Gary Brooks remembers never paying much attention to The First National Center until September 2015. The building was in receivership, and vast swaths of the nearly one-block complex were badly in need of repair.
“I just felt like the time was right,” Brooks, a partner in The National, said. “At the same time, it takes thousands of people to make a project of this scale work, and dozens of leaders – from the mayor to the lenders – to step out in front and take the risk with you.”
Those risks have led to the complete renovation of the nearly one-million-square- foot facility, transforming it into a beautiful complex of hotel, condominiums, dining and retail. For Brooks, the innovation is mostly located in engineers and designers who can take a 90-plus-year-old building and turn it into a modern, beautiful entertainment, dining and lodging project that keeps most of the building’s physical history – architecture, art, stonework, etc. – intact while also providing a high-quality, thoroughly modern guest experience.
“We looked at 106 case studies from around the country – and visited many of them – to cull the best ideas for projects like this,” Brooks said. “The combination of food and beverage, hotel, and retail is very common, and it’s a perfect use for beautiful, historic buildings.”
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