A new supportive housing project for people who have experienced homelessness is moving forward in Lake Highlands after months of delays.

The project, St. Jude Center Vantage Point, would replace Extended Stay America, a hotel in Lake Highlands known for high violent crime.

The backstory

Extended Stay America, located at 9019 Vantage Point Drive, was designated a habitual crime property by the Dallas Police Department in 2022 for the rate of violent crime that took place on the property.

For several months, Dallas City Council, community members and nearby property owners have discussed rezoning the nearly 3-acre hotel property at both City Council and community meetings. Rezoning the property would allow it to host multifamily housing rather than the commercial uses it was previously zoned for.

What happened

After months of delaying action on the project, City Council voted to rezone the property during its May 24 meeting. City Council was previously expected to vote on the proposal in August 2022 but delayed it five times.

During the meeting, District 10 Council Member Adam McGough said the delays were made “for valid and good reasons.” Some community members have voiced opposition to the rezoning under the hotel’s current ownership, but McGough said plans for a new owner will create a beneficial project.

“Yes, this is just a zoning change, but it has lots of implications for ... our community,” McGough said.

Joe Dingman, treasurer of St. Jude Inc. which is part of the Catholic Housing Initiative, said during the May 24 meeting that St. Jude plans to purchase the rezoned property in late summer, then renovate it to make it suitable for long-term occupancy. Dingman said the organization intends to open the new facility, St. Jude Vantage Point, in early 2024.

Quote of note

“In our hands, the property will look better, and the operation will be helpful to the community—not a burden,” Dingman said during the May 24 meeting. “We’ll be taking folks out of encampments—not causing lots of police calls to the property.”

The approach

Along with permanent supportive housing, St. Jude will offer “intensive casework and programs aimed at addressing the problems that caused homelessness to begin with” for its residents, Dingman said. In addition, the new center will have a staff member on-site 24 hours per day.

During the meeting, Dingman noted St. Jude screens all its residents and doesn’t accept those with violent crime history. Its centers also implement “strong house rules for community benefit.”

Since the May 24 vote centered on rezoning the property, City Council will need to approve further plans and site details for St. Jude Vantage Point. A consideration date has not been set.