City, Hamiltons to Rework Atmos Complex Deal in Hopes of Jump-Starting Development

Larry and Ted Hamilton took control of the four-building Atmos Complex, situated almost directly behind the Statler Hilton, a little more than a year ago, after Forest City got tired of paying penalties to the city (about $250,000) for having done next to nada. The Hamiltons, who just got done with the Aloft Hotel downtown and who resuscitated the likes of the Dallas Power & Light and Davis buildings downtown, had hoped to breathe $40 million worth of new life into the sprawling complex by September 2013, but as Larry Hamilton told Unfair Park a few weeks ago, don't hold your breath: "We've completely finished the design of it. The issue is financing, and we're in about as bad a time as you can imagine to get financing."

That said, the Hamiltons are hoping to get it back on track sooner than later: On Thursday, the Downtown Dallas Development Authority and the Downtown Connection Tax Increment Financing Boards will meet to discuss reworking the city's deal with the Hamiltons in order to fast-track the development as much as possible. Among the solutions: giving the Hamiltons less in deferred TIF payments (from a capped amount of $23 million to closer to $18 million), while upping the amount of Section 108 loans they would get from the city via the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. And at least some of those HUD loans -- which would total about $15 million worth, Ted Hamilton tells Unfair Park -- will be repaid with the deferred TIF payments. Meanwhile, the Hamiltons have agreed to increase the number of affordable housing apartments in the 225-unit complex -- from 10 percent to 33 percent.

Hamilton says lenders weren't terribly interested in getting involved in a deal contingent upon so much TIF money coming in so far down the road (between 2016 and 2018) -- especially since there wasn't an exact amount in place (initially, it was for anywhere between $12.5 and $23 million). But the Section 108 loans will help -- though how quickly is anyone's guess, Hamilton says, as it will depend upon how quickly the city can get HUD to sign off.

"Assuming everything goes according to plan, this will go before the city council on December 9," Ted tells Unfair Park. "We still have to get HUD to approve the 108 loans, which could take two months. So, realistically, the earliest we'll break ground is late in the first quarter [of 2010]. But it could be earlier if the city can get HUD to approve the Section 108 loans faster. But we're still excited about this: It's a great project in a part of downtown that needs a shot in the arm and is about to get a law school, Main Street Garden and that has the Continental Building back on track. We're taking four units and providing a lot of affordable housing. It's good for the city, good or us and good for the tax base."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky