Dallas: West End Historic Garage Gets Concept Approval on Hotel Addition
Feature Illustration (above): The 1925 parking garage with proposed addition, as seen looking east from Elm Street. Courtesy: Merriman Anderson Architects.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Dallas (Dallas County) — Icon Lodging, an Irving-based developer, obtained concept approval for its height request on a vertical addition to a historic five-story parking garage in the West End.
Their architect, Merriman Anderson Architects (MAA), must return to get approval on many of the detail–including the type and color of façade materials, its plans for restoration of the historic structure’s brick, windows and other elements.
Icon Lodging originally approached the Landmark Commission about building a five-story addition to a total height of 120 feet to add a full service boutique atop the garage, but that height was soundly rejected. By ordinance, heights are not to exceed 100 feet in the West End, a historic downtown district that is a tourist and popular entertainment center because of its restored early 20th century industrial buildings and streets.
The Landmark Commission preferred the faux red brick and glass exterior to what was proposed–grey flat-metal paneling and glass (see below). Courtesy: MAA.
The garage was constructed in 1925 to provide parking to an adjacent retail business–the Sanger Department Store that once operated across the street. The garage has retail tenant space on the street level.
MAA returned to the Landmark Commission and March, but did not sway the majority to approve its concept until the April 1 session.
The developer and architect struggled with how to lower the height and still make the project financially viable. Some parking level space was converted to guest rooms and guest room space in the addition was reduced to cram more rooms in.
The version that was approved in concept varies in height at the edge from 96 to 100 feet, depending on where the parapet is placed. An entire floor was removed from the original design. The addition steps back twice, with four floors being one bay recessed from the original building’s perimeter and a top floor recessed even further.
The top floor will include a hotel lobby, restaurant and meeting rooms and reaches a height of 108 feet. The addition and renovation will increase the building gross square footage to 98,550 SF.
It will have 39 guest rooms in the upper two levels of the original structure and a total of 115 guest rooms. From a birds-eye view, it will appear to have 10 stories, but there is a basement and sub-level for a total of 12 levels.
Cross-section view of the proposed uses for each level. Courtesy: MAA.
Commissioner Mattia Flabiano made the motion to approve, reasoning that the setback top floor was not visible to pedestrians at street despite the 8 feet above the district limit. He compared it to a recessed mechanical penthouse that is typical of buildings and are also general not noticeable.
Commissioner John Allender voted against the project. An architect, Allender said he felt the addition–being about the same scale as the garage–was still overbearing and not compatible.
Commissioner Robert Swan compared the garage to the conversion taking place with the Knights of Pythias Temple in Deep Ellum. A four-story historic structure built in 1916, it is being converted into a hotel that will be incorporated into an adjacent seven-story new structure that will rise to a height about twice that of the original.
The differences with Knights of Pythias and the West End garage are that the addition is atop the garage versus to one side, but also that the garage is an ancillary structure, Swan said. It was always intended to be a appendage to something else.
“To me, this has always been a plinth for something else that could be exuberant,” Swan said. He concluded that the addition of a full service hotel would give the structure that exuberance that it lacks today.
Challenges remain. The commission was generally unhappy with the flat metal look of the addition. MAA will have to find ways to lessen the contrast between the old and new before they will get final approval and a Certificate of Appropriateness, said Chairman Katherine Seale.
Concept floor plans by Merriman Anderson Architects, from basement to the top floor:
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.