Turk Who Was Going to Redo 1401 Elm Now Has Big Plans For the Very Big 500 S. Ervay

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This morning I called Karl Zavitkovsky, head of the city's Office of Economic Development, about something more or less related when he mentioned the "Turkish Trump." Say what now? Ah -- turns out, he thought we wrote this piece about Mike Sarimsakci, the developer who came to the city with big plans for renovating 1401 Elm Street, so long as he got $30 million from the city in TIF assistance. But, nope, not us. Though, Karl, now that you mention it ...

Which is how we got on to the subject of redevelopment plans for both the George Dahl-designed former First National Bank on Elm and 500 South Ervay, the old Butler Brothers warehouse next to Dallas City Hall. Because in case you forgot, that building's also up for an overhaul courtesy some California investors ... with Sarimsakci, as it turns out, who's no longer involved with 1401 Elm Street. Sarimsakci doesn't say why, explaining via email from Istanbul that that he and Istanbul-based Polidev International "amicably departed our ways."

Downtown Dallas Inc. bossman John Crawford insists the 1401 Elm project's still "onward and upward." Matter of fact, he tells Unfair Park today, a new guy's coming to town at month's end to discuss that do-over.

"I have no reason to think anything's changed other than the point person," says Crawford in advance of Downtown Dallas Inc.'s annual meeting tomorrow. "We certainly hope so. That's a major project in downtown, and we've found there's more and more interest in 1401 Elm. There are a lot of people interested in seeing it does come to fruition who may or may not want to play a part in it. But last word I had was onward and upward, and they were just transitioning between" players.

Sarimsakci says "it would not be appropriate for me to speculate as to what [Polidev's] plans are" for 1401 Elm. But he does offer a laundry list of possibilities for 500 South Ervay:

Per his email:

Briefly we are redeveloping 650,000 sq ft Butler Building. It would be a mixed use project.

  • 250 rental units
  • 200 extended stay apartments; Hilton Home2 or Starwood Elements would be the flag.
  • Retail and Restaurant office space 80,000 sq ft.
  • Total development cost: $55 million
  • Architect: MMA Jerry Merriman
  • Contractor: Possibly Andres Construction
  • Seeking historical tax credit so we could restore the facade to its original brick facade.

Merriman's actually involved in both the Ervay and Elm projects; the Statler redo too. And Crawford mentions something in our chat that Sarimsakci neglected to point out in his email as a possibility for Ervay: "He's been talking to a charter school," says DDI's president and CEO. "I don't know where that is, but he continues to talk about more restaurant and retail use at ground level, so he's been drinking the Kool-Aid and had gotten the word that's going to be the important part of any part of project downtown."

Crawford, the chief booster for downtown, is optimistic both projects will move forward sooner than later. But as far as the city's concerned, they're both in holding patterns, at least "until a development plan is presented," says Zavitkovsky. He says as he understands it Polidev is conducting best-use studies for 1401 Elm while also feeling out interest in ground-level retail leasing.

"There was a preliminary plan presented for 1401 Elm, and we, based on that, put together a TIF commitment, which is tied to delivery of finished project," Zavitkovsky says. "And if it doesn't get started or finished in a certain time, we have the ability to move on. For Ervay they're talking about residential apartments, some type of hospitality, but I haven't seen any numbers put to that. Till something concrete comes in place we're waiting back to see what materializes."

Sarimsakci, in his email to me this afternoon, vows something tangible is coming sooner than later: "We like Dallas and Downtown Dallas," he writes by way of adios. "We will be investing more of our Dollars from Istanbul."

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