An Afternoon with Urban Pioneer David Spence

Recently I spent an afternoon at Good Space, the 14-year-old development company founded by David Spence. Good Space takes historic old buildings in the Bishop Arts area of Oak Cliff, restores them, then leases them out. Spence's company has three full-time employees who office in the beautifully restored Good Space building. When there's a restoration project, the team swells to 40 or more contract workers including local artisans and craftspeople. There's a workshop in back, where some of the work is done. Check out the Google Maps photo of the building

The Good Space offices are a good example of what the company does. This gorgeous old Depression-era auto garage has a story behind it, like many of the properties Spence restores. 

These beautiful, rustic decorative wood doors were the once working garage doors for the back of the garage.

Here's a photo of the garage during the 1930s, with the wood doors, painted, in the background. The man who owned the garage lived nearby, and these might be his children. Spence, who moved to Oak Cliff in the early 90s with his wife, after getting his law degree from Chapel Hill, N.C., has raised his family in Oak Cliff.

The entry hall in Good Space is lined with a dozen or more black and white photos of Bishop Arts like this one, back in the day.

Spence gave me a tour of the area in his Jeep, laden with ladders and buckets and construction stuff. This apartment building, which isn't owned by Good Space, is on Bishop Ave. It's said to be the first apartment building in Dallas, and it is in remarkably good shape, don't you think?

There are more and more Good Space signs like this going up. This is the exterior of the newly renovated Kemp Garage, which is for lease. Davis Street boasts many automobile garages that date back to the Model A.

Most of the original materials and details are intact, only spruced up, such as the old tin ceiling and concrete floors.
Like all of Good Space's properties, the old buildings have been made energy efficient. These windows open for cross ventilation.
A rainspout funnels rainwater onto the landscaping below. 

Read more about the Kemp garage here.

Settles garage, another Model A-era auto garage on Davis redone by Spence, now houses popular Bolsa restaurant downstairs. 
Good Space kept many of the elements from the original garage owned by old man Settles, such as these rusted iron widgets, which have become decorative details.

Upstairs are offices, including hat maker Cassie MacGregor.

The hallway upstairs in Settles garage has all these framed mechanical drawings of old cars like this one. Pretty great.

Downstairs in Bolsa!
David Spence and I eating lunch. Everything at Bolsa is fresh -- there's no room for a freezer. My simple green tomato sandwich and salad combo ($10) was absolutely delicious. 

A parting table detail. Stay tuned for more from my tour of Bishop Arts, later in the week. (Spence told me that yesterday's Mardi Gras parade drew 3,000 people!)