This article originally appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of the DFW Real Estate Review. An excerpt has been reprinted below.
With a history dating back to the 19th century, The Cedars section south of Downtown Dallas was the home of stately mansions and cedar tree-lined streets. It has been reshaped into a place where loft living mixes with the Dallas Police headquarters and an influx of new businesses.
Bennett Miller is gone now but the Dallas urban pioneer — who bristled at being called a real estate developer — was the first to reimagine buildings in The Cedars when most people were avoiding this neighborhood situated on the southern fringe of downtown Dallas.
It was the early 1980s, and Miller bought several old buildings that he would convert into edgy urban lofts, starting a movement that would eventually gain steam and return Dallas’ oldest neighborhood to some of the vibrancy it enjoyed in its heyday. Today, the speed of development in The Cedars continues to increase as new development begets more.
In the 19th century, The Cedars was an enclave of stately Victorian homes and cottages for entrepreneurs, wealthy business leaders, and the city’s Jewish population, but as the years passed, it entered a period of decline. By the 1980s, The Cedars had become a blighted, gritty part of town that had transitioned from residential to heavy commercial and industrial uses. People avoided it.
Increased homelessness and crime plagued the area, but Miller saw its potential. He envisioned new uses for old buildings and saw the opportunity they presented to affordably house people near downtown. One of his most iconic developments was the transformation of the old American Beauty Mill flour plant into apartments offering dramatic views of the Dallas skyline.
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