This morning, as expected, Turkish developer Mukemmel "Mike" Sarimsakci sat among city officials in charge of downtown development at a meeting table flanked by colorful posters representing the future of 1401 Elm, the 1.3-million-square-foot office building that's been vacant since January of 2010. The developer's contract to purchase the property was contingent on the city's approval of $30 million in TIF funds for the hulking building's restoration.
To the anticipated relief of everyone in the room, the request was approved unanimously, along with the basic principles for the building's redesign. Architect Jerry Merriman guided the presentation outlining the project, which promises ground-level retailers topped by several floors of office space and the highest residential apartments in downtown Dallas (some of which, the would-be new owner said, would be affordable housing). The famed observation deck and ninth-floor plaza will be refurbished and open to the public. We've got the whole presentation on the other side.
It's an immense fixer-upper, and in order to get the TIF money, Sarimsakci's1401 Elm Street Holdings will be required to sink into the building at least $125,000,000. Sarimsakci expects demolition will begin in October and says construction will be completed in January 2014.
"Everything we do will have the historic fabric in mind," Merriman said, referencing the building's rich history as an mid-century modern architectural gem built by George Dahl.
"It's big, but we're used to doing very big things," Sarimsakci said in a manner more polite that boastful. "It doesn't scare us ... We have the staying power."
Sarimsakci believes this building will contribute to Dallas's goal of becoming a more walkable city. When he comes to town, he stays at the Joule and walks a few blocks to 1401 Elm. "It doesn't matter how hot it is," he says. "I persistently do that."
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Sarimsakci, whose massive global portfolio includes U.S. properties in California, makes Dallas sound like a no-brainer for an international businessman with a trained eye for real estate and a huge chunk of change.
"I think the fact that [Dallas] is pro-business, pro-development, and everyone is eager to create jobs," he told Unfair Park. Now, he's eying other deals around town -- including the nine-story office building at 411 Akard. Lucky for him, he has an abundance of vacant downtown properties from which to choose.