[This article was originally posted by at dallasinnovates.com on September 5, 2019.]
The mixed-use creative development in Oak Cliff was the brainchild of new urbanist pioneer Monte Anderson. As one tenant puts it: “I don’t know of anything like it in Dallas or really any other city.”
BY PAYTON POTTER • SEP 5, 2019
Three years in the making, Tyler Station—housed in the former Dixie Wax Paper Co. building—has settled into its new life in Oak Cliff, Its diverse roster of tenants are reaping the benefits. The mixed-use “collaborative village” is an eclectic home that brings together artisans, craftsmen, creatives, and entrepreneurs.
It’s a new kind of community—the brainchild of new urbanist pioneer Monte Anderson, who saw potential in the industrial building that was originally built in 1925. Anderson, whose transformations include the renovation of the Belmont Hotel, saw the old brick warehouse as a destination that could serve as a business incubator.
It’s come a long way since 2017, when more than 500 “genuinely curious” people got a firsthand look at the repurposed wax paper plant on Polk Street in the heart of Southern Dallas.
Today, it’s at 100 percent occupancy.
[Photo: Courtesy Tyler Station]
It’s a space for startups of every stripe with office space, light manufacturing, and retail, Anderson says, who’s also the president and owner of Options Real Estate and a managing partner of Tyler Station.
Anchored by coworking joint Wax Space, Tyler Station now has a broad range of tenants—from shops and service businesses to nonprofits and craft beer brewers.
READ NEXT Look Inside: Tyler Station is now full to the brim with entrepreneurs. See what makes the collaborative village one-of-a-kind with our photo gallery.
Anderson says the greatest asset Tyler Station brings its tenants is a penchant for collision, fueled by humans’ most primal desires: shelter, social connection, and reproduction. And with Tyler Station now at full capacity, the odds of that collision are greater than ever.
The impact is already visible in the collaboration between a number of entrepreneurs based there.
Tenants like The TX Studio’s Doug Klembara attest to that: “I don’t know of anything like it in Dallas or really any other city.” It’s historic and architecturally inspiring, with a nod to Anderson’s “vision,” he notes. And, he says it’s the people who make it a place to be.
Tyler Station in 2019. [Photo: Courtesy Tyler Station]
Anderson says he often passed by the building that’s now Tyler Station, but it wasn’t until five to eight years ago that he contacted the building’s owner—at first, just to help her sell it.
Anderson’s background in real estate has allowed him to help broker a number of leases for commercial tenants, budding entrepreneurs, and creative professionals. Despite his experience though, he says he had a hard time garnering interest, partly because the site was contaminated from years of manufacturing.
[Photo: Tyler Station/Facebook]
So, he and his partners teamed up and bought the old warehouse building in 2016, dedicating themselves to “turn it into something.”
Today, the 110,000-square-foot building spans two floors and is occupied by some 60 diverse businesses, ranging from a tattoo parlor to a Baptist church. But that’s part of its charm.
According to Anderson, Tyler Station “became this ball of momentum rolling down the hill.” The building’s popularity skyrocketed and began securing leases with aplomb.
As prospective tenants piled up, Anderson and his partners worked to create niche, outfitted spaces to meet the needs of each occupant. They adjusted the sizes, implemented running water, and enclosed certain areas.
Tyler Station caters to a wide range of businesses, small and large, including Oak Cliff Brewing Co. [Photo: Courtesy Tyler Station]
“We’re doing something that’s social and community-oriented,” he says. “At the same time, we’re capitalists, so we have to make money. I found if I shrink the space down small enough, I can get a high rate per square foot—which is what I need—and yet keep the dollars down for the occupants.”
TAKE A (PHOTO) TOUR: Look inside Oak Cliff’s Tyler Station
A quick walk-through of Tyler Station reveals its secret to success: Enclosed office spaces that give occupants peace of mind without limiting communication.
Most of the square rooms are made from a combination of wood and metal fencing, allowing passersby to look inside or have a chat with a specific business owner. The walls of the grids were made by Stash Design, a firm specializing in repurposed and salvaged materials for interior and exterior design and decorative purposes. Stash Design was one of Tyler Station’s first tenants.
[Photo: Dana McCurdy]
As a result of Tyler Station’s high ceilings and limited privacy, Anderson says it sometimes gets noisy and distracting. But that’s part of what makes it work.
“The benefits of not being perfectly quiet far outweigh [the distractions],” he says. “We can see each other working. And if we can see each other working, we can hear each other working. Then we can begin to collaborate.”
People, not products
Anderson is a helper at heart, and only when pressed did he admit he often invests his time and money in entrepreneurs he believes in, many of whom rent space from him at Tyler Station and other developments.
“I’m always trying to get the artists and the craftsmen to own real estate so they can build wealth and get a piece of the action,” he says.
For Anderson, investments are usually small, consisting of loaning someone a little money to get their business off the ground or making a down-payment on office space. Sometimes he doesn’t even collect interest on the loans. Although his generosity is doled out on a case-by-case basis, he’s been known to cosign for loans, too.
