City Hall

What's Up With The Grand Ricchi, Anyway?

I'd planned on going to the Downtown Connection TIF District Review Committee Meeting, but, well, I had a prior commitment, and, besides, the thing was canceled for lack of a quorum. There was, though, an item of interest on the agenda: "Review and approval of design plans for 1600 Pacific by Dallas Ricchi Investments LLC." Which should ring a bell: That's Leobardo Trevino's proposed Grand Ricchi Dallas, first announced here back in December. Said Trevino at the time, within the next 18 months he expected to reopen the former LTV Tower as a hotel-condo for "people from Mexico who want to have another place."

But since then, there's been very little news about Trevino's progress; I did stumble across the Ricchi San Antonio Investments' website, which directs your attention to a Grand Ricchi placeholder with that new logo you see above.

But calls to the San Antonio number or Ricchi Dallas Investments LLC's local number are greeted by robo-voiced voice mails. I've left messages for Trevino from here to Hidalgo and will update accordingly.

I did talk to Karl Zavitkovsky, head of the city's Office of Economic Development, who says he hasn't seen the plans yet; he says maybe Karl Stundins in his office has. (Stundins says Trevino's on his second architect.) Zavitkovsky, though, can offer this update: Trevino and his partners have "gone in and done the environmental mitigation on the building." That started at the end of last year. "And now they are working through the design portion."

The Downtown Connection TIF Design Review Committee has to see the designs -- and OK them -- before Grand Ricchi can even think about collecting a could-be $13 million in TIF incentives, including interest, for redevelopment of eight floors. Till the design committee signs off, says Zavitkovsky, it's "still fairly conceptual." After the TIF board gives its okee-doke, then it's off to the council's Economic Development Committee before landing in front of the full council.

Update at 3:45 p.m.:
I just spoke with Trevino, who's in the building at this very moment. Our brief chat is on the other side. But, he says, "we're right on schedule." Still, some significant changes to the original plans have been made since last he and I spoke in December. Find out what they are on the other side.

Trevino says the building has indeed been gutted -- "down to the concrete," he says, "just as we promised." The stairwells have been redone, he says, "and we're in the process of starting to put in all the mechanical systems." The design of the building "is also pretty much" completed, he says -- before saying that the original hotel-condo concept has been drastically altered.

That is: He's still planning on turning at least some of the Grand Ricchi into a hotel. Matter of fact, he says, "we have a letter of intent from a hotel that wants to acquire a certain space in the building." Who that is, he won't say: "It's confidential."

But, he says, the hotel will only be part of the mix: "We were going to do residential condos, but we're going now going to do a mixed use of office condos and hotel. Doing an office condo, that means you own your space -- and part of it's deductible. Let's say you're an attorney and you want 1,000 square feet downtown. Instead of leasing it [here], you buy the 1,000 square feet. We sell you the office space. Instead of paying rent, you own it. Right now in downtown you can lease a space but can't own it in a high-rise. We'll be the only building doing office condos downtown right now. It's very exciting because you'll be able to furnish it the way you want. You decorate it to your tastes. The market studies show us that's what people want, and we can deliver a high-quality product."

There will also be retail, he says -- and, matter of fact, he's hired UCR Urban's Jack Gosnell to "help us recruit the retail." (Speaking of.)

"We're right on schedule," Trevino says, "and everything's moving along. We've had a great response from potential customers who want to lease the space. It's coming along. We're very excited, and we're looking to acquire more property in Dallas."

He invited me over this afternoon to take a peek around. Just may have to take him up on that. After I finish a piece, forthcoming, about Angela Hunt and yesterday's budget amendment.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky