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Architecture & Design

The State’s Largest Historic Renovation in Downtown Dallas Lights Up

The former First National Bank tower has been rebranded The National and is almost here.
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Zac Crain

Ten years ago, the vertical white lights on the former First National Bank tower were turned off after the building closed. Now the 55-year-old Elm Street landmark is being transformed as part of a $450 million redevelopment project. Award-winning real estate firm Todd Interests is developing office spaces for tenants like Downtown Dallas Inc., as well as luxury apartments, restaurants, retail, and a 219-room Thompson Hotel. Renamed The National, the 52-story high-rise is scheduled to open by the end of this year. The lights have already been turned back on.

This is one of the state’s largest adaptive reuse projects, and DDI will stake its claim on a bottom floor space that will be visible from the street. This has for years been downtown’s largest vacant block, a monstrous building covered in fencing whose developers just couldn’t get the financing to make what they called the Drever a reality. But then came Todd Interests, who picked up the baton and took the project forward. It was acquired in 2016 by Drever Capital Management, which remained as an advisory role once Shawn and Philip Todd came to the table in May of last year. They had to work quickly: work has to wrap by the end of the year in order for it to qualify for $100 million in tax credits.

Philip Todd once told D CEO that this project was “the most complicated and challenging adaptive reuse” project that he’d ever worked on. That would help explain why—in the public’s eye, at least—it has sat virtually untouched for years, a giant gash in the middle of a downtown that was thriving pre-pandemic. The 318 luxury apartments will include the 48th floor, making them the highest address in downtown.

What we see now is the largest historic renovation in Texas. That the lights are already back on is a promising sign for Elm Street’s future.

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