Jarrell Co. Plans Renovation

The Jarrell Co. warehouse will become tenant showrooms. (Photo: Imani Chet Lytle)

The retro roto-sphere sign across Central Expressway from SMU may no longer rotate and blink, but the tall Dallas landmark still identifies a showroom of high-end appliances, plumbing, and decorative hardware.

Soon names identifying showrooms of other home improvement companies could join the Jarrell Company on the iconic sign.

“The top of the roto-sphere is 98 feet, so it’s way up there,” said architect Robert Kilduff.

Kilduff is working with the Jarrell Company on plans for transforming the 1960s building at 2651 Fondren Drive in University Park into a center for similar companies.

The Jarrell Company has operated at its original location between SMU and University boulevards since its founding in 1964 but changed ownership in 2014. Under Zane Butter, Eric Neel, and Morris Wells, the company has gotten larger, adding a Grapevine location, according to jarrellco.com.

The owners intend to continue using nearly half of the Fondren Drive building, about 21,000 square feet, as a Jarrell Company showroom, but convert the remaining 22,000 square feet of warehouse into spaces suitable for commercial tenants, Kilduff said.

A starting date for the renovations is unknown. Inquiries were referred to Neel, who did not return phone calls before press time.

The University Park City Council has already waived requirements for adding 77 onsite parking spaces as part of the project and granted permission to add new signs for future tenants.

Community development director Patrick Baugh assured council members that the type of showrooms planned wouldn’t generate enough activity to require more than the 69 on-site spaces already there.

“Lord knows we don’t need any more parking problems,” Mayor Olin Lane said.

The future of the roto-sphere hasn’t been determined, Kilduff said.

According to roadsidearchitecture.com, the sphere, originally painted reddish-orange with yellow arms, hasn’t rotated for years and its neon has been removed. Plans in 2013 for a full restoration didn’t go forward, the website says.

If the new owners want to restore it, they will need to come back to the city for permitting, Baugh said. But he speculated they could have a grandfathered right to do so as a maintenance matter.

“As iconic as that sign is, it probably qualifies historically, too,” council member Taylor Armstrong said.

Renderings show plans for updating the Jarrell Company building and converting former warehouse space into store fronts for other showrooms. (KBA Design)

William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at [email protected]. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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