What a difference a century makes. Generations of real estate developers have banked on converting North Oak Cliff’s stunning countryside into the most affluent residential area of Dallas. After all, nothing said success more than a sweeping three-story Queen Anne mansion on a hill surrounded by limestone cliffs, natural springs, and lush native greenery.
In 1887, partners Thomas Marsalis and John Armstrong purchased 2,000 acres that were platted Dallas Land and Loan Additions #1, #2, and #3. Located on the western bank of the Trinity River, Marsalis and Armstrong planned the addition as the residential neighborhood for the incorporated city of Oak Cliff. Due to brisk land sales and hundreds of new Victorian homes, the population skyrocketed to 2,500 residents by 1890.
From Boom to Bust
The depression of 1893 brought the country to its knees and development in Dallas Land and Loan Additions to an abrupt stop. Since Marsalis had invested his entire fortune in the project, he left town and ultimately died destitute two years later in New York City. Though development eventually resumed, the pace remained anemic through 1930.
Bishop Arts Neighborhood
In the spirit of the Garden District in New Orleans, the Dallas Land and Loan Additions underwent a name change and assumed the much trendier Bishop Arts Neighborhood moniker as part of its revitalization efforts. Bordered by Davis on the north, Sunset on the south, Zang on the east, and Polk on the west – the residential neighborhood and adjoining Bishop Arts District are two of few remaining parts of original Old Oak Cliff which the City of Dallas annexed in 1901.
While development pioneers made history in the Dallas Land and Loan Additions, a new breed of urban pioneers preserved history in the Bishop Arts Neighborhood and the Bishop Arts District. Between historic apartment buildings, architecturally diverse homes, and commercial buildings that once made up the downtown area of Old Oak Cliff, Bishop Arts became the hot spot for saving and restoring pieces of Dallas history.
Bishop Arts is unquestionably the historic gem of North Oak Cliff and one of the top urban areas of Dallas. In 1990 – a century after Marsalis and Armstrong hit their building peak in residential development – the Bishop Arts District was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Two years later, the City of Dallas created Conservation District 7 to protect the architectural integrity of commercial and residential structures alike.
Today, Bishop Arts Neighborhood is a mix of historic homes and relatively new houses, condos, duplexes, and apartments. Bishop Arts District is a shopping, dining, and entertainment hub with more than 60 boutiques, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, galleries, and theaters.
According to Jeff Knox with Knox REALTORS, the Bishop Arts Neighborhood offers a ton of potential for investors.
“I have an investor who just bought both sides of a new duplex, and she looks for new listings daily,” Knox said. “And Bishop Arts offers one of the best cultures in Dallas, if not the best.”