“The punch line for me is that it has to have a DNA,” says Mike Ablon, principal and founding partner of PegasusAblon, while describing what makes the Design District a neighborhood. “That’s what really matters. If you can tell that something has a DNA, then it exists. Until you can tell somebody what the DNA is, it doesn’t exist. And that goes for people and it goes for cities.”
Ablon was seated next to David Spence, founder of Good Space, who was seated next to Scott Rohrman, founder and owner of 42 Real Estate, in the boardroom of Crow Interest’s Old Parkland. With a warm fire at their backs and Lincoln’s death mask on a windowsill on their right, Ablon, Rohrman, and Spence answered D CEO executive editor Christine Perez’s questions about the work they’ve done in Dallas the past few years. The group touched on the history of the Design District (Ablon’s project until Wednesday, when it was announced PegasusAblon had sold its share), Deep Ellum (where Rohrman owns 39 properties), and the Bishop Arts District (Spence’s area of focus), before discussing the role they play in their respective neighborhoods.
When Rohrman first went into Deep Ellum, he was told he wasn’t wanted. “I wear button downs,” he says. “I don’t have any tattoos.” That’s when he had to ask his company: was 42 Real Estate going to impress its developer mindset on Deep Ellum? Or would 42 Real Estate let the community have a say? “We tried to open up a canvas and let the community paint it. We have a few guiding principles, but they’re very few and far in between. … We’re working on being a part of the community. We consider it a community endeavor not a real estate endeavor.”Full Story