The $450 million National project includes hotel, apartment, retail and office space.
It takes more than a pandemic to derail Dallas’ biggest real estate development.
The $450 million redo of downtown’s landmark First National Bank tower is set to open at the end of the year as a new mixed-use development.
Efforts to renovate the 52-story, midcentury modern skyscraper have been underway for almost a decade. Along the way, the building had four different owners, went through bankruptcy and faced foreclosure.
Just over a year ago, Dallas developer Todd Interests took the reins of the redo and is pushing the project to the finish line.
“We will open this year,” developer Shawn Todd said during a presentation Thursday to the economic development group Downtown Dallas Inc. “It’s without question the most rewarding project I have ever been involved in.
“We are really excited about that building.”
The 1.5 million-square-foot Elm Street office tower, which has been vacant more than a decade, is being turned into a combination of apartments, hotel rooms, retail and office space.
“That project is our last vacant building of any significance downtown,” said Downtown Dallas Inc. CEO Kourtny Garrett. “In 2002, we had 40 vacant buildings.”
The First National Bank tower — renamed The National — is the most challenging historic renovation project ever undertaken in North Texas because of the sheer size of the building.
Originally the redo was supposed to cost about $250 million, but the scale of the project grew as each year passed and plans changed.
The city of Dallas is providing about $50 million in incentives for the project, and historic tax credits will bring in another $100 million to support the deal.
Dallas’ Merriman Anderson Architects designed the project, and Andres Construction was the general contractor.
When The National opens late this year, the high-rise will have a 219-room luxury Thompson Hotel plus more than 300 apartment units. Pre-leasing on the apartments will start soon, Todd said.
“It will be the tallest high-rise luxury apartments in our city,” he said. “People are going to be blown away with the levels of finishes in these apartments.
“When you have all this space, you’ve got to create something remarkable.”
The hotel will also be ready for its first guests within months.
“We are staffing now all of our senior positions,” Todd said. “We will have the largest outdoor deck space in the city on the 10th floor of our building.”
Todd admits that completing the huge redevelopment has been a challenge with the pandemic.
“Will the convention hotel business be back with COVID? Probably not,” he said. “We are solving challenges we never thought we’d have in our business lives on a daily basis.
“It can be stressful when you have time frames and timelines.”
Along with The National, Todd Interests is busy building its 300 Pearl tower on the east side of downtown. It’s part of the developer’s sprawling East Quarter redevelopment and will include offices, apartments and retail space. “We’ll open up the office and retail in May of 2020,” Todd said.
Todd Interests recently made a $1 million donation to help fund the new Harwood Park planned at Pearl and Wood streets.
“We see Harwood Park being the park for East Quarter and the Farmers Market,” Todd said. “In two years, three years, this area is going to be very pedestrian-oriented and very urban.”