Dallas Energy Square To Undergo Total Makeover And Compete With New Uptown Towers
One of North Dallas’ best-known business addresses dating back to the 1950s is getting a total makeover.
The more than 1 million-square-foot Energy Square development on North Central Expressway is home to more than 300 tenants and recently had a redo. But the Chicago development firm that bought Energy Square two years ago is about to launch its biggest changes in decades.
“We have the opportunities to connect these buildings into one big campus,” said owner GlenStar Properties’ principal, Matthew Omundson. “We think there is an opportunity to create something that doesn’t exist on Central Expressway.”
To do that, GlenStar and partner USAA Real Estate plan to spend more than $50 million reworking the 14-acre complex between North Central and Greenville Avenue.
Constructed on three levels, the three Energy Square towers and the historic Meadows Building next door will be connected on one level with a new park, pedestrian areas and a boulevard running through the middle of the development.
“In order to activate the project, we want to push everything to the same level and create a Main Street,” Omundson said. “Our front door is on Greenville, and right now, there’s a service entrance in the middle.
“We are going to try and create a real boulevard entrance.”
Architect Gensler did the new master plan for Energy Square, adding more tenant amenities, pedestrian areas and outdoor space. And, plans call for a new 10,000-square-foot fitness center next to the new park.
“It’s not an office building health club — it’s a first-class gym,” Omundson said. “We have 4,000-plus people working here — we can support that kind of facility.”
The developers also plan to construct an additional 10,000 to 15,000 square feet of retail space at Energy Square.
“With the additional amenities and retail, it will get a vitality it really hasn’t had,” Omundson said.
Energy Square got its start in 1974, when the 14-story original building was constructed on Greenville Avenue. It was popular with oil and gas companies, many of which were next door in the landmark Meadows Building.
A 16-story Energy Square tower was built in 1981 and another 16-story tower went up in 1986.
GlenStar and USAA paid an estimated $150 million for the three Energy Square towers, which were bought from a local partnership. Several months later, the owners acquired the historic Meadows Building.
Built in 1955, the Meadows was one of Dallas’ first suburban office properties. GlenStar has hired Dallas design firm Architexas to do a renovation and preservation of the nine-story building.
“It’s a unique building and we are putting a lot of money into it,” Omundson said. “When it’s done, it will be one of the most attractive spaces in Dallas.”
GlenStar plans to restore the Meadows Building’s mid-century features, including graphics that once adorned the top of the building.
The three Energy Square towers will get total makeovers.
“You will have new front entrances to every single building and new lobbies that will front this new central road,” Omundson said. “There will be new facades on the lower level.
“It will change the whole appearance of the project. If you are spending this kind of money, you have to bring the buildings up to first class.”
The complex is more than 90 percent leased, but GlenStar thinks it can attract even more businesses from properties in Uptown and nearby Preston Center that have seen rents skyrocket.
“We can create a project that can compete with the newest buildings and still be at a discount in rental rates,” he said.
Omundson said partner USAA plans a long-term ownership of the project.
“USAA Real Estate could not be more pleased to be part of this exciting renaissance of Energy Square and the Meadows Building,” Len O’Donnell, president and CEO, said in a statement. “There won’t be anything like it along Central Expressway.”
Architects at Gensler were challenged to knit together so many buildings from so many different eras.
“That’s one of the great things about it — the historical references,” said Gensler principal Gerald Gehm. “We are creating a nice intersection of activity in the center of the site. There will be much better access to the building entrances.”
Omundson said visitors to Energy Square get lost trying to find their way among the towers. And the adjoining DART station lacks a visible connection.
“Our DART station is literally onsite,” he said. “We have the best proximity to a DART rail stop outside of downtown.”
Work to renovate Energy Square and the Meadows Building will start in September and is expected to be wrapped up by the end of 2018.