Feb 22, 2024 - News

Predominantly Black megachurch fights developer over proposed warehouse in Dallas

A man hovers over a microphone in a council meeting

Screenshot: NBC5

A predominantly Black megachurch in South Dallas has successfully staved off construction of an industrial warehouse nearby — for now.

The latest: On Tuesday, a state district court judge granted a temporary injunction to halt construction of a 277,000-square-foot warehouse next to Friendship-West Baptist Church, near I-20 and Wheatland Road.

Why it matters: Leaders and congregants of the church have opposed the warehouse project for nearly two years — in public meetings, editorials and court filings — citing safety risks for nearby residents and students, antiquated zoning policies, and what church leaders call "environmental racism."

  • The church's attorney, Paul Stafford, told the Dallas Morning News that the proposed warehouse is emblematic of Dallas' history of zoning industrial sites near low-income neighborhoods that are predominantly Black and Latino.

The other side: Stonelake Capital Partners, the developer hoping to build the warehouse in question, said in a press release that the property was already zoned for this type of construction and that the company has been "attentive and forthcoming with community stakeholders," meeting repeatedly with church leaders.

  • The developer also says the warehouse will add jobs to the community, without specifying how many.
An open field lined with trees
Screenshot: NBC5

Catch up quick: Stonelake bought the 18-acre plot next to the church in 2021, per the DMN.

  • The proposed warehouse would be located between the church and a tax office, and across the street from Carter High School and a residential neighborhood that church leaders say is populated by many senior citizens.
  • Stonelake was denied a building permit for the warehouse in August, when the city said the company didn't have a proper plan to deal with truck traffic. The developer appealed and was granted a permit in November.

Yes, but: The church filed the request for an injunction in December, and Stonelake sued the city.

  • "Politics does not trump legal rights," the company wrote in its suit, per the DMN. "The City and the Building Official cannot use a simple building permit process as a backdoor way to rezone property and prevent development."

Between the lines: Friendship-West has a long history of social activism. In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in June 2020, the church hung a giant "Black Lives Matter" banner.

What they're saying: "If they decide to begin construction, they will find me laying down in front of any construction machines," Haynes told NBC5 in June.

What we're watching: The case is set for trial April 14, 2025.

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