Adaptability belies success—today, we watch as companies, people, and real estate work to pivot with simple solutions in real-time. Office building owners have long contemplated how to adapt underutilized space and reduce parking demand. As many companies and individuals have embraced the ability to work from anywhere, these questions will be more prevalent in the coming years.
This article focuses on one such adaptive reuse, pioneered by Woods Capital.
Recognizing that real estate use doesn’t need to be static, Woods leased office space on the 49th and 50th floors of its downtown Dallas high-rise to The Guild, an Austin-based hotel brand.
The new use activates Santander Tower (the recently rebranded Thanksgiving Tower) and downtown Dallas, leverages the newly renovated Tower Club on Level 48, and utilizes the parking garage during off-peak hours.
The 60,000 square feet were last updated in the 20th century for a family office—the two floors were laden with heavy wood detailing with green and maroon accent colors.
Some of the biggest puzzles of the conversion were addressed early on so that solutions could be implemented during design and construction. Questions included: what is the cost of running a cooling tower overnight? What is the capacity for the existing building systems, and how does the hotel system integrate with these – for everything from security to after-hours access to plumbing? How do significant plumbing systems tie into the ceilings of the space below? And how do we predict the cost for all of this? Is the lender comfortable with the change in use, and what adaptations need to be made to the standard office lease? Can we close down the helicopter pad and place a skylight in the roof instead to allow natural light into the middle of the core?
Fortunately, none of these obstacles were insurmountable. From conceptualization to opening day, the project took over two years, but the construction time frame was less than a year.
When it opens in September, guests at The Guild will enjoy apartment-style luxury suites. Along with sweeping views of Dallas from the highest hotel vantage point in town, most of the 64 rooms have separate living rooms and kitchens, which support our new work from anywhere culture. The Guild also offers high-tech amenities, such as the ability to unlock your door via text and stock your fridge before arrival, all from your phone.
The Guild is at the forefront of adaptation to how people travel. The average number of nights per guest was around three for the portfolio; during the last few months, the length of stay is in the double digits.
The suites allow people to experience a new community while maintaining the cherished routines of home. For any guest, the marble countertops, herringbone floors, and comfortable furniture are current and appealing. For more extended stays, the appliances are comprehensive: an in-room washer-dryer and a kitchen stocked with a Euro-fridge, dishwasher drawer, induction stovetop, and microwave-convection oven.
While the concept is simple—convert underutilized office space into a new use—cross-disciplinary innovation requires dedication.
All parties involved needed to shift mindsets to underwrite the project differently than a typical office lease. The thought leaders here included Woods Capital (owner), The Guild (tenant and operator), Altschuler + Co. and CBRE (brokers), WDG Dallas (architects), Jordan Skala (MEP engineer), Viewtech (structural engineer), Durkin Enterprises (contractor), and my company, Mintwood Real Estate (developer).
As our world becomes less tethered, I look forward to celebrating more companies and people who are willing to pivot and create solutions that enable flexibility—of use, mindset, and lifestyle.