Westdale Will Take Over Most Of Its Parking To Build A Fourth Epic Tower, But The Iconic Club Will Stay. Oh, And Its Owners Just Purchased It’ll Do, Too.
After a brief scare, it turns out that Dallas’ Lizard Lounge — the 28-year-old nightlife and dance institution on the edge of Deep Ellum — will keep on thumping for a few more years after all.
In fact, its ownership brand will be actually be expanding.
In July, the massive Deep Ellum property management firm Westdale Asset Management purchased the land upon which the famed nightclub sits, throwing Lizard Lounge’s future in question. With the venue’s lease set on the property previously set to expire at the end of 2019, the move seemingly indicated plans from Westdale to develop the property in tandem with its efforts at the across-the-street The Epic complex, which made headlines in August as the future Dallas home of a new hub for the rideshare giant, Uber.
Uber’s entry into Deep Ellum will still undoubtedly affect Lizard Lounge’s future in some capacity, but after signing a new lease agreement with Westdale last week, Lizard Lounge co-owner Don Nedler is confident that his brand will be able to continue operating as it has for decades, in the same location, for at least a few more years.
Westdale’s immediate concerns, Nedler says, are less centered around Lizard Lounge’s building than its parking, a large chunk of which it will immediately take over. In the coming weeks and months, 40 to 50 parking spots that were once dedicated to Lizard Lounge clientele will be set up as part of a “shared use agreement” to be used as a staging area for the construction efforts surrounding an Uber-accommodating fourth high-rise that’s being built within The Epic. With no firm development plans yet in place for the property beyond that, Westdale and Lizard Lounge have been able to come to terms on a new month-to-month lease with a 120-day termination clause. Based on talks with Westdale, which Nedler says was “slow but honest and good to deal with” throughout negotiations, Lizard Lounge should be able to continue as it has for the foreseeable future thanks to this new deal, which will see its east self-parking lot mostly taken over but will find its west valet lot largely untouched.
“It’s ironic that Uber is taking all my parking spots, isn’t it?” Nedler asks, laughing. “It was kind of a you-can-stay-but-under-these-conditions situation, but if it meant we could stay on Swiss Avenue, then that was worth it for us. Now, we’re confident that we’ll see our 30th anniversary here.”
The club’s long-term future beyond that, Nedler points out, is as much up to Westdale and Uber as it is to the city, whose plans to build a subway route near the club’s property could just as likely force its closure one day.
Between that and other possibilities surrounding Uber’s plans, Nedler and his team have been working on contingency plans over the course of the past few months. To that end, Nedler and his longtime Lizard Lounge cohort Leo Del Hierro have recently completed the purchase of the east-of-Deep-Ellum dance club It’ll Do, including its intellectual property, from Dallas nightlife impresario Brooke Humphries.
“We bought It’ll Do because we love the history and heritage,” Nedler says. “Plus, it’s just a cool space. We love the room — it’s just a perfect room for house and techno music.”
It’ll Do joins Lizard Lounge and a stake in the Deep Ellum venue The Nines within Nedler’s portfolio. His immediate plans at It’ll Do will center around cosmetic upgrades. By 2020, Nedler hopes to get the historic space back to a regular Thursday, Friday and Saturday night open schedule. In the future, he could see adding a Sunday night event to those plans, and perhaps even a mid-week goth-industrial night to pair with Lizard Lounge’s long-running Sunday night weekly, The Church.
Says Nedler: “We just want to book talent and do what It’ll Do has always done under Brooke, who really did a great job of branding it and setting it up for success.”
Having gone from possibly losing Lizard Lounge to extending its life and bringing It’ll Do into the fold, Nedler has had a turbulent past few months. But, that stretch finally behind him and his team, he’s once again excited about the possibilities that Dallas’ nightlife future holds.
“I’m very happy,” Nedler says. “You could say we’re thrilled.”
Cover photo via Lizard Lounge’s Facebook.