For 16 years, the Statler Hotel sat empty, a 19-story reminder of downtown Dallas’ heyday when musicians like Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and the Jackson Five performed there. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, arrived at the hotel via helicopter and Coco Chanel had a banquet there on her first trip to the United States.
The hotel opened in 1956 and closed in 2001, a victim of the time when downtown Dallas became a ghost town after 5 p.m.
“Most people wrote it off,” said Michael Van Huss, director of development for Centurion American.
But the population of downtown skyrocketed to more than 11,000 people in just a few years. And in recent years, the downtown renaissance has provided a new opportunity for the building.
“The snowball has begun rolling down the hill and downtown quite frankly is on fire right now,” Van Huss said.
This year, Centurion completed its $525 million renovation of the hotel, adding another mixed-use building to the downtown area. The Statler, Curio Collection by Hilton hotel opened in October, hosting hotel guests for the first time since the turn of the century. The hotel occupies the first seven floors with five restaurants, 159 hotel rooms, a ballroom and meeting space.
The next 11 floors have 219 luxury apartments, mostly one and two bedroom units. The units started leasing in May.
Rather than throw away the past, Centurion painstakingly restored the mid-century features that gave the building its charm.
“Our biggest goal was to preserve the historic nature of the building and try to return it to its original iconic status,” Van Huss said.
Return of The Statler
The first thing visitors see as they approach The Statler on Commerce Street--besides the grandeur of the 19-story building--are the classic cars. The 1967 Chevrolet Corvette and other mint condition cars transport you back to the hotel’s prime. Eventually, the hotel plans to offer guests rides in the cars.
Once inside, visitors walk on the same terrazzo floors that have been there since the hotel opened in 1956.
The Statler was famous for its technological innovations in the 1950s, such as elevator music.
“We were the first building to have elevator music,” Rachel Roberts, director of branding and marketing said. “We’ll be reinstating that in the next several months.”
The hotel rooms are much bigger and more roomy than the originals, which crammed 1,001 rooms into the Y shaped 19-story building. It was built in that specific shape so that all the hotel rooms have an exterior facing view.
“Most hotels prior to this were shaped where they had interior facing views,” Roberts said. “This was really revolutionary at the time.”
Tapping the millennial mindset
Located in the heart of downtown Dallas, residents who chose to live at The StatlerResidences are paying for the address and the high-end accomodations.
The units have stainless steel appliances, wood floors, glass shower stalls and other features while also keeping the square footage to a minimum. The small size taps into the Millennial mindset, Robert explains.
“Your apartment is like your bedroom but your community is your living room,” Roberts said. “It encourages people to be involved with the broader community. Not only at the Statler but in downtown.”
The smallest units are the 501-square-foot studio apartments for $1,350 to $1,550 a month. One bedrooms range in size from 722 square feet to 902 square feet. The two bedrooms range from 972 square feet to 1,010 with prices up to $2,480 a month. The penthouses are varying sizes with the largest being 2,585 square feet.
“The size of the apartments were intentionally kept moderate so that [even with any] fluctuations in the economy, this would still be a sustainable project,” Roberts said. “It makes the price point a little bit more approachable for people while still delivering a luxury product.”
And they are going fast.
The apartments opened to their first residents in May and six months later, they are 40 percent leased, Van Nuss said.