Rehabilitation of the historic Knights of Pythias building in Deep Ellum is already underway, but developers are asking the City of Dallas to provide tax incentives to make the project more affordable. (Courtesy Photo)

For as long as I can remember, the Knights of Pythias building was a large painted gray mass of Beaux Arts architecture, hulking on the west end of Deep Ellum, boarded up and idle. When the historic rehabilitation began, it was wonderful to see the light gray paint give way to the gorgeous brick and stone underneath, unveiling the true character of this building. 
 
Of course, rehabilitation of historic structures isn’t cheap, and in the fight to maintain Dallas’ character, one of the best tools that cities have at their disposal are historic preservation tax exemptions and credits. While we bemoan the rash of teardowns and our city’s toothless measures to stay their razings, the key is making rehabilitation more economically viable than destroying the historic fabric of our city’s built environment. 
 
That’s why Preservation Dallas has put out the call to support tax exemption for the Knights of Pythias developers, Westdale Properties.
 

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Easter egg hunts Dallas

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who eat their chocolate Easter bunny ears first, and those who just don’t care. A report by WalletHub says 59 percent of Americans eat their chocolate bunny ears first, while 33 percent don’t have a preference. Four percent say they eat the tail first and another 4 percent eat the feet first. Savages. 

Whether you’re an ears gal or a tail kinda guy, the Metroplex has plenty of unique ways to host Easter egg hunts from up in the sky to down on the ground with goats. I’d leave your chocolate bunnies at home for these.

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Drew Colón and Jacob Moss are the founders of Modtown Realty, an independent brokerage located in Deep Ellum.

When Modtown Realty pulled up stakes and headed for the gritty, vibrant urban environment of Deep Ellum, we knew they were planning something big. So this month, we were happy to see the brand build more momentum with a new partnership. Modtown’s leadership, Drew Colón and Jacob Moss, have brought DMAX Properties under its wings, completing a long-term vision for both Modtown and DMAX founder Scott Arnold. 

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Modtown Realty Executive Team (Courtesy Photo)

Like two ships passing, on October 1, Modtown Realty Group and Keller Williams quietly parted ways. The separation will come as neither sudden nor surprising to anyone keeping close tabs on Modtown. The group, who had been part of Keller Williams Park Cities since 2012, recently moved its offices back to Deep Ellum. And it’s there that Drew Colon and Jacob Moss say the group feel most at home and most connected to their brand, which largely appeals to Millennials and urbanites.

“We’re coming out to this market of Deep Ellum.” Colon said. “We’ve done a good job at creating an inviting environment here. The moment you walk in the door you get that sense. We’re back and we’re excited!”

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deep ellum murals

The “Deep Rawlins” mural by Steve Hunter is one of 42 in downtown Dallas commissioned by 42 Properties in 2015. A contest will determine which three of these murals gets to stay, and which are painted over to make way for new art. This mural currently has 1,280 votes. Photo: Can Turkyilmaz

Back in 2014, folks at real estate company 42 Deep Ellum had an ambitious idea: to paint 42 new Deep Ellum murals on the walls of the properties they owned in downtown Dallas.

This project, called 42 Murals, allowed artists to show off their talent through murals painted on many of the historic buildings in the area. The mural project also provides free public art to thousands of visitors and residents.

“We made a conscious effort to focus mostly on local artists and not look at an artist’s reputation experience or resume — we judged entries pretty much solely on the submission,” said Scott Rohrman, manager of 42 Real Estate, LLC, and manager of general 42 Deep Ellum. “What we got is something we are really proud of.”

From the beginning, artists knew the murals would likely be temporary. Two years later, and 42 Murals is once again calling for submissions to create new Deep Ellum murals. That means painting over most of the old ones.

“You don’t go into the Dallas Museum of Art over a 20-year period and every painting is sitting on the same wall,” Rohrman said. “Art galleries change their art and when we went into the project, we told the artists their art might only be up for a short time, two year now, all the artists signed a contract before they started painting that we could not and would not guarantee their art would stay up forever.”

To decide which of the art stays and which get painted over, there’s an Instagram contest @42murals. The three most popular murals — the ones that get the most “likes” — will be preserved, with the artists receiving a cash prize. Voting ends tomorrow.

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Video courtesy of Uptown Dallas, Inc.

Something has to be done. Uptown is beginning to feel a bit like Greenville Ave. did a few years back. Remember? The late night crime and violence, residential streets overrun with youthful overindulgence, and uninvited visitors parking in front of residences … to put it nicely.  Uptown is on the cusp of being known as similarly problematic area — unless we can do something now to curb that trajectory. As Uptown Dallas, Inc. works diligently to attract more young families, improve the schools, and focus on great parks, the late night bar scene is (literally) spilling into the streets and driving a higher police presence.

Two potential solutions have surfaced and exploration began last night at a formal community input session hosted by the City of Dallas Department of Sustainable Development and Construction:

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Most Endangered Historic Places in Dallas

Preservation Dallas today held a conference to announce their 2016 most endangered listoric places in Dallas list. Photo: Irene Allender

“Historic preservation is the dynamic and deliberate process through which we decide what to keep from the present for the future, and then working to keep it.” —W. Brown Morton

Many historic buildings in Dallas face an uncertain future. Today, Preservation Dallas held a press conference to announce their 2016 “Most Endangered Historic Places in Dallas” list.

These are properties too important to lose, for their historic integrity to be diminished, or for the loss of their ability to be used to their full potential, said David Preziosi, Executive Director of Preservation Dallas.

“This list is a roadmap for advocacy, education and development of programs in the preservation community that address the needs of these endangered properties,” Preziosi said. “We must work diligently to protect the places on the list as they are important to the history and fabric of Dallas, for once they are gone, they are lost forever.”

These historic places are irreplaceable community assets that tell the story of the city’s development.

“We hope this list of endangered properties makes the citizens of Dallas aware of how many important historic buildings are at risk of being lost forever,” said Nicky DeFreece Emery, Board President of Preservation Dallas. “Preservation Dallas sees this list as an opportunity for all of us to be more thoughtful in how the city grows and develops.”

Some of them, like East Dallas’ Elbow Room, won’t surprise you. But others will. Read on to see the list.

 

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Dallas is experiencing phenomenal inner city growth. Neighborhoods like Oak Cliff, the Trinity River Corridor, Deep Ellum, Ross Avenue, and the Design District are seeing urban infill like never before, showing up in all scales and types.

inner city growth

Robert Meckfessel, FAIA

These changes are remaking the city and opening up new opportunities for residents and businesses alike. But when we look at housing, retail, restaurants, office, and streetscapes, what are the traits that make for good infill and connectivity for these areas?

These are the questions posed for the next Dallas Architecture Forum event, a panel presented in collaboration with Preservation Dallas called Remaking the City.

The event will be moderated by Robert McFessel, FAIA, President of DSGN Associates and past president of leading organizations involved with the quality of the built environment, including the Dallas Architecture Forum, Preservation Dallas, LaReunion TX, and AIA Dallas.

McFessel currently serves on the boards of LaReunion TX, The Trinity Trust, Trinity Commons Foundation, DoCoMoMo U.S., Greater Dallas Planning Council, and the Advisory Board of the Dallas Architecture Forum.

Panelists include:

  • Edwin Cabannis: Owner of the Kessler Theater
  • Katherine Seale: Chair of the City of Dallas Landmark Commission and Past Director of Preservation Dallas
  • Evan Sheets: Senior Urban Designer at Dallas City Design Studio
  • Dan Shipley, FAIA: Founder and Principal at Shipley Architects

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