Downtown News

Historic downtown Dallas high-rise undergoing makeover signs VIP tenant

Historic downtown Dallas hi-rise undergoing makeover signs VIP tenant

The First National Bank Tower is the 10th tallest building in Dallas. Photo courtesy of the Drever

The former First National Bank Tower, a historic high-rise located at 1401 Elm St., is finally seeing progress in its longtime renovation, including a new name and an important new tenant.

The project will now be called The National. It will be anchored by the Texas flagship Thompson Hotel, which is set to open in 2020. And the new tenant is none other than Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI), the private nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing downtown Dallas.

DDI signed on to a space with approximately 23,000 square feet that will allow it to house its entire operation — management office and field operations and the Downtown Safety Patrol and Clean Team — under one roof, with room to grow over the next decade.

It gives the organization a permanent home after camping out at a variety of buildings over the years, says Downtown Dallas, Inc. president/CEO Kourtny Garrett in a statement.

"Most recently, at Bank of America Plaza, we have enjoyed the spectacular views, central location, and outstanding management team," she says. "AT&T has graciously housed our field operations teams for nearly 20 years, and Parks for Downtown Dallas has provided interim operations space as we prepare for a more permanent home."

She calls the opportunity to office in downtown's last major historic renovation "very meaningful."

"The location is also important, from access to the DART light rail station for our 100 employees, to the ability to serve all of Downtown from a location that is a hinge between many of Downtown’s districts," she says.

Situated right on the DART line, DDI’s services will be accessible and visible to Downtown residents, employees, and visitors.

The project also allows DDI to engage with the public on Pacific Avenue with a storefront that will serve as an information center, marketing showcase, and field operations dispatch.

The National is the last major downtown Dallas tower to be revived. It's the largest, at one-and-a-half million feet, occupying an entire city block bounded by Akard, Field, Elm, and Pacific. The building has seen more than one change in ownership and near foreclosure. Drever Capital Management took it over in 2017 but wasn't able to make it stick.

Todd Interests took over the adaptive reuse project in 2018.

In addition to the 219-room Thompson Hotel, the $450 million project will include 324 luxury apartment units, signature restaurants and retail, and Class A office.

Todd Interests CEO Shawn Todd says in a statement that the building is worth saving.

"Once the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, The National embodies the same entrepreneurial spirit of the original 1965 First National Bank Tower," Todd says. "Today, The National stands tall, representing the finest our city and state has to offer and will soon don its 'banker's pinstripe suit,' once again illuminating our beautiful Dallas skyline for generations."