about the program, call Midland Community Development Corporation at 682-2520.

A View from the South Side

Midland Reporter-Telegram - August 10, 2003

A view from the South Side ...
Master plan could be key to developing South Side

By Stephanie Sparkman

SouthSideDiaz-nl54
Photo By Nathan Lambrecht ... Executive Director for the Midland Community Development Corporation David Diaz works on grant applications with his assistant Mayokia Walker,
in his office July 31.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of a five-part series that will take an in-depth look at Midland's South Side.
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Ask any officials what they think of developing South Midland and they'll put it out there simply with a "I'm-for-it" attitude, but what it takes for developing the city may be an overall plan with a pressurized necessity for detail and extensive zoning and coding.

David Diaz, executive director of the Midland Community Development Corporation, is adamant about the need for a master plan specific to the South Side. It must, Diaz says, be developed before effective South Side revitalization can take place. "If we want to revitalize that area, different neighborhoods need to be identified," Diaz said. With such a storied history, coming into the area to revamp coding and zoning overnight will not effect change. And it won't happen with a quick fix.

In 1881, at what was then called the Midway Station, someone pushed a T & P Pullman car off the railroad tracks south of what is now Front Street, and Midland was born. As the community grew, it grew around those tracks -- around what is now referred to as the South Side. Yet, with time, growth moved north, then west. By the early 1990s, Midland's South Side had diminished to bare bones, a forgotten piece of history in a city whose residents prided themselves on being forward thinkers.

Far from being a mirror image of the northwest quadrant of the city, south and southeast Midland still have neighborhoods with dirt streets. Dilapidated houses dot the streets, many of which lack adequate lighting. South Side residents complain they don't have the tools they need to rebuild their quadrant of the city -- and the rest of Midland has forgotten them. And, to a certain extent, that may be true. In a city that is as philanthropically oriented as Midland, it's easy to be ignorant of the fact that not everyone experiences the same quality of life as those who live in the more heavily traveled segments of town. As generous as many Midlanders are, it's hard to realize that despite the efforts of many organizations, the South Side's image will not change until a concerted effort is made to change it.

But, why is South Side revitalization important to all Midlanders?

First, it's a matter of basic mathematics, say officials. South Side revitalization, as well as downtown revitalization and economic development in general, is important to all Midlanders from, if nothing else, a tax standpoint. Vacant lots and empty buildings mean zero taxes being paid. Zero taxes being paid in one area of town means more taxes being paid in the others.

According to David Wayland, building official for the city of Midland, the city tears down, on average, between 20 and 25 structures each year on the South Side. Few of them are rebuilt. As far as Diaz is concerned, that's non-tax producing land that could be added to the tax base. "The vacant land that is there now is producing zero property taxes, well almost nil," Diaz said. "They do produce some, but it's almost nil. You put 12 homes on one block, such as what we're doing right now, the property value of that particular lot could go from, say, $10,000 for an entire block to about $750,000. With 12 homes on there you can generate, probably, in excess of $20,000 of property taxes every year. Major difference."

When a viable population base is established on the South Side, said Diaz, the area also will become more attractive to potential businesses. Establishing successful businesses in the area would, in turn, generate additional tax dollars. To spur such development though, a concerted and organized strategy needs placement at the city and county levels. "Something like, 'All right, this area is best suited for manufacturing; this area is best suited for warehousing; this neighborhood is best suited for residential,' because the last thing we want is a pipe manufacturer sitting right next to a newly constructed home. "So, those areas need to be identified. So, we draw a line -- literally, boundaries -- as to the type of development we need to see in the different areas because, those areas need to be rezoned specific to what the best use for the particular land is."

The first steps to facilitating the kind of plan Diaz is calling for, according to Chuck Swallow, director of development services for the city of Midland, have to be taken by a contingent of citizens -- residents and business owners alike -- who are interested in South Side development. "What drives those kinds of issues is, usually, the landowner or the developer that makes the decision to use the land in a certain way," Swallow explained.

"So, how that would come forward would normally be through a request for a zoning change by a developer or landowner."

Swallow agrees with Diaz that a concerted effort needs to be made to revitalize South Side population numbers. "We've had a lot of houses that have left the area over the years that have not been replaced," said Swallow. "So it's important to re-establish those population bases that would support new retail locations and would support other business-type opportunities."

Diaz thinks this can be offset and aided with a plan. "The Council, many times, lets private development do the development and, on the Loop that's exactly what has happened," noted Diaz. "It's private dollars that are driving that development. On the South Side, that's not going to happen. If we're looking to get a major retailer in there right now -- whether it be a Wal-Mart or a H-E-B or something of that nature -- they're going to look at population density and, once they take a look at that, they're going to say, 'Why? Why do we want to locate here?'

"So it's a matter of, we need to have a master plan to show these retailers: 'Build it and they will come.'" Citing the efforts of previous City Council members to clean up and beautify the Rankin Highway/I-20 corridor entrance into the city, Swallow said initial rezoning of that area of the South Side had already commenced, with good results. "That has been done in the past and now it's up to the community, I think, to express their desire to further expand on that effort," Swallow said. "Maybe we look at the rest of the community, what it might provide in terms of housing development and maybe some retail opportunity associated with some of those areas. A lot of those areas, in the past, have been industrial-type areas and maybe it's time to look at those and see whether or not they still have that in them or need to be looked at with the possibility of an alternate use." Still, it all starts, according to Swallow, as a citizen effort.

Coming Monday: False perceptions; future retail possibilities; and new multi-purpose building.

©MyWestTexas.com 2003

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