The future seemed bright for the Dallas Plaza Hotel in 2006. Developer Larry Hamilton, fresh off a slew of successful downtown redevelopment projects, had just purchased the seedy, 12-story complex on Akard Street just across Interstate 30 from City Hall with plans to turn it into a boutique hotel. Construction was set to begin later that year.
Those plans fell through. A few years later, neighbors scuttled Plan B, a partnership with Central Dallas Ministries (now CitySquare) to invest $25 million to turn the building into affordable housing. That seems to have been about when Hamilton mothballed the building, posting an ad on Craigslist for caretakers who would keep vagrants out in exchange for free rent.
Now, Plan C. Slated to go before the City Council in December is an application for an $11 million U.S. Housing and Urban Development loan that will fund the purchase and environmental remediation of the property for a development that will bring an estimated 90 permanent, full-time jobs and ameliorate an eyesore near downtown -- namely, a Holiday Inn & Suites.
Charles Brideau, assistant director of the city's housing department, said the deal has been in the works for several months. The HUD loan won't go to Holiday Inn or the city but to the Texas Educational Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit that, best as I can tell, is affiliated with CitySquare, which I've called, but I haven't heard back from them yet.
Brideau estimates the project will take about six months, though he's not sure; this is only the second commercial development his office has done, the first being Lake Highlands Town Center. That's all assuming the loan is approved by the council following a period of public comment, and then by HUD. If not, it'll be on to Plan D.
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Update at 5:32 p.m.: Hamilton, with whom we had left a message, called to explain things a bit more.
"First of all, we basically had a hotel financing market that went into the toilet in 2008, and it hasn't really emerged," he said. That killed the plans for the boutique hotel. In the meantime, the city opened the Omni, which has prompted an uptick in convention business which in turn prompted Holiday Inn to give Hamilton's company a franchise.
The Texas Educational Opportunity Fund will, which is affiliated with CitySquare, will hold the title to the property, with Hamilton's company handling the development. Right now, they're waiting for financing to fall into place, but he's expecting to start remediation work next summer.