News Article | 3/4/2006

House of Blues deal set

Downtown Dallas will soon be singing the blues.

Representatives from developer Hillwood Capital said Friday they have finalized a deal with the House of Blues to open a live-music venue on the edge of downtown.

The location? The historic White Swan building, at the crossroads of the West End and the Victory development.

“We have made a deal, and we’re working through some of the final details,” said Jonas Woods, president of Hillwood Capital. “We want them open ASAP.”

House of Blues representatives declined to reveal specifics of the deal, which they described as “not quite finalized.” They first considered opening in Dallas in 2000, but those plans didn’t materialize.

Said Jack Gannon, senior vice president of marketing: “We’re very excited about the Dallas market. The addition of a club is very attractive to us.”

House of Blues already promotes concerts at Smirnoff Music Centre.

Mr. Woods confirmed that House of Blues will be leasing the building on North Lamar Street and hopes to open its doors by late this year or early next year. The White Swan building is owned by Hillwood Development in partnership with Tomlinson-Leis Corp.

The deal came Friday afternoon after a closed-door meeting at City Hall, where House of Blues officials quizzed city planners and put the finishing touches on their plan.

Dallas director of development Theresa O’Donnell said the city has agreed to make some infrastructure changes, such as moving some curbs on North Lamar Street for easy tour-bus entry, to accommodate House of Blues’ needs.

“We are incredibly excited about being one of only two locations in Texas to bring this type of stellar, national-caliber entertainment venue,” Ms. O’Donnell said. “We think it’s a tremendous catalyst to re-energize the West End.” House of Blues plans to open in Houston in 2007.

City officials aren’t the only ones welcoming the House of Blues to Dallas. Mike Schoder, owner of the Granada Theater on Greenville Avenue, takes an optimistic, capitalist view on a House of Blues in Dallas: Any competition is good.

“It’s like fast-food restaurants, really: Put five or six of them together in one place, and all of them usually do good,” he said. “Dallas doesn’t have a lot of promoters, comparatively speaking, especially compared to places like Houston and Austin, so figuring out how to get people interested in the idea of going to see music will be key. And House of Blues is good at that.

“House of Blues has the financial backing to take chances with artists, such as ones that demand a sellout, that demand that you promote the show to make it sell out. It has the tools to wrap around that to make that happen through a lot of advertising, a lot of promotional techniques.”

David Card, owner of Poor David’s Pub on Lamar Street just south of downtown, was a bit more skeptical for the same reasons. Another big live-music player could threaten his and other locally owned venues.

“A venue of that stature and reputation will certainly … put Dallas a little more on the map for relevant acts,” he said. “It will help downtown. Will it help everyone downtown? Probably not. Will it put another nail in the coffin for Deep Ellum? Very possibly.”