A deck park under construction south of downtown Dallas is planned to connect neighborhoods divided by Interstate 35E and bring a new public space to the city.
The 5-acre Southern Gateway Park — under construction over I-35E between Ewing and Marsalis avenues — is scheduled to open late next year or in early 2024.
The new park has already attracted the attention of real estate investors and developers who are tying up nearby properties in Oak Cliff.
Several apartment buildings next to the deck park along South Lancaster Avenue were just purchased by investor Hudson Henley.
Henley, a real estate attorney, has been quietly buying up properties in the neighborhood with plans for a redevelopment.
“He has patiently assembled approximately 25 acres around the deck park in what figures to be one of the biggest growth opportunities for Oak Cliff and the eventual eastward expansion of the Bishop Arts District,” said J. Scott Lake, a partner with Davidson & Bogel Real Estate LLC.
Lake and Davidson & Bogel’s Jake Milner brokered the latest sale of the 2.6-acre site to Henley.
Henley plans to redevelop the properties he’s purchased, Lake said.
“He has been working on a master plan for the area for years and is gearing up to break ground on phase one in the next six to eight months,” Lake said.
The area Henley is targeting for investment is between East Jefferson Boulevard and I-35E and is dominated by automobile-related commercial buildings and old residential properties.
“The proximity to downtown, access to I-35 and being right by the future deck park are very unique,” Henley said. “I have a variety of plans for the properties depending upon the location.”
Henley said he plans to rehab the five old apartment buildings he just purchased along South Lancaster. The properties contain 115 rental units.
He’s also moving ahead with plans for a new apartment building on a nearby site.
“Right now we are a few weeks away from building 262 apartment units, 13 townhomes and some retail on the tract that borders Ewing and Jefferson,” Henley said. “We are going to have the existing structures demolished and then the apartments will be built on a podium with a parking garage.
“The new apartments will be a first phase development with a plan to build them, populate them and then build a second phase,” he said. “I’m very excited about being able to be a part in the revitalization of the area.”
Henley isn’t the only property market player making moves in the district.
“Savoy Equity Partners has one new multifamily development on Ewing and 6th street that has broken ground and another planned next door — also on Ewing — that should start construction in the next 60 to 90 days,” Lake said. “Other developers have taken notice as well, such as Olerio Homes, which has made several investments along Ewing and purchased a larger tract off of Jefferson and Marsalis where they plan to start construction on a multifamily development in the next few years.”
The deck park is just southeast of the popular Bishop Arts District neighborhood, where developers have recently built hundreds of new apartments plus additional retail and restaurant space.
And the properties planned for redevelopment are south of where investor Cienda Partners is developing the former Oak Farms Dairy tract and adjoining blocks between I-35 and Zang Boulevard.
Cienda Partners recently sold a high-profile tract off I-35 to Florida-based developer Related Group. Related Group is planning a more than 400-unit rental community on the site near Colorado Boulevard.
The increase in property buys near the Oak Cliff deck park site isn’t unprecedented.
Real estate values and development activity have soared in the last decade since the opening of the Klyde Warren Park on the north side of downtown Dallas in 2012. The 5.2-acre deck park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway links downtown with the fast-growing Uptown neighborhood.