Jun. 02, 2020 by James A. Koch, Pacheco Koch, With TREC Staff

TREC Advocates For Changes to Dallas’ Commercial Development Process

For the last three years, The Real Estate Council has worked to identify aspects of the City of Dallas’ development processes that may be streamlined to allow for more frequent permit reviews and faster approvals. In development, the old adage “time is money” holds true. Developers, backed by lenders, are expected to bring projects online in a timely fashion and rely on engineers, planners, architects, lawyers, general contractors, and subcontractors to bring their projects into fruition. At the same time, there are numerous interactions with City staff to proceed with each stage of the development process along the way, from requests for rezoning to critical investments in infrastructure (water, utilities, drainage, etc.). While delays are often anticipated, they cannot become the norm. In order to achieve both the City and developer’s goals in creating jobs, housing, and neighborhood revitalization, it is essential that the development process is made as efficient and effective as possible.

Revisiting the issue with over 25 industry-leading developers, engineers, architects, and contractors who frequently work with the City through in-person and virtual meetings since the beginning of the year, TREC has proposed changes to the following areas of the development process based on the most common issues in:

  • Pre-Development
  • Planning/Platting
  • Permitting
  • Review/Inspections
  • Pre-CO

You may read all of TREC’s recommendations here.

We believe these changes would create a more efficient permitting process that would benefit both the City and the development industry, resulting in faster project delivery and expanded tax revenue for the city. Assuming constant demand, a recent TREC study found that a three-month delay in permitting resulted in a $31 million impact in total property taxes and an $8 million tax revenue loss for the city. These figures take into account the historical data provided by the City of Dallas’ Economic Development and Sustainable Development and Construction (SDC) departments over the last 10 years, which demonstrates the commercial real estate industry is one of the primary economic engines driving the future development of Dallas

These proposed changes are being discussed with City staff, and they could not come at a better time. In the wake of the undue stress being put on the City’s financial position because of COVID-19’s impact on tax revenues, the SDC department faces a potential $5.9 million revenue shortfall (slides 45-51 here), which is driven by decreased demand. We expect the City Council to be briefed on some of these streamlined changes by the end of May before hopeful passage in June. By adopting any number of the proposed changes, along with other recommendations from industry associations and the gradual adoption of new tools like the ePlan Portal, the City of Dallas and real estate industry as a whole will be better positioned to rebound from the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

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