Outside the Statler, a Celebration. Inside the Statler, a Sneak Peek at the Work to Be Done.
|Photos by Sam Merten|
|Who can you name in this gathering of officials the mayor pulled together for a press conference-closing group photo?|
And within minutes, the place was packed -- with city council members (Natinsky, Margolin, Medrano, Hunt, Koop, Kadane), preservationists (Preservation Dallas's Katherine Seale, Veletta Lill), developers and downtown real-estaters (Ted Hamilton and Jack Gosnell among them) and other city officials. At which point Mayor Dwaine Caraway, but half a week into his temporary term, arrived to officially announce the done deal: "What mayor could ask for a project as important as this on his third day? Let's give these three days a round of applause."
Then Downtown Dallas Inc.'s John Crawford spoke, offering his favorite aphorism: "Success is a team sport." And then Lill spoke, repeating something the late David Dillon once told her: "If there's one building your going to save, it needs to be the Statler." Then Caraway gathered almost everyone in attendance for the photo you see above -- a grand gesture in front of the old Dallas Grand Hotel, which is very Caraway.
And then Trevino invited some of us inside the hotel, where a Ricchi Development banner already hangs on the driveway covering he wants to remove in order to restore the facade to its original look. And for the next hour, Sam and I wandered the Statler -- from the ground-floor Churchill's, still a sight in stained glass, to the rooftop sun deck, where the world's loneliest jacuzzi awaits company.
(Angela Hunt, matter of fact, toured it this afternoon and said after the press conference she was "amazed" by the restoration in progress, which thus far has involved stripping the building of all its myriad add-ons and getting it down to the original concrete. She promises to post photos on her website perhaps as early as this evening; I'll post one or two when she does. Trevino also invited Sam and I to come take a look tomorrow during lunch; expect an account by Thursday's end.)
|Natinsky, Kadane and Medrano take a spin around the Statler's ballroom|
As we wanted further and further into the musty maze, I asked the mayoral candidate about that. He said he didn't broker the deal, but served as an intermediary between Hamsher and Trevino: "I was the Kissinger of the deal," Natinsky said, grinning.
He says there's no plan yet, only a concept or two. Retail downstairs, absolutely -- perhaps by year's end. Residential, yes. But beyond that, he's not sure. He says he will spend the next several months gathering investors and formalizing a plan. He says he's in no rush. He says: "I want to do this right."
Then we strolled to the sun deck, which offers one of the most glorious views of the city.
"Are you intimidated by this promise you've made -- to not only redo the Statler, but to restore it to its former glory?" I asked Trevino.
"I was at first, but only a little," he said. "I was more nervous signing the papers."
We'll post a longer slide show tomorrow.
|The fireplace inside Churchill's, the interior of which is just below|
|The Governor's Suite on the top floor of the hotel|
|A view of Main Street Garden from the sun deck of the Statler|