The wording in the application is extremely vague. Also, the owners of the Sinclair Building own the Hilton Hotel Annex and both are on the agenda. They are two separate projects, so this is pretty big for the DDRB to hear two significant cases in the same month. Another significant case is supposed to go before the board in March.
I have asked to see the packet for both cases, and I had a chance to see them today.
The Sinclair project is the conversion from the historic office building into a boutique hotel. Much to my surprise, the conversion of the building into a hotel actually involves a neighboring building. Apparently the group who purchased the Sinclair Building also own the STS Tower/Color Tile/Meacham's/Sanger Bros. building. They are going to use part of the that building to be support space for the new hotel. Therefore; the architects are proposing to build a tunnel under the alley between the two and a skybridge above that connects the 2nd floor of the Sinclair Building with the old department store mezzanine of the STS Tower. The DDRB application now refers to the STS Tower as the Sanger Building. In addition to this work, the STS Tower will be fully restored. The windows will be replaced with some that more closely resemble the original ones.
Now, to the work on the Sinclair Building. The architects are planning to put a major restaurant in the basement. In order to get light down to that level, they are planning to install sidewalks with glass block pavers. The building may have had these when it was built because that was fairly common in the 1930's. If you look at the rear of the building, you can see that inside the light well, it has an exterior metal fire escape. This does not meet the current building codes. Since the building is changing use (from office to hotel), bringing all elements up to code is required. Therefore, the architects are designing a glass enclosed fire stair between the two wings of the building. Even though it is tucked away facing other buildings, this will become a design feature at the back. It will extend all the way up to the roof of the building. The existing interior stairway will also be extended up to the roof. A new elevator will be installed on the 16th floor that will go up to the roof of the building. All of these improvements will allow for a full rooftop patio, literally on top of the building. In addition to all of this, another hotel is shown on the vacant lot to the south. However, there is nothing in the application to indicate the DDRB will review anything going on at that location. The renderings of the building show a multi-story structure on that site.
I would highly recommend attendance of any DDRB meeting to see how the process works. Even though this is a public hearing, only the participants are allowed to speak. Since the Sinclair Building is a City of Fort Worth Historic & Cultural Landmark, this case will be required to be presented to the Landmarks Commission. It may already be slated for the February agenda. The architects for this project is Merriman Associates.