“So, this is our desert,” Anna Jordan says as she unlocks the art gallery on the street level of 1900 Pacific Residences in downtown Dallas.
The doors swing open to a spacious room with a photographic mural of a desert scene along the far wall, the work of Dallas artist and photographer Steve Wrubel, who is also the mastermind behind several other photographs of palm trees that adorn the space.
Clusters of potted cacti fill the corners, and the concrete floor has been spray-painted to give it a breezy, sandy texture. It’s an unexpected oasis of calm in the middle of downtown.
Right on the corner of St. Paul Street and Pacific Avenue, the floor-to-ceiling windows give the room a sense of being both included in the activity beyond its walls, but also secluded from it.
Jordan, who is head of brand and strategy for 1900 Pacific Residences, uses the space as a sort-of art gallery and sort-of event space for things like yoga classes and succulent workshops.
An apartment building hosting an art gallery is unusual, but it’s not odd in this building. This space is just one of many surprises and perks for the residents of 1900 Pacific.
Although Jordan is the brain behind “the desert,” the visionary for the rest of 1900 Pacific Residences is the owner, John Kirtland. He’s the same John Kirtland of Kirtland Records and rock band Deep Blue Something.
As a musician turned developer, Kirtland had an interesting vision for the Tower Petroleum and the Corrigan Tower when he bought them in 2014 with plans to renovate into hotel and residential living spaces. He wasn’t deterred by the task of turning the 1930s- and 1950s-era office towers once developed by Leo Corrigan into a livable space; asbestos and lead-based paint were nothing he hadn’t dealt with before. The structural integrity of the building was worth it to him, even if he did have to abide by city, state and federal historic preservation regulations.
“I embraced all of that. One of the reasons I bought them was because they’re historic,” Kirtland says of the place. “The hallways and the elevators, all those nuances are what I thought made it cool. The last thing I wanted to do was just plow through it and not embrace all that stuff. As I walked around it, I would envision how the spaces would actually get used.”
As if honoring the building’s history wasn’t cool enough, what Kirtland added to the space has made it a magnet for other Dallas artists and musicians. From the beginning Kirtland knew he wanted his building to be accessible to Dallas creatives.
“What I saw around downtown was a vacuum of places to live that offered any sort of space or outlet or support, or whatever, for creative-type people,” he points out.
Kirtland elected to change that. Today, on the fourth floor of 1900 Pacific Residences, there’s an unassuming door marked “storage” that’d be easy to miss for someone who doesn’t know what they’re looking for. Inside is an art room that has a couple of tables and a couple of easels, but more importantly, it has a messy, wreck-this-space kind of vibe. Spills? Drips? Spray paint on the floor? No pro
blem. Actually, even better. And it has a built-in ventilation system artists can flip on to air out the fumes.
That’s just the beginning. The second floor has been turned into a comfortable lounge for residents who work from home or who bring work home in the evenings. There’s Wi-Fi and lots of seating options, creating the perfect setup for working together or alone.
For the musicians in the building, there’s a sound-proof jam studio in the basement, which is complete with a variety of instruments, amplifiers, mixers and recording equipment. It’s available to any residents at any time, on a first-come, first-served basis, and two big couches make it easy for a group to share space simultaneously.
Musician Hanna Hotline (or, as she prefers, just Hanna) lives in Dallas but also spends much of her time in Los Angeles, and she says the accommodations at 1900 Pacific jibe well with her lifestyle.
“This has so far been the only building that has allowed me to have my music people come work with me because there’s a place to go,” she says.
Because she isn’t forced to practice in her unit, no one has to call the front desk to complain about “someone screaming with a guitar,” she points out, and that’s a good thing for everyone involved.
“If I have a big show coming up, then my visual guy brings his projector, I have my DJ and my guitar player. I have everyone, they all come downstairs to the basement of my building,” she says. “Most of the time if you’re trying to do that you just have to expect that you’re going to have to go rent a place out, which can be pricey.”
The amenities let residents use their apartments as their offices, Hanna says. She also uses the art room on commission pieces for which she needs to use spray paint or other messy materials. “You can barely even do that in your own house,” she says.
The space isn’t only for professional artists, Kirtland points out.
“'Creative people’ doesn’t just mean musicians and artists, you know? It blows me away how once you offer some supportive resources and space for people, it’s amazing how really most people have a real talent for something,” he says. “Or maybe they just enjoy the presence of community that it attracts,” Jordan adds.
Hanna expressed similar sentiments.
“It’s cool because you are putting yourself in a living space to bump into artists in the elevator,” Hanna says. “You never know who you’re going to bump into.”
Beyond music and art, the building caters to other people looking for a comfortable downtown experience.
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“Pets are a huge deal to just about everybody,” Kirtland says. “Everyone has a dog and everyone has a bike, so those are two things we really wanted to focus on and provide some services for dogs and bikes.”
There’s an on-site pet-washing area that’s free for residents to use. They also offer complimentary bike storage and have more than 20 bikes available that residents can use for free. There’s also a pool and club room on the rooftop for the weekend warriors. Plus, 1900 Pacific has been recognized as one of the first residential buildings to be LEED certified, meaning that not only does their energy efficiency system bring resident’s utility bills down, but it's also better for the environment.
The apartment building has been open for a little over a year. As it has filled with residents, Kirtland has enjoyed seeing his vision come to life, and seeing it attract Dallas creatives has been particularly gratifying.
“That was a part of my original vision, and it has gotten stronger as time goes by,” Kirtland says. “It being something that’s worthwhile to continue is being reinforced every day.”