Breaking News: Statler Sold! Library Too!

statlerlightning.jpg
Justin Terveen
A Friend of Unfair Park tipped us off earlier today: Dallas County property records reveal that the old Statler Hilton has indeed been sold; so too its next-door neighbor, the former Dallas Public Library. And according to the deed sale documents, both were purchased by none other than the Ricchi Investment Group out of San Antonio -- which happens to be the very same group, headed by Leobardo Trevino, responsible for turning the old LTV Tower into the Grand Ricchi Dallas, about which city officials only have the nicest things to say.

According to docs, Hamsher International Ltd. is parting with the Statler Hilton for $13.1 million; the library went for $4.4 million.

Funny thing: I'd spoken with Tom Keen, Hamsher's Plano attorney, the very day the deed docs were signed -- one week ago Monday, February 21. At that point, Keen wouldn't comment on rumors something was about to happen with the property; all he'd say was that it was looking good and that "I think we're further along this time than we have been in the past." The docs were sent to the county on Friday. (While I was spending the afternoon reporting this story, I see Rudy got hold of some docs -- from Ron Natinsky, if I read my blog items correctly -- hinting at Trevino's plans for the Statler.)

"We're immediately going to clean it up so it's not an eyesore," Trevino tells Unfair Park. In the next few days, he says, he'll begin talking to local and state preservationists about his plans, which will include residential, retail -- and, word is, assisted living.

"But right now," he says, "the plans are to clean it up and restore the exterior and make it nice. We'll gut it and take it down to the concrete like we did with 1600 Pacific. But our plans are to restore it to the original and make it look like it did in 1956. We love the property. It took us seven months of negotiations, but we finally got it. We started work two weeks ago and can't wait to get it cleaned up and back and shape."

When I finally spoke to Keen this afternoon, I told him: "You guys were really far along, weren't you?" To which he responded, "There you go."

Keen didn't have much to add, except that his clients and Trevino have "been talking since last summer" about purchasing the properties. He says Trevino approached him. When asked about Natinsky's involvement, per Rudy's item, he said, "I'm not gonna comment on that."

City officials say, however, that Natinsky played a major role in the deal; so too Mayor Tom Leppert.

Karl Zavitkovsky, head of the city's Office of Economic Development, says he "knew [Trevino] has an interest" in the Statler and library, but that he doesn't know any specifics about his intentions.

"But I will say this: Leobardo has not approached the city relative to any specific deal," he tells Unfair Park. "We have not had a conversation about that. That doesn't mean we wouldn't entertain it. And the other thing I would say is he's had a good game plan and has gone about the renovation of 1600 [Pacific] in a very responsible way and has done everything he's said he was going to do. And this is a very big priority for us -- it's the last building around Main Street Garden that needs redevelopment around it. It's great news."

John Crawford, president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc., says he hasn't been officially informed of the sale but was aware it was possible. And he's thrilled, of course, if only because he'll stop being asked about the Statler -- which, he says, "is the first thing anybody asks when we discuss downtown."

"This sends a huge message," Crawford says. "Over the last two years we've looked at so many different deals, as you know, and we've always had at any given time a number of deals in play, and we've gotten extremely close a number of times. But until I see the whites of their eyes, I won't start rejoicing and popping the Champagne. But if it's the case, I am thrilled. It's a wonderful step and completes the important redevelopment around Main Street Garden."
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31 comments
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Rich F
Rich F

can you say the next new ultra lounge??

Montemalone
Montemalone

This whole Downtown Dallas thing has become too messy. Too many empty buildings. Too many homeless people. Too many tunnels. Too many parking lots. The only realistic solution is to bulldoze the whole thing, from Central to I-35, Woodall Rogers to I-30. Scrape it all. Then, we can get some consultants to do a thorough study of what our 21st century new-urbanist downtown of the future today should really be.

Oak Cliff Clavin
Oak Cliff Clavin

Who gives a damn if these people pay a dime in taxes; it's a >10 story jalopy of a building, downtown, that someone is willing to plop down some bread to rehab. The real racket at city hall is the smaller properties (and abject incompetence).

God, why do we always have to be the stupid city! Find someone who finally deserves some tax deference and people bitch.

Anonymous
Anonymous

this is almost too ignorant to begin to respond. if the property taxes reflected true market value, this property (and many others) would not be vacant because the costs would be too high to justify sitting on a negative carry asset with literally no income stream. as long as the taxable value stays low, speculation on the prospect of a future deal gives the owner the incentive to sit and wait for the right market and right buyer to come along. this is to say nothing of the fact that the benefits of under-assessment accrued to the previous owner, who I think we can all agree did NOT deserve tax concessions. that is the owner whose refusal to shit or get off the pot left the building as an eyesore on the area.

you've taken the bait, and you're being reeled in hook, line, and sinker. "who cares how much they cheated the tax man; they want to clean the windows! oh, and if they happen to get a public subsidy, so much the better. they're DOING things and before people weren't doing things! get off their backs".

Oak Cliff Clavin
Oak Cliff Clavin

So all the county needed to do was raise the taxes on this property by 300% and it would have sold years ago? Makes perfect sense.

I guess a newly motivated seller would theoretically create a new market of buyers?

Dallas: tax it and they will come.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Yes- it would have sold. Why is this concept so hard to understand? The owner would have had to make the choice to turn it into productive, income-generating real estate, or punt it to someone who wanted to. Or alternatively they could have continued to fund the tax payments on the true value of the land, but it is doubtful they would have done this. This is all very basic.I mean, if you owned a vacant lot in Highland Park, and its taxable value was so low that you paid a small fraction of the taxes each year, wouldn't you continue to hold out for property values to increase? Even a modest yearly appreciation in the land would cover your artificially low out of pocket expenses, such that it would usually make sense to hold the land for a little longer and capture a little more appreciation.

