City and state officials are in talks about the future of the recently shuttered Dawson State Jail, which Dallas leaders have long eyed as a crucial spot for Trinity River Corridor Project development.
There’s no sign of an imminent sale of the property, but a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman said the agency does not have long-term plans to keep it.Notably, of the three prison units Texas has closed since 2011, two of them - Dawson and the Central Unit in Sugar Land - sat in development corridors where local officials sought to transform the property for more lucrative economic uses. That may be a critical leverage point going forward if and when the Texas Lege considers further prison closures.
Dallas Interim City Manager A.C. Gonzalez opened the conversation last month with a letter to a TDCJ Chief Financial Officer Jerry McGinty. The letter included a friendly reminder that the city is “currently heavily involved in its highly visible and ambitious $2 billion Trinity River Corridor Project..”
“TDCJ’s Dawson Facility is located in immediate proximity to the planned Downtown (Reunion) Overlook, the single most important link between (1) the Dallas Central Business District and Convention Center and (2) the Trinity,” Gonzalez said. “The Downtown Overlook area will have unparalleled views of the two world class Santiago Calatrava Bridges and the two lakes, which are the centerpiece of the entire Trinity Lakes design.”
As the state considers its options for the jail property, Gonzalez asked that they “consider the City’s desire to create strong urban design and appropriate land uses in this area.”