Broker Repping Owner of Old Dallas High School: "Why Hasn't Whole Foods Called?"

Categories: News
Old Dallas High 9.26.05 013.jpg
Barry Kooda
And so we return to the sad story of the old Dallas High School downtown, a historic landmark bought for $6.1 million by California real estate investor Robert Yu in 1998 and vacant ever since. The timing's right. I've just spoken with people close to the owner. I've gotten my hands on the latest list of code complaints (after the jump). And, tomorrow, I should have quite the delightful surprise -- an Unfair Park exclusive, so exciting.

But, first thing's first. Earlier today, I was told by one of Yu's reps that First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bower was wrong last week -- there is a for-sale sign on the property, on a fence ringing the 5-acre property. Says "Silverstone Development Ltd." on it. Patrick Michels just went out there to grab a photo. He returned empty-handed. No such thing, he reports. Only no-trespassing warnings.

Yu's local reps acknowledge that the building is not listed for sale anywhere on the Internet; they also refuse to divulge the asking price. "Negotiable" is all one will say. (He asks his name not be used but says I am free to quote him.) He acknowledges it's a lot when you consider the original sale price and the cost of demolishing the surrounding Crozier Tech buildings and legal fees involved with Yu's years-long fight with the city, which kept the Lang and Witchell-designed building out of harm's way.

He says he's "received a number of calls and even some offers" on the 102-year-old building and surrounding property. Says there was one as recently as 2008, but that "the financial crisis" killed it. He doesn't remember who wanted it. I ask if maybe the sale price is so high it prices out any realistic shot the property has at redevelopment. He laughs.

"There's no such thing as too much," he says. "In this business, there is always a willing buyer and willing seller. What is too much in the world? I don't know who those people are. You can sell for whatever you want. Do you care if someone says you're asking too much?"

I ask if he talks to Robert Yu often. He says "from time to time, every couple of months." He asks if I can also leave Yu's name out of this. "He doesn't want to be in the newspaper." I tell him it's too late for that. In fact, I've left several messages for Yu today. The broker says Yu just "made an investment for his investors" and can't sell because of the economy. I say he had chance before the credit market tanked, right?

He says: "We had some offers, but not for the whole property. Some people were not qualified. We had a lot of people asking, but that doesn't mean people were qualified. A qualified buyer is hard to come by. The people who are in the real estate development business, in light of today's environment, it's not like somebody's not trying to make money off it. Nobody is purposefully trying not to do anything in this world. We've made our effort. But things did not come through."

I ask how serious was the 2008 offer. He says they were "97 percent there." I ask him again if he can remember who the potential deal was with. "I can't remember." He insist Yu wants to do something with the property -- sell it, develop it, you name it. Yes, it's been 12 years. Yes, it could be 12 more. Patience, he says. Patience.

"We have not found somebody willing to develop it," he says. "That's all there is, It's not like the owner is preventing development. Why should Mr. Yu prevent it. We'd like to get some rent or bring some legitimate, qualified investors. If we can get Neiman Marcus or Whole Foods in there, by all means. Maybe you can help us. Ask the question to Whole Foods: How come he's not calling me? Or Tom Thumb? Or anybody else, for that matter? The sign is there."

Guess we'll go look for it. Again. Till then, the latest list of code violations sent to the building's owners.
Ltr 2215 Bryan Street

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