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Old Posted Aug 4, 2003, 4:35 AM
Owlhorn Owlhorn is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Dallas, Texas
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--The Davis Building (downtown) Under renovation for residential






Davis Building is on its way back as apartments

06/27/2003

By STEVE BROWN / The Dallas Morning News

When the Davis Building opened in 1926, it was one of Dallas' tallest skyscrapers and the center of the city's financial community.

But for almost 20 years, the Main Street landmark has been empty, all but forgotten among the city's newer towers.

The building's days as a dusty derelict will end next month.

That's when developers begin showing model apartments in the 20-story downtown tower, which is being converted for residential use.

"We're still under budget and only a little bit behind schedule," said developer Ted Hamilton, who is planning to move the first tenants into the Davis Building in nine or 10 weeks. "The cement for swimming pool on the roof is poured, and we're laying the tile today.

Tom Fox / DMN
Developer Ted Hamilton of Hamilton Properties sits on the roof of the Davis Building. His company is redeveloping two of the city's downtown landmarks - the Davis and the Dallas Power & Light building.

"And I've got interest from several retail tenants for the lower level retail," he said.

One restaurant owner wants to convert a section of the former bank building's huge vaults in the basement into a unique and no doubt secure dining venue.

"Everything's moving along, but it's sure been an educational process," Mr. Hamilton said.

That's usually the case with vintage building renovations.

Surprises in the Davis Building included second-floor structural beams that engineers didn't know were there. "When we tore the walls out, we found that these beams would be blocking the hallways," he said.

And Mr. Hamilton who's from Denver admits he knew next to nothing about redoing 1920s Texas skyscrapers when he came to Dallas a few years ago.

Now Hamilton Properties is redeveloping two of the city's downtown landmarks the Davis and the Dallas Power & Light building.

"We hadn't done any renovation work like this since the mid-1980s," said Mr. Hamilton, whose company came to Dallas when Denver hotelier Steve Holtze was shopping for the nearby Magnolia Building.

"Steve Holtze looked at turning either the Magnolia Building or the Davis Building into a hotel," Mr. Hamilton said. "When he picked the Magnolia Building, we asked if he minded us taking a run at the Davis Building."

Ideal for apartments

Built as the home for Dallas' Republic National Bank, the classical-style stone tower with the cupola on top was used as office space until the early 1980s.

A botched renovation in 1985 left the building wrecked inside and in foreclosure.

Hamilton Properties bought the office building last year after studying plans to convert it into a combination of hotel and residential space.

As it turned out, the Davis Building was better suited for apartments. The 182,000-square-foot building adjoins a high-rise parking garage on Elm Street.

"We ended up having to buy the Metropolitan Garage to make the deal work," Mr. Hamilton said. "We paid $2 million for the building and $7 million for that garage.

"The tail that wags the dog in downtown Dallas is parking," he said.

Now the Davis Building has plenty more than 600 spaces in the garage to serve 183 apartments.

Lofts in the building which average 1,000 square feet will start at about $650 a month. The most expensive unit is the $9,000-a-month, two-story penthouse that includes access to the building's rooftop cupola.

"We're putting in a spiral staircase up to the cupola, which will have a private hot tub in it," Mr. Hamilton said. "It ought to be the sexiest spa in the city."

Downtown redevelopment boosters don't need hot tubs to be happy about the $35 million Davis redo.

"Having people move into that empty building will make a big difference," said Nancy Hormann, executive director of the Downtown Partnership. "Every time we add one of these redone buildings, we get an increase in the population downtown."

Recent surveys show that apartment occupancy levels in the central business district are slightly ahead of the overall occupancy for Dallas-Fort Worth, and rent concessions are lower.

Opening the Davis Building will bring life to the 1300 block of Main Street, which has been largely vacant on the north side.

"That whole side of the block has been a dead zone, while across the street it's doing great with the restaurants," Ms. Hormann said.

Up next

And Hamilton Properties is already doing design work on its next downtown project.

In January, the developer bought the 72-year-old Dallas Power & Light Building two blocks away on Commerce Street.

The19-story, art deco style DP&L Building and the Continental Supply Co. building both vacant will be converted into t about 160 apartments. The redevelopment will include construction of a parking garage behind the buildings on Jackson Street.

"All of the original stone interior finish is left in the lobbies of the DP&L building, unlike in the Davis Building, where it had been removed," Mr. Hamilton said. "At the top of the building, where there used to be an auditorium with arched windows, we are going to have multilevel penthouse units."

Hamilton Properties is scouting for other projects in Texas, he said.

The company was a partner in the recently opened Magnolia Hotel development in Houston.

"And I'm looking for other stuff to redo in Dallas," Mr. Hamilton said. "Most good building stock in Denver has already been redone.

"We were looking at paying $40 per square foot for a crummy warehouse to redo in Denver," he said.

"We could come to Texas and get a trophy building to redo for a fourth that price."

E-mail stevebrown@dallasnews.com

and the mentioned Dallas Power & Light building

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