City News Roundup
In 2022, everyone's going back to the office again and more Dallas news
In this roundup of Dallas news, the area is enjoying a brisk comeback on the worker/office front. But Dallas has a serious wood problem. Collin County is offering an opportunity to expunge your criminal record, and there's a new mural in downtown Dallas.
Here's what happened in Dallas this week:
Post-pandemic office recovery
A report from Transwestern, a real estate services company, reveals a big recovery on the office market in Dallas-Fort Worth in 2022. Companies are heading back to the office and demand for office space is returning to normal levels. New buildings are leasing in record time: Weir’s Plaza and The Stack were both 100 percent leased in months, and the Link is 50 percent leased after four months.
Office job creation is 200 percent above normal. Dallas-Fort Worth was ranked the #1 metro for population growth in 2021, adding more than 97,000 residents. Kaufman County was the #1 fastest-growing county in the U.S., and Rockwall County was #5.
Unemployment declined to 4.1 percent. Firms added 31,800 jobs. Office-using employment increased to a new all-time high of 1,167,800 jobs or 9.7 percent above pre-pandemic levels. Local firms are creating 80,000 to 100,000 office jobs per year — 200 percent higher than their normal 29,000 jobs per year.
Just like residential rent, office rent is climbing — anywhere from 4 to 5 percent. The report cites three reasons: an increased demand for quality space which allows nice properties to raise rents even though there are other vacancies; county appraisal districts getting more aggressive with tax rates on office properties; and inflation and rising wages.
New projects in the works include The Quad, 3300 Olympus at Cyprus Waters, Assembly Park adaptive reuse in Plano, and Hillwood Commons in Alliance.
Dallas, we have a wood problem: Rising prices on lumber are making new homes more expensive — and shorter. According to the Dallas Builders Association, the price of wood adds an extra $19,000 to the cost of the home. Lumber is also hard to get, with builders having to settle for whatever that can find. And if you want a two-story home, now is not the time. Builder D.R. Horton told NBC DFW that the company is not doing two story-houses "due to lumber issues" and that this situation might last a year or more. Phil Crone, executive officer of the Dallas Builders Association, says the lumber shortages are making builders move to simpler, more straightforward floor plans. Luckily, everyone wants a dumb open floorplan, so who needs wood.
Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis has launched the Expunction 2022 Initiative, with the support of the NAACP, Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, Collin County Bar Association, Plano Bar Association, and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. Expunction 2022 provides free legal assistance to people who may be eligible to have their criminal record erased. Their first expunction initiative in 2021 was a big success, with 46 volunteer attorneys helping 132 people get their charges expunged and saving them $1,800 in legal fees and costs.
Individuals may qualify if they:
- were arrested, but a charge was never filed or was no-billed by the grand jury
- have a criminal charge that was dismissed without any type of community supervision or probation prior to dismissal (except for Class C offenses)
- have a criminal charge that was dismissed because they completed a formal Pretrial Diversion Program
- were acquitted on their charge by a judge or jury (usually by a finding of "Not Guilty"), or appellate court
- were convicted of a crime but later pardoned by the Governor of Texas or the President of the United States
An individual is not eligible for an expunction in Collin County if their case was not in Collin County, their case is still pending, if they were convicted in the case they want expunged, if they were placed on probation, or they were convicted or received any kind of probation on another offense arising from the same arrest.
If you think you may be eligible, go to www.collincountyda.com/expunction2022 by April 30 to complete a Screening Survey. You'll be notified via email by May 31 and will be paired with a volunteer attorney.
Fountain Place, the Dallas skyline landmark, now has an 8-story tall painting of Dallas icons on the side of its parking garage. The mural by artist Steve Penley was commissioned by Goddard Investment Group as a way to complement Fountain Place's position as a sculptural icon in the Dallas Arts District. Described as an impressionistic collage of treasured Dallas icons, it includes Big Tex; a longhorn because that is just so Dallas; two old time cowboys on horses because that is just so Dallas; the red Pegasus horse, we sure are into horses here in Dallas, aren't we; a guy in a Dallas Cowboys uniform; an American Airlines plane; the Dr Pepper logo; and in the middle of it all, a looming head shot of I.M. Pei, who designed the building. Penley's work can also be found in Coca-Cola's world headquarters and the College Football Hall of Fame.