Friday, June 26, 2009

Building a skyscraper

Though Newcrest Hotels Ltd., an Irving developer, will turn the historic Fisk Building in downtown Amarillo into a high-rise Courtyard by Marriott, the feat isn't what a Newcrest representative referred to when he spoke of building a skyscraper in an interview Thursday.

Newcrest Real Estate Director Robert DeShay used the analogy of skyscraper building to talk about the work done before Newcrest arrived to the downtown revitlization scene in Amarillo: the formation of the Center City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, the support from taxing entities involved in the TIRZ, and the support of businesses and individuals who contribute through Downtown Amarillo Inc. and Center City of Amarillo.

That preliminary work is vital, but it isn't as visible and thus can encourage skeptics, DeShay said.

Here's his comment:

"When you're building a skyscraper, the first thing you have to do is go down deep and make sure the foundations are solid. But no one sees anything except a fence (around the property). And this work might go on for months, months, months. And then all of a sudden, a structure begins to rise. And the higher the structure, the more solid the foundation has to be."

Newcrest found the prep work "very impressive," DeShay said. "We said to ourselves, 'You know what? These people are going to make something happen in this downtown.'"

Newcrest's role now is to complete a $12.7 million renovation of the Fisk, on Polk Street at Southwest Eighth Avenue, in about a year's time. Upon completion, the developer will be eligible to begin receiving about $1.6 million in property tax rebates from the TIRZ over a 20-year period.

A barbecue and jazz event today at the Fisk's parking garage celebrated the kickoff of demolition and construction of the Courtyard by Marriott.

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