What makes him different from other investors, he says, is he has no interest in long-term, high-interest loans, nor in having equity in a company or entrepreneur: “Eventually, I want you to get rid of me.”
Social innovation at the core
Because Anderson believes strongly in connecting people to influence positive change, he also encourages the occupants in Tyler Station to invest in their communities. And, that’s paying off.
Wood and metalworkers with manufacturing facilities in Tyler Station sometimes employ what Anderson calls “housing-challenged” workers. There’s also a provided travel trailer behind the station to give them a safe place to stay.
“Under the right set of circumstances, they could have been homeless—and have been homeless before,” he says.
Anderson has been called a green-leaning developer, and Tyler Station has a variety of green features. But, Anderson stresses the largest “green” hurdle was salvaging the building itself.
“Instead of demolishing the building and putting the rubble in a landfill, we partnered with the city of Dallas and Recycle Revolution to recycle and reuse the commercial materials removed from the building. Over 350,000 pounds of material have been recycled,” he told Green Source DFW.
That’s “something many people overlook as an eco-friendly approach,” Anderson said. “We recycled the building, we recycle our trash, we are capturing rainwater, we are walkable, bikeable, and are located on a light rail station.”
Monte Anderson at Tyler Station in 2017. [Photo: Dave Moore]
Tyler Station, which is located on the red line at the Tyler/Vernon DART station, embraces access of all kinds. DART’s light rail system opened in 1996, and at the time, there was no need for a pedestrian connection to the old wax warehouse.
A wall was built to separate the former industrial-use building from the station. That’s something that may change to make the access more user-friendly for the community.
Earlier this year, plans were discussed to remove sections of the wall while preserving the art on it, Tyler’s Property Manager Tara Stargrove told the Elmwood Neighborhood Association in Oak Cliff. The wall incorporates a four-panel mural titled “A Community Honored” by Judith Inglesa. It depicts a concept of community combined with intricate images of nature and Texas’ diverse ecological communities.
Zakti, a specialty tea distributor based within Tyler Station, recently had firsthand experience with the benefits of working in the collaborative workspace. Pamela Miller of Zakti says she was inspired to roll out a line of CBD tea after meeting the proprietors of Rawsome, a new CBD retailer in Tyler Station.
“I started learning about CBD, and I started taking CBD oil,” Miller says. “And I started thinking, ‘What if we combined it?’ So it started out as our mini R&D department.”
Miller says she can’t use Rawsome’s CBD products in her teas because they’re oil-based, but it was the collision of their businesses that inspired her to create CBD tea. She now sells a variety of refrigerated teas ranging from 20 to 40 milligrams of CBD dosage.
Anderson says he knows collaboration comes from an entrepreneurial drive to solve problems together. He’s just grateful to be able to cultivate a place for that to happen.
Dallas Innovates had its own creative collision with Tyler Station last December, when we shot the cover and feature layout for our Dallas Innovates annual magazine. Photographer and Tyler tenant Skyler Fike came to the rescue when unavoidable traffic delayed one of our photographers on a time-sensitive shoot. Fike shot our 26 Innovators feature while Creative Director Michael Samples shot the cover in the industrial building’s wide-open spaces. (You can check out their handiwork here.)
Like Anderson says, “It’s about the people. It’s not about the buildings. It doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is what customers think, what the people here think.”
Check it out
Tyler Station hosts First Thursdays each month. The open house brings artisans, musicians, craftsmen, food trucks, and customers together on the first Thursday of every month from 6 to 10 p.m. Tyler Station is located at 1300 S. Polk St.
Quincy Preston contributed to this report. This article was updated with additional information on Sept. 7, 2019, at 10:36 a.m, and Sept. 15, 2019 at 3:24 p.m.
For July’s Monthly Spotlight, we’re turning our attention to Main Station, located in the heart of Duncanville at 100 S Main St. Built in 2003 at 23,000 SF, this mixed-use property features residential lofts over first-level retail spaces, high visibility and bikable & walkability to area amenities.
Right now, we have both a first-floor retail/office space and a residential loft available for lease, making it the perfect 1-2 work/play combo for you if you’re looking to stay close to your burgeoning business. Of course, both spaces are available individually.
At 769 SF with a lease rate of $22 SF/yr, the first-floor retail space is perfect for a boutique store. Your neighbors would include Rice Pot, Roma’s Italian Bistro, and 3R Cigars with personal services including a salon, fitness training, and an occupational health office.
If you’re looking for a roomy loft in the middle of Duncanville with easy access to both Hwy 67 & I-20 for just $1,100 per month, then you’ll want to check upstairs at Loft #227. Measuring in at 1,027 SF, this open concept loft features a balcony. And as easy as it is to access the area’s major highways, you’re 2 blocks from Armstrong Park and also just a 5-minute drive to some of south Dallas county’s most breathtaking outdoor space at Cedar Ridge Preserve and Cedar Hill State Park. This apartment will be ready for you to move in September 1.
At Options Real Estate, we believe in the continued development of south Dallas county, whether it’s through new, local businesses or creating walkable, bustling living spaces for Texans.
If either of these spaces seems like the perfect opportunity for your next adventure, contact Monte Anderson at Options Real Estate at email@example.com or learn more here.
