About a dozen media members toured the 24-story Frost Tower on Tuesday afternoon, one of the first peeks inside the recently-opened Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed office building, Weston Urban and Frost Bank officials said.
Frost Bank occupies the first 16 floors of the tower, which is nearly 80 percent leased overall. The other tenants are Norton Rose Fulbright, Ernst & Young, and Insight Global.
Upon walking into the building’s capacious lobby, the journalists were given instructions on how to operate the elevator by the roaming security guards. These work differently. There’s a Star Trek-esque kiosk that lists the available floors. You select a floor, then you’re told which elevator to board.
We were taken to the 24th floor—one of three empty floors—where you could see all of downtown’s major landmarks except the Alamo. The 360-degree perspective also gave you a good sense of the other developments going on; from there, you could see the lattices and cranes of the Canopy by Hilton to the southeast, The Arts Residences | Thompson Hotel to the northeast, the CPS Energy headquarters in the same direction, and the rehab of City Hall, shrouded in scaffolding, directly below the south facade.
Weston Urban President Randy Smith said construction began in December 2016, which would put total construction time at about 30 months. Bank employees began moving in in June, and the lobby—a totally open space contrary to the old-school bank teller set up—opened to Frost customers on July 1.
Smith declined to give a cost for the 460,000-square-foot development, which Weston Urban and KDC of Dallas partnered on to build. Previous media reports put the figure at $142 million. Overall, more than 850 employees populate the building.
“If I had any regret, we lost Mr. Frost who never got to see it finished. And we lost Mr. Pelli,” Smith said about the death of local banking legend Tom Frost in August 2018, and of Cesar Pelli, whose firm built skyscrapers in Malaysia and New York, in July.
Smith said he expects the tower, which is owned by Weston Urban, to have about 10 tenants, including retail, when its completely leased.
On the ground floor, there are four retails spaces—20,000 square feet, total—which can be subdivided, if necessary, Smith said.
“You’ll see a good mix of food and beverage that caters to the downtown office crowd,” said Smith, who expects the one nearest to the tower entrance to be leased this year.
East of the tower, Weston Urban is continuing the redevelopment of the oak-encircled greensward into more of a park with outdoor furniture, art and fountains. It will also include a 5,000-square-foot restaurant space that will be occupied by Pinkerton’s Barbecue of Houston. The park is scheduled for completion later this year; the restaurant in late 2020.
A grand opening celebration for the Frost Tower is scheduled for early October.