McDougal's Overton Park barrels toward completion

Progress at Overton Park, it seems, doesn't stop for anyone even Delbert McDougal.

The chairman of McDougal Cos. called the media together Tuesday afternoon to tout his company's quicker than expected progress in the rebuilding of the North Overton neighborhood, the largest privately funded revitalization project in the United States.








He had to speak, though, over the thrum of a machine toiling behind him on one of the project's crown jewels the $30 million residential/retail complex known as The Centre at Overton Park. The project as a whole is running about three years ahead of schedule, with construction now expected to be done by the end of 2006, McDougal said.

He attributed the schedule-busting to, "Just the fact we've been able to do our purchasing (of existing properties) much quicker than we expected."

He added that demolition of those properties was also progressing more quickly than anticipated.

By year's end, McDougal Cos. will shut down the last of the old apartment complexes in the neighborhood, the Country Village Apartments, according to Clifton Wilkinson, company vice president for business development.

In the new year, ground will be broken on the first single-family houses in the revitalization project as well as a Wal-Mart Supercenter, the first major retailer to enter the development.

By any measure, the Overton Park project is a giant undertaking, stretching from University Avenue east to Avenue R and from Main Street north to the Marsha Sharp Freeway.

The project is creating apartment complexes, single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, restaurants, retail stores and a full-service hotel.

The demolition and construction projects alone have created 400 jobs, with the businesses coming to Overton Park expected to create 475 permanent jobs, according to McDougal Cos.

The Wal-Mart will generate the vast majority of those jobs.

The new construction is pumping up the tax base as well. In 1999, the neighborhood was appraised at $26 million. McDougal Cos. estimates the taxable values will jump twenty-fold to between $500 million and $550 million once construction is completed.

The extra property tax revenue should benefit local taxing entities such as the city of Lubbock and the Lubbock Independent School District, Wilkinson said.

In addition, Overton Park residents are in a special taxing district where a portion of their property taxes will be used to pay for landscaping and other beautification projects in the development, he said.

The project caused the displacement of many of North Overton's residents who can't afford the more upscale residences being put up on the sites of their former homes.

Wilkinson estimated that his company has had to purchase about 800 homes. More than 90 percent of the homes have already been acquired, with many of the remaining homes under contract, he said.

McDougal Cos. helped the renters in the old apartment complexes find new apartments to rent.

"They have been pretty much moving all over the city," Wilkinson said.

McDougal Cos. helped some of the renters with moving costs, he said.

Wilkinson said it was important to take advantage of the opportunity to create an attractive gateway between the downtown business district and Texas Tech University.

The old neighborhood was "very deteriorated, an eyesore," he said.