TAC Air FBO At Dallas Love Field Braniff Centre Gets Attention Of Dallas Real Estate Market
Here’s what developers are planning at Braniff Airways old digs at Love Field
by Steve Brown, Real Estate Editor | DallasNews.com
When Braniff Airways opened its new operations center at Love Field in 1958, crowds of people came to tour the three-level building on Lemmon Avenue. Braniff’s base was even bigger than the new Love Field passenger terminal across the tarmac. The ultra modern building had offices in front and hangars out back that were oversized to accommodate the new Boeing 707 “jet liners” Dallas’ hometown airline was just putting into service.
Back in the day, more than 2,500 Braniff workers were based out of the Lemmon Avenue complex, which was hailed as “the newest, most modern aviation plant of its kind in the nation.” For more than a decade, the big metal and glass buildings on the east side of Love Field have sat crumbling. Now, a $140 million redevelopment project is turning Braniff’s old digs into a mixed-use development.
Work crews have begun dismantling much of the mid-century modern building to transform it into a new retail, office and aviation center. “I think every neighbor around there will be grateful for what we are doing and the partnership we put together to pull this off,” said Dallas businessman and auto dealer Randall Reed, who’s spent more than five years trying to resurrect the old Braniff complex.
Reed has brought in Dallas developer Lincoln Property, Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones and aviation company The Arnold Cos. to head the project. “It’s taken a lot of vision to see what this could be and step up and do it,” said Reed, who will locate his Lincoln dealership and offices on part of the property that once housed the Legend Air terminal and parking. Designed by noted international architects William Pereira and Charles Luckman and local designer Mark Lemmon, Braniff’s old Love Field home was threatened with demolition. Local preservationists and Braniff alums led the fight to get the buildings designated a national landmark
“It has historical significance,” Reed said. “At the time we really didn’t understand the architect's background and the history. If we wanted to move forward with this project we had to figure out a way to renovate it.” The project redevelopers have preserved the front of the old buildings facing Lemmon. Out back where the hangars and maintenance facilities were, the building has been carved up to create a huge internal court.
“The center of the building has already been removed,” said Tad Perryman, Vice President with The Arnold Cos. “We have to keep as much of the original appearance as possible. “The Texas Historical Commission has been part of the whole process.” The Arnold Cos’ TAC Air subsidiary is taking about 200,000 square feet of the complex for a commercial aviation center that will offer private hangars, an executive terminal and concierge and valet services.
“This sets us up in a flagship location,” Perryman said. “We had a great opportunity to develop something for business aviation.” Ohio-based Flexjet LLC is also moving its Dallas-area operations to the 26- acre complex Braniff Centre. The fractional jet ownership company will move workers into 32,000 square feet of offices and open a private terminal and 60,000-square-foot maintenance hangar. On the front of the building facing Lemmon, restaurant and retail space will be set aside. And part of the three-level glass and steel entry building will house offices.
“We are getting interest from creative and design firms,” said Arnold Cos.’ Director of Investments Casey Park. “It’s going to be very Braniff-centric. There will be exhibits.”
Michael Graves of Gravity Co. and architect Burns & McDonnell have worked on the design of the project. He said the developers are looking at the possibility of adding an office building on a vacant site at the south end of the property.
“Our goal is to provide the community with mixed-use opportunities, not just aviation,” Perryman said. “It’s really going to change this stretch of Lemmon Avenue.”
The first sections of Braniff Centre will start opening next year, 60 years after the complex held its grand opening.