City Hall's Giant Neighbor Has New Owners With Desire to Revive That End of Downtown

Back in May, at the request of a City Hall worker who's been staring at the carnage next door for far too long, we peaked into 500 South Ervay and discovered the old Butler Brothers furniture warehouse wasn't just a 500,000-square foot mess, but also one tied up in litigation with ... dunh dunh dunh ... Dallas City Hall. But David Glasscock, exec vice president at Colliers International, says all that bankruptcy stuff has been taken care of. He also says the building has a new owner, as of September 30: a California-based partnership that plans to restore and do ... something with the building. What, exactly, it's not quite sure.

"It just needs some love," Glasscock tells Unfair Park this morning of the building on the tax rolls for $2.5 million. "You can do a lot of uses with it. We're not just going to build 600 loft apartments."

He says the new owners liked the building and saw potential for that end of downtown, near the convention center and City Hall. And while there were concerns over the proximity of the Stewpot -- the same concerns that kept investors from buying nearby 508 Park Avenue for years -- in the end, the Cali-based owners decided to go for it, Glasscock says.

"There are so many great things about the building and its location," he says. "Even though the soup kitchen's close, and that's always an issue, but you go to San Francisco or other big cities, and there are soup kitchens everywhere. ... And the building's been cleaned out and cleared. There were some worries about environmental issues in there, but they were comfortable with those [after some testing was done]."

I mentioned to Glasscock that a few months back, Gail Thomas of the Trinity Trust told me she'd hope to see the building become an art school of some kind. Sure, Glasscock says with no small amount of enthusiasm, that'd be great.

"Remember when the Savannah College of Art and Design was looking here?" he says. They were looking in the West End [in 2008]. But something like that. I dunno, maybe a charter school, something that brings vitality to that end of downtown -- not just business, but something else that makes the Central Business District vibrant. You have Booker T. on one end, and it'd be great to see another school on this end. We want more and more people to live and work and play and be educated downtown."

But all that's down the road: "I don't see anything happening till the first of the year," Glasscock says of the new owners' plans. "But at least we've put it it in the hands of someone other than a less concerned real estate developer and lender. It's better to have it in the hands of a fresh owner."

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