What's the Deal With 500 S. Ervay? Well, Funny You Should Ask. There's a Hearing Next Week.

500SErvay.jpg
Photo at left courtesy the Dallas Public Library Texas/Dallas History Division
500 South Ervay as it looked in 1955, and a more recent photo on the DCAD website
Speaking of vacant downtown landmarks ...

Two weeks ago, a City Hall employee asked if we knew what was up with 500 South Ervay, which sits in ruin right next door to City Hall and but a block away from 508 Park Avenue. It came up again last week when, during the Living Plaza event, Trinity Trust President Gail Thomas pointed to the massive husk with boarded-up and broken-out windows and said she envisioned a day when the 101-year-old building, originally the Butler Brothers warehouse and then the Merchandise Mart, would become "an art school."

There hasn't been news concerning the building in years: Plans to convert it into a condo complex in '06 fell through, and in December 2009, during the second wave of the city's vacant downtown building crackdown, then-Mayor Tom Leppert and City Attorney Tom Perkins called out 500 South Ervay as one of the city's biggest eyesores. They told the Nevada-based owners: Clean it up, or face a lawsuit.

Which, after doing some digging yesterday, I discovered is precisely what happened. And that was only the beginning.

The city sued the owners, Ervay Lofts LP, in October 2010. A hearing was scheduled for the beginning of the year, but on January 24 of this year, the owners filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in Dallas bankruptcy court. Shortly after that, Ervay Lofts converted the Chapter 11 notice to Chapter 7.

"At which point the lender [Resolution Finance] told the U.S. trustee we're not going to let you collect a commission on the sale," says First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers. "So the trustee said, 'Well, then, I'll recommend dismissal.'" A hearing is scheduled on the matter one week from today.

Dallas's case against the owners is in limbo till then, but Bowers says if when when the bankruptcy is dismissed, the city will pick up right where it left off.

"We expect the case will be dismissed, and everyone -- the creditors and the city -- can pursue whatever remedies they want," says Bowers. "Which, in our case, means we want it fixed up and brought to code."
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9 comments
Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

Robert, this building was sold in late September. Can you please update the story?

Yakuza_Fighter
Yakuza_Fighter

This is probably the only thing I give Leppert credit for. These owners need to sh*t or get off the pot.

Who Ray
Who Ray

This is irony at its best.........do some digging and you'll discover who is really responsible for the condition the building is in today. That's right, you guessed it..........the City of Dallas. Before and during the building of "City Hall", the City was a major tenant of this building. If you dig far enough, you'll uncover who was responsible for the "modernization" of the exterior (which virtually destroyed the historic facade of the building). Guess again?

Casual Observer
Casual Observer

The only way a bankruptcy trustee would collect a fee is if the building sold for more than the secured debt. Fat chance of that! Letting the lender foreclose on the property is what should have happened to begin with, oh but wait, then the debtor's attorney couldn't have collected his fee. It's the right result, the bankruptcy filing just wasted the time of a lot of people but it made a few bucks for a bankruptcy attorney, so all is right with the world!

observist
observist

You can't single out the City of Dallas for uniquely bad aesthetic decisions. That sort of "modernization" was done all over the country by just about anyone that had any say over any piece of commercial real estate. When that building was redone the city (and country) were full of large, old pre-war buildings.that were the antithesis of the then-current high modern style. That generation grew up in the depression and went through WWII and those heavy old buildings represented bad old times, not old world craftsmanship. They perceived those buildings like we perceive some of those crappy-looking 70's buildings along Stemmons - they weren't "historic" they were just "dated".

Who Ray
Who Ray

Do you mean to say that the city did not understand the significance of this very large (more than half a million square feet) building located immediately next to its new IM Pei designed City Hall? Whether historic or not, and whether that was fashionable or not, the City was very short-sighted (to say the very least). After all, this is anything but a crappy little pre-war building. Do yourself a favor and google its sister building.......it's in a "real city" (Chicago) and has been carefully and completely restored.......WOW!

observist
observist

First, I was only referring to the "modernization", not the state of repair, and Chicago is a perfect illustration of my point - Chicago has torn down or defaced more spectacular and significant historic buildings than were ever built in Dallas. I like old buildings and would prefer to see them maintained and restored, but architectural fashions have been evolving like this for 2000 years. Cathedrals in Europe started out Romanesque, were enlarged Gothic and re-trimmed Baroque. Upheavals like the depression and WWII cause harsher backlashes against pre-upheaval styles, and this building is an example of something that happened all over the country in the 50's and 60's. Not unique to Dallas, not uniquely short-sighted.

Stacy
Stacy

ummm....I googled the Butler Building Chicago which is the almost identical sister building and.....the outside is gutted w/ a modern addition of balcony's and floor to ceiling windows..looks like the roof details are the only thing not touched.....so my question is what was completely rstored cause the interior of the Randolph Place Lofts which is the new name was COMPLETELY GUTTED.....there is not a single piece of history inside it.

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