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Transport Life - Slated For Lofts


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#1 David Love

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:29 PM

Originally posted 1/19/04:

http://www.dfw.com/m...ess/7734516.htm

FORT WORTH - Another vacant downtown office tower is slated for rejuvenation after a Fort Worth oil and gas executive acquired the 24-story Transport Life building with plans to convert it to high-end loft apartments.

The redevelopment would bring more residents downtown, and would move what has been a blight back into commercial use.

Jim Finley, president of the oil and gas producer Finley Resources in Fort Worth, acquired the property at Seventh and Main streets under the limited partnership Farmers & Mechanics Group, named to represent the building's origins, from Equitable Life Insurance Co. of Iowa.

For nearly two years the building had been under a purchase contract to Intradel, a New Orleans-based developer that also planned to convert it into loft apartments with some retail space.

Finley bought the building in December after Intradel and its equity partner could not close the deal and the contract expired.

Finley hasn't selected an architect or general contractor, he said.

"We bought the building with a 30-day close and basically paid cash for it," Finley said. "It's a project we have the expertise to do. We believe in Fort Worth and in downtown Fort Worth."

Andrew Taft, president of Downtown Fort Worth Inc., said it is good news that another local owner has acquired downtown property. It will be one of the last major buildings on Main Street to be redeveloped, he said.

"It's certainly very exciting, particularly with the introduction of more residential downtown," Taft said. "It's a very significant property on Main Street."

Bill Behr, a principal in NAI/Stoneleigh Huff Brous McDowell in Fort Worth, who represented Equitable in the deal, said that converting the former office building into residential space is good use of the building.

"It's a niche that up until now has gone unfulfilled," Behr said. "It's great news for all of downtown and Main Street especially."

This sale is the second large downtown real estate deal this month.

XTO Energy, another Fort Worth-based oil and gas producer, paid $5.5 million for the Landmark Tower, a block west of the Transport Life building on Seventh Street. XTO's plans for the building haven't been released.

The only other residential project under way downtown is the Tower, the former Bank One office building at Fifth and Throckmorton streets. Its 37 floors are being redeveloped into luxury apartments and condominiums with some office and retail space. The project is expected to be completed mid-2005.

Within several months, construction should begin on the 1,500-unit Trinity Bluff, a development on the north end of downtown.

Although engineering and environmental surveys have been done on the Transport Life building, Finley said it is too early to discuss details of the project. Work won't begin on the building for at least six months, he said.

Finley, the majority owner of Farmers & Mechanics, said a "minor amount" of asbestos must be removed first.

Part of the problem over the years with redeveloping the building has been a lack of tenant parking. Intradel said it ran into that problem trying to get financing.

Finley said he is looking at gutting the first nine floors and installing automotive elevators and attendants for tenants' cars.

Only the 11th through 24th floors will be apartments, he said. The 10th floor will remain office space.

The 174,711-square-foot building will have no more than 70 apartments, with some set aside for build-to-suits for tenants who want larger units, he said.

This is not Finley's first real estate deal. He is half-owner of Park Plaza, 2501 Parkview Drive, along the Trinity River banks, with real estate investor Jim Ryffel, and he owns various lots around town.

His more recent deals include buying a former auto repair shop at 1119 W. Fifth St., on the west edge of downtown, for a baseball batting range called Sluggers.

He also bought and is renovating an office building at 1000 Macon St.

Finley founded Finley Resources in 1998 after leaving the petroleum producer Duer Wagner & Co., which has 130 employees and drills in five states.

The Transport Life building has been vacant since 1997, when Conseco, then the building's tenant, moved its operations to Indiana.

The building went on the block in the fall of 1999 with a price tag of $4.9 million. It was under contract with Intradel in early 2001 and was listed at reduced price in October, when Intradel ran into trouble closing the deal, Behr said.

The Tarrant Appraisal District values the building at $2.1 million for tax purposes.

Although a purchase price was not disclosed, deed records filed with Tarrant County show that a $1.2 million note was taken on the property with Texas Bank in December.

Behr and Leland Prowse, who is also a principal with NAI/Stoneleigh Huff Brous McDowell, represented Equitable, and Steve Nichols, a Fort Worth broker, represented Farmers & Mechanics Group.

#2 dismuke

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:30 PM

Finley said he is looking at gutting the first nine floors and installing automotive elevators and attendants for tenants' cars.

