New 17-story high-rise coming to Dallas’ East Quarter development on the edge of downtown

May 10, 2019

Developers redoing blocks of old buildings on downtown Dallas' far east side are upping their game with new construction.

A year ago, Todd Interests started work on its East Quarter redevelopment — turning aging commercial buildings along Commerce, Main and Cesar Chavez into creative office spaces.

Now the Dallas-based developer is filling a vacant block between the historic buildings it's renovating with a new high-rise retail, office and apartment project.

The 17-story tower is planned at the intersection of Jackson Street and Cesar Chavez Boulevard near Deep Ellum and the Farmers Market.

"We want the historic buildings we are renovating and the streetscape to bring something new to the area that Dallas doesn't have," said Todd Interests partner Patrick Todd. "The existing buildings set the tone and layout for the campus."

Todd Interests partnered with investors advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management last year to buy more than a dozen buildings dating from the 1920s and '30s on the eastern edge of downtown. The new owners started work immediately to convert the properties to office and retail space.

Tech firms including OrderMyGear and Dialexa have rented offices in the revamped properties.

"From a leasing standpoint, we are ahead of where we thought we'd be," Todd said. "About 80,000 square feet of the 110,000 square feet of office space is leased."

The new building will have 180,000 square feet of offices on four floors.

"There are a number of large office tenants in the market," Todd said. "We've been able to accommodate small and midsize companies looking for nontraditional offices, but we have not had any large spaces."

About 25,000 square feet of retail space will be in the lower levels of the project, which wraps around the 74-year-old Meletio Electric building.

"We are making the Meletio Building the centerpiece of the new development," Todd said. "We are taking the second floor of the Meletio Building for a fitness center and private lounge."

Todd Interests' Stephanie Herold said there will be 336 apartments in the upper levels of the building, with an eighth-floor deck with swimming pool and outdoor areas for the tenants.

"The views of downtown from there will be spectacular," Herold said.

Merriman Anderson Architects designed the East Quarter high-rise project, and Andres Construction will be the general contractor. Work is scheduled to begin on the tower later this year, with the project to open starting in 2021.

"I think this building will fill a real niche in the market," said Phil Puckett, vice chairman with CBRE. "That area is going to be really cool when it's done with the new park planned across the street and the proximity to Deep Ellum."

When Todd Interests started work on the East Quarter project last year, the area between downtown's old financial district and Deep Ellum had been largely ignored. But with construction of new projects in Deep Ellum and now in the East Quarter, that corner of downtown is getting a lot more attention.

"The new construction now brings together all the momentum we created with the adaptive reuse of the old buildings," said Kourtny Garrett, CEO of the economic development group Downtown Dallas Inc. "We are filling in all the gaps with new development."

The first tenants have already moved into the East Quarter's redone buildings.

Todd said the largest of the old properties, a five-story brick building constructed in 1930 on Main Street, will reopen at the end of the month.

The pie-shaped former Magnolia Oil building across the street at Commerce and Cesar Chavez is being converted into restaurants with a rooftop bar, which will be ready late this year.

"The first floor of the building will be totally encased in glass" to house a coffee, pastry and snack shop, Herold said.

The new East Quarter tower is the latest downtown development for Todd Interests, which has a track record of restoring landmark buildings. The company just took over as lead developer for the $450 million renovation of the First National Bank tower on Elm Street.

The planned East Quarter tower will be Todd Interests' first such new-construction job.

"This is an expensive building when you look at the materials and the design," said company founder Shawn Todd. "We've designed it to respect the historical buildings which are already there."