Forest Theater, the empty and dilapidated property at 1918 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in South Dallas, has been named the recipient of The Real Estate Council Foundation’s first-ever Dallas Catalyst Project. The Forest Theater project, which includes a triangle-shaped trio of properties (including the theater, a retail center, and Cornerstone Baptist Church), will receive $1 million in grants over a three-year period, as well as professional services from TREC members and volunteers.
TREC Foundation chairman and Venture Commercial Real Estate Founding Principal and Managing Partner Mike Geisler announced the recipient at a TREC speaker series event Thursday morning. TREC members voted on finalists earlier in November.
The project, a joint venture between St. Philip’s School and Community Center, CitySquare, and Cornerstone Baptist Church, includes the renovation of the iconic theater, renovation of an adjacent 12,000-square-foot retail space, and exterior improvements to the church in an attempt to create community space using the overpass of Interstate 45.
Peter Simek explored the history of the Forest Theater in the October issue of D Magazine.
Two other finalists were also considered for the Dallas Catalyst Project, both of which were concentrated in South Dallas. N W Harlee Early Childhood Academy, Yvonne Ewell Townview Magnet Center, and Eloise Lundy Recreation Center entered a joint proposal to make home owning easier and renovate dilapidated homes in South Dallas through its Golden SEEDS Project. The Mill City Renaissance Project, a partnership of South Dallas Innercity Development Corp., Texas Trees Foundation, and North Texas Capacity Builders, entered a project to facilitate housing developments, home restoration, energy efficiency advancements, job creation, and the installation of trees and plants in public areas.
This announcement comes on the heels of another TREC initiative. The so-called “Shark Tank” event in early November mirrored ABC’s reality show by the same name and paired local investors with real estate-minded entrepreneurs that had ideas to improve South Dallas. The event resulted in more than $2.3 million in investment in Southern Dallas real estate developments.