By James W. Breedlove
A recent report in the Dallas Morning News highlighted concerns that local South Dallas residents and community leaders expressed to the new owners of the former Pearl C. Anderson Middle School during a joint meting at Exline Recreation Center.
Watermark Community Church, a mega-church based in North Dallas, purchased the Anderson property through a DISD auction in 2019 and is currently using the facility as a satellite church campus while planning to rezone the property.
Some of the concerns identified by South Dallas residents included: the auction sale was made without community involvement, the community is being dictated to and not partnered with, coordination meetings with the new owners have no substantive content, the $211,000 sale price is suspiciously low for 9.8 acres of land and a 190,000 sq ft building, and DISD appears to have made some administrative irregularities in completing a single bidder auction.
While the authenticity of suspicions and concerns that South Dallas residents have regarding Watermark’s future intentions regarding the Anderson property is debated some attention needs to be directed to the negative impact of the black community’s missed opportunity.
Prime property is an asset that appreciates in value. Yet the black community let 9 acres and a 190,000 sq ft structure slip through the crack because it couldn’t or wouldn’t come up with $200,000. Shame, Shame, Shame.
Mrs. Pearl C. Anderson was an influential civic leader and philanthropist whose 1955 donation of a Downtown Dallas property valued at $350,000 to a charitable trust is now worth many millions and continues to grow. Proceeds from the trust donation were instrumental in financing the Pearl C. Anderson School that opened in 1963.
Have the history lessons of the land grabs perpetuated on blacks in places such as Fair Park, Little Elm, Little Egypt, or Love Field been forgotten? The intricacies of eminent domain was lorded over blacks whenever the white establishment decided to use black land for white purposes. Blacks were ignorant to the nuances of this legal concept in the early days of the civil rights movement and were usually taken advantage of.
Land becomes a valuable commodity as populations grow or needs change. Land is one of the best wealth accumulation vehicles since it is in finite supply. Yet in the black quest for wealth equality blacks seem to be hesitant to the land acquisition process instead of aggressive.
Where were the black city, county, or DISD officials when the Anderson property was being administratively prepared for the auction block? Is there no communication link to any black religious, civic, professional, or fraternal organizations with goals that are attuned to maximizing the wealth/power equation?
It is easy to understand how a financial opportunity that requires millions of dollars might be prohibitive but there is no excuse for not being able to finance a $200,000 project.
Pastor Donald Parish of True Lee Missionary Baptist Church stated that now is the time for Watermark to reach out. “We know the community. Let’s get some community involvement, community input. You (Watermark) have the resources. We have the experience. Let’s see if we can’t work together.”
Even if Watermark creates the most beneficial project as a result of it’s rezoning decisions South Dallas residents will pay money for using the refurbished Anderson property instead of collecting instant profits and future appreciation.
Thus, the net result of the Anderson Property missed opportunity to the black community is negative wealth accumulation and prolonged economic disparity.
(Comments may be sent to the writer at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)