Developer Intends to Fill Old Dallas High School, Land With 510 Residential Units

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Now that Sylvan Thirty's out of the way ...

We learned at the end of last week that Wynne/Jackson intends to turn the 105-year-old Dallas High School on Pearl and Bryan into an apartment complex -- that's on Landmark Commission's agenda this afternoon, as the developer's seeking around $923,000 in historic tax credits for the $10-million redo. But the council's Economic Development Committee just got its first look at the whole plan for the entire 5.42-acre site, much of which is barren at present.

Not only will the historic high school get a makeover ("125,058 gross sq. ft. planned for conversion to multi-family"), but Wynne/Jackson also intends to build three new residential buildings on the site -- 397,000 square feet worth. For the project, Wynne/Jackson's partnering with High Street Residential, a Trammell Crow subsidiary. And that's where the costs really pile up, as Wynne/Jackson guesstimates the new construction will run $40 million. And for that piece of this puzzle the developer's seeking a separate real property tax abatement: 90 percent over 10 years, which would amount to $2,859,200 in savings. Without those incentives, Zavitkovsky told the council, this project also wouldn't be viable.

"This project does not fit in any of the TIF areas," Zavitkovsky said to council when explaining the tax credits and abatement being requested for the project, which, right now, isn't quite yet a reality. (Wynne/Jackson merely has the property under contract; it's not theirs, not yet.)

"One of the things you can ascertain from the rendering," he said when referring to the drawing you see above, "is that the site is very tight and requires a significant amount of planing. There will be changes to the ingress and egress" that other City Hall departments are currently working through. Like a new Pearl Street ramp, for starters.

Zavitkovsky said Dallas County -- and John Wiley Price in particular -- is "excited" about the project as well and may get involved in the funding too, should the project meet county requirements. (All together now: Equity!)

Said Zavitkovsky, there are myriad reasons he's so tickled by this project: "We're preserving a historic landmark, we're putting 510 new units downtown, it's a TOD project right on the doorstep of the DART station and near the bus station and maintains the momentum John Crawford keeps bragging about."

Not a lot of questions from council, except for Sheffie Kadane, who couldn't tell from the rendering if the development maintains the historic facade. Clyde Jackson, CEO and namesake of Wynne/Jackson, reminded him: Well, ya know, because it's a city-designated historic landmark, "the entire front of the building will be restored back to its 1908 historic significant architecture." And some of that old architecture will be replicated throughout the new buildings.

"The idea is to create a campus-type environment, a place to come home to as opposed to just another apartment complex," he said. "We'll have four types of products, well-landscaped roadway and lots of spaces for people to congregate. We hope it creates a village." He said they will also restore the original auditorium: "It's very interesting, wonderful." Said Jerry Allen to Clyde and the rest of his family, who were also in attendance: "Hats off to you ... thanks very much for doing this."

And with the committee's OK, it's off to council we go.

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