How the Historic 601 Elm Street Ended Up on City's List of Vacant Downtown Buildings

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I've spent a small chunk of the day trying to reach owners of some of the vacant downtown buildings ID'd by the City Attorney's Office during this latest code-enforcement blitz . Took a while to find someone to talk about the formerly Dallas County-owned 601 Elm Street, otherwise known as the former Purse Building and the Parlin and Orendorff, which is in the National Register's West End Historic District . The number I had for Barker Nichols LLC is disconnected; the registered agent in Lufkin, an insurance man, won't call back; and the well-regarded downtown developer listed as the building's owner died unexpectedly three years ago . But, finally, I found Sheree Bizzell, an accountant at Barker Nichols, with whom I exchanged a few e-mails.

I asked her about letter from the city and how Barker Nichols plans to proceeds. She wrote:

We are currently working with Code Enforcement and the Dallas Fire Marshall regarding code violations. Most of the items have been addressed and all items will be addressed in the near future. We have spent the last several months bringing the building up to code and continue to address any issues that the Fire Marshall's office has with the building.

I then asked what happened to plans, first made public in 2005, that called for turning the building -- designed by H.A. Overbeck , constructed in 1905 -- into retail and residential. She wrote:

Yes, you have a good memory. Chip Johnson, a local developer, had planned to restore the building as commercial/retail use. Unfortunately, Mr. Johnson passed away unexpectedly in 2006. The building is on the historical register and we hope that someday the building will be refurbished. It has beautiful woodwork and tin ceilings. Restored, it would be an architectural treasure. Mr. Johnson did the building across the street: 501 Elm, and this building has some similar features.

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