Beloved Arlington developer earns nod for revitalizating old buildings
Developers tend to view the world as a place to tear down and build anew. But Arlington resident and longtime financial visionary Alan Petsche often has different ideas in mind.
"A love for, and a respect of history," he calls it.
Petsche is the man responsible for thoughtful projects such as the restoration and reopening of Arlington's famous Candlelite Inn, the 1957 restaurant said to have served the first pizza in town; and Joe's Radiator Service, a 1963 structure at 200 N. East St. in Arlington that's now home to pizzeria Cane Rosso.
For those efforts, Petsche was named the 2023 Dream Builder by the Downtown Arlington Management Corp., who presented the award at the Arlington association’s annual meeting and luncheon on September 20.
“A restored building has memories in its walls. You hear and feel them,” Petsche said as he recounted a Candelight memory. “You know what kids? Your grandma and grandad had their first date here. Same booth we’re in now!”
The award honors individuals who've contributed to revitalizing downtown Arlington; previous recipients include developer Ryan Dodson, whose Dodson Commercial Real Estate did the Urban Union development in Arlington, and former Arlington mayor Jeff Williams.
From left: John Arnot from DAMC, Alan Petsche, Maggie Campbell DAMC President/CEO, and Jim Minge, Texas Trust Credit UnionDAMC
A long-time resident of Arlington and graduate of Lamar High School and UTA, Petsche has a legacy of building successful businesses and helping others in the community. He was only nine when he began working for his father, who started the A.E. Petsche Company in the family garage. Petsche eventually became the COO of the family business, which served the aerospace industry for more than 40 years before it was sold in 2009.
A release calls him a "serial entrepreneur" who has owned and operated an eclectic variety of businesses ranging from a comic book store he started in high school to a computer company, commercial real estate organizations, and restaurants. He is highly regarded in Arlington and beyond for his generosity, business acumen, integrity, musical talent, and service to the community.
At the Candlelite Inn, his team serves lunch to 150 volunteers of Mission Arlington weekly. The Court at the College Park Center Special Events Arena is named in his honor as a major donor to the University of Texas at Arlington.
He was also the biggest investor in the Urban Union development, helping drive major re-investment and bringing dozens of new businesses into downtown Arlington. Urban Union currently has 24 storefronts within eight buildings.
In a prior life, he was in a '70s power-pop band called The Pengwins, which toured and sold records throughout the U.S. and in Europe. He keeps the music flame alive with a record label called Spyder Pop Records (initially created under the name Aaron Avenue Records) which has been called "a textbook model of how to do musical community right," as well as "rightly renowned for their spectacular presentation of vinyl and CD releases."
Maggie Campbell, President and CEO of the Downtown Management Arlington Corporation said, "Alan’s love for his hometown of Arlington is evident in the investments he has made, such as restoring the Candlelite Inn, and his passion for making downtown Arlington a prime destination for living, work, and entertainment that appeals to residents and visitors."