Dallas: From Homeless Camp to Multifamily, a Small Business Wagers on South Dallas
Feature Photo (above): View of the Hall property from under the Thornton Freeway at 3rd Avenue. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Dallas (Dallas County) — With development in Deep Ellum and the Cedars going full bore over the past decade, South Dallas has mostly languished in anonymity, but that may be changing.
There is no shortage of vacant lots south of Fair Park, but the big developers have yet to take notice.
One family, however, the progeny of Floydell Hall, has put their faith in the neighborhood’s potential. For decades, the Halls have made a living in demolition, abatement and commercial construction.
In 2013-2014, they built one of the few modern multifamily developments to be found near this neck of the Robert B. Cullum Boulevard.
Located southwest of Elihu Street and J.B. Jackson Jr. Boulevard (named after a local civil rights leader and founding board member of the DART system), the Grand Park Place Apartment was marketed as a transit-oriented development and was a three-to-four story urban style building with 38 units. It’s known today as 3221 Flats.
Devin Hall and Durand Hall, the minority owners on that project, went on to purchase two adjacent city blocks that are just one block and two west of 3221 Flats.
The odd numbers of the 700 block of 3rd Avenue are the leased homes of SkinzWraps Inc. and Texas Ice Machine.
West of SkinzWraps is the triangular 3300 block of Oak Lane at 3rd Avenue, which is now the subject of a rezoning application. On Thursday, the Halls obtained the City Plan Commission’s recommendation to change the zoning from Industrial to Mixed Use Enhanced.
The change gives them rights to expand from office and retail uses to office, retail and residential. They could also build to a height of seven stories instead of five, but that’s unlikely given the modest scope of their project. Given the location, the views of downtown and Fair Park with its Ferris wheel would be great if the structure is four or more stories with a rooftop deck.
Their concept is to construct a maximum of 20 multifamily units with approximately 7,600 square feet of commercial space. Having some type of retail for the residents, perhaps a coffee shop, would be essential given the paucity of such establishments in the immediate area.
The project site is wedged into the east corner of the nexus between the Thornton Freeway off ramp to South 2nd Avenue and the DART Rail Operations yard.
Satellite view of the South Dallas neighborhood where the Halls have been investing. Much of the area (highlighted in green) is vacant land. Image: Google Earth.
Most of the 1.75-acre lot is fenced off grassland, but there is a small parking lot on one corner and a lonely billboard whose only audience is disinterested commuters on the Thornton Freeway.
The narrow toe of the lot also happens to go under the freeway, thus providing shade and shelter from the elements for one of the many homeless encampments that grace the city. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Halls manage this project, but city staff gave them a thumbs-up.
“This development block encourages a mix of office, retail, service and residential uses on the same block or within the same building,” the staff report stated. It also provides flexibility in the types of uses in the area while emphasizing a walkable character.”
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.