Ray Hunt and John Scovell joined other executives on the observation deck level of Reunion Tower earlier today to reveal plans for its renovation and planned Fall 2013 reopening. (Click on images for larger views.)
Hunt, the president and CEO of Hunt Consolidated Inc., said the goal is to create a “very positive, very impressive addition to Dallas’ already thriving downtown area.”
He and Scovell initially developed the tower 35 years ago, as a public-private partnership with the City of Dallas—one of the first such ventures in the country. Back then, “people thought we were crazy, and that was okay with me,” said Scovell, CEO and president of Woodbine Development Corp.
The iconic structure was closed in 2007 for renovations. Two years later, Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck opened on the top rotating level. The economic downturn put a stall on renovating the observation deck.
That turned out to be fortuitous, said Pat Gibson, president of Hunt Realty Investments, because the team can leverage new technology that has since been developed. “It’s allowing us to implement a design that’s much more dynamic, interactive, and state-of the art,” she said. “Ironically, the delay helped us create a much better project.”
Gensler, the firm that designed Hunt’s corporate headquarters between Akard and St. Paul streets in downtown Dallas, was selected to tackle the Reunion Tower redo. Judy Pesek, regional managing director, said the design is inspired by the tower and its geodesic dome. New ticketing and queueing areas are being developed on the lobby level. On the observation deck level, it’s all about the view.
Wire mesh that encases the ball will be removed, replace with a cable system that will allow for unobstructed views. A interactive display will stretch 52 feet and provide information on things to see and do in Dallas. High-def zoom cameras and high-powered telescopes will line the perimeter; a map of Dallas will be woven into the carpet.
The floor between the observation deck and Five Sixty, which occupies the top floor, will become a cafe during the day and a lounge at night. It also will be available for private functions and as Five Sixty overflow space.
The cafe menu will include kid-friendly options, as well as specialties like enchiladas, a Texas take on the cuban sandwich, and the “Tower Caesar,” served in a tall glass, said Five Sixty executive Andrew Sidebotham.
Chris Kleinert, president and CEO of Hunt Consolidated Investments, didn’t have a project cost, but said it would be less than the $23 million redevelopment that led to opening of Five Sixty in 2009.
In designing the project, Pesek said her goal was to create “a must-first-stop for visitors, and a must-return for local residents.”
“It will be a one-of-a-kind experience,” she said. “There’s only one Reunion.”