Old Dallas High is graduating to new life as office-retail center

August 6, 2017

Dallas Morning News

By: Steve Brown

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Renovations to one of downtown Dallas' oldest landmarks are on the last lap to the finish line.

Developer Matthews Southwest has been working for more than a year to redevelop the Dallas High School building on the eastern edge of downtown.

Built in 1907, the building has been empty since the 1990s.

Matthews Southwest bought the landmark in 2015 and has been working with architects and preservationists to restore the cherished building.

"This is probably the oldest building we have done," said architect Jerry Merriman. "In terms of pure history, it means a lot to a lot of people."

The school has about 78,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 of retail space.

Working with Merriman Anderson/Architects and Balfour Beatty Construction, the developer is spending $50 million to convert the long-vacant high school on Bryan Street into four floors of office and retail space.

"We have all the office leased but the top floor, and we have a letter of intent from a tenant for the retail," said Mitch Paradise, one of the developers on the project who gave a tour of the building last week.

Architect Perkins + Will has already rented more than half of the office space in the old schoolhouse.

"The tenant needs to be in here by October. We'll get there," said Matthews Southwest senior vice president Kristian Teleki.

Just inside the columned entrance is a two-story atrium area that once housed an auditorium.

Former classroom spaces on the second and third floors are bright with tall windows, plaster walls and some exposed brick.

Workers have yet to install hardwood floors that will hide new electrical and telecom wiring for the office space.

And on the west side of the old school along Pearl Street, construction crews are building a sunken garden and patio area for the office tenants and retail customers.

"The building sat empty for so long and was neglected," Merriman said. "The space in there is phenomenal."