Alban
Alban

Robert: Let's not get too very excited. The seller took a note back for 100% of the purchase price on both projects. No title company involved. Seems very odd.

guest111
guest111

No title company, seems that is Fraud as there are leins filed against the building that have not been released.

Titlemaker
Titlemaker

This is not a real deal. It is a lets do a note carry back to see if we can put a plan in place and get it financed. If not, you just take the property back.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Wouldn't that give them extra leverage with the city? I mean if you're gonna milk it, it takes a cutthroat PR campaign, you gotta hook em in, get the citizens begging to throw the incentives their way. Now, if they'd run a trolley line up and down Elm and Commerce, that would be good inducements, sadly, they're gonna "privatize" more public funds.

El Rey
El Rey

Thrilled!I have wanted to see this building redeveloped for many years. I look forward to any positive change downtown and we all knew Hamsher Intl. was just sitting on the property. At least now DCAD knows the market value and should be able to tax accordingly. (I know lawyers will get involved and argue the income capitalization approach to not pay substantive taxes, but I have to keep my fingers crossed...)

JustH
JustH

Thrilled for Dallas!I don't care who buys the building, whether it's a Mexican company or a HK one or one from Timbuktu.And as for tax revenue: widespread development will bring more revenue. Pricey buildings that sit empty are worthless for the city, regardless of their tax base.And I'm an accountant.

ROI
ROI

This smells like a money laundering facility. So this group comes from Mexico, with only Mexican money, buys buildings, guts them, with (probably illegals doing the work, IMHO) and then lets the buildings just sit, while they pay huge mortgage payments every month.

If any of you people have ever taken an investment/accounting course, those beans dont add up.

Smelly.

El Rey
El Rey

Where is the turnover in this 'laundering'? So you are trying to tell me a cartel would buy two large metropolitan buildings, gut them, pay mortgages, pay taxes, risk forfeiture to the DEA, and then what? According to your theory, all of this would be done with dirty money and 'illegal' labor. Where would the clean money come out? Laundering money usually has a quick turnaround because drug dealers don't like losing control of their money for long periods of time.

Your theory is a bit smelly, I think.

Guest
Guest

He didn't say they were good money launderers.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Let's play a game called figure out how badly the city and other public entities are getting screwed by commercial property owners. This property is currently on the tax rolls for $3.5 million, while its market value is $13.1 million (as proven by the recent sale). In a single year, the city lost $76.5k, DISD lost $118.8k, the County lost $24.3k, community colleges lost $9.5k, and Parkland lost $26k.Take this situation and think about how much commercial property we have in the city. If you think this is the only property that managed to fool DCAD into undertaxing it, you are surely kidding yourself. The blight in many parts of town is facilitated by a taxing authority that allows owners to fleece them out of revenue.There are a couple ways to think about this. We could easily have avoided a tax increase if property values reflected market values. Or look at that DISD number. That's a few teachers right there.This issue should make people angry, but I know that someone will reply with some reason commercial property owners should not have to pay their fair share of taxes.

scottindallas
scottindallas

That used to be common with homes too. A sale would often prove the property worth far more than the assessed value. But, no longer, they've got that market screwed down tight. But, "homeowners" don't offer big campaign checks. You'd think the pay check would work, but alas no.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

This is a constant game with the DCAD-look at the convention center hotel land value vs what the city paid for it. Light years difference. And to think that the city hired former REPUBLICAN rep Fred Hill (the darling of municipalities for his fight against ANY appraisal reform) to lobby Austin last year at a tune of $600,000.00 tax payer dollars (from the city and county of Dallas joined by Collin County)

Who Ray
Who Ray

And, here is the REAL DEAL with the Convention Center Hotel. Once completed, the $500 Million "investment" will go on DCAD for..........(drum roll, please)..............$0........it's "owned" by the City so it will be "off" the tax rolls.

Anonymous, Jr.
Anonymous, Jr.

That DISD $118.8k only pays one dead weight upper administrative crony.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I did not mean to imply that these entities would be good stewards of the funds, and given my faith in the government to live within its means, we'd be in the same predicament with different price tags. The bigger issue I have is that most homes have comps to guide DCAD, and I'd suspect very few owners are on the tax rolls for almost a quarter of their value. So commercial property is sharing a disproportionate amount of the burden.

Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk

Rick Perry would say that they don't have to pay their fair share. Texas is open for bidness!

Downtowner
Downtowner

Well, I'm happy to know that the 1600 Pacific project is going according to schedule because I live across from it and it just looks hopelessly stalled. Maybe this Statler deal will actually happen.

Robert, this would be a good time to get an updated timeline or status on all the buildings around Main Street Garden (Municipal Building, Atmos Complex, Mercantile Continental, and now the Statler Hilton) to see what happens next.

Susanknows
Susanknows

Your observation of 1600 Pacific is the same as mine. Nothing is going on at that building so there is no way its on schedule.

Its all smoking mirrors. It was just a gut job for some "other real" reason.

Andy
Andy

Who was the fellow looking for a set of dining room chairs and a luggage cart? He better get himself down there -- might not have much time. And I will take the piano in the lobby, thank you.

Granny
Granny

Hey, Andy. I'm that "fellow" and I was down there about an hour ago. LOTS of activity (about a dozen men were loading their "peecups") , but no chance for an old lady to slip in and come out with the chairs and luggage cart. DRAT!

Andy
Andy

My bad, Granny! Did you at least try to give them the secret code word?

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