Historic Braniff Building Was to Become Hotel; Now It’s For Sale

by SharonKurheg

Braniff International (previously known as Braniff International Airways and Braniff Airways, Inc., before that) was an airline that was in business from 1928 to 1982. It had hubs in Boston, Dallas/Fort Worth (1974-1982), Dallas-Love Field (1935-1975), Houston-Intercontinental, Kansas City, Lima, Los Angeles and Miami. The airline had secondary hubs in Denver-Stapleton, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York (JFK and LaGuardia) and Washington-Dulles

It was a well-known brand during the Golden Age of aviation, and, at its peak, Braniff Airways was one of the fastest growing and most profitable airlines in the U.S. Many Generation Xers and Baby Boomers still remember the Braniff experience fondly, especially their colorful liveries, like this one:

Simple Flying gives a fascinating history of the airline.

In 1968, the airline built Braniff International’s Hostess College in Dallas. Located at 2801 Wycliff Ave., and adjacent to the Dallas North Tollway, the building was used as a dormitory and training center for flight attendants (called “Hostesses” at the time). Hostesses (and, from 1973 onward, male Hosts) would spend six weeks living at the Hostess College, learning how to provide passengers with the best experience possible. In addition to the rooms where they would live and sleep, the college had classrooms, a mock-up airplane cabin for training purposes, a pool table, and other forms of entertainment.

One of the most distinctive features of the building was the circular fireplace room on the first floor.  It was called the “Dream Parlor” (and sometimes the “Braniff Passion Pit”) and was the designated spot where women could visit with boyfriends, husbands, and other family because those guests weren’t allowed up to the rooms.

PC: Braniff

In 1974, Braniff abandoned the building when it consolidated all of its training at Love Field.

Dresser Industries, an oil services company, purchased the college as a “leadership center” in 1975. But the story goes that the petite beds made for Hostessess-in-training were too small for the company’s oilmen. So the building was sold to a company that planned to convert it into a drug rehab center.

Eventually, in 1999, the building was reimagined as the Park Gate Retirement Home, where it remained open for 16 years.

However Greenway Investment Co., a Dallas-based real estate investment firm, bought the building in 2015, and so Park Gate permanently shut its doors. At the time, Greenway wasn’t sure exactly what they were going to do with the property.

The former Braniff International’s Hostess College changed hands yet again in the late 2010s. The new owner, MM Property Holdings, Inc. (a.k.a. Centurion American Development Group), planned to turn the building into a boutique hotel (MM Property Holdings had already restored the Statler Hilton Hotel in downtown Dallas in 2018). But not ANY boutique hotel – this one was going to be Braniff themed.

You see, Braniff, the airline, went out of business in 1982. But Braniff the intellectual property never really went away. And Braniff Airways chairman Richard Ben Cass signed a deal with MM Property Holdings in November, 2020 so the property could become a 75-room luxury hotel with 75 rooms, a pool, restaurant, and Braniff branding including a Braniff-themed gift shop. That would’ve been SO FLIPPIN’ COOL! It was scheduled to open in 2022.

In March, 2021, the building was listed in the National Park Service National Register of Historic Places, further guaranteeing the building’s future.

In May, 2021, the building was still reported by local media as being scheduled to open as a boutique hotel in 2022.

In May, 2022, Braniff International wrote on Facebook:

IF YOU WERE WONDERING WHEN OUR NEW BRANIFF HOTEL IS SUPPOSED TO OPEN – Read this. City internal problems have caused a year plus delay in the opening of the new Braniff Hotel in the Oaklawn area of Dallas, Texas. The City now believes it should soon have these problems remedied at least by next year! We still have one permit left and then work can begin!!
Braniff International Hotels, Inc.
Braniff Airways, Incorporated

The post included a link to Dallasnews.com, with the title of Dallas Building Permit Delays Could Be Solved by Next Year, City Officials Say.

And since then, we’ve anxiously waited…and waited…and…waited…for more news about the Braniff-themed hotel.

It turns out there was some news earlier this year, and unfortunately, we missed it. Even more unfortunately, it’s not good news.

The building is for sale again…and has been since February of this year. Here’s the listing.

If it helps any, Braniff Airways Chairman Richard Ben Cass was as surprised as the rest of us.

“All of us at Braniff were saddened to learn that the former Braniff Hostess College is apparently back on the market,” he told CultureMap.

The 60,000-square-foot property is listed for sale with Davidson Bogel Real Estate, which describes the property as an “Uptown redevelopment opportunity.”

“The property remains a landmark to this day with tremendous frontage on the Dallas North Tollway and the proximity to Uptown, downtown Dallas and Dallas Love Field Airport,” according to the real estate firm’s marketing pitch.

The building will apparently come with its licensing agreement intact – so I guess we’ll need to keep our fingers crossed that whoever buys it will also want to turn it into a Braniff Hotel.

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