Westdale redevelops historic Deep Ellum block

Five buildings on Elm Street “clean up” block across from the Epic

From left: Westdale's Joe Beard, William Sidney Pittman, and Deep Ellum Foundation's Stephanie Keller Hudiburg with The Epic in Deep Ellum
From left: Westdale's Joe Beard, William Sidney Pittman, and Deep Ellum Foundation's Stephanie Keller Hudiburg with The Epic in Deep Ellum (The Epic Deep Ellum, LinkedIn, TSHA, Westdale)

Well, Good E for you!
One of Deep Ellum’s biggest real estate players has finished its gateway development just in time for the neighborhood’s 150th birthday, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Westdale Real Estate has wrapped up construction on its 30,000-square-foot five-building redevelopment of an Elm Street block, dubbed Good E. There’s already a Velvet Taco open in the development, and a Brooklyn Dumpling Shop is on its way a few doors down.

“It’s such a gateway into the whole neighborhood,” said Chuck Hixson, a Westdale exec. “It’s going to be a very inviting and welcome corner.”

Construction on the project was delayed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but now its opening will coincide with Deep Ellum’s birthday celebrations. The Deep Ellum Foundation’s celebratory events feature Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as the honorary chair.

The architecture of Good E focuses on preservation of the neighborhood’s historic facades, Hixson said.

“We had all new structures built inside the old walls,” he said.

Westdale got its start in the submarket with its first project converting the former Adam Hats Building on Canton Street into loft apartments in the 1990s. Today, the firm controls more than 300,000 square feet of retail and commercial space in Deep Ellum.

“We needed to clean up this side of the street after all the work we did at the Epic,” CEO Joe Beard told the DMN. “This whole block was gutted and rebuilt from the inside out.”

The Epic is home to the Kimpton Pittman as well as a 16-story glass-facade office tower and a 26-story residential highrise. Uber was attached as the anchor office tenant in the planning phase but pulled out in 2021 and canceled the $9 million incentives package that the Dallas City Council approved to lure the company in 2019.

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“We just need workers to come back to the office to get some more people on the streets during the day,” Beard told DMN.

Stephanie Keller Hudiburg, executive director of the Deep Ellum Foundation hopes the 150th jubilee — and building a community center across from the Epic’s apartment tower — could convince the City of Dallas to recognize Deep Ellum as a historic district.

Hudiburg says the designation would “reaffirm the importance of the district and the history of all the different voices and visions that have made Deep Ellum such a special neighborhood.”

There are conflicting historical accounts, but it’s largely agreed that the first train came through what is now Deep Ellum in 1873. It began as a freedman’s town, and in the early 20th century, it was a thriving community for Black and Jewish entrepreneurs, as well as musicians like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter.

Deep Ellum is also where William Sidney Pittman, the state’s first black architect and the son-in-law of Booker T. Washington built the Knights of Pythias Temple, which held Dallas’ first offices for black doctors, dentists and lawyers and served as the economic, social and cultural center for the African-American community. Westdale’s luxury hotel is named after Pittman, as it sits on the former site of the Temple, at 2551 Elm Street.

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However, in the 1940s, the railway was torn out to make way for the Central Expressway, and the next few decades would see many families in Deep Ellum displaced. As SMU anthropologists Marsha Prior and Robert V. Kemper put it:

“Historical communities in Deep Ellum were leveled to the ground because excessive speculation during the period of rising interest rates had caused the ‘bubble’ of the real estate boom to explode in the 1970s and the ‘bust’ of the 1980s.”