Three major South Dallas projects are scheduled to start construction next year after investors from The Real Estate Council Shark Tank event all promised a combined $2 million. 

Money from the “sharks” could be just the beginning as the publicity from the Nov. 2 TREC event at Gilley’s Dallas perks the interest of other investors.

The sharks were Tillie Borchers, director of investments at Civitas Capital Group; Bill Cawley, CEO of Cawley Partners; Michael Dardick, founding partner and CEO of Granite Properties Inc.; Craig Hall, chairman and founder of HALL Group; and Frank Mihalopoulos, owner and president of Corinth Properties. 

 The three proposals the sharks heard will bring additional affordable housing, medical care, and high-paying jobs to the region. 

Maria Schneider, an entrepreneur and CEO of the Dallas Unity Fund, has a unique plan to put affordable housing on vacant lots around Fair Park. 

Dr. Michelle Morgan, a longtime dentist, wants to establish the Legacy of Hope Health and Wellness Center in an abandoned hospital on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Dallas.

And, Rodney O’Neil Burchfield, president of Burchfield & Partners, wants to build a 90,000-square-foot maintenance repair and overhaul facility at Dallas Executive Airport. 

The TREC Shark Tank was part of the Grow South initiative championed by Mayor Mike Rawlings, who spoke at the event. 

“It’s the forgotten part of Dallas. It’s a major part of the city in itself,” Rawlings says. “I’ve always said southern Dallas is an investment opportunity, not a charity case.” 

Mark Cuban, one of the sharks on the real ABC show “Shark Tank,” also spoke prior to the event, talking about efforts to build bridges across the Trinity River and the benefits of investing in the region. 

“When I invest in Dallas companies … the energy, the excitement from the entrepreneurs — they’re all about getting it done,” Cuban says. “No matter what I do for Dallas, it will never equal what Dallas has done for me.” 



South Dallas’ resurgence starts with drawing people to live there by building quality, affordable housing, Maria Schneider says.

Finding the right location isn’t hard — the neighborhoods around Fair Park are full of vacant lots that have left a void in the community. And, finding a surplus of freshly remodeled historic homes isn’t that hard, either. The DIY Network show “Texas Flip N Move” has dozens of homes ready to move in the Azle area.

Schneider plans to buy a handful of vacant lots on Coolidge Road and then buy houses from the television show to move to the site. “Texas Flip N Move” takes the houses down to the studs and rebuilds them with new drywall, electrical, plumbing, and flooring. They are all up to code. They will sell for $100,000 to $150,000. 

“I’m just struck by how cool they are. Each one is unique. They’re little custom homes. It’s so hard to get that sense of personality when you’re trying to build new houses,” Schneider says. “It’s hard to find homes in that price range.” 

The project got the attention of one shark, Borchers, who offered to invest $250,000 in the project. Since, then the project has gotten the attention of other investors. 

The permitting process will take about two months. Schneider plans to do about three lots at a time. 

Homesites will be prepared with utility hookups, and porches or sunrooms will be added, depending on what the buyer wants. 

Long term, Schneider would like to add 25 new houses to the neighborhood surrounding Opportunity Park in Dallas. 

The Dallas Unity Fund will assist with down payments and financing in hopes that homebuyers will flock to the area, put down roots, and improve the sense of community, Schneider says. There’s an old city park wedged between the neighborhood and the railroad tracks that Schneider says could become a small park or community garden. 

“These kinds of projects, if a lot of people do them — that’s what builds a city and rebuilds a neighborhood,” she says. “Hopefully, that will attract other people, [who will] regard those properties as valuable.” 

Bringing more people to the neighborhood will increase the economic vitality of the region. “I would love to see those areas revitalized so people can start their own businesses,” she says. 



Having proper access to medical care also will be critical for South Dallas’ future. 

Dr. Michelle Morgan grew up in South Dallas and has served the community as a dentist for decades. She’s all too familiar with the so-called medical desert in the area.

The lack of access to medical care means many residents must travel long distances to go to the doctor and often end up in the emergency room for routine issues. 

Morgan’s plan is to remodel the 18,000-square-foot hospital at 2516 Mar–tin Luther King Jr. Blvd. into the Legacy of Hope Health and Wellness Center. 

Three doctors have already committed to the project, in addition to her own practice. The facility will need specialists in various medical fields and has about 4,000 square feet of space left to lease. 

Morgan lured all five sharks to bite:  They committed $500,000 toward the project, with an offer to go up to $750,000 if Morgan increases her own investment. 

Since the Nov. 2 event, word of the project has spread to the Dallas City Council. 

“It’s generated so much interest and so many supporters on all levels,” Morgan says. “Political, financial, and just the people in the community. It’s a collective energy that is going to make this happen.” 

Churches and banks are interested in the project now, and construction could start early next year with the Legacy of Hope opening in 2019. 

Anyone interested in learning more about the project can call Olivia Gray at 703-307-6461 or visit 

The hospital they are moving in to was founded by a group of black doctors in 1965. It’s been abandoned for years but Morgan and the other tenants who move in will give the facility a new finish. 

Morgan says this type of facility is much needed in the area, and that the doctors also could mentor the next generation of medical professionals. 

“I grew up here [and] walked to school by myself,” she says. “But 30 years later,  it doesn’t look like where I grew up. It’s really easy to see where the disparities are.” 



High-paying jobs and a thriving municipal airport are also important to the region’s future. 

Burchfield received the largest investment from the sharks for the $12.9 million maintenance, operations, and overhaul facility (MRO) he plans to build at Dallas Executive Airport. 

He requested $500,000 but went home with $1.35 million from the sharks. Burchfield has an operator who will be the tenant for the 90,000-square-foot facility, but he can’t disclose the name.

Construction could start by July with it opening in 2019.

Having a new MRO at Dallas Executive Airport, coupled with runway and taxiway improvements, will elevate the airport’s status. The project will create 30 jobs in the first year, and that could double within five years. The average salary would be $75,000.

“This positions the airport to be a premier general aviation destination in South Dallas. The users would be high-net-worth individuals who have corporate jets or corporations that use jets,” Burchfield says. “It’s really an opportunity for us to capitalize on the growth that the entire Metroplex is experiencing, and it’s a testament to the commitment that the City of Dallas has made to the airport.” 

The facility requires a ground lease with the City of Dallas. That’s scheduled to go to the City Council for approval in January or February.

Mihalopoulos and other sharks saw huge potential for the project.  “It’s a sleeper. If we could be the pioneers of something that’s coming to this airport, that’d be great,” Mihalopoulos says.