Monday, June 22, 2015

Dallas’ landmark Meadows Building still stands out with ’50s style

When I was a youngster, the Meadows Building was always my “welcome to Dallas” sign.
Driving south on U.S. Highway 75, the office building said we’d officially arrived in Dallas from our home in Grayson County.
The Meadows Building, the flying red horse on the Magnolia Building and — later — the big Southland Life tower were the landmarks I watched for on Central Expressway.
Sixty years after it opened, the Meadows Building looks pretty much the way it did in the 1950s when it was proclaimed Dallas’ finest new business address.
The project was the creation of Dallas oilman Algur Meadows, who built the tower for his General American Oil Co. and other firms that wanted to be closer to residential neighborhoods in the Park Cities and North Dallas.
The nine-story office at North Central and Milton Street was one of Dallas’ first suburban office towers and set the tone for other freeway real estate developments.
Each side of the Meadows Building is different — facades constructed of pink marble, red brick and blue terra cotta tile. The green marble lobby has bubble light fixtures in the ceiling.
The construction cost of the building, designed by Dallas architect J.N. MacCammon, was $4 million. Originally there was a cafeteria and the exclusive Texas Club for building tenants and other members.
It once boasted “the largest hanging garden in the world,” according to news reports.
They claimed it was just “a seven-minute drive to downtown Dallas.” Maybe that was true in 1955, but I wouldn’t plan on that time today.
The familiar script roof sign and landscaped plaza on the south side give the property the flavor of a classic Miami Beach hotel.
Originally they were going to call it “Oil Center.” I’ve seen the old architectural drawing without the Meadows name. It just doesn’t look the same.
The California investor that has owned the property since 2003 has decided to sell the historic high-rise.
Cushman & Wakefield has been hired to peddle this one-of-a-kind property.
“Built in an era when smoking was good for you and a martini at lunch was common, the Meadows Building has remained a preferred location for area office tenants for 60 years,” Cushman & Wakefield says in a promotion for the building.
About 120 tenants occupy the 167,000-square-foot Meadows Building. It’s more than 90 percent leased.
With its location next to DART’s Lovers Lane commuter rail station, the building is in a prime spot for redevelopment. It’s the perfect size for small office tenants or for conversion into a boutique hotel and retail project.
The three-building Energy Square office tower complex next door is also for sale and is being marketed by HFF as a separate purchase.
Even though the Meadows Building is six decades old, I’m hoping that a new owner will keep the old place around for years to come. It’s still a landmark for Dallas.  
Steve Brown/ Dallas Morning News