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FORT WORTH-The City of Fort Worth yesterday bid goodbye to the tornado-damaged 487,000-sf Bank One Tower and welcomed in its place the grand plan to convert the structure into a $65-million crown jewel for the CBD. Renamed “The Tower,” the building will be home to 147 condos, 168 apartments and 60,000 sf of retail and office space.

Asbestos abatement is under way, but full construction will take the fast track in November so the project can stay on schedule for an early 2005 delivery. As folks around town are aware, the 37-story building at 500 Throckmorton St. has been closed since March 28, 2000, when a tornado cut a swath through Fort Worth’s CBD.

TLC Realty Advisors in partnership with Greenfield Partners of South Norwalk, CT earlier this year bought the holding from Block 82 Partners, an entity of Fort Worth’s Ed Bass, who scuttled a plan in 2002 to raze and rebuild due to prohibitive insurance costs.

TLC has spent most of the year assembling a high-profile team and garnering approvals for a 10-year public funding package valued at $16.9 million. “I think all the pieces are coming together at the right time,” Tony Landrum, TLC president tells GlobeSt.com.

Fort Worth natives, Corgan Associates Inc. and Gideon Toal, designed the makeover for the 29-year-old high-rise, adding a five-story base to house 60,000 sf of retail and boutique office space. Dallas-based Turner Construction Co. holds the general contractor’s award. Garrison Partners Consulting of Chicago has secured its first Fort Worth contract to put together a local leasing and sales team for the residential component. Retail leasing falls to United Commercial Realty in Dallas while a Fort Worth favorite son, NAI Stoneleigh Huff Brous McDowell, gets the office leasing pact.

Landrum says work begins in late December or early January to replace the glass windows, many of which have been boarded since the disaster felled the CBD icon, the city’s first skyscraper. The work is set for completion in May 2004, except for the base and the crown, an architectural tiara of lighted panels. Interior construction will run through December 2004.

The five-story base of Texas limestone will have a rooftop plaza with a swimming pool and other residential amenities. The challenge, though, was marrying a symmetrical, glass high-rise to an aesthetically pleasing residential property. Brian George of Corgan Associates, the project’s principal architect, says the obstacle was overcome by exposing exterior columns and floor-edge beams in a basket effect with glass panels filling in the openings and recessed at various elevations to allow space for residential balconies. “The overall effect creates a more vertical and visually slender appearance for the building,” he says in a press release.

The residential components are targeting the middle market. About 75% of the 168 condos will be priced below $325,000, with $165,000 as the lowest tag. Sizes are flexible, including a higher-priced, full-floor option of 12,500 sf. Apartments, priced on the average of $1,000 per month, will range from 725 sf to 2,000 sf. Condo sales ramp up this coming January.

Landrum says none of the retail has been signed, but announcements should be forthcoming in 60 to 90 days. A top-branded restaurant with a mix of hard and soft goods and a New York-style deli are on the wish list.

Right down to the name, “The Tower” is designed with sustainability in mind. A brainstorming session produced the name and research reinforced its use, Landrum says. The hope is that over time the name will carry the same weight as other high-rise residential towers in urban cores, he explains, stressing prestige will come from being able to say “I live in ‘The Tower’ in Fort Worth. It’s the right name for the long term.

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