Is This the End for 807 Elm Street?

That's 807 Elm Street at right, captured last month in a photo taken by our old pal Justin Terveen. Built in 1925, the building occupies 20,025 square feet in a parking lot between N. Austin and N. Lamar Streets facing El Centro. It was, once, among the assemblage of buildings known as the Awalt Buildings, so named for the Awalt Furniture Company. But that was years ago.

807 Elm has been vacant for more than 45 years. Says the Dallas Central Appraisal District, it's in "poor" shape. That's being kind. As Preservation Dallas wrote in 2005, upon including the building -- and its sibling, 804 Pacific Avenue -- on its most-endangered list:

The two buildings complete a set of historic buildings in the West End associated with the Awalt Furniture Company. The oldest building in the set is now rehabilitated, but these two buildings await rehabilitation while a fourth is already demolished. The Dallas Landmark Commission invoked the city's demolition by neglect provision this past spring to encourage their stabilization. Although the buildings are not under immediate threat of demolition, the properties should be rehabilitated and made a stronger part of the central business district and until that occurs one or both may be recommended for demolition.
Its owners, past and present, have tried for years to sell the building: West End Square Ltd. offered 807 Elm for $203,000 in '04, hoping that someone might want it for office space, retail or even apartments. It found no takers. DCAD, which says the property's worth $290,000, notes that PCB Properties LLC on Mockingbird took over the deed in July '09; a month later we noted that the so-called West End Square -- which also consists of 711 Elm, 801 Elm and 804 Pacific -- was still available for a whole $2.7 mil, quite the bargain.

But then, in December, when expanding the scope of their so-called Vacant Building Initiative, Mayor Tom Leppert and City Attorney Tom Perkins added 807 Elm to their list of downtown "health and safety hazards." Said Leppert and Perkins: If the owners won't tend to their buildings, then the city will ... one way or another.

Which, at last, brings us to this: This morning I noticed that the Landmark Commission's Central Business District/West End Task Force just added 807 Elm Street to its Wednesday to-do list. As in: "Demolish contributing structure using standard imminent threat to public health and safety." The first case of the new historic district demo ordinance? Calls are out. So's everyone who might answer 'em, at least till tomorrow.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky