Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Life for Our Old Office Building - 2222 Elm Street - Harvard Companies, Inc.

2226 Elm, at far left, will be moved to Harwood; the facade of 2222 Elm, at far right, will be removed and stored. The building in the middle will be razed.
One of downtown Dallas’ oldest buildings is one step closer to be spared from the wrecking ball following a city council committee’s recommendation Tuesday morning.
The Economic Development Committee agreed to expand the City Center Tax Increment Financing District and spend $985,000 in TIF dollars to help move the circa-1886 Liberty State Bank and the facade of another historic building from Elm Street and César Chávez Boulevard to Harwood Street near the Dallas Farmers Market. Architect Craig Melde will be spearheading the relocation next door to the Scottish Rite Cathedral, scheduled to begin at year’s end, at a total cost of $2.5 million.
“This is a labor of love,” Karl Zavitkovsky, head of the city’s Office of Economic Development, told the council committee. Melde plans on moving 2226 Elm and creating 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and second-floor office space, as well as 1,000 square feet of “plaza/retail/multi-use area,” according to briefing documents. The facade of 2222 Elm will be removed and stored for further use. And 2224 Elm will be razed.
Zavitkovsky said Melde and Tanya Ragan, partners in Preserve Liberty, LLC, are not expecting “a huge return on these things.”
He asked the committee to forward the item to the full council on September 11 for two reason: “We pretty much committed to the historical preservation of an old building. And it improves the connectivity between the downtown core and the farmers market.”
That, ultimately, is what appealed to mayor pro tem Tennell Atkins, chair of the committee, who asked what the city’s going about connecting the Dallas Farmers Market to the Arts District. Karl Stundins, area redevelopment manager in the Office of Economic Development, said moving the old Liberty State Bank building is a good start, and that Melde plans on putting more buildings in the area — “where you get doors and windows out onto the street.” But it’s all part of an ongoing process that involves fixing the entire Harwood Street corridor.
“How do we connect downtown? We just had Megafest … We talk about Pecan Lodge, are they gonna stay or move? I would like a presentation on how we connect Deep Ellum to the South Side to the West End.” Assistant City Manager Ryan Evans said he’d be more than happy to do that, especially for the council newcomers.
“I wanna build on that, the connectivity, how simple it is to have a rubber-tire trolley to have connectivity,” added Jerry Allen, who apparently hasn’t read next week’s council consent agenda, which includes spending $800,000 on that long-planned DART-Downtown Dallas Inc. tourist shuttle intended to link the Central Business District, Victory, the Cedars and the Bishop Arts District, which is scheduled to start service November 4. “Putting buildings [downtown] has nothing to do with” growing downtown, he suggested. When it comes to a expanding downtown transportation options, he said, “We do not need DART to do this.”
DART is a partner on the trolley project.
“I enthusiastically support this project,” said Scott Griggs. “This is a great use of TIF funds. This building was there when we had life on our streets. This bulding has a great form to encourage and activate the space. Though I am still opposed to widening Cesar Chavez in the name of walkability, this is one good thing coming out of the project — restoring it to what it once was.” He turned to Melde and Ragan and said, “Thank you for preserving this piece of Dallas that without you would absolutely be lost.”
It was sent to council with the full support of the committee. A vote is scheduled for September 11.