Tyler Station was created with the intention of redeveloping the old Dixie Wax Paper plant into a neighborhood collaborative workplace for everyone. As new urbanists and preservationists, we saw a really good opportunity to connect a mix of commercial uses, a commuter rail station and a neighborhood together. That is why we are honored to be included in D Magazine’s June issue in a profile from Shelby Hartness.
Options Real Estate President Monte Anderson knew that he wanted to restore the historic Dixie Wax Paper building but even in 2015 when he began the journey, he didn’t envision a Tyler Station that would be 100% occupied with entrepreneurs, brewers, artists and more in its more than 110,000 square feet.
“I imagined a manufacturing facility with welders, carpenters, bookkeepers, advertising professionals, fitness centers, places to eat and drink and then the twist, 50 different companies.”
But if you’ve been to Tyler Station, you know that putting that many companies in one space has created an environment where people are able to bounce ideas off of each other and create a real community under the same roof.
“People at Tyler Station are encouraged to interact,” Hartness writes. “Retail shops on the first floor have walls of grid wire, which allow passersby and occupants to see one another and say hi. Much of the work was done by locals and tenants of the building..”
If you’re interested in learning more about Tyler Station in Oak Cliff, be sure to check out D Magazine’s article online or in its June issue available now. And if you want to check out Tyler Station and its dedication to the past and future of Dallas for yourself, it’s only a short DART Rail Red Line ride to the Tyler/Vernon Station.
Come see us this weekend or during our monthly First Thursday event.
Incremental Development Alliance is planning to hold a Small Developers Bootcamp this year in Greensboro.
Jim Kumon has big ideas for small developments.
That’s the gospel he preaches as executive director of the Incremental Development Alliance, a Minnesota-based group that promotes what’s called “small-scale developments.”
Not familiar with the concept? I wasn’t either before meeting Kumon recently during his visit to Greensboro, a second trip to the city as he works to plan a Small Developer Bootcamp in the city later this year.
Through their group, Kumon and his partners promote a creative approach to smaller developments that mix retail, office and residential within existing residential areas of a city.
He’s not talking about tearing down a block of single-family homes to build a strip mall populated with a string of 2,000-square-foot storefronts and an expansive parking lot.
He’s not after the multi-million-dollar retail center populated with anchor tenants that require customers to drive there to shop.
Instead, he and his partners, John Anderson and Monte Anderson, help those seeking to enter the development field find project designs that can fit into a small scale and can often be financed through a conventional home mortgage.
The approach allows residents to make an investment to bring amenities into their neighborhoods by creating small retail and entertainment hubs, while providing developers-to-be the ability to begin to build wealth through small-scale projects.
“We need more buildings that can be commercial and be residential and be retail and be small places where you can do minor light industrial,” Kumon told me. “We need buildings that actually can do more things so that when times change, we don’t end up with single-use, throwaway buildings.”
Using the concept of letting the form follow the financing, Kumon and his partners have come up with a design for a four-plex with roughly 4,000 square feet with three apartments and ground-floor retail.
Such a building would fall under the definition of “house,” assuming the owner initially lives there for a set period, and therefore would qualify for a traditional 30-year mortgage, Kumon said.
That provides the small-scale developer a longer time to cover the loan, and it allows for streams of revenue to help cover the monthly mortgage payments, he said.
Kumon points to the intersection of Elam and Walker avenues in Greensboro as a prime example where retail, restaurant and office space can be integrated into residential communities.
“Right now, that area is serving multiple neighborhoods,” Kumon said. “It’s punching way above its weight class.”
Kumon first became interested in Greensboro through Ryan Saunders, an entrepreneur and real estate broker who heads the Create Your City initiative designed to cultivate communitywide artistic and cultural ventures.
Saunders says he’s always thought of Greensboro as a city of villages, with communities like the Walker-Elam, State Street, Fisher Park, Spring Garden and Aycock neighborhoods.
Saunders convinced Kumon to visit Greensboro, and earlier this month set up meetings with city staff including Reggie Delahanty, small business coordinator, and Kathy Dubel, economic and small business development manager, to talk about ways the city can foster small-scale development.
“We have to look at each of our neighborhoods as their own self-sustaining modules,” Saunders said.
That means bringing many of the offerings — restaurants, coffee shops, groceries — into the neighborhood on a small scale so that people can walk to them instead of hopping in their cars, and fostering those investments from within, Kumon and Saunders said.
The next step is to work toward a Small Developer Bootcamp in Greensboro sometime this fall.
The Incremental Development Alliance has conducted seven bootcamps so far and worked with about 1,000 people in cities including Louisville, Dallas, Portland, Ore., and Kalamazoo, Mich.
The one-day workshop, which costs about $200, helps introduce those interested in pursuing small-scale development to the concept and gives them tools to navigate the path to securing financing, receiving permitting and zoning approval and fashioning their projects.
The idea is for it to be an ongoing relationship, not just a one-day event, Kumon said.
“We follow up with weekend workshops — how to get those different pieces completed,” Kumon said. “We want to reward places that are already thinking progressively about trying to change the rules.”