Real Estate

As DART Debuts Its "New" Police HQ, the Trial Over the Building Inches Closer to the Station

Dallas Area Rapid Transit sends word today: The old Monroe Shops building, near the Blue Line's Illinois Station on Corinth Road, was officially rebirthed today as the DART police department's HQ after close to 20 years on the drawing board. For preservationists, this qualifies as Big News: It was originally built in 1914 as part of the Texas Electric Railway (also known as the Interurban) until it rolled to a dead stop in 1948, and went on the National Register of Historic Places in March 2007 because it "embodies the distinctive characteristics of architectural patterns reminiscent of Texas Interurban Railway era," per DART's release.

Transit agency architect Steven Bourn oversaw the redo of the 69,000-square foot space; DART spokesman Mark Ball was kind enough to shoot us some photos of the redo-in-progress, which follow after the jump. Ball also directs our attention to this astounding cache of photos featuring not only the original Interurban facility during its operating days, but dozens of photos of Dallas's streetcars way back when. If you've got an hour to kill.

But I also recall another story involving Monroe Shops: developer John Tatum's long-running legal battle with DART over the building, which Tatum wanted and which Schutze has written about at length. (Last I looked, DART had spent around $250,000 fighting Tatum; Jim's understanding is the bill's much higher now.) I asked Jim if he knew where it stood; he called Tatum; and Jim offers this update about the story within the story:

A 3-year-old lawsuit against DART over Monroe Lofts goes to trial May 17 in the Dallas 44th Civil District Court of Judge Carlos Cortez. Tatum, a former DART board member, claims DART breached a contract with him for the re-development of the building.

DART originally claimed sovereign immunity, saying it was protected from Tatum's suit by its status as a government agency. Tatum beat DART on that claim at the district court level, at the appeals court and at the Texas Supreme Court.

The first order of business in Cortez's court will be a demand by Tatum's lawyers that DART produce a tape of an August 2007 closed session of the DART board. Tatum told me in 2009 that his problems started when the late Lynn Flint Shaw, then on the DART board, leaned on him to hire the wife of a prominent clergyman as a consultant and he refused.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky