Friday, April 20, 2007

More Downtown News

Third Rail filling gap on Main Street
Redos of Gulf States, Mayfair buildings complement high-rise
08:00 AM CDT on Friday, April 20, 2007
A new downtown mixed-use project has filled a big vacancy on Dallas' Main Street.
For more than two decades, the 1400 block of Main Street has been punctuated by a big surface parking lot between the Davis Building and the Gulf States Insurance Building.
That's where the old Metropolitan Savings Tower (originally the First National Bank Building) stood. Developers knocked down the historic 1920s skyscraper and the beautiful Kress Building behind it in 1981, leaving ratty parking lots in their place. No thanks for that.
Twenty-six years later, the Third Rail retail and residential complex is at last putting Main Street back together.
Spectrum Properties Ltd. has been working on the project for more than a year. Along with a new high-rise on the site of the old Metropolitan Savings, the deal includes redevelopment of the historic Gulf States building next door at Main and Akard streets. Plus there's the remodeling of the Mayfair Department Store at Elm and Akard.
"The outside of the new building will be totally completed by the middle of May," said Spectrum CEO Brian Bergersen. "And the public parking garage on the lower floors will be open by the first week of June."
Eighty-five apartments in 10 floors on top of the parking garage should be ready for tenants by late this year.

FILE/Staff photo This is what the 1400 block of Main Street looked like in the 1920s. The Metropolitan Savings Tower - and the Kress Building behind it - were demolished in 1981.
The new residential tower occupies only part of the garage roof, leaving room for most of the project's amenities.
"We've got a pet park, a fire pit, a gazebo, outdoor grills, a pool, Jacuzzi and an outdoor theater up there," Mr. Bergersen said.
What, no bowling alley? Not to worry.
"We're putting two bowling lanes down in the basement of the Gulf States building," he said. "We looked at the space and said, 'What can we do with this?' "
The new Main Street building will have about 20,000 square feet of retail space, with a CVS Pharmacy set to open about September.
There are 66 completed loft apartments in the Gulf States and 14 more in the Mayfair, which will be ready in June.
With so many moving parts and pieces to build, the Third Rail has taken longer to put together than some larger downtown building redos.
But the developers are close to a wrap.
"Every day you see a little bit of improvement, and people are starting to see the finished product and like it," Mr. Bergersen said.
Rather than try to recreate the demolished Metropolitan Savings Tower, Spectrum Properties has gone with a more contemporary building in its place.
"I think some people were expecting a more traditional building, but it's hard to make a new structure look old," he said. "We tried to do something that was different and would complement the old buildings."
And after a quarter of century of parking cars on the lot, the 1400 block of Main is whole again.
Revamped building
Speaking of old buildings, a former industrial building near Dallas' Southwestern Medical District has been made over for new tenants.
The 21,000-square-foot building at 1850 W. Mockingbird Lane and Harry Hines Boulevard previously housed a print shop.
"It was a dump," said Jeff Moser with Stream Realty Partners who has been marketing the project for investors who remodeled the old place.
"They went in and put lipstick all over it – new awnings, landscaping and new roofs," he said.
The fast facial worked – Fastenal has leased 7,000 square feet in the project for an industrial and construction supply store.
"We are hoping that with all the medical and other uses it could be rented for a showroom or store," he said. "We have two more spaces left."