Demolition Pending for Dallas Landmark

Some downtown Dallas residents are upset about the pending demolition of an old West End building.

Last month, the Dallas Landmark Commission ruled that the 807 Elm St. building is safety hazard and should come down.

"The building itself contributes to the whole of the West End District, and when pieces of the district start disappearing, you're left with not much history in an historic district," downtown resident Noah Jeppson said.

The building was once part of a group used by Awalt Furniture Company but has been vacant for decades.

A 30-day period to appeal the ruling expired Thursday with no appeals, so the demolition could go forward soon.

Katherine Seale, executive director of Preservation Dallas, normally fights to save old buildings. But she said her group toured 807 Elm St. with construction experts and concluded it would not be practical to require renovation.

"The structural system and also the lack of parking just makes it nearly impossible to make it viable," she said.

Jeppson and other neighbors said they hope that the building's decorative parts could be saved, as has been done with other old structures in Dallas.

"We're hoping that they save the facade or at the very least put some of the pieces like that in an area in the historical district," resident Cathy Dawson said.

But the Landmark Commission made no such requirements for 807 Elm St.

A bank currently owns the building after foreclosing on the previous owners.

"There should be a penalty and there should be a shame in letting a building like this get to this state," Dawson said.

A program announced by Mayor Tom Leppert and City Attorney Tom Perkins in December 2009 aims for tougher enforcement of city codes for vacant buildings.

The 807 Elm St. building was included on a list of vacant buildings targeted in that program to keep old buildings from getting beyond repair.

"It's a great ordinance, and it's a great way to hold property owners accountable," Seale said.

But it came too late for 807 Elm St., which was already in serious disrepair.

City officials said the owners were given the option of making repairs or demolition, and they chose demolition.

Dallas attorney Steve Metzger, who represented the owners at city hearings, declined to speak about the case Friday.

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