Drever Capital Management received its fair share of good press over the last two years, as the owners of the California-based real estate investment outfit rode into Dallas like knights in shining armor to save one of downtown’s largest and best-known skyscrapers. Purchased out of bankruptcy in early 2016, the 52-story First National Bank tower was a vacant, forlorn and obsolete skyscraper in a herd of bustling modern castles. If completed, the remodel will be the largest of its kind ever finished in Dallas.
A 2017 demolition by Andres Construction, the project’s contractor, included 5.6 million square feet of asbestos abatement, and was lauded as the largest such project ever in Texas. There was a lull, however, between the interior demolition work and the new renovation phase. To be sure, the project is huge and the financing complex — cost estimates have run between $300 million and $380 million — but Drever experienced a few extra bumps in the road. D Magazine reported the project was in default last December, and it was Starwood Property Trust that stepped up in the nick of time with a $66.7 million bridge loan.
Drever’s chairman, Maxwell Drever, noted also that this project wouldn’t be possible without $150 million in public financing through a combination of historic building tax credits and tax increment funds from the city. Still, the financing was not all in place at the start of summer 2018. D Magazine got ahold of a memo to an investor in June that served as a “final, final call” to potential new investors at a time when Drever was still trying to secure a $150 million construction loan.
A Drever spokesperson said the memo wasn’t supposed to go public, and that there would be a press release once financing was closed. There were no public reports on the closing, but on July 18, Andres Construction pulled renovation building permits which it valued at about $130 million. So, without much fanfare, the project was back on track.
- Drever Hotel Area: 254,608 SF (218 Rooms)
- Drever Residences: 376,958 SF (324 Units)
For promotional purposes, The Drever, as the tower is now called, has its own website. The site’s photo gallery provides an ample impression of what we can expect from its interior finish-out.
The Urban Design Peer Review Panel received a more detailed description of the project from Merriman Anderson Architects earlier this year. The 1.5 million square foot office tower is being converted to a mixed-use center with hotel, apartments and retail on several levels.
The project site, 1401 Elm Street, is in the Main Street District between Field and Akard Streets, and is adjacent to the Akard DART Station. A key consideration in the redesign is to include roughly 27,000 square feet of retail space adjacent to that DART Station. There will be retail space on the first floor, which is a basement level, and on the ground floor along with restaurant space, a hotel lobby and a residential leasing office.
The second above-ground floor will be dedicated to office space and common areas, according to the building’s permits. One floor up, the building’s former bank lobby with its double-height ceiling is being converted to a flex ballroom with a maximum space of 13,000 square feet.
The hotel’s 218 guest rooms span the 11th to 20th floors. The hotel will be managed by Thompson Hotels, a fast-growing hospitality brand in the Texas market. The building’s 324 apartment units will occupy floors 22 to 48. Most of the ninth floor, however, will be a common outdoor roof deck with amenities for apartment residents.
- Parking: 885 spaces on floors six through eight, and underground.
- Mechanical Utilities: 21st Floor.
- 49th Floor: High-end restaurant, entertainment/event venue and two hotel penthouse suites.
- 50th Floor: Hotel bar, wraparound public observation deck.
The amenity deck combines resident and hotel amenities on one level — to paraphrase Stefon, “this place has everything.” There’s a long, narrow 3.5-foot pool with a lounge, and beside it sits an outdoor hotel lobby desk next to an additional indoor lobby lounge. Around the corner facing Elm Street is a fitness area leading to a yoga nook at the deck’s far corner.
Stroll past that, and we arrive at the outdoor dog run, which is next to an indoor dog concierge. Overlooking Pacific Avenue is a spa, then a resident patio. Finally, at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Akard Street just before we get back to the pool, you’ll find a dining area. Just above the amenity deck, there will be an indoor/outdoor restaurant.
For decades, the tower was known for its sleek 50-foot columns at street-level which shaded the sidewalk, and the Greek white marble panels covering the four sides of the podium on the sixth, seventh and eighth exterior levels. Drever is restoring the marble — and that’s no small feat, considering this required obtaining new sections from the source, a mountain in Attica, that also supplied stone for the Parthenon of the ancient Athenians.
In a prepared statement, Merriman Anderson principal Aimee Sanborn said, “The original marble is from Mount Pentelikon. It’s a beautiful natural stone with wonderful veining.”
Removing, restoring and reinstalling the 18,000 marble sections has been a monumental effort that is still underway, Drever spokesperson Allison Rhodes said. Lately, contractor Andres has also been working on renovating the building’s interior electrical systems.
In addition to new greenery, Drever is adding a spectacular public art feature to this milieu. Visitors approaching and leaving the building will walk through mirrored steel columns that curve up and down in height, and curl in and out of the trees — kind of like a skateboarder zig-zagging around traffic cones.
Drever plans to have the tower opened by Fall 2019.