Not a done deal, there’s still time to place the Dallas Convention Center Hotel on the center’s South Side

The thing that you need to know about where we are in the Convention Center Hotel process: it ain’t over.

The city has spent about $500,000 to “tie up” an 8.34-acre tract of land on Young Street between Market and Lamar that is a privately owned parking lot. This was the subject of a Dallas Morning News article last weekend (Did anyone else notice the WFAA sign that was prominently featured in the picture of that site?)

Dave Levinthal and Rudolph Bush report that the city has until Sept. 30 to decide whether to purchase the land from Cincinnati-based CP-Dallas L & Y LP at a fixed price just under $40 million. If they don’t, the $500,000 goes down the drain.

Now let’s revisit the South Side Convention Center option.

First let me make something clear.  Unlike what has been reported and assumed, the south side option is not on the opposite side of I-30 from the center. The proposed site is where Eddie Deans Ranch is currently located, including the huge parking lot behind it. To be more specific, the hotel would be bordered by Memorial Drive, Griffin, Street, Canton Street, and South Lamar.

The firm who owns this property is Matthews Southwest of Lewisville. While the firm is based in Lewisville they have a significant presence in Dallas. Matthews Southwest acquired the property I described above for $8.3 million, at an average of $44 per square foot.

$40 million (8.3 acres) vs. $8.3 million (4.1 acres).

Keep in the back of your mind the fact the Matthews Southwest donated (yes free) the Cedars area property that the Dallas Police Headquarters now calls home. They are also responsible for redeveloping the Sears Building to the South Side on Lamar, as well as The Beat condominiums currently under construction.

There are six companies looking to serve as master builder on the hotel project. The News lists those companies as Beck of Dallas, Faulkner USA of Austin, Hines of Houston, Jones Lang LaSalle of Chicago, Woodbine Development of Dallas, and Matthews Southwest. These companies will present their credentials to the city somewhere in the neighborhood of February 25-27.

For the most part the process is now specifically looking at the hotel. Yet the Matthews firm has already submitted a development package that includes the surrounding development.

Anyone who is not familiar with why I feel the hotel should go on the south side of the DCC can read my Dallas South post and Dallas Morning News column on the subject. But in a nutshell here are 4 advantages the Matthews’ South Side Gateway option.


Anytime you are talking about a publicly funded project, cost is a concern. With the numbers I’ve stated above, we’re looking at roughly 2.5 times more just in land acquisition on the north location vs. the southern one. It’s not to late for the city to move to the more logical choice. Especially if they asked the developer to pick up the $500,000 option fee that would be lost.

Transit Oriented Development

Right now the Convention Center Hotel Station is a ghost town, literally dark and empty most of the time. The South Side location is literally across the street from the site. Anyone with a hint of vision sees the day when a conventioneer flies in to DFW, gets on the DART rail, stops and the Convention Center Station and walks off the train and right into their hotel.

The South Side on Lamar is already evidence of TOD, with The Beat Condos sitting right on top of the Cedars DART station. Convention goers can access the Cedars in the South, the West End, Victory, Arts District and all places north via the train.

Entertainment District

In addition to the 4 acre hotel site, Matthews has proposed 8 additional acres of development. This would include:

o 100,000 sq ft of entertainment

o 100,000sq ft of retail

o 100,000 sq ft of office/commercial

o 750,000 sq ft of residential (approximately 750 units)

This is coupled with what already exists on the South Side including:

We’ve seen how long development can take around an anchor venue. Victory took time, and what about all that development around the Ballpark in Arlington voters were promised in the early 90’s? On the South Side we have a head start.

Southern Dallas Development

Everyone I’ve talked to about this south side convention center have reacted in one of two ways – “What a great idea” or “I don’t care where it goes.” I haven’t heard a solid reason on why the parking lot on Young is THE BEST spot.

But the Eddie Deans location is the BEST spot because of the 3 business reasons listed above plus it’s a tangible sign that the city is serious about developing Southern Dallas.  While public money given to developers in Victory and the downtown core, at least one developer in Southern Dallas has invested in the city (yes, that’s a reference to the police station).

Most folks thought I was just shooting from the hip with this idea, but there are real people willing to do real work to make this happen.  Let’s see what goes down in the next couple of weeks, but anyone who thinks this is a good idea should let their councilperson know.



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