A Lake Highlands property that has has become known for high crime rates may soon become a way to create new housing options in the region.

Plans are underway for the Extended Stay America at 9019 Vantage Point Drive–which received a special designation from the Dallas Police Department for numerous crimes taking place there–to be rezoned, allowing it to be converted into permanent supportive housing with case management services and potentially give it a new nonprofit owner.

In April 2022, the property was designated as a Habitual Crime Property by the Dallas Police Department, meaning more proactive policing measures can be taken, for the amount of violent crime that took place there. Since a majority of former occupants have been evicted and no new occupants have been accepted, Ariya Villegas, a senior assistant city attorney, said during a Feb. 7 community meeting that there has been no crime in the past six months.

“It's all about the people, it’s always all about the people,” District 10 City Council Member Adam McGough said at an All in D10 community meeting on Jan. 19. “You’ve got to be able to support [people], especially in these communities, it’s not just a standard operation. It takes more energy, effort and care for these places to work.”

At the Jan. 19 meeting, Mark Melton, board chair of the Dallas Eviction Advocacy Center, said talks are ongoing with current hotel property owner Three Wall Capital to transfer ownership to a nonprofit prior to an upcoming council rezoning vote. In a message relayed to the public at the Feb. 7 community meeting, Melton said a letter of intent for the ownership change is expected to be signed within the week.

The current plan would reconfigure the 136 hotel units to accommodate around 100 one- and two-bedroom apartment units, in addition to adding amenities like playgrounds on the site. Work is expected to cost a little more than $3 million, McGough said at the Feb. 7 meeting, citing a message from Melton.

Noting that discussions are in the initial stages, Melton added that the nonprofit owner would likely be Volunteers of America, which operates nearly 500 affordable housing properties across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, according to its website. It focuses on vulnerable communities such as people experiencing homelessness, families with children, older adults and veterans. Care management would likely be provided by local coalition organization Housing Forward, Melton said.

“You can change someone's life by doing this,” Melton said at the Feb. 7 meeting.

The rezoning case that would allow for the property to host multifamily housing and bring it in line with adjacent properties is set to go before council on Feb. 22. While the agenda item has been delayed multiple times in the past as community discussion continues, McGough said it likely could no longer be delayed due to lack of support from other council members.

When the issue has come up for previous votes, it has been recommended for approval by city staff and by the City Planning Commission.

“We know if we don't do anything or if we deny this, it's going to stay with the current zoning and it's going to be ... operated again as a hotel,” McGough said at the Feb. 7 meeting. "Status quo to me is not really an option."

Residents at the Feb. 7 meeting had mixed feelings about the rezoning proposal, with many saying they would like additional time to learn more about the deal between Three Wall and a potential new nonprofit owner before the rezoning vote.

“You quickly can determine who are the people that actually care about their tenants and the residents, and who are not," McGough said Feb. 7. "This particular place had a bad operator that has run out of any possible excuse that I could possibly make for this operator and [I want] nothing but them gone.”