Do you suppose that could be done without significant alterations to the exterior? I would assume at the very least that they would have to remove the windows for purposes of adequate ventilation. It surprises me that skyscraper floors that were originally designed to hold people and furniture would be strong enough to hold automobiles and withstand the vibrations caused by their traffic. I guess they at least sometimes were in order for them to consider it.

Landmark Tower is not very far away. Perhaps if XTO does not find another use for that building, maybe the Transport Life project could create enough potential business to justify the expense of razing the Landmark Tower and replacing it with a parking garage which could also generate additional income serving other buildings in the area as well. Perhaps the revenue that the Transport Life Building developers could generate from leasing out apartments and/or offices on the first 9 floors would be enough to offset the additional costs of contracting the parking out to another firm. I don't know how far fetched my little idea is - but I would rather see something like that than see the lower part of the building become a garage.

#3 ghughes

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:30 PM

They would probably need to change things, but I think it's possible to use screens and/or decorative grillwork to minimize the visual impact.

#4 David Love

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:31 PM

I'm not up to speed on Automotive Elevators... Anyone know the pros and cons on them? I'm guessing space savings. Not sure where they would fall in the cost arena, structure vs. mechanical.

#5 John T Roberts

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:31 PM

Ventilation may not be too much of a problem on the building. Remember, it has operable windows; they could keep them open to ventilate the garage. Secondly, the building has a light well for ventilation. They could remove the windows on those lower levels on the alley and light well sections and this action wouldn't be visible from the street. Either one or both of those actions may satisfy the percentage of open space and ventilation requirements for a parking garage. There also might be a way to mechanically exhaust the space on the light well side, or possibly tie into the existing brick stack on the light well side of the building.

On the subject of automotive elevators, I'm not well versed, either.

Dismuke, your idea regarding the properties on W. 7th sounds interesting.

#6 David Love

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:31 PM

Prices start at $400,000.00

#7 shovel head

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:31 PM

Does anyone know the General Contractor for this project??:

#8 renamerusk

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:32 PM

Did anyone other then myself notice that the light were burning brightly on multi-floors of TLB. It added a new look to the skyline; it is great and quite a beautiful sight.

#9 John T Roberts

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:32 PM

Originally posted 2/16/04:

Rename, I've been downtown a few times over the last week, including at night, but didn't see the lights on.

#10 John T Roberts

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:33 PM

Shovel Head, I do not know the general contractor for the project. I saw the building with the lights on from I-30 tonight and it looks much better with lights on inside. However, once it is converted to residential, the interior lights will not have that "office" look.

#11 BB

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:36 PM

Great news! Glad to hear that these long awaited residential projects are starting to take off.

#12 jonnyrules23

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:36 PM

I'm so happy the project is finally getting started! You know, the TLB makes a big impact on the skyline from certain angles, and its great that you'll be looking at a working building and not an empty one. Will they redo the base to make it more coherent with the twenties design of the rest of the tower?

#13 John T Roberts

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:37 PM

The base was already redone to resemble the original back in 1988. Most of the glass on the base is reflective, and you can't see into the building. My only suggestion would be to replace the glass with less tint and reflectivity, so people can see into the building more.

#14 Resident Expert

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:37 PM

Did i understand the article correctly that there will be only 60 units?

#15 jonnyrules23

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:38 PM

I looked at the link to Intradel, and they had a cool aerial pic of the TLB. If you notice to the right of it is some generic looking building, possibly a parking garage.

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Why couldn't they buy that property and use it as parking for the tenants of this building? That way, no historic architecture is compromised and there's more room for residences.

#16 John T Roberts

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:38 PM

The parking garage to the north was not for sale and not a part of the Main Street Lofts project. The deal with Intradel fell through and another developer is taking over the project with only the 24 story building as a part of the redevelopment. At one time, the insurance companies in Transport Life did have a parking lease with the garage, but obviously the lease ended when Transport closed down this operation. It is also apparent that the owner of the garage did not want to lease out any of his spaces for overnight parking by the residents of the lofts.

#17 IC Insider

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:38 PM

Intradel secured parking in the garage with a long term lease. The City was fighting with them on some tax issues they needed to make the project work. The seller was bleeding them on extension payments and kicked them out the deal (as a new buyer came in play) when they needed an extension to work the issue out with the city. The new buyer wanted to put parking on the 1st 8 floors which will not work and will destroy the historic natural of the building.

#18 John T Roberts

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:39 PM

Thank you for the information. What is the current status on the project?

#19 jonnyrules23

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:39 PM

YES! I knew someone would come to their senses and not destroy any part of that beautiful building. Thank you to whoever owns that garage for leasing it out. Maybe now they'll have more room for lofts on those floors planned for the garage in the TLB.
================
Paschal rules!!!

