Dallas city leaders Wednesday approved public support for a $50 million plan to renovate the old Dallas High School building, also known as Crozier Tech.
The 1907 building on Bryan Street at Pearl Street has been vacant since 1996. The school property was sold to a private developer in 1998 and the city designated the building an historic landmark in 2000. The designation saved the structure from demolition, but also made it very expensive for the original buyer of the former school property to do anything with the site.
History buff Gracie Navarrette from West Texas made a point of visiting the building Wednesday.
“I just love old architecture and actually I get on the internet and looked for old buildings and I found this one,” she said. “And I told my husband if I don’t come now, they’re probably going to tear it down and I’ll never get to see it.”
Developer Jack Matthews with Matthews Southwest is a partner in the latest plan to revive the old building, which is across from a DART Rail station and surrounded by newer high-rises.
“It’s a very alive area, but that corner is really dragging it down,” Matthews said. “So, we want to bring that back and really cause other things to happen by getting it shined up.”
Matthews has been involved in many other big Dallas projects, including the Omni Convention Center Hotel and the Southside on Lamar renovation of a former Sears building into lofts and offices.
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The new plan calls for offices and retail space in the former school building and Matthews envisions a campus of new buildings one day surrounding the renovated Crozier Tech.
“It’s a part of downtown Dallas getting put back in place where it should be,” Matthews said.
Wednesday, the Dallas City Council approved $6 million in Tax Increment Financing money to support the project. It will pay for street improvements outside and environmental remediation and demolition inside the old building.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he once worked in a private office across the street from the old school building and he is glad to see progress to save it at last.
“It’s such a great building, and I think it has great potential. That’s why I think doing this investment makes sense,” Rawlings said.
Several previous plans with other developers fell through.
“Before, we had some starts and stops and I’m happy where we are today,” Rawlings said. “What it really does is bring the old and new together, right downtown.”
Gracie Navarrette said she wants to see the finished product.
“I would love to see it, and I’m sure many people would,” she said.
Under the terms of Wednesday’s city deal, Matthews’ group must re-open the renovated building by the end of 2018.