Tanya Ragan, president of Wildcat Management, outside the Purse Building, which is available to tour Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The recently opened showroom has activated a long stagnant corner of the Historic West End.

The last time we told our readers about the re-do of the Historic Purse Building located at Elm and Record streets in downtown Dallas’ West End, Tanya Ragan and her firm, Wildcat Management, had just started the demolition process. Fast forward to yesterday, when Candy and I stopped into the Purse Building showroom to chat with Ragan about this building’s incredible transformation. 

The building — once a furniture warehouse and, in its previous use, an office building for the county — has revealed its stunning character as the process of restoration has uncovered, layer by layer, the beauty of what lies beneath the patina of neglect. Of course, we know that Ragan has accomplished other historic adaptive reuse projects, including the full-scale, brick-by-brick relocation of the Liberty State Bank building in the Dallas Farmers Market neighborhood. This building — and this neighborhood, even — is a study in comparison, though, as the building readies itself for tenants. 

For the full conversation with Ragan and exclusive new photos of the building’s incredible texture throughout its five available floors, jump!

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Developer Tanya Ragan of Wildcat Management is hosting an event from noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 27 that will collect new or gently used handbags filled with toiletries and necessities for the “Pack the Purse” event.

It’s probably more than a coincidence that developer Tanya Ragan of Wildcat Management is both hard at work fixing up the Purse Building in downtown Dallas’ West End and hosting a “Pack the Purse” event from noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 27. While the Purse building will likely be packed full of occupants by its completion, Ragan is getting a chance to pack a different kind of purse in the meantime. 

The event, a partnership with the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, is a way to get new and gently used handbags full of the kinds of everyday necessities women and children require to look and feel as successful as possible. For Pack the Purse, Ragan is asking the community to donate these handbags, as well as hygiene and grooming products that will fill the purses. The bags will then be donated to the Strong Start program, which focuses on providing the foundation for the lifelong love of learning and giving parents the tools they need so their children have the skills to enter kindergarten ready for a strong start in life. The event will be held at Full City Rooster Roasting Company in Dallas located at 1810 S. Akard St., #100 Dallas, TX 75215.

“It is so important for women to be a support system for each other and empower one another through acts of kindness and encouragement,” Ragan said. “It’s an honor to be able to use my time to support these women and help provide them with the essentials needed to successfully manage their day to day activities.” 

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The Purse Building, located at 601 Elm Street, will be the visual gateway to the historic West End district of downtown Dallas. The restoration of the 113-year-old building has begun, and will be complete in 15 to 18 months. (Images: Wildcat Management)

“I’ve spent almost the last 12 years downtown. I was there when no one wanted to be there,” says Tanya Ragan, President of Wildcat Management and one of the few female commercial developers in Dallas. “I know that when you talk about the Central Business District, you are really talking about 15 distinctly different districts.”

Tanya Ragan

One of those is the West End, an area Ragan describes as almost a “Boston within Dallas” now loading with offices, restaurants, retail, and some residential.

“The offices are central — so close to downtown and the core,” she says. “You can hop on DART. Or you can walk outside and still see cobbled streets.”

Now the Minnesota native is taking one of the oldest buildings in downtown’s West End at 601 Elm Street and restoring it into a hub for the very kind of end users that are finding their way to Dallas.

“For over a decade, the biggest story in Dallas real estate has been the redevelopment of the city center. With the rehabilitation of the Purse Building, we’re bringing that energy to the West End,” Ragan said.  “We want to encourage technical innovation and smart city solutions, while preserving the neighborhood’s amazing heritage.”