New Developer and Investors Restart $450 Million Downtown Dallas Tower Redo Project

A new development and investment team has come to the rescue of downtown Dallas' biggest building project.Revival of the almost-two-decades vacant First National Bank tower is expected to cost almost $450 million.Conversion of the 52-story landmark skyscraper is one of the largest such urban restoration projects in the country and the largest ever in Dallas. The Elm Street building is being turned into a combination of apartments, hotel rooms, retail and office space.Plans to repurpose the 1.5 million-square-foot office tower have been in the works for more than eight years. During that time, the black glass and marble high-rise has passed through three different owners.Now the developer who's taking over the tower reboot promises to have work complete by the end of 2020 — restarting the project after more than a year of delays.Developer Todd Interests of Dallas and its financial partner, Moriah Real Estate, have already redone one downtown Dallas skyscraper, the 30-story One Dallas Centre.As new players in the First National Bank project, they are taking the lead from California-based Drever Capital Management, which bought the building out of bankruptcy three years ago.Drever will remain a "solely economic, non-managing minority limited partner" in the development, according to Todd Interests."We are moving ahead as fast as we can," said developer Shawn Todd. "We have tight timing constraints to get this building finished by the end of next year."Everyone is working to make this happen."The developers need to finish the project on time in order to secure almost $100 million in historic tax credits and $50 million in Dallas tax increment financing that make the project viable."This will be the largest historic tax credit deal in Texas," Todd said. "This is the last remaining truly historic building in downtown Dallas to be redeemed."This building was a statement for our city at one time, and it will be a statement again."Landmark beginningOpened in 1965 as the home of First National Bank, the 1401 Elm Street tower was designed by noted Dallas architects George Dahl and Thomas Stanley."It's a landmark building downtown with its scale and massing," said David Preziosi, director of Preservation Dallas. "Buildings like this were statement buildings — built to make statements for the owners, which were banks and insurance companies."The more than 40-story black glass tower with white pin stripes rises out of a 2-acre, nine-story-tall base building covered in white marble."When it opened, it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River," Todd said. "We've always had great interest in the building."We were enamored with the architecture and history."Previous owners gutted the tower, removing tons of toxic asbestos. It was the largest asbestos remediation project in the state's history."Maxwell Drever and his team gave it all they had and should be applauded for their efforts and for keeping the property out of foreclosure," Todd said. "Drever's continued advisory role to us and the project will be of great value to not only the development but our city."Two years ago, work crews stripped all the white Greek marble off the exterior of the skyscraper to be refurbished for installation.  Continue reading...

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