Old Dallas ISD Headquarters Slated To Become 365-Unit Luxury Apartment Site

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Demolition on the former Dallas ISD headquarters on Ross Avenue began last week, making way for luxury apartment units (Photo courtesy Kim Whitaker)

Demolition began last week on Dallas ISD’s former headquarters on Ross Avenue, and while part of the historic art deco design will be saved, you won’t be seeing any affordable housing coming from the 365-unit development that will replace it.

“Set to begin construction this summer, the four-acre luxury development known as ‘The Academic’ will include approximately 365 rental units ranging from 500 to 1,150 square feet, a six-level parking garage and a courtyard at the center of the complex,” developer Leon Capital Group said in a press release announcing the project.

Dallas ISD
The Academic (Rendering courtesy Leon Capital Group)

The Dallas-based company bought the parcel of land for $9 million after the district relocated to 9400 North Central Expressway last year.

After public outcry, Leon Capital also said it was working with the Landmark Commission to preserve the “most historically relevant aspects of the existing building and to incorporate them into the design.”

“We’re planning to incorporate the interior core of the original building into our leasing office and amenity area,” David Cocanougher, Leon Capital’s managing director of multifamily division said. “The balance of the architecture of the new construction will be set back from the existing structure to increase the prominence of the preserved component.”

“It also incorporates design that blends the style of the existing structure with the ongoing transformation occurring along Ross Avenue.”

The developer says that The Academic will increase property values for the parcels of land adjacent to it – which will also benefit Dallas ISD’s bottom line, it says, because many of those parcels are owned by the district (Dallas ISD owns or owned about 10 acres along Ross total) but have not been sold yet.

But for some, 365 luxury units is a missed opportunity for Dallas ISD students and their families. With the district’s low-income student population always hovering somewhere around 90 percent, the growing rarity of affordable — and safe — rental units has catapulted Dallas into the top five major cities when it comes to evictions.

In a  report earlier this year, ApartmentList.com economist Andrew Woo found that Dallas renters were frequently more “cost burdened” because of stagnating wages.

“Incomes in Dallas, Nashville, and Chicago barely budged, even as rents rose by 25 percent or more,” Woo found.

In another analysis of cost-burdened renters, Woo and fellow ApartmentList economist Chris Salviati found that while incomes in Dallas increased by 9 percent between 2005 and 2015, rents increased 11 percent.

“Residents who make less than $30,000 a year in the Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio areas are more likely to spend more than 30 percent on housing costs than typical Americans earning the same salaries,” an article about affordable housing in the Texas Tribune pointed out. “In Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, that’s also true for people who make between $30,000 and $44,999.”

Dallas’ share of cost-burdened renters in 2015 was about 47 percent, compared to 48 percent or so in Austin and Houston and about 45 percent in San Antonio.

Bethany Erickson is the education, consumer affairs, and public policy columnist for CandysDirt.com. Contact her at bethany@candysdirt.com.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

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