Real Estate Rumblings

Demolition of century-old building in downtown Dallas causes upset

Demolition of century-old building in downtown Dallas upsets citizens

A building demolished over the weekend by developer Tim Headington upset a number of citizens who wished after the fact that they could have done something about the destruction.

Located at 1611 Main St. across from The Joule, the building was a modest three-story structure built in 1885. Fashion boutique Forty Five Ten will move into a new building going in its place in fall 2015.

Plans for the demolition were publicized in May, but the fact that the demolition took place on a Sunday, during a Cowboys game, took some by surprise.

 "Headington has destroyed a part of the commercial history of Dallas without regard to the damage it will inflict on the rest of downtown," said Preservation Dallas.

Preservation Dallas, which bestowed an achievement award on Headington last May for his work on The Joule, issued an appalled response summing up what happened, as follows:

"What began as the demolition of a single historic building on Sunday has spread like a cancer to neighboring buildings between Main and Elm streets. Preservation Dallas finds the wanton destruction by the Headington Companies of these historic buildings in the heart of downtown appalling to say the least.

"The pulling of a demolition permit on Friday for a Sunday demolition was an underhanded tactic calculated to avoid a public outcry. These demolitions were planned and completed without conversation with Preservation Dallas. Following the May 2014 article in the Dallas Morning News regarding the demolition of 1611 Main St., Preservation Dallas made numerous attempts to contact Michael Tregoning, the CFO for Headington, through U.S. mail, email and several voicemails — all of which went unanswered.

"We expressed our concerns for the buildings and requested an opportunity to meet with them to discuss plans for the buildings and potential ways they could be incorporated into new development. We know that there could have been a successful path to meet both preservation needs and new development goals.

"The demolition of the buildings is also more shocking given the article in the August 2014 issue of FD Luxe, which announced the relocation of Forty Five Ten to downtown Dallas in a 'grand, multi-story historic building on Main Street.' This article successfully misled us and the public about Headington's true plans and enabled the buildings' demolition without any public discourse on the importance of the buildings to Dallas, alternatives to demolition or why the buildings could not be reused.

"Headington has destroyed a part of the commercial history of Dallas without regard to the damage it will inflict on the rest of downtown. All the demolished buildings were listed as Contributing Structures in the Downtown Dallas National Register Historic District, meaning they had a great deal of integrity and contributed to the overall importance of the National Register District.

"While important, this designation is not enough to provide legal protection to threatened buildings facing the wrecking ball. Ultimately, the demolition of too many Contributing Structures in the National Register District could lead to the loss of the entire District's National Register status, which in turn would cost developers millions of dollars in available tax credits used to rehabilitate historic buildings.

"The only legal way to stop future demolitions of important historic buildings is to designate those structures as City of Dallas Landmarks, or to establish additional City of Dallas Landmark Districts to cover historically important areas of downtown. Preservation Dallas has advocated for Landmark Districts downtown for years and regularly supports property owners in applications to designate specific structures as City of Dallas Landmarks.

"We need the support of everyone to send the message to City Council that our historic buildings downtown are important to all of Dallas, critical to the sustainable redevelopment of downtown and worthy of protection from developers who seek to erase our city's history!

"Steps that can be taken immediately by the City of Dallas to address future demolitions could include placing a moratorium on demolition of National Register listed historic buildings downtown to allow time for public discussion on the future of historic buildings in downtown Dallas, investigating the creation of a City of Dallas Landmark District based on the Dallas Downtown National Register Historic District, and encouraging redevelopment of historic properties through additional economic development incentives.

"It is truly heartbreaking when Dallas deliberately loses pieces of its history, especially given the historic integrity and importance of these buildings as representative examples of historic commercial architecture in the heart of downtown. These buildings stood for over one hundred years seeing the growth, decline and resurgence of downtown Dallas; however, it only took a couple of days for a wrecking ball to turn the venerable structures into debris to be carted off to a landfill."

1611 Main Street, Dallas
1611 Main St. as captured by photographer Scott Dorn in 2011. Photo by Scott Dorn