Cypress Creek at Forest Lane, a mixed-income housing project in Lake Highlands, is continuing to move forward despite staunch opposition from various community members, including the area’s City Council representative.

Dallas City Council plans to acquire an approximately 2.85-acre tract of land located at 11520 N. Central Expressway and lease it to developer Sycamore Strategies to get the housing project developed. During its May 10 meeting, City Council listened to a range of community concerns before ultimately deciding to move forward with acquiring the land.

The backstory

The Cypress Creek project would include a four-story mid-rise apartment building with a wrapped parking structure that would include 189 residential units, a coworking space and a dog park. At least 100 of those units would be reserved for low-income households that earn between 30%-80% of the area’s median income of $58,231.

The project was first proposed to City Council in 2021, and has faced various challenges and delays since. The property where the project would be developed faces deed restrictions, which allow only office buildings, hotels, motels and restaurants to be built there.

City Council’s decision May 10 to acquire the land and lease it to Sycamore Strategies is the latest attempt to circumvent those restrictions. The city’s involvement would make the deed restrictions unenforceable, according to a memo from Assistant City Manager Majed Al-Ghafry.

Before the decision was approved, Council Member Adam McGough, who represents much of Lake Highlands, attempted to delay the deal by sending it back to the housing committee for further consideration. Noting community opposition, he said the project needed further evaluation. The May 10 meeting was one of McGough’s last on City Council, as his term limit is up in June.

Those in favor

Those who support Cypress Creek at Forest Lane have said the project will provide much-needed affordable housing in a “high-opportunity” area. ​High opportunity areas are regions within the city of Dallas where the census tract has poverty rates of 20% or below, according to the Dallas City Hall website.

During the May 10 meeting, several people urged City Council to move forward with the project rather than continuing to delay it by seeking more input or feedback.

“There have been a lot of tools and tactics used that have [led to] delays, and delays mean attempts to kill [the project],” District 7 Council Member Adam Bazaldua said during the meeting. “If we continue to kick this can down the road because there wasn’t enough time, that’s beyond disingenuous. We have had multiple opportunities to get community engagement; we have had multiple opportunities to ask questions through various routes.”

Those opposed

Nearby property owners to the land spoke in opposition of the development, threatening to sue the city if the project is successful. They said the city would violate deed restrictions by acquiring the land and thereby violate the property rights of private developers.

McGough noted the litigation threats as one reason to continue delaying the project and seeking further input. He said his attempt to push back the project was “not just a delay tactic” but a step to address both legal and process-oriented concerns.

“It is trying to make this better before we dig ourselves our own graves on this,” McGough said during the meeting.

In previous meetings, McGough has said that he does support the development of new affordable housing projects, but he does not think Cypress Creek at Forest Lane is the right project for the Lake Highlands area.

In addition to McGough, council members Casey Thomas and Carah Mendelsohn voted against the decision to acquire the land May 10. All other present members, including Mayor Eric Johnson, voted in favor of the acquisition.

What’s next

During the May 10 meeting, City Council considered also approving a lease agreement with Sycamore Strategies, but decided to delay the deal. City Council’s Housing and Homelessness Solutions Committee will consider the lease during its May 22 meeting, and City Council is expected to vote on the proposal during its June 14 meeting.