While writing all those items about the old Dallas High School (or Crozier Tech) at the beginning of 2010, and long after, I heard, time and again, the same thing: The owner will never, ever sell. Those with whom I spoke -- city officials, preservationists, even those who worked for Los Angeles-based owner Robert Yu -- insisted Yu still holds a grudge against the city for landmarking the Lang-and-Witchell-designed building in 1999, a year after he'd bought it for $6.1 million with the intention of razing the century-old centerpiece and replacing it with a mall of some kind.
Realtor Newt Walker says he's never heard those stories. But, sure, he could understand why Yu might hold a grudge: "What he bought is not what he ended up with," Walker tells Unfair Park. "If I were in his shoes, I would be challenged by the new status, and I don't think I'd be very happy." Walker says the city "effectively eminent domained" Yu. But that was a long time ago.
"And time cures a lot of things," Walker says when explaining why now, after all these years, Yu has decided to sell Dallas High School, better known as Crozier Tech. For how much the building will be offered, Walker doesn't want to say -- because, in large part, he's not yet sure who the customer is. At this very moment, as a matter of fact, he's stepping into the office of architect Larry Good to take a look at plans Good showed Unfair Park more than a year ago -- ones that would transform the six-acre campus into an office-residential-retail complex while highlighting its historic elements.
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"I am doing due diligence to determine what can you do with the structure," Walker says. "No one has professionally evaluated what it can become. Once we know what it can become, or what can't be done, that gives you a clear direction as to who the logical owner would be and what kind redevelopment can be done."
I asked Walker: Why is Yu selling now? His answer: The time's never been better.
"In the last 45 days this market has changed," he says. "It's shifted. There's a lot of activity going on in the inner-city, in Uptown. Were doing a lot of deals right now, and it seems like there's a lot of interest and capability, and I told him, 'If you're going to do something with it, now's the time. ...
"Robert's a very professional, smart man who realized: I've been here for 10 years, and we'll all have changes and we're all getting older, so what the hell. Why not list it with someone who can make a difference?"