PageSoutherlandPage to move into Mercantile's former bank lobby

Page's Senior Principal, Mattia J. Flabiano III discusses the new Page Dallas office with Dallas News. Read more to learn about the process of moving into the new Dallas building.

A longtime Dallas architectural firm is moving from Oak Lawn to downtown - a big win for the historic Mercantile National Bank building and the largest move by a firm to downtown so far in 2010.

PageSoutherlandPage will move its Dallas offices into the former banking lobby of the landmark Main Street skyscraper early next year.

The lease is for 34,000 square feet of space.

"As architects, we deal with urban environments, and we feel we need to be part of that," said PageSoutherlandPage principal Mattia Flabiano. "The old bank is a great space, and there is a lot of life on Main Street.

"We were looking for something unique," he said.

The second-floor banking hall was the centerpiece of the 31-story Mercantile tower when it opened in 1943.

Escalators carried customers from the bank entrance up to the lofty space on the second floor.

In 2006, developer Forest City Enterprises turned the long-empty Merc tower into apartments. But the old banking hall has remained vacant.

"We were working on a plan to make that a food court, but with the economic crash that didn't happen," said project manager Jim Truitt. "For a while we've just mothballed the space."

PageSoutherlandPage executives stumbled onto the empty space after looking around for a new office. The architecture firm has been at 3500 Maple Ave. near the Scottish Rite Children's Hospital for almost 20 years.

"We tire-kicked a bunch of buildings," Flabiano said. "When we saw this, we were excited."

About 120 of the architecture firm's Dallas employees will move to the second-floor banking hall and a mezzanine space that overlooks it. PageSoutherlandPage's front door will be the old formal entrance on Main Street.

Matt Heidelbaugh and Billy Gannon of Cushman & Wakefield negotiated the lease with Jack Gosnell of Urban Commercial Realty.

The Mercantile National Bank tower has more than 200 apartments and two floors of commercial space. Residential units in the building are almost 90 percent leased, Truitt said.

"This is a great relocation because it's to the center of downtown and the Mercantile building," said John Crawford, CEO of the economic development group Downtown Dallas Inc. "Their move sends a message about the importance of a downtown Dallas address."

PageSoutherlandPage started in Austin in 1898 and bills itself as the state's oldest architecture firm. It has offices in 11 cities around the world.

More than a fourth of its workers are in the Dallas office, which opened in 1975.

PageSouthlandPage is the second high-profile architect to move to a former banking lobby downtown.

Ten years ago, RTKL Associates moved its Dallas office to the former Republic National Bank lobby at Pacific Avenue and Ervay Street.

Contributed By

Steve Brown - Dallas News