#20 IC Insider

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:39 PM

I heard the new owner got shot down by the historic people on his plans to put parking inside the building. As you know, he would have to cut vent fans for the exhaust, which would destroy the historic facade. Intradel had the building placed on the historic register, so the new owner is not happy about that. I assume the project will not move forward very fast with the new owner. Intradel has offered to help (they have all the pieces) but the new owner has his own ideas.

#21 dismuke

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:41 PM

Intradel had the building placed on the historic register, so the new owner is not happy about that.

But surely the new owner was aware of this as well as the restrictions involved before he purchased the property.

I assume the project will not move forward very fast with the new owner.

Why would that be to his advantage? Are you saying that he prehaps did not know what he was getting into when he purchased the property?

Intradel has offered to help (they have all the pieces) but the new owner has his own ideas.

I'm sorry - but I am not sure I understand. In what way has Intradel offered to help? What kind of "pieces" do they have?

#22 IC Insider

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 08:41 PM

They bought it cheap and fast and did not look at all the parts. These historic buildings are tricky. This is why it will move slow. Intradel offered to assist with tranfering the parking agreement, plans, etc. The new owner has his own ideas.

#23 John T Roberts

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 09:25 PM

Several people have been asking about the status of the Transport Life Building. Over the last few months, asbestos removal has been taking place. That is probably why demolition looks so slow. The developer is now planning to go before the Historic and Cultural Landmarks Commisssion on July 12th. For the full agenda, go to our Fort Worth Forum Calendar. It is posted there.

The owner is going for a designation at the City's highest landmark level.

Here are the details for the Transport Life Building from the H&CLC Agenda:

APPROVED DENIED
HD04-04 714 Main St.; Zoned:
Applicant/Owner Steve Nicholas

Requests a Designation as Highly Significant Endangered ________ _______

COA04-66 714 Main St
Applicant/Owner Steve Nicholas
Requests a Certificate of Appropriateness to
a) Create a 15’ x 9’ entrance on south façade
b ) Recreate an original entrance on east façade
c) Use existing door for fire stair exit
d) Add a 8’ x 9’ metal roll up door on west façade
e) Remove smoke stack
f) Replace windows:
east & south façade: w/ 4’ x 6’, 1/1 metal windows
north façade: 4’ x 6’, 3/3 metal
g) Add a 3’ x 6’ metal, 3/3 window on north façade ________ _______
APPROVED DENIED


TAX04-28 714 Main St.
Applicant/Owner Steve Nicholas

Historic Site Exemption ________ _______

#24 mosteijn

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 09:46 PM

b ) Recreate an original entrance on east façade


Huh, sounds like they actually want to restore the base to how it originally looked, at least, to an extent. There's retail still planned on the ground floor, right?

#25 John T Roberts

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Posted 01 July 2004 - 10:15 PM

Huh, sounds like they actually want to restore the base to how it originally looked, at least, to an extent.

Jonny, the base on this building is rather tricky. The base that was constructed with the building in 1921 was removed in the 1960's and replaced with a mosaic tile base. At that time, the mezzanine inside the banking lobby was filled in for an entire floor. Then in 1988 when Transport Life moved in, they did a "modern interpretation" of the original base. It was not an exact replica of the base, but it did re-create arched openings above the window bays on the base. There was a smaller, arched entry on Main, and they did not replicate it. It now looks as if they are going to restore (to an extent) the base back to the way it was originally built.

As far as I know, the base will have retail. I would suggest someone to either go to the Landmarks Commission Meeting or view it on replay on Charter Cable Channel 7 when it replays during July and early August.

#26 John T Roberts

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 05:57 PM

Here is a quick overview of the project:

Two new shafts will be cut through the building for car lifts. These car lifts will run from the basement to the 8th floor.
One new shaft will be cut through the building for a new stair.
Basement: parking, mechanical, lease space
Street level: parking, main lobby, "entry" for lease space
Level 2 - lease space (probably a restaurant)
Level 3 - parking
Level 4 - storage area for residents
Levels 5-8 - parking
Level 9 - executive offices
Levels 10-23 - typical resident floors
Level 24 - "penthouse" floor to be finished-out later
The roof will be stripped and replaced with a paver system to create a roof terrace for resident's use.

