HOUSTON-It was 1927, the stock market was booming and Houston only had a population of 300,000 when the Neils Epperson Building was built in the 800 block of Travis in the city’s downtown.

Later, the property would grow with the addition of the Mellie Epperson Building in 1941. Houstonians, then and now, have been impressed with the cupola, terra cotta exterior and fluted columns. Old-timers remember the Epperson’s Westheimer-like “chimes,” which would toll on the quarter hour. The chimes are ringing again, albeit via speakers, as if to tell the world that the 600,000-sf Houston landmark will be restored with a $15-million expenditure by the Epperson’s current owner, Swig Co. of San Francisco, another city that holds its heritage in high regard.

Along with the restoration of things nostalgic like the terrazzo floors, Swig has updated the air conditioning and provided other modern amenities. The time-honored Epperson will reverberate to a Latin beat, thanks to a ground-floor lease by Elvia’s Latin Grill. Occupancy now stands at 78%, up from last year’s 62% with the revitalization efforts.

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