Saturday, February 28, 2009

Making New Friends, Part I

Even when a project doesn’t work out the way you want it to, being engaged in the world as a way of paying dividends that you don’t expect. Our recent effort to redevelop 1011 S. Akard proved this theory.

Larry and Ted Hamilton weren’t entirely new acquaintances. We got to know Larry and Ted when we started work on CityWalk, which was right across the street from a project of theirs, the Mosaic. The Mosaic is a beautiful high end apartment building. [picture if available] CityWalk is a project for those on the lowest end of the economic spectrum, but we think it’s beautiful as well. [insert picture] I wouldn’t say that Larry and Ted were opposed to CityWalk to begin with, but they were a bit skeptical and wanted to know more about how permanent supportive housing works.

What impressed me most was the effort both Larry and Ted made to learn about permanent supportive housing before taking a definite position. In the end they became enthusiastic supporters of the idea (enthusiastic enough that I think they have both forgotten they were ever skeptical). It is refreshing, and unfortunately rare, when someone takes a reasoned look at an issue and then decides what to do rather than depend on a gut reaction and only justifying their decision after it was already made. But in this case Larry and Ted came to the conclusion that the idea made both human and business sense and put their support behind it.

Lately we’ve gotten to know Larry and Ted even better as we tried to put together the redevelopment of 1011 S. Akard. At first we were just going to sell the building to us. Now they are going to be taking the project over from us to see if they can get it completed when we couldn’t. They’ve been completely aboveboard and honest during the entire process. Larry and Ted Hamilton could simply have sold the property to the first buyer—probably someone who would operate it as a hotel of dubious reputation—and saved themselves a lot of effort. But that’s not their style.

Their concern all along has been to put the building back into productive use and to find a solution that is healthy for the community. Most of the time we may aim to serve different markets, but I think Central Dallas CDC and Larry and Ted Hamilton share the same values.

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