The typical resident floors have 5 apartments each:
- Unit A: 2 bedroom, 1359 SF
- Unit B: 2 bedroom, 1677 SF
- Unit C: 2 bedroom, 1543 SF
- Unit D: 1 bedroom, 926 SF
- Unit E: 1 bedroom, 590 SF
The plans call for 70 units (5 per floor x 14 floors). The 24th level will have additional units, but these are not currently designed.

#27 mosteijn

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Posted 07 July 2004 - 08:00 PM

Sounds good to me :smwink: I just hope they don't do anything to the facade by converting the 8 bottom levels to parking.

#28 Thurman52

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 05:35 PM

The FW Business Press has a story on the building this week.

FW Business Press Article - Transport Life

#29 John T Roberts

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Posted 14 July 2004 - 05:40 PM

Yes, and the Landmarks Commission approved all items on their agenda relating to the project.

#30 John T Roberts

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 03:54 PM

Jonny, I watched the replay of the Landmarks Commission meeting last night on Cable Channel 7 and the plan is to reconstruct an arched entrance in the center of the Main Street facade. This was originally on the building, but removed in the 1950's when the mosaic tile was placed on the base. However, one major alteration that will be added to the base are the overhead doors for the car lifts on the 7th Street side. There is a discrepancy between the text of the H&CLC agenda and the drawings presented at the meeting. The drawings showed two overhead door openings on 7th Street. The plan for restoration of the tower section is to remove all of the windows and replace with new ones. The existing windows on the east and south facades are 4' x 6' 1/1 wood windows. The developer was granted permission to replace all of them with aluminum windows that look like the original ones. The existing windows on the west and north sides are 4' x 6' 3/3 metal windows. The developer was granted permission to replace all of those windows with aluminum windows that match as well. The 1/1 and 3/3 numbers represent the number of individual panes of glass within the windows themselves. A 3/3 window has three panes of glass in the top half and 3 panes of glass in the lower half. The owner also wanted to add a row of windows on the north side of the building to give the apartment dwellers better views down Main Street. This was approved by the H&CLC, but will have to go for variances in order to be done. One of the small alterations to the facade that was approved was the removal of the smoke stack. It currently serves no purpose and is not structurally sound. According to the engineers, the only way to repair it will be to partially demolish it and then rebuild it. Removing it all together is a cheaper alternative that was approved.

Finally, the commission voted to designate the building as Highly Significant and Endangered.

From the Business Press Article, it appeared that the owners are planning to do some type of decorative lighting for the building.

#31 mosteijn

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 09:45 PM

I'm still a little confused on something; the article makes it sound like the restaurant will be on the 2nd floor, and doesn't specifically mention ground floor retail fronting either Main or 7th, which I thought was in the original plan. But I will be glad if it's on the 2nd floor, an upscale restaurant does basically nothing for street activity, especially if it's intended to benefit the residents of the building it's in :rolleyes:

#32 John T Roberts

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 09:52 PM

The presentation was rather confusing, but at least we know the developers are serious about converting the builidng into apartments. I was impressed by the window replacement selections. Also, I was pleased to hear they plan to do some decorative lighting on the building at night. This is something downtown needs.

#33 mosteijn

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 10:01 PM

Also, I was pleased to hear they plan to do some decorative lighting on the building at night. This is something downtown needs.

I completely agree. Now if only the Commerce Building...

#34 John T Roberts

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 10:02 PM

The last time that I visited with the people from the Commerce Building, they stated they had no plans to install any new decorative lighting on the building.

#35 John T Roberts

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 07:35 PM

How would you like to have a view like this?

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These pictures were taken from the roof of the Transport Life Building (now called 714 Main) and they were donated by a forum member.

When it first opened in 1921, the building was named the Farmers and Mechanics Bank Building. They were purchased in 1927 by the Fort Worth National Bank. Fort Worth National Bank occupied this building until 1954. After that point, it was named the Continental Life Building. Around that time Continental Life installed two rooftop neon signs just above the cornice on the south and east sides. In the 1960's Continental Oil Co. (Conoco) installed a revolving rooftop sign on top of the penthouse. Like many other 1920's skyscrapers, the Transport Life Building at 714 Main, had its base altered and the banking lobby divided into two floors in the late 1950's/early 1960's. Like many others, including the next door Baker Building, portions of the original lobby remain. Here are a couple of pictures from the interior of the first floor.

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#36 ghughes

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 07:41 PM

Fabulous! The pictures are a thrill, I can only imagine the real thing!

#37 mosteijn

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 07:48 PM

How would you like to have a view like this?

