In February, Dallas entertainment developer Ray Washburne was on schedule to complete construction and redevelopment of the former Dallas Morning News building into a sprawling entertainment district for the Dallas Convention Center by the fall of 2022.
During a virtual Board of Advisors event for the Dallas Regional Chamber last week, Washburne told WFAA-TV’s David Schechter it was clear by March that his plans to create a holistic entertainment district at the eight-acre site would now be three years away. The high-profile project for the historic building is now being developed in two phases and expected to fully open in the spring or summer of 2023.
“I knew it was a cool building,” said Washburne, who owns and manages Dallas restaurants and entertainment developments, including Highland Park Village, Mi Cocina, and Taco Diner. “I bought it and then started to think about what I was going to do with it.”
The property at Young and Record streets includes the 450,000 square-foot former Dallas Morning News offices and press room, a 500-car parking garage, and the 80,000 square-foot former broadcasting studios of Texas Cable News (TXCN).
“The Dallas Convention Center has never had an entertainment district. If you go to any other city in the county, whether its Houston, Nashville, or LA Live in Los Angeles, [they have one],” he said. “We need something for our visitors to do when they come to town.”
With the site’s underground connection to the Dallas Convention Center and proximity to Dealey Plaza, Washburne said he plans to create a vibrant entertainment corridor for visitors and the convention center.
“[I’m going to] knock down the buildings in the back and have it flow up Record Street between Channel 8 and the [Dallas Morning News] building,” he said.
Phase one plans will turn the historic 1940s Dallas Morning News building, designed by architect George Dahl, into a 130-room boutique hotel with 250 apartments on top, a 2,000-2,500-seat concert facility in the former press room, and 12-15 bars and restaurants along the street. Washburne hopes to complete phase one in 24 months. The former TXCN studios will be torn down to make way for a new 40-story convention center and hotel with 1,100 rooms, but design and construction are now on hold until 2021.
“When it’s finished, you’ll be able to go to a convention, walk out down Record Street, and we’ll have 12-15 bars and restaurants, an entertainment venue, and hotels,” Washburne said.
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