Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
The old Braniff Headquarters on Lemmon Avenue will be demolished unless a developer can convince the Dallas City Council to reuse the property instead.
The old Braniff Airlines headquarters at Dallas Love Field will be demolished to make way for a new development under a plan approved by the city Wednesday, but a competing developer is still fighting to save the building.
Opened in 1958, the building on Lemmon Avenue with a butterfly design was intended to symbolize the opening of the jet age as airlines transitioned from propeller-driven planes.
It housed Braniff maintenance and operations until Braniff finally shut down in the early '90s.
The building was then occupied by Dalfort Aerospace, but it's been mostly vacant for the past 10 years.
"This big building has been empty with no revenue coming back to the aviation coffers," Councilman Tennell Atkins said.
A plan unanimously approved by the Dallas City Council would replace the building with new hangers and commercial space, including a car dealership.
Officials said renovation would cost $30 million, but demolition and site preparation for the new developer would cost just $8 million, with annual rent payments to the city of $926,238 to follow under a 40-year lease.
The developer is committed to invest $13 million in the project.
"We've got an opportunity to demolish this building, to bring new revenue to the aviation department," Atkins said.
But Steve Birch of Flying Crown Land Group was trying to get the city to support his plan to renovate the old building for first-class aviation offices, meeting and hangar space.
Birch asked the City Council to reject Wednesday's deal.
"Nostalgia aside, there are clear economic reasons why the council should vote 'no' on this item," he said. "The demolition is costly and unnecessary. A reuse is completely possible."
Birch claims the city would violate Federal Aviation Administration rules by switching part of the site to nonaviation uses. He has also filed an application with the Texas Historical Commission to have the building declared a historic landmark.
"And so we feel comfortable that that will be recognized at that level and, therefore, make the existing proposal today null and void," Birch said.
City officials said they are working with the FAA and the Texas Historical Commission and those issues should not stop the demolition.
A new terminal is under construction at Love Field, and the city has been working with neighbors on what it calls a "good neighbor plan." One goal is to improve the areas around the edges of Love Field, and city leaders said Wednesday's vote reflects that.
"I think this is a great opportunity for the Aviation Department -- not out there sitting on that hill -- but out there trying to bring new development in," Atkins said.