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WOW! Just imagine that view in 10-15 years, post TRV... :eek:

I must know this mysterious forum member, I have begun to envy his/her ability to get on historic rooftops and take all the good views away :D

#38 JBB

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 07:58 PM

Fantastic views, especially the one looking north.

#39 John T Roberts

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 08:18 PM

Jonny, it is actually not that hard to go up to these places. It does help if you are in the architectural, design, or construction business. Four years ago, I was invited to take a complete tour of the Sinclair Building by the head of the Maintenance Department. I received permission from the building owner to take and publish the pictures on the web site. I stood on the roof of the very corner of the building shown in those pictures and took one of the Blackstone Hotel. That photo is still on the site.

#40 mosteijn

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 09:43 PM

It does help if you are in the architectural, design, or construction business.

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Well darn. Do you think they'd let me in the AIA? Who cares if you have to be a legal adult, that's discrimination in the first place :D.

Serious question: Is there some type of junior AIA or internship program out there I can join? It would sure look good on my application to Rice (well, I hope Rice.)

#41 EricTCU

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 10:10 PM

Serious question: Is there some type of junior AIA or internship program out there I can join? It would sure look good on my application to Rice (well, I hope Rice.)

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Rice. Ha! Waste four years of your life! ;) I mean, they don't call Rice "the TCU of Houston" for nothing!!

#42 David Love

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Posted 30 September 2004 - 02:56 PM

I’m assuming the lofts are still “for rent” only….

Incredible views by the way.

#43 John T Roberts

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Posted 30 September 2004 - 08:47 PM

Serious question: Is there some type of junior AIA or internship program out there I can join?

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Jonny, it is a little early for you to join the AIA. However, they do have an Associate Membership for people in the profession, but not registered. That is something you might consider once you have graduated from college or possibly while you are in school, but employed by an architect. I'm not sure how old you have to be to become an Associate Member.

October is Architecture Month here in Fort Worth and I have posted all of the events in our calendar. You might want to visit the Community Arts Center and several of the other events that are free. If you like to ride bikes, then you and/or your parents might be interested in doing my Tour de Architecture. It is only $15 and you will get the John Roberts Fort Worth Tour of the city. Several of my architect friends will be riding and assisting me, including Ames Fender, the grandson of Wyatt C. Hedrick. He has some wonderful insight into his grandfather's buildings.

#44 David Love

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Posted 27 January 2005 - 01:40 PM

Does anyone have any updates or progress reports?

I've not been by there in a while...

#45 lobster

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 08:14 AM

I walk by it almost every day and back in August Ø4 there people would muster around the entrance, an occasional hard-hatted person would be spotted, but since then the doors have always been chained and I've never seen any activity .. All the activity and construction on that block seems to be all Baker at the moment
:wink:

#46 Clere

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Posted 16 March 2005 - 10:42 AM

I looked at the link to Intradel, and they had a cool aerial pic of the TLB. If you notice to the right of it is some generic looking building, possibly a parking garage.

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Why couldn't they buy that property and use it as parking for the tenants of this building? That way, no historic architecture is compromised and there's more room for residences.

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Old Intradel Site:
http://www.intradel....reet/index.html

#47 David Love

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Posted 16 March 2005 - 11:07 AM

I looked at the link to Intradel, and they had a cool aerial pic of the TLB. If you notice to the right of it is some generic looking building, possibly a parking garage.

Posted Image
Why couldn't they buy that property and use it as parking for the tenants of this building? That way, no historic architecture is compromised and there's more room for residences.

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Old Intradel Site:
http://www.intradel....reet/index.html

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I think that may belong to the Baker Building...

Their floor plans look great, plus they’re fairly close to the TRE.

Wonder what the rent is going to be like? I still think they should put them on the market to sell; I remember when it first hit the ST they were going to sell instead of rent, think the prices started at $400K or so.

#48 mosteijn

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Posted 16 March 2005 - 01:39 PM

The intradel site looks like it was updated fairly recently, but I thought they backed out of the development a while ago...are they still in?

#49 Urbndwlr

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 06:37 PM

Any update here?

At a minimum, I would expect that a developer would be able to use the below-grade floor as reserved parking, and arrange for cheaper contract spaces next door in the concrete garage. Isn't it ironic that the development of a high-rise urban condo/apt building in the heart of Downtown would be held up by lack of parking in the building?

That corner would probably be GREAT for retail.

#50 vjackson

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 06:58 PM

I've mentioned this before but once again....why do things take so long in FW?? I can't believe this building is progressing so slowly. What's the hold up??? If TLP were here in Dallas, it would be occupied by now.




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