Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Known by some as the Real Estate Building and by others as the Hedrick Building, the vacant 10-story property at the downtown corner of North St. Mary’s and Martin streets is getting a new life as the Flats On St. Mary’s.
Within the next year, developers Craig Glendenning and Uri Villarreal are renovating the the blighted 1928 building located at 601 N. St. Mary’s St. to create 54 high-end apartments. The duo are also planning on converting the two-story property behind it, known as the Voss building, into a property with apartments, a restaurant, a coffee shop with the working name “The Hipster,” and a 6,800 sq. ft. rooftop bar venue that connects to the ground-floor restaurant.
“I’ve literally been working on this project for 15 years,” Glendenning said. Both he and Villarreal outlined their plans for the project to the Rivard Report on Wednesday.
The $12 million project was made viable through tax incentives offered through the Center City Housing Incentive Policy (CCHIP) and other federal and state historical credits. Another factor in the building’s redevelopment was a local ordinance that requires the owners of vacant buildings to maintain established minimum maintenance requirements.
“The Hedrick Building had been subject to the Vacant Building Registration Ordinance, motivating the property owner to move forward with renovations,” said Shanon Miller, director of the Office of Historic Preservation.
After registering the building as a part of a downtown national register, the building became eligible for state and local tax credits, city officials said. Members of the Office of Historic Preservation worked closely with Glendenning and Villarreal to take full advantage of the credits available. Those historic incentives alone accounted for 45% of the project’s total cost.
“I’m excited about redeveloping that block and bringing those two buildings back to what they were,” Villarreal said. “There’s a lot of history there, and if you look at everything around it [the area’s] in good shape.”
The Real Estate and Voss buildings are located near desirable downtown amenities: the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, the Weston Centre, and the Riverwalk. Villarreal said the apartments would be priced at about $2 per square foot, making the property one of the pricier downtown living options.
But the restoration will rejuvenate a building that has stood vacant since 1987, its deteriorating exterior making it an eyesore in the downtown landscape. Glendenning said he’s received letters of intent from a title company, a manicure and pedicure establishment, and a surveying company hoping to fill space as commercial tenants in the former real estate building.
When renovations are complete, the building will look quite different than it does today, resembling other 1920s-era buildings instead of the mid-century facade it currently wears.
“It was actually designed by the real estate board building company, and they built it to be offices for realtors,” Miller said.
The building became known as the Hedrick Building in the 1950s when it was sold to prominent Ft. Worth architect and engineer Wyatt Hedrick.
The building’s original detailed architecture is now hidden by cladding placed around the building in the 1960s. At the time, the cladding was installed in an attempt to modernize the 1920s building, yet the decision failed to stand the test of time and trend.
“We took off one piece of it to see what was behind it,” Glendenning said. “It’s just a 4-foot section that we took off. There’s 160 feet of it, so it could be pretty interesting.”
“There are intact architectural features behind that cladding that we’re anxious to see once they remove it,” Miller said. “[There’s] more elaborate terracotta detailing … more in line with other buildings from that time like the Tower Life building with [its] ornate detailing at the ground level.”
Groundbreaking on the development will begin Aug. 15, when crews will begin to remove the exterior cladding. Conceptual approval for the project has been granted by the Historic Design and Review Commission, and Glendenning plans on bringing specific contract propositions and other details, such as plans for a wraparound parking lot, back to the commission within the next 60 days.