City Hall

TIF For Tat, or: You Say You Need an Update on the Statler and Old Downtown Library?

Karl Zavitkovsky, director of the Office of Economic Development, has a long Monday morning ahead of him: He's scheduled to deliver three presentations to the council's Economic Development Committee, one of which has to do with two of our favorite topics: the Statler Hilton and the George Dahl-designed library that sits next to it on Commerce across from Main Street Garden.

Both, of course, are now owned by Leobardo Trevino, who spent $17.5 million purchasing the properties earlier this year. At the moment he's in the middle of cleaning up both, which have been vacant for years. After that ... well, that's still up in the air.

Very early, very maybe plans call for putting retail and restaurants on the ground floor of the Statler, which would once again be a hotel ... save for the top two floors, which might maybe could dunno we'll-see serve as residential condos. The library would have ground-floor retail, with offices on the two floors above that. And both would have basement-level parking, three levels at least.

Zavitkovsky says he might be able to fill in a few more blanks Monday. But he'll for sure put the Statler and library into the larger picture of ongoing and planned downtown redevelopment.

"What we tried to do with the briefing is say, 'Here's some context,' because to get the downtown core to what it needs to be you have to tie these buildings together," he tells Unfair Park this afternoon. "You've got half done, but here's the real opportunity to close the loop."

He'll show the council what's been done with the two properties, what might be done and what he hopes could be done either by Trevino or a developer he may bring in at a later date, which remains his plan at the old LTV Tower. He'll also tell the council that earlier this month, the Downtown Connection TIF District Board of Directors approved putting $13 million in TIF funding behind the Statler and another $3 behind the library.

It'll be up to the council to OK it now.

"If nothing else, Leobardo's already made the property more marketable," he says. "Clean-up has to be done regardless, so we feel like that merits support. And then we'll look independently at the ultimate build-out."

Fact is, he says, there will be more TIF funding downtown projects sooner than later, among them Tim Headington's plans to expand the Joule.

Says Zavitkovsky, "People ought to look at this in context: If you're going to do this, you need to take the steps that are necessary to close the loop. It's usually very difficult to get the outside financing for this kind of infrastructure and clean-up." He's speaking specifically about the Statler and library now. "You're taking a big risk, betting the fact some good redevelopment will come out of it. The fact is the financing [Trevino's] put together will put that building in a much more marketable position, and that's very beneficial to the city and worth our investment."

I'll post the PowerPoint when City Hall makes it available later this evening. Let's say ... tomorrow morning.