Press Release from Westmark Commercial/TCN Worldwide:
The day renovation starts on Lubbock’s tallest building is the same day office equipment that’s been inside for decades will be available for local non-profits.
Work on what will become Metro Tower Lofts – adding affordable housing to downtown Lubbock – should be finished by the 4th quarter of next year. Before that can happen, workers are cleaning out office equipment that will be available to come and take Monday morning, May 18 at 9 a.m. at 1220 Broadway.
“This is the building’s highest and best use. Bringing affordable housing to downtown will continue to spur commercial development. Metro Tower Lofts is another piece of the puzzle to revitalize downtown Lubbock,” said Alison Blalock of WestMark Commercial/TCN Worldwide.
Blalock and the new owners recently completed the sale, ending a years-long effort to bring the building back to life with help from the City of Lubbock.
“There is always excitement when projects are under construction because you can see the changes and improvements like we’re all seeing with the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts & Sciences. I’m thrilled to be able to watch the renovation progress to completion,” she said.
Kansas City-based MRE Capital and its partner, Austin-based Structure Development, plan to redevelop the historic tower with 89 housing units – a mix of efficiency, one- and two-bedroom lofts for lease while keeping the building’s Mid-Century Modern look.
The building never fully recovered from the deadly 1970 tornado 50 years ago on May 11. It was reopened in 1975, but officials later made 13 floors off-limits because they didn’t meet fire code. Desks, chairs, filing cabinets and more have been sitting there since. Whatever isn’t taken May 18 will go to auction.
Damon Admire of Eastland Properties in Amarillo is the general contractor. They have subcontracted work to Lubbock companies.
“Having an opportunity to be a part of enhancing the vibrant City of Lubbock and its downtown is very humbling and special. The views from the tower of the Texas Tech campus to the west as well as the cotton storage barns to the east are a testament to the diverse culture and economy of Lubbock. We look forward to transforming this tower into affordable housing and serving this area,” said Admire.
Other facts about the project:
· The building has been known recently as the NTS Tower. The company is now called Vexus.
· MRE Capital has completed 18 residential developments across the Midwest and five in Texas, which include Conrad Lofts in Plainview, which restored the Conrad Hilton Hotel built in 1929, and Farmhouse Row in Slaton.
· The partnership will be using historical tax credits and housing tax credits as part of the financing. Its construction budget is $20 million. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs awarded MRE Capital tax credits which makes the project financially feasible.
· The developers’ design includes commercial amenities on the first floor. Vexus will use the second and third floor for its servers and it will continue to use the roof for its communications equipment.
· The developers have also purchased four parking lots: one is directly north of the building; another is opposite the building on the south side of Broadway; and the others are at 1301 10th St. and 1402 Main St.
· The 274-foot high tower was originally called the Great Plains Life Building when it was completed in 1955. It was designed by David S. Castle, an Abilene-based architect who designed dozens of buildings, churches and courthouses in West Texas. His career spanned 40 years and the tower in Lubbock was one of the last buildings he designed. His first designs incorporated a neo-classical style and his later buildings like the Metro Tower were designed in the international style popular Mid-Century.