Deep Ellum LIVES!

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In other words, he has to present a new tax base to convince the city it will one day see a return on its substantial investment.

That's why Good, along with two associates, is designing the master plan for Deep Ellum with input from three other architectural firms (including one from London) whose representatives have been in and out of Dallas inventorying the buildings and offering suggestions on their best use. Earlier this summer, they gathered at the Good, Fulton & Farrell offices on Fairmount Street for a two-day charette, during which they struggled with these key questions: How do you build up—which will be essential, considering Beck's desire for residential and office space—without tearing down? And just how much of Deep Ellum is worth saving, anyway?

"This is a tipping point, and everyone will be trying to figure out how close we can get to making this work without losing Deep Ellum," says Katherine Seale, Preservation Dallas' executive director, who began meeting with Beck in June after first contacting Good. "Everyone recognizes the challenge. We understand this is not an easy, breezy process. It'll take a lot of input from the Deep Ellum groups, from potential tenants and architects and...well, a lot of folks will be involved."

To the first question, the answer remains elusive. Good says he expects Elm and Main will probably be the livelier streets—the ones full of clubs and restaurants and retailers. Commerce will most likely house most of the residential units—about 750 should be enough, according to their capacity studies—and office spaces. And somewhere in between, they will have to find a place for two parking garages—one that will likely be built above ground, one that will go below. The DART stations are nice and all, but Good's no dummy. This is Dallas. People will always drive.

"Scott wants to make this an area where most of the people work and live, not just some place that comes alive at 10 p.m. until 2 a.m.," Good says. "And this doesn't work without significant parking. It's part of the strategy and fits into how you save certain buildings, demolish certain pieces and consolidate others."

That brings us to the second question. Good's come up with a color-coded inventory list: Buildings in red aren't architectural "assets"; buildings in yellow are "maybes," as in, perhaps the façade stays while the rest gets adiosed; and buildings in green "are ranked as the highest priorities." At the moment, Good figures, the list breaks down into thirds.

"And in our opinion, you've got to keep a third to a half of the façades in order to create a fabric that feels really good," he says. "In these particular blocks, none of the buildings has any sort of historic designation. So what's important is the feeling of the fabric of the neighborhood. It's not the preservation of an individual historic building. That's the spirit Scott had and we brought to it. I think there was a oneness about the fact that you very carefully weave new into old. And we are all aware that this is a neighborhood that needs our tender loving care."

At this very moment, everyone involved is sure of only one thing: This thing will take years to evolve. That's the most specific thing Beck offers as he pleads for patience. Because to throw out a concept—and he would not reveal a single architect's sketch—would be to introduce a "homogenized" product, he says.

"You've got to literally come up with an overall concept of how it needs to evolve and then let it evolve," he says. "Ultimately, what I hope is that 10 years from now, when I'm walking down and I'm looking to my left and my right, I pretty much see the same kind of storefronts on both sides, but when I look up there's going to be a little bit more density. More than just the bohemian feel, it's that same sense of belonging and history—that sense of grit and cool that will make Dallas stand out. When people say, 'Why are you going to Dallas?,' I want you to answer, 'Man, 'cause I love going down to Deep Ellum.'"

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky