Investors to redevelop former Honda dealership on East Division Street in Arlington

12/09/2013 5:34 PM

12/09/2013 5:36 PM

Three real estate investors, two of whom have done developments in Arlington, have bought the former Luke Honda dealership property on East Division Street with plans to turn it into a business park.

The group, Urban Union Llc., recently bought the 5-plus acres at Division and East streets running south to Front Street, from Van Tuyl Group, which acquired Luke Honda in 1998. Gilbert Luke started the Arlington dealership in 1937.

Van Tuyl changed its name to Vandergriff Honda and moved it to Interstate 20. Used-car dealers have since leased most of the Division Street property.

The deal includes six buildings totaling about 60,000 square feet, said one of the investors, Ryan Dodson of Dodson Development in Arlington. Other investors include Alan Petsche, who’s renovating the iconic Candlelite Inn on Division Street east of Collins Street, and Victor Erwin, vice president of business development at general contractor GL Barron in Fort Worth.

Dodson redeveloped Block 300, a popular nearby Abram Street destination that’s home to Flying Fish, Twisted Root and Hooligans Pub. Along with the redevelopment of the former Vandergriff auto property to the west, the projects have started a renaissance of downtown Arlington.

Dodson said the planned business park will move that redevelopment forward. He said it will be similar to Foch Street in Fort Worth, where owners took industrial buildings and turned them into a hip dining, shopping and office district. None of the buildings will be razed and the redevelopment will embrace the buildings’ Mid-Century architecture, Dodson said.

“We feel like there’s demand for creative office space,” Dodson said. “We’re working with architects right now and getting our details put together. It’s a really interesting group of buildings. It’s a natural redevelopment site.”

Tony Rutigliano, president of the booster organization Downtown Arlington Management Corp., said he sees nothing but success for the planned project.

“Ryan has done some great things downtown,” Rutigliano said. “He’s going to make it a really cool place for young professionals. Hopefully it will spur others along that corridor.”

Initially, the project will target office tenants needing 1,000 to 2,000 square feet of space, he said, and then restaurants. The business district will have access from Division Street but its entrance will be on Front Street, which makes it more pedestrian-friendly and within walking distance of nearby restaurants, he said.

Before beginning, the group needs to rezone the property so it has some flexibility on building uses and do some possible environmental work, Dodson said. They plan to ask the city for incentives, he said.

First to be redeveloped would be a 12,000-square-foot building at 500 E. Front St. and a 25,000-square-foot building at 500 E. Division St. The remainder would be redone as tenant leases expire, he said.

“It’s feasible we could start construction in about 12 months,” Dodson said.

Bill Bledsoe with Henry S. Miller represented the sellers in the deal.

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