There are plenty of boutique shops still open for Christmas in the Knox District, but faithful patrons looking for a new look on Knox Street have a long wait ahead.
For over a century, the Knox District preserved the feel of an old-timey commercial Main Street, but the September closing of the Highland Park Soda Fountain heralded coming changes that, for better or worse, erased that illusion. The Knox District, after all, has been in the path of a gentrifying Oak Lawn community. The encroaching higher-density housing coming from all sides was going to reach the corner of Knox and Travis eventually.
One need look no further than one block south, to the seven-story mixed income multifamily project Alliance Residential Co. is building at Cole and Armstrong Avenues. Then there’s the monolithic 8-acre development rising to the north next to DART’s Mockingbird Station — more on that below.
The official word on the Knox District’s next big thing came in May, when Dallas City Council gave Four Rivers Capital and its partner, the Weir’s Furniture family, permission to build a 12-story mixed-use commercial building, Weir’s Plaza, on the north half of the 3200 block of Knox Street.
A few months later, the soda fountain management announced its last business day would be September 9. The Highland Park Soda Fountain had a 106-year run. The owners have been invited by the Weir family to come back, but even assuming they will — the construction phase that just recently got underway will take two years — their digs won’t be the same. Only the façade of the original building will survive.
What followed in late November, according to city building permit records, were permits valued at $63 million. The one-story Weir’s Furniture building on site will be replaced by a mixed-use retail and office tower 12 stories high and will include underground parking going six levels deep. The tower totals 278,681 square feet and will have 12,160 square feet of retail and restaurant along Knox Street. That doesn’t include the return of Weir’s Furniture, which will reposition its location from Knox to Travis Street in a two-story configuration — 14,000 square feet per floor.
There’s been no mention of amenities for the future office tenants, and the currently published floor plans don’t indicate anything beyond office space. GFF Architects did take care, however, to include design features that recall the block’s history. The building’s tall and narrow window openings mimic those of the street corner soda fountain. The street level height aligns with the soda fountain building and the rest of the building steps back to avoid being too imposing on the pedestrian realm.
The soda fountain building, what’s left of it, will be separated by a glass partition, in order to preserve “its independence as an architectural element,” GFF notes in these documents. Permits for the underground garage describe a 310,280-square-foot structure that will hold 800 vehicles, with access on the building’s south end from Travis Street.
Weir’s Plaza is scheduled for completion by August 2021.
THE CROSSING DALLAS
Less than two miles north of the Knox District, a Chicago developer pulled building permits the same week as Four Rivers. The Crossing by Convexity Properties promises to take advantage of a few of the same attractions that draw people to retail hubs like the Knox District and the West Village — their proximity to the Katy Trail, the Central Expressway, and the DART rail line.
The Crossing venture has another advantage. No inventing a new hub here — Convexity Properties is just expanding onto the existing Mockingbird Station retail/restaurant district. Word of The Crossing project didn’t really spread until just before the Thanksgiving holiday, but real estate development hawks got a big clue something was up when Convexity sent a fleet of concrete mixer trucks to the site to expand a parking garage.
The tallest structure in The Crossing will be a new 28-story residential tower at 6080 North Central Expressway, for which Archer Western Construction pulled permits in November valued at about $54 million. It will have 330 units from floors three to 28. The footprints at each level vary, from 8,155 square feet at the first five residential levels, to an average 16,800 square feet from floors eight to 27.
The Crossing will have all the key ingredients for a full scale urban mixed-use development — residential, retail, restaurants, office space.
- 500,000 square feet of high-rise and low-rise apartments.
- 90,000 square feet of street-level retail and restaurants around a plaza.
- 225,000 square feet of office space
The 8-acre project is sandwiched between the Central Expressway and the DART station and has addresses of 6060-6080 North Central Expressway.
Convexity is building the project in collaboration with Triten Real Estate Partners, a Houston developer that purchased an existing office complex in 2015. The project began with renovations in 2017-2018 to the eight-story Twin Sixties building and morphed from there.