If you’re a fan of Jake’s Hamburgers tater tots and chocolate malts and you love shopping at City View Antique Mall, you may soon be out of luck. Dallas ISD has put these and other businesses near Walling and Skillman on notice — the district plans to use eminent domain to purchase their property and build a school.
Just like that.
The nearby Merriman Park and University Manor homeowners association has called a meeting with DISD officials for Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. at Jill Stone Elementary to discuss the purchase. The meeting “to collect facts” is for HOA board members and owners of affected businesses, but they say future public meetings will follow.
Business owners are frustrated.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought they would come and take my property,” says Ellen Paulsen, who has owned and run City View with sister, Joan Williams, for 26 years. “We bought this building for our future. I hired an eminent domain attorney, but he told me there is nothing I can do to stop them. I have no rights. I’m a small operation. It’s just my sister and me.”
“The DISD guys sent my dealers a letter — ‘DISD intends to acquire this property for use as a public school. The district has a Relocation Assistance Eminent Domain Plan,’ ” continues Paulsen, who says her dealers were left confused and concerned about their future. “I have 65 dealers depending on me. [In negotiations], they told me they wanted it signed, sealed and delivered by the end of 2016. It stinks, it just stinks.”
We reached the manager of Jake’s, who didn’t want to speak on the record, and have calls into the owners.
Paulsen also has questions about student safety, with development and construction coming to that corner.
“There’s a big Alamo Drafthouse and a bunch of new restaurants going in at Skillman-Abrams. I don’t know what parent wants their kid walking across 6 lanes of traffic and through that parking lot with bars, restaurants and a movie theater.”
Paulsen is also dubious about what will happen to the parcel if DISD plans change.
“I know DISD can take property then, if the community fights the site, they will have very valuable property,” Paulsen says. “This whole corner is a hot little corner, and we are small owners. They can just pick us off. They have money — they can fight us.”
DISD’s purchase apparently includes multiple businesses all the way to the creek and back to where houses begin, including Chevron, Security Self Storage and others.
“My main frustration is that they are just coming in saying, ‘We’re taking your property and giving you next to nothing.’ I do over a million dollars per year in business. I employ people. This has been my livelihood for all these years. We’ve been in Dallas 26 years and we bought this building 4 years ago. Our loyal customers tell us, ‘we’re so glad you’re here.’ Where is a business like Merriman Park Automotive going to relocate? They’ve been here 30 years.”
We have a call into DISD officials and will keep you updated here on the Lakewood/East Dallas Advocate website.
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