Special Deep Ellum Tax District To Be Improved With More Deep Ellum

Categories: City Hall

Joe Mabel
Deep Ellum's Knights of Pythias Temple
In a move that's been a long time coming, the Deep Ellum Tax Increment Financing District Board met Monday to approve a recommendation to the City Council that the district be expanded to include the area that people actually think of as Deep Ellum.

The core of Deep Ellum, the area that consists primarily of Commerce, Main and Elm streets between Good-Latimer Expressway and Hall Street, has been excluded from the TIF district -- a special district that gives property tax incentives to owners who make improvements on their properties -- since it was drawn up in 2005.

The central Deep Ellium properties were left out, Deep Ellum Foundation President Barry Annino says, because a group of their owners sued the city in 2004 over rotting sewer lines under Deep Ellum.

"To make [the TIF district] happen, we kinda made a deal with [the city]," Annino says, "where they could just take a bite out of it."

That gerrymandering is what gives the TIF district, a map of which you can see below, its fish-like shape

Ever since, there've been rumors that the doughnut hole would be closed sometime in the near future, but it hasn't happened for almost a decade.

The impetus for finally doing so, according to Annino, is increased development in central Deep Ellum beyond the businesses that were already there when the TIF district was created.

"The quality that's going in, take Pecan Lodge for example, the guys are beginning to put in a lot of money and they're beginning to fix the areas around the existing businesses," he says.

"In the past, it wouldn't have changed anything, because things were already developed in the middle," he says.

Now that things are less static in the central areas, it makes sense for the city and Deep Ellum business owners for the district to be expanded, he says.

For its part, the city seems to be enthusiastic about the changes. Karl Stundins, the city's area redevelopment program manager, told The Dallas Morning News that "[w]e think Deep Ellum is a critical area that bridges the Fair Park area and downtown."

Annino says the move isn't essential to Deep Ellum's development, but that any amount of extra money will contribute to the neighborhood's revitalization. One of the neighborhood's most historic, and longest unused buildings, the Knights of Pythias Temple at the corner of Elm and Good-Latimer is, according to Stundins, a "key location" and one of the reasons for the expansion. Annino says the building was going to be developed with or without the TIF.

"I think it's gonna happen anyway," he says, "because there's not going to be enough money [from the TIF district] to make a difference considering [how much it is going to cost renovate the building]."

The incentive the TIF provides is a little overrated but is still nice, he says.

"Everything you can get to make things happen is a good thing," he says. "It's not the panacea for the whole thing. It's not going to turn the world around. It's just saying that more people are willing to invest in the neighborhood and this will just give it a little bit more money."

With the board's OK the changes will now go to the full City Council for final approval.

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WHO currently owns the Knights of Pythias Temple? I keep passing by it and been interested in that building for a month now. Cause I keep seeing Westdale Asset Management as the current owner.

holmantx topcommenter

NEWSFLASH! Who's the largest property owner in Deep Ellum?

Why, the City is.  They (we) own the sprawling 17-acre Central Service Area that is bounded by Canton to RL Thornton, Trunk to Chestnut.  Nice chunk of land.  It is the location of the DPD Central Operations substation, SWAT, and a host of back-office and maintenance hubs, as well as their communications, code enforcement, Fire Marshall inspectors, et al.  It's where the Drunk Tank is (where the public intox overnight revelers go to avoid the Lew Sterrett incarceration costs the City must pay for DWI arrests).

It looks like it might be quietly going on the sales block.

The City just put out an RFP to have it appraised.  The City is asking for a swap number.  The City has been entertaining the idea of a swap - some big developer is needed to swap the City for a larger tract (say, in the developing Trinity River flood plain near downtown) with enough Boot (plus cash) to build a new facility on lesser priced land.  The CSA tract is now officially Hot Property (land only, not the specialized improvements built in the 1970s).

This would fit in with the City's renewed interest in helping Deep Ellum whilst helping themselves into a new facility, since the existing improvements are nearing the end of their physical life without major upgrade.  Plus, the City is now sitting on some pretty expensive land.


I really hope they don't tear the Knights of Pythias building down. I go to the gym across the street and park in the lot, so I see it every day, and every day I think about how nice it would be if it were turned into something cool (though it would be super expensive).

If it does indeed get developed I hope it turns into something like the Adam Hats building, and that they don't go all Uptown on it and tear down something that has some history.

But It's not like I have any skin in the game.


I'm still shocked the Knights of Pythias is still standing. For the 20 years I've been going to Ellum it has been full of squatters and left to rot. My guess is in two years in two years it is demolished and turned into another damn Chipotle.


Pecan Lodge is the anchor in bringing back Deep Ellum. You can already feel it. However, one has to only step in to many of the other fine establishments in older buildings around the area, and one will occasionally get a nice whiff of sewage pipe emanating throughout. There is nothing worse than sitting down to eat and wafting in the citys' poop moving responsibility because those pipes are probably 100 years old.


@mdd0124 I wouldn't get my hopes up... For whatever reason, most people in Dallas love shiny new things, and cringe at the idea of something old having historical value. They'll 'develop' it (i.e. tear it down and put up a pre-fab strip mall), and drive out any authenticity DE still has.

primi_timpano topcommenter

Il Cane Rosso started the comeback.


@Oxtail Deep Ellum has been coming back for quite awhile - muchless before Pecan Lodge even thought of moving there. PL is just another step in the right direction, not the cause of it. 


@primi_timpano The Deep Ellum Enrichment Project laid the foundation for the comeback. They healed the rift between the Deep Ellum Association and Foundation and worked tirelessly holding events and coming up with ideas to get the neighborhood back on its feet. Ask about it at murray street coffee, some of the originals members hang out there.

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