A landmark Dallas tower is getting new life as a state-of-the–art home for biotech firms and nonprofit organizations.
The Pegasus Place high-rise on Stemmons Freeway has starred in Hollywood movies and previously housed operations for Exxon Mobil Corp.
Now J. Small Investments, in partnership with Lyda Hill Philanthropies, is redeveloping the vacant building and surrounding 23-acre complex into a mixed-use office campus.
J. Small Investments bought the 18-story tower at Stemmons and Commonwealth Drive five years ago. “It’s a really big building with a lot of existing infrastructure,” said Steve Davis, president of J. Small Investments. “It brings us some exciting opportunities, and this project is a great example of that.”
Construction has already started to gut the tower and rebuild.
With its proximity to the medical district, downtown Dallas and Love Field, the property is in the perfect location for their plans, the developers say.
“When you are talking about attracting investment from companies from all over the world, the location is very important,” Davis said. “This is a little bit of an island between the medical district and the Design District, and we think this an be a catalyst for development around us.”
The developer has hired Dallas architect GFF to give the building a new look inside and out. The general contractor is Scott + Reid.
“We are changing the exterior glass and increasing energy efficiency,” Davis said. “For its location and size, it’s a pretty iconic building.
“We wanted to make sure it stayed recognizable, but it’s going to have an updated feel.”
Built in 1968, the high-rise originally housed the headquarters of Dallas-based jewelry retailer Zale Corp.
The 600,000-square-foot office tower and five other buildings the campus on the west side of Stemmons were later used by Exxon Mobil.
The glass-and-concrete building had a starring role in the 1976 science fiction thriller Logan’s Run. The Dallas tower was used as the centerpiece of a 23rd century city.
Zale moved out of the building in the 1980s, and Mobil bought the tower. It was extensively remodeled, and the original gold glass exterior was replaced with a silver skin.
The building still has Mobil’s Pegasus “flying horse” sign on top, which Davis says will stay.
J. Small Investments began having talks last year with Lyda Hill Philanthropies about a new use for the building, Davis said.
“There are a lot of social impact associations in Dallas, and a lot of these organizations are in subpar space in older buildings with no access to great amenities,” he said. “Lyda’s vision was to create a space where all these groups can be together.”
He said the partners also zeroed in on the need for modern office space for startup and small biotech and science firms.
“We really wanted to find a place to create an ecostructure to allow these companies to grow here,” Davis said. We’ve got all this existing infrastructure and this campus feel; this is the place to do that.”
Lyda Hill Philanthropies supports scientific and medical research, education, environmental efforts and community development.
“Lyda has been investing in things like biotech for over a decade and has been interested in building a facility,” said Nicole G. Small, president of Lyda Hill Philanthropies. “It’s something we have been passionate about for a long time.
“With the pandemic, we don’t need to explain to the world how important science is,” she said. “We have tremendous assets in this community that have not been capitalized on, and we need the real estate to draw people in.”
Small said that businesswoman Lyda Hill’s charitable foundation has been scouting the area for years to find a place to house nonprofit organizations.
“It’s incredibly important that our nonprofits have all the things they need to do their jobs well,” she said. “To build a space that allows them to have the resources big companies have to focus on their mission is very important.
“We are excited to help our science community and our nonprofit community in an area of town that is ripe for opportunity,” Small said. “It’s a gateway to the city.”
More than 150,000 square feet of offices in the Pegasus Park project will be earmarked for social-impact, nonprofit and philanthropic tenants. The tenants will get subsidized rent to make the new space more affordable.
Another block of space will be set aside for biotech firms.
And the redevelopment will include a conference facility, fitness center and food service operations. Outdoor areas with patios, walking trails and other gathering areas are also in the plans.
“There is also a lot of building left for typical commercial tenants, and we think that creates a location that is really attractive,” Davis said. “It’s a natural place for those companies to land and attract them to North Texas.”
Construction on campus is underway with an opening set for early 2021.
The building’s mechanical systems and layouts will be fine-tuned to accommodate changes that have come with the pandemic.
“With are designing this building with a modern tenant in mind,” Davis said. “It’s an interesting time to be doing a redevelopment.
“But we feel very fortunate where we are in this project.”