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FORT WORTH-When Benbrooke Realty Investment Co. bought the 300,000-square-foot Oncor Building 2007, the plan was to turn part of the more than 50-year-old office building into retail space. Now, with anchor tenant Oncor solidly in place for 13.5 years thanks to a just-signed lease, the White Plains, NY building owner is ready to convert the ground floor of the building into something more user-friendly.

“The building really has an institutional feel to it when someone enters off Main Street,” comments Benbrooke Realty Investment partner and co-founder George Ackerman. Part of the reason for this is because the Main Street entrance of the building at 115 West 7th St. between Main and Houston Streets is the only one open for use. The other two entrances have been closed for years.

Additionally Ackerman says, the area is a mix of abandoned elevator banks, large lobbies and a guard station. The goal is to get the ground floor active and bustling.

“Depending on how leasing goes, the tentative plan right now is to open up the other entrances to the building, with a T-shaped corridor connecting all three,” Ackerman tells GlobeSt.com. “This would allow us to have up to four different retail tenants.”

The exact make-up of the tenants hasn’t yet been set in stone, nor has the development budget. But Ackerman says he could see up to two food-use tenants, such as restaurants, taking the space, along with a financial tenant of some kind. The fourth tenant “would be a wild card,” Ackerman says.

Ackerman acknowledges the appeal of the building, when it was first bought, was its retail potential. The 200,000-square-foot Oncor lease means at least 75% of the building committed for the long haul.

“We approached each other on that deal,” Ackerman explains. “Anytime there’s a transaction such as ours, when we acquired the building, there’s an opportunity for dialogue.” With Oncor committed to being in downtown Fort Worth, and with Benbrooke Realty Investment’s long-term commitment to owning the building, “this provided an opportunity for us to do something mutually beneficial,” Ackerman remarks.

As a result, Benbrooke Realty Investment and Fort Worth architect Gideon Toal are ready to get to work and produce a space to harmonize with the office component. “The heavy lifting is the retail component,” Ackerman says. “Because of that, we feel this is right up our alley.”

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