Makers’ utopia: The real estate development giving entrepreneurs a leg up

The next big shopping arena in Oak Cliff is the size of a Walmart plus a CVS store.

It’s huge, but it’s no big box.

Tyler Station, adjacent to DART’s Tyler/Vernon station, is a developer’s mixed-use dream in a 125,000-square-foot former factory.

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Monte Anderson bought the building that once housed Dixie Wax Paper Co. — an early mass producer of wax paper and other food packaging — after selling the Belmont Hotel in 2015.

He and partner Gary Buckner of Stash Design began renovating the massive industrial building soon after. They had about 250 tons of smokestack equipment removed from the roof. The roof work alone cost them about $400,000. Prior to that, the building was dangerous and uninhabitable; it flooded any time it rained and was full of critters and infested with mosquitoes.

Now Tyler Station, originally constructed in 1922, is positioned to become the home of a brewery, a coffee roaster, a martial arts studio, a movement studio, creative agencies and more.

Besides Stash Design, there already is Kickstand Media, which is collaborating with Telegraph Creative to form a co-working space called Wax Space, a tribute to the original occupant.

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Oak Cliff Brewing Co., expected to open as soon as this summer, took a huge chunk of the building’s second story. That’ll be totally separate from the rest of the floor for sanitary reasons. But the remainder, thousands of square feet, is planned as an open concept where shops, agencies and studios can see into one another’s spaces. It also allows light to flow throughout the space.

“It’s open air, so they can get to know each other and collaborate,” Anderson says. “We’re creating an environment where they can all work together.”

Storefronts will line the former loading dock, just across from the DART rail. These shops, from entrepreneurs and small makers, will have front doors along the dock, but inside, they’ll also be open, separated by metal “cages,” Anderson says.

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Entrepreneurs and small businesses — they also want to attract lawyers, accountants and other professional services — can rent space for as little as $400 a month, which includes fiber optic internet service.

Taking an enormous space inside the first floor of the complex, Buckner’s Stash Design already has begun to expand its business creating unique furniture and fixtures for restaurants and other commercial spaces. They also have begun working with Dallas Designing Dreams to offer space to disabled makers who can produce things that can be sold. Stash already has identified niches in their market that other makers could fill. To that end, Southwest Airlines is donating tons of leather and other supplies that could be used to upholster bar stools, for example.

It’s great to create art and other work for one’s own satisfaction. But the goal for Tyler Station is to become a space where individuals from all over southern Dallas could earn money by making things.

When they apply for a space, the building owners won’t be concerned with their financials.

“What we’re looking for is skill,” Anderson says. “We’ll help you from there.”

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  • Amazing ideas. Thanks to these guys for recognizing the uniqueness of Oak Cliff and taking this risk instead of going the easier route of turning the building into loft apartments or tearing it all down to build a CVS. Props!