Monday, August 24, 2015

Jack Matthews buys historic Dallas High School with plans to convert it into downtown destination

Roughly 10 months since putting the historic Dallas High School under contract, Dallas developer Jack Matthews has closed on the deal and is moving ahead with redevelopment plans to transform the aging structure into a downtown destination.

The 108-year-old high school adjacent to the DART Pearl Street station is one of downtown Dallas' most significant redevelopment opportunities. Before Matthews purchased the property, other developers had expressed interest in redeveloping the property.

"We are going through it now and opening the windows," Matthews, President of Dallas-based Matthews Southwest, told the Dallas Business Journal in an exclusive interview. "It's absolutely gorgeous. You don't get a chance to work on history often."

Matthews has a record of working on a number of historic redevelopments, such as converting the former Sears warehouse building into the South Side on Lamar lofts and converting a vacant brick building into the NYLO South Side hotel.

"This will be very similar to the Sears building," he told me. "A lot of people have gone through both before and a lot of people will be able to relate to the high school."

Matthews plans to redevelop the historic high school into an office and "interesting" retail destination that will bring in a lot of people and visitors. The acquisition of the property closed Friday. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

About 30,000 square feet of the just over 100,000-square-foot building is earmarked for retail or restaurant space. The remainder of the building will be converted into office space for undisclosed tenants.

"This building has a great location with DART," he told me. "This is a unique building and once it's filled; it's gone."

Matthews plans to take advantage of historic tax credits for the Dallas High School and keep the architecture of the property intact.

His real estate investment and development firm Matthews Southwest has hired Dallas-based Merriman Architects Associates to help with the design of the redevelopment. The firm also hired another undisclosed architect.

Matthews said it was too early to allot a cost to the redevelopment of the historic Dallas High School. Last year, the Dallas Central Appraisal District valued the historic Dallas High School property at 2214 Bryant St. at $8.3 million.

Candace Carlisle/Dallas business Journal