DALLAS — For nearly a month in early 2020, the failure to bring down an old office building at the corner of Haskell Avenue and North Central Expressway captivated Dallasites, Texans and the country.
People flocked to take photos of the building dubbed ‘The Leaning Tower of Dallas’.
“Some people were angry about it,” said Artemio De La Vega, the CEO of De La Vega Development, “Like anything, we found some humor in it.”
De La Vega is behind the $2.5 billion redevelopment of the building’s former footprint and the 27 acres around it, just east of Highway 75. When the building finally fell, COVID shuttered businesses two weeks later, partners on the project dropped out because of a lack of funds, and the lot sat in limbo until now.
“I see nothing but potential,” De La Vega said. “It was certainly an opportunity that we couldn’t pass by.”
One part of the project, a 430-unit low-rise, has been completed and just began leasing.
Next month, a signature 20-story tower with 350 apartments will break ground. Co-developer StreetLights Residential is expected to finish construction on the building by 2024.
“This could be a gateway project I think for East Dallas. It’s a very strategic location,” De La Vega said. “We’re smack in the middle of the map in the urban core.”
The final development will also include another 400-apartment multi-use tower, 200,000 square-feet of office space and a 185-room hotel. De La Vega said the name of hotel operator can’t be shared until agreements are finalized. He says he proud the project is using Dallas-based development and construction companies.
They’re also looking at a small food mart space and are actively recruiting restaurants from across the country that aren’t yet in Dallas, including one from Arizona and another in England.
“The secret sauce in my mind is always on the first floor,” he said. “It’s a place where you can hang out and be happy.”
De La Vega says his favorite part of the new development, though, isn’t a building. A 4-acre park in the middle of the project will be dotted four or five small pavilions ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 square-feet with sprawling patios.
“I think that becomes the soul of the project. That’s where people connect,” he said. “It’ll be right smack dab down the middle and we’ll have buildings surrounding it.”
The goal is a feeling of nature, with buildings covered in greenery and wood accents. They’re also brining in a large spa, health and wellness center.
“Everything that we do is focused around that ethos. We want nature at the forefront, he said. “An urban development with green space, with open space. It’s what the neighbors have always envisioned.”