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Woodlawn Not Getting a Head

One presumes this is not what Woodlawn will look like as a boutique hotel, if and when that ever happens.

Unlike so many of my unhealthy obsessions, my fascination with the old Woodlawn Hospital building held such promise. Day after day, I gazed out at the abandoned former home of Parkland Hospital at Maple and Oak Lawn avenues from our seventh-floor offices across the street, desperate to know what was inside and what would become of the building. In December, Dallas developer Byron Head bought the 92-year-old building after winning a sealed bid, and I used the sale as an excuse to score a tour inside for our City section. Woodlawn's in a state of extreme creepiness at the moment, with old operating rooms like this one pictured here gutted and in disrepair.

Well, Head's development deal fell through this week, and construction of the "lifestyle and entertainment destination" Head had gloriously promised is on hold while Parkland opens the property up for bids once again. Head tells me his $20.1-million contract made in December went into default when Parkland wanted an initial deposit of $1.2 million too quickly. He says he couldn't be expected to get his investors together by their February 1 deadline, especially since many of his guys are sending money over from Europe.

"They wanted it done within two months," says Head. After he won his bid, he says he had Woodlawn re-appraised according to his plans for development—three high-rise residential towers, a boutique hotel and a concert hall--and the result valued the building at $26 million. Before Head's appraisal, Parkland had the building appraised at $11 million. Now that the building may be worth far more than Parkland expected, says Head, they may be less willing to work with him and more interested in seeing who else can cough up the cash faster than Head.

But Head hasn't been deterred. He's still very interested in the property, continuing to work with his investors and trying to get the contract out of default. As Head says, "The fat lady has not sung yet." --Andrea Grimes

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