After sitting vacant for a number of years, the Allied Printing building on Good Latimer has new owners with a history in the area and promising plans for renovation. Those possibly include transforming it into a restaurant-bar-market serving the neighborhood as well as commuters on the DART Green Line.
Robert Miller, who calls himself an "oil and gas guy," bought the warehouse in September with two longtime friends. Miller has been involved in renovating a number of other properties around Deep Ellum, including the house on Gaston that's currently home to Stackhouse Burgers.
"I grew up here, and I like East Dallas," he says.
The Allied Printing Co. was founded in 1946 by Roy Stein, who built it into the largest commercial printer in Dallas. Stein was also father to Brent Stein, aka Stoney Burns, '60s rabble-rouser and founder of Buddy magazine.
Owner Bob Miller and his partners like the idea of a market-bar-gallery hybrid where nearby residents and commuters to Baylor could stop to shop or sit for a drink.
Buddy was among the many publications printed at Allied, which adds to its lore. The building also has a Dallas-themed mural with images of Chuck Norris and the red Pegasus horse painted by Deep Ellum artist Frank Campagna.
After his father died, Burns ran the printing company until he passed away in April 2011.
The property occupies a prime location across from the Deep Ellum DART rail station. It runs nearly the entire block from Good Latimer to Hawkins, between Swiss and Miranda and includes three portions, each built at a different time.
The gray building in front facing Good Latimer was occupied by Allied Printing. Miller has paperwork showing construction in 1969. Behind that is 2508 Swiss Ave., which Allied used as a storage space for its printing equipment; according to Miller, it was originally a mechanic's shop, built in 1928. Behind that is a former gas station and fire station built in the early 1900s, which has been turned into lofts.
Miller began renovating the space in mid-October and says that cleaning it out was like a time capsule dating back to 2002.
"It's like they just got up from their desks," he says. "The date on all the checks and the books and the calendars was 2002. We found some stuff from Buddy and from the Texas International Pop Festival. It was like going into the Twilight Zone. I know people have been in and out of the building since 2002, but the majority of stuff in there was intact — old Macs, IBM typewriters, and all the dates were 2002."
Archivist George Gimarc and Thomas Kreason from the Texas Musicians Museum were among the posse of collectors who sifted through the building's detritus in October and retrieved some historical items, including posters and early issues of Buddy.
Although the Allied Printing building is viable, the buildings behind it are less so. The storage area has been reduced to an open courtyard with arches; a work crew has been sifting through piles of bricks to see what can be saved.
"We're going to keep whatever we can keep," Miller says. "That warehouse in the middle, the roof was caving in, so we couldn't save that. But the Allied building is in good shape."
Campagna's mural was painted during the Good Latimer corridor replacement project in 2009; Miller and his crew have so far left it alone, although they took down the signature sans-serif "Allied Printing" sign, which he says they'll incorporate into the renovation in a thoughtful manner.
"It might become part of a sculpture," he says. "As we dress up the building, we'll try to keep the motif of The Walking Man and all those sculptures that the city has put in place. We kept a lot of the steel and knickknacks and old machinery. The guys we have who are welders want to create something out of it."
Miller and his partners were approached almost immediately by a notorious restaurateur looking to buy them out. They've had talks with chefs, and a proposal has been put forth to make one of the open spaces a sculpture garden. They definitely want to add some kind of rooftop deck to the printing building.
They like the idea of a market-bar-gallery hybrid where nearby residents and commuters to Baylor could stop to shop or sit for a drink.
"We're leaning toward retail, possibly a small grocery store, about 5,000 square feet, and a 7,000-square-foot restaurant with a deck on the roof that has views of downtown," Miller says. "We want to do what's best for the neighborhood."