Massive Renovation of First National Bank Tower (1401 Elm) Gets New Life

Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI) is pleased to announce that the skilled and experienced team at Todd Interests is taking over the adaptive reuse and redevelopment of a skyline landmark, the First National Bank Tower at 1401 Elm Street. Over the past several weeks, as the deal has been in-the-works, in order to stay on schedule for an end of 2020 delivery, construction has ramped back up at the black and white 52-story tower that originally housed First National Bank. Thompson Hotels will anchor the project with a 200-room hotel that will serve as the group’s Texas Flagship.

“When First National Bank Tower was completed in 1965, it was the tallest building in the United States west of the Mississippi river, and it made a statement for the city of Dallas. First National Bank Tower will soon stand tall again, as it will undergo one of the largest historic renovation’s in the history of the United States. We are excited to bring this important building back to life with new energy for future generations to enjoy,” said project lead and Partner Philip Todd. The 450-million-dollar deal is the latest in Todd Interests’ passion for historic projects Downtown like the Post Office building on Ervay and the 18 historic buildings being renovated as part of the East Quarter. The George Dahl and Thomas E. Stanley architecture of the First National Bank Tower was one of many things that drew Todd Interests to the project.

Downtown Dallas, Inc. President and CEO Kourtny Garrett says, “The First National Bank project will transform Downtown’s last major vacant building in the heart of a very active part of the center city, infusing life into a full city block that has been dark for a decade. Its magnitude is unparalleled; at 1.5 million square feet, four projects in-one, the largest tax credit deal in the state’s history, local Tax Increment Financing, and significant private investment, it is one of the most complex redevelopments in the city to-date. Few teams other than those with the commitment, experience, and expertise of Todd Interests could bring this project to fruition.”

Todd Interests brought together a blue-chip list of players to this very complicated and remarkable historic tax credit transaction. Berkshire Hathaway’s American Housing Partners will acquire the federal tax credits, while prolific statewide lender Stonehenge Financial assumes the statewide credits. Trusted and longtime Todd Interests’ equity partner Moriah Real Estate is at the top of the equity stack at 100 million dollars. “The belief and confidence in our team and this deal by our longtime and trusted financial partners, Moriah Real Estate, should not go unnoticed. We have a successful track record together that spans a decade!” said Todd Interests’ CEO and Founder Shawn Todd.

Together, Todd Interests and Moriah completed one of the first-ever multi-use buildings Downtown with the award-winning renovation of the I.M. Pei-designed One Dallas Center. Todd Interests brought everyone to the table, and in less than 90 days, everything necessary is in place for the First National Bank Tower project. Drever Capital Management will continue in an advisory role going forward. “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. Our firm, this project, and our city will benefit greatly from Maxwell’s advisory role moving forward,” said Todd.

The four-product type vision for the building – apartments, restaurants, retail, and hotel – will continue, with some design modifications and refinements.  500 workers are at the site daily. 65,000 pieces of sheetrock will be onsite, which is the equivalent of 260 semi loads. The white marble that makes up the base of the tower has been retrieved, meticulously restored, and is now being reinstalled. Due to the scale and complexity of the project, Todd Interests is collaborating with the City of Dallas to increase the efficiency of inspections at the site to avoid construction delays. “We are thrilled to be working again with the talented development team at Todd Interests. This is an extremely challenging redevelopment and thus demands vision, creativity, and expert execution, that’s where Todd Interests excels,” said Wade Andres, President of Andres Construction. When the Thompson Hotel opens on September 1, 2020, 318 luxury apartments will concurrently be available to satisfy meeting the critical 2020 deadline to maintain the much-needed entitlements in this project.

Merriman Anderson Architects has been on the project from the start; paying close attention to detail. “Merriman became involved in the repositioning of 1401 Elm a decade ago when we were engaged by Colliers to provide a feasibility study to take the building to market. Since that time, we have been fortunate to continue with the project through owner and programmatic changes. We passionately believe that the current design and program is the highest and best use for the project and will greatly benefit Downtown Dallas,” said Aimee Sanborn, Principal, Team Leader at Merriman. Apartments on the 48th floor will boast being the highest Downtown, and street-level activation through retail and careful design will be accessible to all.

“Without question, this is the most complicated and challenging adaptive reuse project we’ve ever taken on as a firm. Its complexity is not only in the constructability and redevelopment but in the legal documentation of the Historic Credits and the master-lease pass through structure. The sole reason the opportunity exists to date is two-fold;  the unwavering commitment of Andres Construction and their loyal sub-contractors to stick with the project for over two years solely  complimented by the City Of Dallas’ commitment to provide special TIF proceeds to preserve such an iconic, historically significant asset to our great city,” said Todd. Garrett adds, “The vision for the First National Bank building re-do echoes the goals of The 360 Plan. The innovative design and structure will be noted in the building’s LEED designation, the exterior marble restoration, and exterior lighting. Delivering a Thompson Hotel is not only a win for the project, but is a victory for Dallas, proving up the strength and attractiveness of this market. It joins recently completed and currently underway projects like The Statler Hotel & Residences, the $100 million AT&T Discovery District, East Quarter, and four new signature parks.”

As of this release, all funding and paperwork has been deposited with Chicago Title, pending the final Octagon Finance bridge loan, which is imminent.