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Dallas building owners editing out ’80s styles

December 22, 2011

Dallas building owners editing out ’80s styles
Real Estate Editor
Published: 22 December 2011 10:38 PM


Mckinney Plaza Lobby

Uptown's One McKinney Plaza office tower recently got a new lobby with light colored stone floors, polished wood on the walls and contemporary art.

Granite is gauche, but wood is good.

Dark stone is so yesterday. Light and airy is now where it’s at.

And brass is best left for spittoons.

Developers and designers are making over many of Dallas’ 1980s commercial buildings with styles that eschew some of that decade’s overwrought designs.

The owners of the 26-year-old Providence Towers on the Dallas North Tollway are doing a $2.5 million renovation that includes erasing some of the ’80s architecture from the buildings’ lobbies.

“I saw it as a mausoleum,” said Kim Brooks, a principal with Transwestern, which leases the property. “We are ripping out the floor and lightening and brightening it — bringing it up to a new level.”

Dallas-based Entos Design orchestrated the building’s makeover.

Acres of dark red granite that line the floors and walls of the buildings will be replaced with lighter polished stone and wood.

“We are going in with an off-white and creamy marble,” Brooks said. “It will have a beautiful design.

“And we are doing some burled wood and adding more lighting,” she said.

Cheaper to renovate

Just the mile farther up the tollway at Belt Line Road, Granite Properties has completed a more costly refurbishment of its Spectrum Center buildings.

Built in 1983, the project was once considered a showplace. But office occupancies fell with the construction of newer office buildings in West Plano and Frisco.

Granite spent $6 million in renovations that included taking out some of the ’80s interior features.

“The building lobbies had black slate floors and gray granite walls and dark panels on the ceiling,” said Granite chief operating officer Greg Fuller. “We updated it with stone floors of a lighter color and wood.

“It feels lighter and airy.”

Fuller said occupancy in the buildings is now close to 90 percent.

“It’s not cheap to renovate,” he said. “But it’s cheaper to buy and renovate than build something new.”

Investor Gaedeke Group spent more than $5 million redoing its One McKinney Plaza office tower in Uptown, which was built in 1985.

The cramped, dated ground-floor lobby has been replaced with a soaring space that features polished wood and metal, light stone on the floors and bright artwork.

The building is now 96 percent leased.

“We’ve had nothing but rave reviews from our tenants. They are thrilled with the end result,” said Belinda Dabliz, Gaedeke’s vice president.

‘Gone and passé’

Landlords of aging buildings that have not gotten a fashion update are taking notice of this success.

“The ones that are renovated do much better,” said Joel Pustmueller, a principal at Peloton Commercial Real Estate. “They are de-brassing everything.

“There is a trend toward simple, contemporary and clean lines,” he said.

Peloton leases downtown Dallas’ largest office tower — the 72-story Bank of America Plaza — that also will be getting a new look in the lobbies and public areas.

“It’s all about making the product lease quicker and at better rental rates,” Pustmueller said. “The buildings that are left unrenovated will be at a definite disadvantage.”

Architects who designed some of Dallas’ 1980s office towers aren’t maudlin about the changes to the old styles.

“It’s gone and passé,” said David Habib, who designed buildings including downtown’s 1700 Pacific and Harwood Center and the 8080 Central tower in North Dallas. “The styles of the ’70s and ’80s are gone.”

Habib said it’s rare to see an office tower constructed with the granite exteriors popular 30 years ago.

“Glass is taking over,” he said. “It makes the building less heavy and playful.

“I think you will see architecture become much more light and environmentally correct.”