Downtown Dallas will have a new shining star when the renovation of the former First National Bank tower at 1401 Elm Street is complete. Once the tallest building in Dallas, this 52-year-old skyscraper, long-vacant, is in the midst of a major redesign and upgrade. The Drever will consist of a combination of 324 apartments, 218 hotel rooms, offices, and retail – covering an entire city block.
The driver and developer behind this ambitious project is Maxwell Drever who purchased the tower in early 2016. Planned upgrades to the original first-class building are throughout, with fewer, more spacious apartments, a deluxe hotel, and an outdoor roof deck outfitted with delightful amenities. As Drever stated, “We are making the building better than it was and originally it was first class.”
Why renovate in downtown?
In 17 years, downtown Dallas has grown from 200 residents to 45,000, with 10,000 in the core area. Its location puts it in the renowned Main Street District, joining Neiman Marcus and the Joule Hotel among other landmarks. Average retail sales in Dallas are $12,837 per capita, over $3,000 per capita more than New York City or Los Angeles. Dallas ranks third in the US for job increases and rate of job growth. Dallas is strong and stable and well-equipped to support new projects such as The Drever.
Asbestos removal came first
Like most large projects, there is a great deal of preparation before beginning the redesign and finish out. In this case, asbestos was still a common material used in 1963 when the building was constructed. Over 5.6 million square feet of asbestos – an extremely dangerous and toxic material when disturbed – has been removed. Without this first step workers, future tenants, and guests would be exposed to lethal fibers. Asbestos contains microscopic fibers that can cause lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma – a deadly cancer. There is no safe level of exposure.
This project, often described as one of the most ambitious redevelopment plans in the US, is projected to cost $380 million. Because of its historic significance, part of the cost will be through historic tax credits totaling $90 million. Once the project is complete, the City of Dallas will provide a $50 million tax increment finance district grant. Other financing will come from additional a construction loan, historic tax credits, investors, and direct investment.
The public will begin seeing changes soon. Model apartments and hotel rooms are expected to be available for viewing by the end of August. Work will begin soon on the exterior as the glass and stone are cleaned and restored.
The Drever’s owner expects construction to be completed in the first quarter of 2019 adding to the revitalization of downtown Dallas.