Architectural walking tours are something we generally participate in when we travel to Europe. Learning about the culture and history of a city from a local allows for a more exciting and intimate experience. It’s also a more enriching way to learn about a place than you’d get from a travel guide or, God forbid, in a huge tour group.

Jay Cantrell

I just returned from Prague and Vienna. On a day trip to Bratislava, I took an architectural walking tour that was a highlight of the trip, and it got me thinking about Dallas. We live in an architecturally significant city. However, we seldom take the time to treat our home town with the same respect we treat other major cities of the world. Then I remembered, Jay Cantrell is trying to rectify that.

Cantrell is an architecture teacher, artist, and entrepreneur who lives in the Kirby Building. To say he is deeply passionate about Dallas architecture is putting it mildly. Cantrell is intent on changing the perception of architecture in Dallas.

Almost a year ago, just before Thanksgiving, he launched Architectural walking tours of downtown Dallas.

“I’d done a fellowship in Paris and regularly took my colleagues to tour the beautiful architecture,” Cantrell said. “I missed that and thought if I could do it in Paris, I could do architectural walking tours here.”

The seed was planted and took root on social media. He created a Facebook page for people to sign up. It was an immediate success.

“I was not expecting it to be this big,” Cantrell said. “There happened to be a reporter on the first architectural walking tour, so word got out!”


1900 Elm exterior

Landlords at 1900 Elm say that Ashley Stanley violated her lease agreement when she hosted guests through Airbnb.

Ashley Stanley has been running an apartment locating business focused on downtown Dallas for 14 years. To rake in some extra dough, the single mother and real estate broker decided to host guests in her apartment at 1900 Elm through Airbnb. Only the apartment building says that by doing so, Stanley has violated the terms of her lease agreement and can be evicted.

Stanley plans to fight the decision, saying that these short stays do not amount to “subleasing” as the landlord says.

“The definition of subleasing does not apply,” Stanley told Channel 5. “Nor am I assigning my rights. I’m not saying, here’s the entire apartment, you finish out the rest of the lease term.”

But it’s just another nail in the coffin for renters and condo owners who want to open doors to cash-strapped travelers as more apartment buildings and HOAs crack down on Airbnb rentals over safety concerns.

Ashley Stanley

Ashley Stanley says that opening her apartment at 1900 Elm to Airbnb guests didn’t violate her lease terms.


The exterior of the Kirby Building on main. This converted Gothic building has fantastic apartments with great views.

The Kirby Building on Main is a converted Gothic historic property full of apartments with great views. Photo: Kirby Residences on Main

Ashley D. Stanley has positioned herself to be the go-to expert locator for downtown Dallas apartment rentals. She’s a real estate broker and owner of Ashley’s Apartments, an apartment locator service specializing in downtown and nearby areas.

Stanley lives, works, and plays in downtown, and considers herself one of its biggest fans.

“I live at 1900 Elm historical lofts next to Main Street Garden and have an office space out of the Pacific Place building next door, where my commute is through the skywalk, but with the birth of my son this past year I moved everything to my home office,” she said. “I moved my office from Park Cities in July 2013 right after I found out I was pregnant. I knew the downtown market was on the rise.”

Stanley was right: apartments in downtown can hardly get built fast enough to satisfy demand.

“The market is hot, hot, super hot,” she said. “New buildings are popping up and units are being pre-leased, meaning you might go to a showroom, see a spread of photos for their unique finish out, cabinetry, kitchen appliances, flooring, etc. and you are offered a great move in rate with maybe a few free weeks if you sign within 24 to 48 hours.”

But with high demand comes higher rents, and many people feel challenged by the task of finding affordable lease in downtown. So we sat down with Stanley and got her recommendations for the top five least expensive studio apartment rentals in downtown Dallas. Jump to read about these five fantastic places and her tips for snagging a lease!