By Diana Mosher
Several years ago I was riding through downtown Dallas and passed by a striking midcentury building that had seen better days. It didn’t take me long to figure out this was the landmark Statler Hotel—built in 1956—one of the properties that put the Hilton name on the map. In subsequent years, the fabulous ballroom hosted performers like Tony Bennett, Jackson 5 and Tina Tuner. Sadly, the iconic building has been closed for more than a decade, but it’s now being redeveloped by Centurion American Development Group. Thank you CEO Mehrded Moayedi for your vision. Besides an exterior restoration of the facade’s colored porcelain panels and glass, the property is being reconfigured into 219 apartments on the top 11 floors with a separate entrance and lobby on Jackson Avenue. The lower five floors will continue to be hotel rooms. Hilton will market the hotel portion of the property under its new Curio brand of luxury and historic properties. Pinnacle will manage the apartment residences. I recently interviewed Nathan Brainard, Pinnacle’s Regional Marketing Director, about the Statler Residences leasing effort, model units and more.
Diana Mosher: This project must involve a lot of moving parts and multiple teams. Does Pinnacle’s role as third party operator include managing the renovation and collaborating with the interior design team? And designing and implementing the marketing strategy for the lease-up?
Nathan Brainard: A project like The Statler definitely has many moving parts. As you might imagine, there is a great deal of work involved with a mixed-use development that incorporates homes, a hotel, an entertainment venue, retail, and commercial space all under one roof. As the third party management firm for the residences, Pinnacle is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the apartment homes.
Being such a unique building, the ownership identified the need for their own Branding and Marketing Director, Rachel L. Roberts, who oversees the masthead brand of The Statler. Rachel has created a “Brand Council” which meets weekly to ensure all the moving parts of the property (Food and Beverage, Meeting Venues, Hotel, Apartment Residences, Retail, Designers, Public Relations, etc.) are on the same page and creating one unified and consistent brand voice.
Diana Mosher: What design team was hired to lead the vision for the new interior spaces? Is the concept midcentury modern? And inspired by the exterior of the iconic building?
Nathan Brainard: The overall look of The Statler is probably best described as midcentury glam with a large emphasis on approachable luxury. The owners hired Merriman Anderson/Architects, Inc. to oversee the entire look of the building from hotel to residences in order to provide a consistent experience throughout the expansive 18-story building.
Diana Mosher: Is it safe to say that design plays a key role in leasing up a property like this?
Nathan Brainard: Yes, given the history and local adoration of this long neglected historic gem, it was crucial to modernize the building while respecting its midcentury modern architecture and illustrious past. A project as landmark as this has high expectations from local Dallasites and those looking to be part of the new breath of life the building will have. The designers did an amazing job marrying the old with the new and creating a retro-forward ambiance with a nod to the days of the rat pack while keeping the space comfortable and functional for today’s consumer.
Diana Mosher: What is the status of renovations right now? Can prospects come in and tour a model unit or two?
Nathan Brainard: The Statler Residences is currently pre-leasing from a location nearby the building. The first apartment homes should be ready for move-in late February 2017 with the grand opening of the entire building estimated to be in fall 2017. The Statler Residences is working with the interior design team to complete their model show apartment which should be available in the coming weeks. Anticipating the excitement of the building, 3D virtual tour walkthroughs of many of our floor plans can be experienced on the Residences website at www.StatlerResidences.com, in addition to checking out the stunning renderings of the community and the building’s social spaces.
Diana Mosher: Tell us about other adaptive reuse conversions from hotel to apartments that Pinnacle has been involved in.
Nathan Brainard: In our 36 year history, Pinnacle has managed many converted properties that might have originated as hotels, office buildings, or other uses. There can definitely be some challenges involved, particularly with historical buildings. For instance, we have been managing a 1920s property in downtown San Antonio for 15 years—the Robert E Lee Apartments—which was converted from hotel to residences. While the interiors were modernized with safety features and so forth, there are many restrictions in play to maintain the integrity of the building. On these types of buildings, those restrictions might pertain to signage, how the individual units are metered, whether or not windows can have screens, etc. It really comes down to what makes the most sense for a building.
Diana Mosher: Is the Statler the kind of iconic property that almost leases itself? What has been the overall response from the local Dallas marketplace? It must be good news that this property is coming back.
Nathan Brainard: The feedback from the Dallas marketplace has been extremely positive and inviting. The Statler has partnered with Downtown Dallas Inc., the Downtown Dallas Neighborhood Association, and other organizations to be a part of the area’s growth as a whole and to actively integrate with the community. The resurrection of this icon has been highly anticipated and as a result, there has been much pent up demand from locals waiting for our doors to open. The residences have been leasing quickly—not just because of the top-notch interiors and hotel-style amenities, but because of the truly unique, high-energy living experience that is offered together with the building’s special place in Dallas history.
Diana Mosher: What does Pinnacle’s involvement with this iconic brand The Statler say about Pinnacle’s own brand in the marketplace?
Nathan Brainard: Pinnacle was an excellent choice for the owners of The Statler based on the strength of our national platform and the experiences of our North Texas operations and marketing teams, who currently oversee nearly 21,500 apartment homes, including complex lease-ups. We are also well-versed on stabilizing new construction projects with the ability to fully integrate a commercial team for mixed-use projects when needed. We are excited to have this property in our portfolio. This is a one-of-a-kind project.
Diana Mosher: What’s the look and feel of the marketing campaign/materials? Is it a combination of traditional and new media? What’s the focus of the messaging and who is it designed to appeal to?
Nathan Brainard: While much of the collateral is in the final design stages and being kept under wraps for a grand reveal, we promise that it will not disappoint. It will have a unique midcentury/Mod point of view and throwback wordsmithing that one might come to expect from such a timeless project.
Diana Mosher: Are you able to share projected lease-up goals for when the doors open? Are you pacing as anticipated?
Nathan Brainard: First move-ins are anticipated for February 15. Our goal is to stabilize 4Q 2017. As of today, performance is on pace to reach these goals.
Diana Mosher: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Nathan Brainard: The Statler will be the iconic downtown Dallas experience for staycations, daycations or to call your home in our residences. In addition to the boutique Curio by Hilton branded hotel, it will boast multiple restaurants, a concert venue, high end fitness studios and a spa, co-working space, and retail. The Dallas Morning News will be our neighbor in the adjacent Old Dallas Library building. For more information about the Statler Residences, visit www.statlerresidences.com.