How Dallas Fared in RENTCafé Adaptive Reuse Study on Large U.S. Cities

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RENTCafé points out that one of the oldest Dallas buildings to be converted is the Wilson Building, which was built in 1904. (Google Maps)

My favorite HGTV shows are the ones in which apartment hunters size up reconditioned historic buildings that are being turned into modern rental units. You hear a lot of descriptions thrown out, such as “charm” and “character.” Lots of exposed brick and ducts, glass, and concrete.

It’s a theme on adaptive reuse, converting old into new and refreshing. Churches, courthouses, and even bomb shelters have been given new life through this noble process.

RENTCafé compiled a recent study on the largest U.S. cities with the most effective adaptive reuse efforts. It’s interesting how Dallas fared in this study. We’ve always known that Dallas has plenty of historic buildings.

According to RENTCafé, Dallas has had 27 buildings repurposed into 4,797 new residential units, ranking Dallas 11th in the U.S. with the highest number of such apartments. Other cities started converting in the 1950s, and some even earlier.

RENTCafé dug into Yardi Matrix data and found 1,876 buildings converted into apartments since the 1950s.

As one might expect, Chicago’s urban sprawl has prompted lots of building conversions. By RENTCafé’s count, the Windy City has 91 converted buildings resulting in the creation of 14,167 apartments. The buildings, most with east-facing views of Lake Michigan, are mapped here.

RENTCafé says Dallas has had 10 office buildings, four factories and four warehouses converted into residential units. RENTCafé also pointed out that one of the oldest Dallas buildings to be converted is the Wilson Building. Built in 1904, the iconic Wilson building was repurposed in 2000 into a residential community of 135 apartments.

South Side on Lamar is a repurposed warehouse and now a loft-living concept.

One Dallas building not mentioned but an obvious historic treasure is the South Side on Lamar, which is a repurposed warehouse and now a loft-living concept. Another: 511 N. Akard, a 15-story tower and three-story side structure with a rooftop deck, is now a mixed-use building, and also, as the headline here says, a “shining example of adaptive reuse.”

I’m wondering what will become of the landmark Dallas Morning News building on 508 Young St., where I worked for years. I’ll be watching.

There are numerous other possibilities and success stories throughout Dallas. (Check with Preservation Dallas for details on its preservation and revitalization efforts.)

In a 2017 study by commercial real-estate firm Transwestern, the researchers noted that “adaptive reuse generates staggering returns for investors.” In fact, that was the name of Transwestern’s study.

The study pointed out two creative offices in Dallas, both in West End: The Brewery Building and Factory Six03.

In September, Dallas recognized adaptive reuse value and set up its Office of Historic Preservation under the umbrella of Economic Development and Neighborhood Services, Karen Eubank reported on CandysDirt.com. To get the ball rolling, the city created a strategic initiative called “The Vision: Keeping an Eye on Historic Preservation in Dallas.”

“The historic preservation program in Dallas has been around for nearly 50 years,” Preservation Dallas executive director David Prezozi said in September. “This new Vision will look at historic preservation within the city of Dallas framework and how it can be taken to the next level.”

Dallas’ Office of Economic Development also has a Small Business Adaptive Reuse Program to “assist owner-operators in southern Dallas with improvement to underperforming or vacant buildings for new or continued use.”

Here are other adaptive reuse reports about Dallas properties:

  • Architect Norman Alson has not only an unparalleled depth of knowledge but also something essential for historic preservationists — common sense. Read more.
  • In Italian, Bella Villa means “beautiful villa.” In Vickery Place, Bella Villa means a stunning, newly preserved neighborhood landmark that’s living up to its name a second time. Read more.

Tommy Cummings

Tommy Cummings covers the North Texas housing market for CandysDirt.com. Tommy moved to Texas from Oklahoma in 1992 and has lived in Mansfield with his wife, Brigitte, and son, Beaumont, since 2002 (after a two-year adventure in California as a tech columnist/editor at the San Francisco Chronicle). Tommy started his media career at newspapers in Oklahoma before becoming an editor in many capacities at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Dallas Morning News, where he wrapped up his newsroom career as a digital editor. His work has appeared in news outlets throughout the U.S.

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