One of Dallas‘ oldest business districts is the city’s newest office development market.
During the 1940s and 1950s, builders transformed what was part of the former Trinity River floodplain northwest of downtown into a thriving commercial district. Hundreds of small warehouses and office buildings have been built in the shadow of the river levees near Riverfront Boulevard.
Now the area is merging with the adjoining Design District with a wave of renovations and new construction.
Quadrant Investment Properties will soon begin construction on two new office and retail properties with more properties planned.
The investor and developer is one of the biggest players in the area having found success with properties in Uptown Dallas and downtown.
“We got down and started looking around” about four years ago, Quadrant founder Chad Cook said. “We were thinking about what’s next and what’s cool.
“We thought if we could come here and find a way to build scale and build a portfolio, none of our competitors would.”
The developer has spent the last three years acquiring mainly small properties.
“We thought we could go out and buy old buildings and do real adaptive reuse, which Dallas doesn’t have,” Cook said. “We started buying small buildings and consolidating them.
“We call it the Lego Strategy.”
Quadrant finally pulled together enough small pieces to have a big impact.
Quadrant’s first neighborhood project is called the Manufacturing District – a block of redeveloped old warehouses on Irving Boulevard and Manufacturing Street.
Buildings that once housed carpenters and metal shops and other small industrial tenants have been transformed into first-class office space.
The nearly 90,000 square foot office center includes outdoor meeting spaces, a cafe, and a second-floor tenant lounge with panoramic views of downtown Dallas and nearby Uptown.
A former railway junction behind the buildings has been converted into a linear urban park.
“It’s something no one else has, and it’s pretty cool,” Cook said. “You can walk there to a covered walkway we created to get to the coffee lounge.”
The project is already attracting tenants, including the transport company Alto.
Commercial real estate company Transwestern leases the project and has ongoing agreements with several other tenants.
“Our target market is that business that’s in Uptown or somewhere else nearby,” Cook said. “You can get rents literally half the cost of some new buildings in Uptown.
“The tenants we’re targeting are those focused on hiring, retention and culture,” he said. “With the return to the office, they need a cool space – a place their employees will want to come back to.”
Quadrant partnered with Maryland-based investor FCP late last year to purchase one of the district’s largest properties, the award-winning International on Turtle Creek showroom and office complex on Irving Blvd.
Built in 1949 as a warehouse for International Harvester, the 155,000 square foot building was redeveloped in 2005 as offices and showrooms for furniture, creative and design companies.
“We’re doing a $2 million renovation across the entire project, replacing landscaping and making other improvements,” Cook said, and plans include a large restaurant at the front of the buildings.
Building on the success of its first acquisitions, Quadrant and its partner FCP are ready to move forward with the construction of two office buildings.
The first building at 1333 Oak Lawn Ave. – called Thirteen Thirty Three – will open next year with a large community lounge and fitness center. There will be outdoor terraces with views of the Dallas skyline.
“The views will be amazing,” Cook said. “We have a full-building tenant that we are meeting next week.”
Another office Quadrant has planned on Riveredge Drive will have more than 140,000 square feet of office and retail space across five floors.
“We want it to look like an old brick building that you knocked down,” Cook said. “There will be lots of glass and a ton of natural light and all these balconies for every tenant.”
Merriman Anderson Architects of Dallas designed the two new offices.
Cook said the developer was trying to stick to small-scale character buildings.
“We don’t want to see this become Uptown,” he said. “The region has a unique personality, which many people are looking for.
“And Deep Ellum and the West End is a whole other thing.”
Because properties in the former industrial district are in the hands of dozens upon dozens of owners, it will be impossible for developers to block off the entire area,
“Making a site big enough to grow is really hard,” he said. “We can hopefully set the tone a bit for what other owners are doing.
“We believe our projects can make work cooler and provide a better experience for people.”