Weir’s Furniture Engages OLC to Rebuild Knox Home to Compete With Coming Restoration Hardware

Weir’s proposed Knox Street frontage

Weir’s Furniture has been a fixture about town for 70 years.  Their Knox store has sat witness to the area’s ups and downs.  I think it’s safe to say Knox is on the up and up and Weir’s wants to remain an integral part of the transformation (new residents need furniture).  You may recall back in July, I reported on Restoration Hardware’s plans to transform their piddly one story.  Weir’s wants in on that action and so last night made their way to the Oak Lawn Committee.

As you can see from the map above, Weir’s is a Froggie and a Lulu away from Restoration Hardware’s palace of distressed wood. Add to that lease renegotiations on the north side of Knox in the coming years, and change is definitely afoot.

The biggest “good news” is the preservation of the exterior of the old Highland Park Pharmacy building that now houses the Soda Fountain. The news is especially good because we all know Dallas is typically a rip and replace town.  DCAD records show the current Soda Fountain building dates from 1910 while Soda Fountain lore says it dates from 1923. Either way, the original location of the Pharmacy and Soda Fountain was kitty-corner across Knox Street beginning in 1912 next to a grocery store. The present building was also the location of Dallas’ first drive-in service. No word whether the carhops were on roller skates.

Zooming out, you can see the corner becomes a focal point and preservation landmark for the proposed development.  There are also several nods to the original building in the new structure.  The decorative limestone line separating the first and second floors is carried across. The windows on Travis are restored and form an unbroken line across the ground floor of the new building … even the muntins, horizontal separations of window panes, are partly carried through. I’m particularly happy about the reopening of the original windows along Travis.  They were closed when more interior wall space was desired and air conditioning made the operable windows unnecessary. My two cents would be to match the brick size of the older building on the ground level to further visually weave the two together.

Also, as you look along Travis, you see the loading docks are gone and the sidewalk opened up.  Walkers know the building is really close to the curb, but by changing pull-in parking to parallel, they are able to put in a proper sidewalk and greenery.  Before you get in a dither about parking, know that the project includes 800 new parking spaces … 100 percent underground.

As we saw with Restoration Hardware’s plans, multi-level green space is housed in the setbacks on the second and third floors.  The setbacks pull the building away from the street, reducing canyon feel and at the same time offer reimagined green spaces.  The second floor pullback will house a full length patio for the expected restaurant tenants, while the third floor will be utilized by office tenants. As you look down Travis, you can see the multi-level green continues.

Apparently the phones are already ringing for these restaurant and retail spaces. There may even be a whiff of interest from foodie favorite Eataly. Travelers to New York, Chicago, and Boston already know about the Batali-Bastianich-run mega food halls. If that happens, they may need more parking!

I hear you asking, “Where’s Weir’s going?”  Above, you can just make out the corner Soda Fountain building to the left. Weir’s opens on Travis with a brand new 29,000-ish-square-foot showroom on two levels.  The second floor patio will showcase their outdoor collections outdoors, interspersed with greenery. The third floor green space will again be utilized by office tenants.  On the right will be the main entrance for the underground garage that will house de rigueur valet parking. Oh, and the furniture store isn’t the only thing moving.  The Weir’s clock, now on Knox, will be relocated to the sidewalk outside the new entrance.

Delivery trucks (and you can see the closed-up windows on the Soda Fountain building)

You may recall this section of Travis Street is where traffic-blocking loading happens throughout the day.  Given the rapid increase of development, not only does Weir’s look great, but it offers better traffic flow and safety.

As you can see above, all those delivery trucks move to the alley.  There are five large bays and four smaller truck spaces.  You can also see a bit of the landscaping plan.  The Soda Fountain also acts as shelter for the main entrance to the office building which is itself a green meeting point.  Parking along Knox Street becomes angled to make backing-up into Knox slightly less perilous (although I’d be in the garage in a second).

All in all, it’s a plan that keeps history alive while moving a business into the next phase of Knox’s evolution.  With all the new eateries, I’m waiting for someone to publish “Walking On The Pounds: The Katy Trail Restaurant Guide.”

Corner of Oak Lawn and Congress

Temperance Break for Total Wine

The second, smaller presentation generated its share of titters and snickers. Total Wine wants to build at the corner of Congress and Oak Lawn Avenue (Bellini’s).  If that sounds familiar, it’s across the street from the recently approved Starbucks. (Spiked Cap’n Crunch Frappuccino anyone?)

None were tittering at the wine per se, but rather that in Bible Belt wisdom, you need a variance to locate a liquor emporium within 300 feet of a church.  Apparently blessed tippling is OK only if presented from a cassocked arm or is 301 feet from an altar.  Why 300 feet? Wasn’t that how far Jesus was from the synagogue when he turned water into wine?

Anyway, many boozy bon mots later we find that All Saint’s church, located across Congress in a four-story office building will be moving as soon as they can build themselves a proper church (say two-ish years).  In the meantime, Total Wine wants the temporary variance because liquor’s quicker.  Alcohol would already be allowed were the church not there (and Bellini’s has a liquor license today because it’s OK for a church to move close to temptation, but not for temptation to move in).

Let’s call this an eye-roll variance.

CVS at McKinney and Lemmon Avenues

Committee members had a few serious comments to make about the rather barren streetscape of the shown structure. While not a final plan, the store entrance and parking would be on the back of the building, leaving largely blank walls on its Congress and Oak Lawn sides.  You know that beige butt-to-the-road CVS at McKinney and Lemmon Avenues?  Like that.

One OLC member suggested a seating area perhaps as part of a tasting room or café (for those who can’t wait to pop a top). Regardless, this was Total Wine’s first stop. The plans will change as they’re fleshed out.  Their main concern was to move spirits in before the Holy Spirit moved out.

On a side note, the meeting opened to a packed, standing-room-only crowd, which left more than a few wondering if the Toll Brothers’ protesters had decided to get involved.  Nope. All those months of ire carried less commitment than a New Year’s resolution … you know … where you at least go to the gym once. We know because once Weir’s was finished, nearly everyone walked, leaving Total Wine (two blocks from Toll Brothers) to the OLC and a five-person peanut gallery.

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement.  If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com.