The Heart of Downtown Dallas Receives a Historic Facelift

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Brytar Companies announces Mid Elm lofts that are being planned in three buildings that are over 100 years old in Dallas Central Business District.

The Dallas Central Business District (CBD) is continuing its revitalization with the three remaining historical buildings located at 1516, 1514 and 1512 Elm Street, which are over 100 years old. The buildings are adjacent to Campisi’s restaurant and Stone Plaza and are considered ground zero of the Dallas CBD.

The buildings are a combined 55,000 square feet and were purchased this month by local partners to be redeveloped as unique retail space and live/work/play loft units.

The new owners will honor the buildings by restoring them to their original lineage, adding to the color and fabric of downtown and creating a unique ambiance on Elm Street.

Downtown expert Jack Gosnell from UCR/Urban has been hired to market the retail project and is in the process of responding to several letters of intent from a vast array of top restaurateurs/retailers to accommodate the rapidly expanding requirements for the growing downtown/uptown residents, plus the expanding convention business that resulted from the newly constructed 1,001 room Omni Hotel attached to the Dallas Convention Center.

The project, which is a joint venture between Scott Remphrey, President of Brytar Companies, and Kip Sowden, CEO of RREAF Holdings LLC., has plans for 20-24 high finish loft units that will average 1,000 SF with high ceilings and abundant windows, with delivery of all in 2014. “We have a unique opportunity here to capture the fabric of old Dallas in the heart of the CBD on Elm Street and we both felt a real civic responsibility to maintain the lineage of these storied structures, so all efforts will be to historically and adaptively reuse the buildings with new storefronts and high end finishes throughout that will keep a local flavor with Dallas retail/restaurant artisans as our tenants,” said Scott Remphrey of Brytar.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to partner with Brytar on this unique opportunity in Downtown Dallas as we have been looking to invest in the CBD for quite some time. We at RREAF are working development deals all over Texas, so it’s nice to actually have a deal in our backyard,” said Sowden of RREAF Holdings LLC.

Architexas will be the projects architect as they specialize in preservation based architecture and are widely known for their work on the Joule Hotel.

The history of the buildings:

1516 Elm Street may be better known as the 5 floor ex-Lane Bryant building which was originally built in 1912 for W.A. Green Department Store; 1514 Elm was the ex-Singer Sewing Machine Headquarters; and 1512 Elm was purchased from the heirs of the original owner who operated Dallas’ first cash and carry grocery store in the early part of the 19th century.

The partners are planning basement taverns/bistros and a rooftop terrace/patio restaurant on 1516 Elm with stunning views of The Joule Hotel and Main Street and the spectacular lights of downtown Dallas. Additional plans are to create room for outside patio seating and add landscape trees/softscape. Mid Elm will be inter connected with two elevators, several stairwells and full basement levels.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is also in the midst of an unprecedented health care building boom, which most visible evidence is the Dallas medical district near the Dallas CBD. There, several blocks apart, construction cranes signal more than $2 billion worth of new hospitals — the $1.27 billion replacement for Parkland Memorial Hospital and an $800 million replacement hospital at UT Southwestern Medical Center, as well as millions in additional medical buildings under construction at Children’s Medical Center and Baylor very near the CBD. This created an unprecedented demand for additional housing in and around the Dallas CBD as well as for additional retail and restaurants to serve the growing populace. Many developers are rushing to get the next generation of downtown Dallas real estate projects underway. At least two dozen developments are either in the works or planned to start soon — including new hotel space, apartments and remodeled office skyscrapers.

“We are extremely excited by the news that these buildings, very much in the epicenter of activity Downtown, will be turned back on,” said John Crawford, President & CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc. “We have worked very hard over the last decade to revitalize the Main Street District, the historic retail and entertainment core of Dallas. As a result, the neighborhood is now home to dozens of restaurants, new shopping destinations, parks and thousands of residents, employees and visitors. The Elm Street project fills in quite a significant gap in a key block, with a vision that is complementary to ours.”

Downtown Dallas Inc., the economic development group that promotes the central business district (CBD), estimates that during the last decade there have been more than $2 billion in investments downtown and says an additional $1 billion in projects are now planned.

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Cheryl Rios

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