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Another historic Fort Worth tower is getting new life as apartments, maybe with pool

January 11,2023

See full Fort Worth Star-Telegram article by Jenny Rudolph here.

An historic downtown office building will soon bring more than 300 contemporary apartments to Fort Worth’s growing multi-family scene.

The 16-story tower at 115 W. Seventh St. — originally the Fort Worth National Bank building, then later occupied by Oncor — will be transformed into a complex of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. The conversion of the 300,000-square-foot building is expected to be complete by mid-2025, according to new property owner 3L Real Estate.

On the ground floor are PlainsCapital Bank and restaurants The Capital Grille and Little Red Wasp. The restaurants and bank will remain operational during the interior renovations. The Hilton Fort Worth is across Main Street from the property.

As real estate experts predict a gradual shift in downtown Fort Worth from commercial office space to multi-family housing, the announcement comes just days after news that the Oil & Gas building has sold and will be converted into nearly 200 apartments. These and other projects, including the new Deco 969 apartment tower around the corner from 115 W. Seventh, will bring thousands more residents to downtown in the next few years.

Rent prices for 115 W. Seventh will be market-based. Joseph Slezak, founder of 3L Real Estate, said studios could start under $1,100 per month with one- and two-bedroom units ranging closer to $2,000. Estimated rents will likely fluctuate between now and 2025, Slezak said.

The future apartment building will feature a typical amenities package with a fitness center, business center and free internet in study and lounge areas on lower levels. Slezak said he hopes to include a roof deck entertainment space on the upper level.

There has also been discussion of a pool on one of the lower levels, but no decisions have been finalized. Construction will be mainly on the interior of the building, leaving the exterior intact.

The development will be within walking distance to the new Texas A&M campus. The $255 million expansion will add to Texas A&M’s existing law school on Commerce Street with a new education extension building and a research and innovation center.

Slezak said his company is a big fan of the project and has enjoyed being close to similar developments in past areas they targeted. The new complex will welcome college students, postgraduates and anyone else looking to be in the downtown area for the convenience, Slezak said.

“Having schools and government and corporations all around the area certainly caters to the marketplace we’re looking for,” Slezak said. “That makes us a complementary feature of what’s already happening around us. You see Fort Worth, especially with the size of the population, continue to grow in the DFW area.”

The high-rise was originally constructed in 1952 as home to the Fort Worth National Bank until it left in the mid-1970s. Consulting architects on the building, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates, also designed the Empire State Building in New York, according to Fort Worth Architecture.

For nearly 50 years following, it became known as the Oncor Building after the building’s main tenant Oncor Electric. The building took the name of its address when the electric transmission and distribution services company left the building in 2021, according to the Fort Worth Architecture database.

Chicago-based developer 3L Real Estate acquired 115 W. 7th St. after working on the transaction for the better part of a year, the agency said. The company has a portfolio of apartment complexes in the Midwest and previously acquired 501 W. Elm St. in the historic West End district of Dallas.

Similar to plans for downtown Fort Worth’s development, the former creative and technology office space was purchased in 2021 and is slated for conversion into apartments.

“We certainly like cities that are up and coming and investing into the infrastructure of the city itself,” Slezak said. “It’s not one particular industry, it’s a group effort of public and private, both focusing dollars into the downtowns to make them more friendly for a live work environment.”

Locations Mentioned: The Capital Grille, Deco 969, Hilton Fort Worth, Little Red Wasp, Oil & Gas / Star-Telegram Building, PlainsCapital Bank, Texas A&M University School of Law