Developer Pinning Bishop Arts Project's Success on Artists

A North Texas development group is pinning the success of its multimillion-dollar project in the Bishop Arts District on artists.

Exxir Capital has already begun construction on its $42 million mixed-use project at the corner of Bishop Avenue and Melba Street. The project includes retail and residential space.

“The project is an expansion of the Bishop Arts District. We're basically doubling the size of the district, putting two more city blocks, lengthening the main street,” said Exxir Capital chief operations officer Michael Nazerian.

Much of the new development slated for Bishop Arts has been met with skepticism. Residents and frequent visitors to the area fear the district will lose its charm. Nazerian believes his project can add to it, and he’s depending on local artists to make it happen. The group recently announced it would eliminate nearly 40,000 square-feet of residential space in order to make room for a public art garden. The space will allow artists to showcase their work in a heavily trafficked area.

Nazerian said its essentially putting the “arts” back into Bishop Arts.

“It’s such a high level of creativity and diversity in Bishop Arts today, and when we saw that spark we were like, ‘Man, we would love to help this grow.’ Let’s deliver a canvas to allow artists…to grow their craft,” he said. “We've given up 60-percent of the density we're allowed to build and we've given it back, essentially."

Local artist Manuel Sarmiento has been tapped to design several elements of the project. He never thought a developer would be the person to give him the opportunity to showcase his talents.

“Every artist struggles. I’m still struggling, but I think this is going to help me out,” Sarmiento said. “Having a lot of art in one place is sure to inspire a ton of people, especially the young ones.”

The project will also give artists the chance to show off their talents in an educational setting. Glass artist Carlyn Ray said she’s looking forward to holding glass blowing demonstrations.

“There hasn’t really been a venue that I’ve seen that’s been applicable for glass blown art in the Bishop Arts area,” Ray said. “Bishop Arts is the key place, and the best place, for a project like this because of its root to the (art) community.”

Nazerian hopes this approach to development will maintain the area’s unique charm and serve as a model for future development in Dallas.

“We hope this can be an example, not just for Dallas but regionally and nationally, of a way to do things,” he said.

Barring any major delays phase one of the project is scheduled to be complete by December.

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