Friday, June 12, 2015

Downtown’s historic Dallas High School ready to sell for redevelopment

The 107-year-old Dallas High School on Bryan Street has been empty
since 1974. (DMN Files)

Developers are dusting the cobwebs on a derelict downtown building with plans to convert the landmark into a mixed-use development.
The more-than-century-old Dallas High School at Pearl and Bryan streets has been empty for more than two decades.
Jack Matthews – who built downtown’s Omni Hotel and is developing the thriving South Side neighborhood – has committed to buying and restoring the property on the east side of downtown.
Matthews has been in negotiations to buy the 6-acre school complex since last summer.
He’s now scheduled a purchase date, and the seller has work crews on the property preparing the building for the transaction.
“My best guess is we will close the sale in about two months,” Matthews said. “It’s a complicated project that has taken some time.”
Several developers have taken a run at acquiring the old high school, which sits across the tracks from DART’s Pearl Street light rail station.
Previous builders who eyed the project planned to turn most of the property into apartments.
“We’ll probably start out with office space,” said Matthews, who plans to do the office part of the complex in partnership with developer Mitch Paradise.
The Matthews Paradise partnership is already working on an office park on U.S. Highway 380 in Prosper near the north end of the Dallas North Tollway.
The Old Dallas High School has long been considered one of the most threatened landmarks in downtown Dallas. It’s also one of the few old, vacant properties in the center city that hasn’t already been converted into a new use.
Residents have complained that the property is an eyesore and previous owners fought historic designations for the building.
“I cannot think of a better group to move this project forward and they have the experience needed to bring it into the 21st century and preserve the history and tradition,” said John Crawford, CEO of the economic development group Downtown Dallas Inc. “It is the last significant site downtown to be redeveloped.”
Matthews knows all about renovating historic buildings.
In the late 1990s he and his partners acquired the huge Sears, Roebuck & Co. store and warehouse buildings just south of downtown and converted them into loft apartments.
He converted another building next door into a hotel.
The three-story brick high school building contains 80,000 square feet. A newer addition was knocked down years ago.
The building opened in 1908 and replaced an older wooden school building. It was designed by the noted Dallas architectural firm of Lang & Witchell.
From 1942 to 1974 its was known as the Crozier Technical High School.
The school district sold the property after it closed in 1974 to investors.
Steve Brown/Dallas Morning News