Gabriel Barbier-Mueller

The Barbier-Mueller family, from L to R: Alexis Barbier-Mueller, Niña Barbier-Mueller Tollett, Gabriel Barbier-Mueller, Ann Barbier-Mueller, and Oliver Barbier-Mueller at the the Samurai Collection traveling exhibition in Quebec City. All photos: Gabriel Barbier-Mueller

Many diners at Saint Ann Restaurant & Bar and passers by admire the Virgin de Guadalupe monument standing outside, a tile-and-brick structure that murmurs the history of the area.

This Harwood Avenue location was Dallas’ first school for Hispanic children, the 1927 St. Ann’s school house. It was located in the heart of Little Mexico, in what is now the Harwood District of Uptown, the signature development of Gabriel Barbier-Mueller, Founder and CEO of Harwood International.

After buying the historic schoolhouse, Barbier-Mueller’s company brought in an art preservationist to refurbish the tile mural of Our Lady of Guadalupe. They kept the original brick school building and transformed the interior into a sophisticated-yet-comfortable eatery in 2010. The second level houses The Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection, an assemblage of samurai armor and related objects that is one of the largest and most complete in the world. Outside, the patio is one of the biggest and most lovely in the city.

This is just a tiny part of the Harwood empire, which spans the globe and has offices and developments in select parts of Dallas, Beverly Hills, Sunnyvale’s Gold Coast, Geneva, London’s West End, Paris, and Zurich’s Golden Triangle. But it speaks to Barbier-Mueller’s vision and European sensibilities when it comes to his work.

It’s not “out with the old, in with the new,” but rather a reimagining of space, with a focus on robust capital investment, energy conservation, leading-edge technology, green spaces, and designs that are built to stand the test of time.

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Renderings of the proposed $100-million Santa Rita Hotel in downtown Midland. Photo: Bond Partners

Renderings of the proposed $100-million Santa Rita Hotel in downtown Midland. Photo: Bond Partners

Across the country, there’s a trend toward downtown revitalization and urban living.

Midland is no exception. A large group of young professionals working in the oil and gas industry desire an urban lifestyle, and the new $100 million Santa Rita Hotel in downtown Midland is being created in part to meet that interest.

“Similar to much of the US, there is an unmet urbanization demand in the city,” said Robert Watson, CEO of San Antonio-based Bond Partners, one of the developers of the Santa Rita Hotel, along with Overland Partners and Arup. “We had the opportunity to create a city center with this project, a true amenity for the city of Midland, and a catalyst for living and working downtown.”

This 17-floor boutique hotel will offer residential, retail, and office space. The mixed-use development also includes around $20 million in public improvements, like the redevelopment of nearby Centennial Plaza and construction of an underground parking garage with 467 spaces.

Jump over to MidlandDirt.com to read the rest of this story!

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Update Nov. 9: This must be a new retro trend — the live music venue! I’m told the developer refurbishing the At. Anthony Hotel in downtown St. Antonio also has plans to re-vive a ballroom and live music venue on the rooftop. Seems that, in the 1940’s and ’50s, folks would go down to the St. Anthony and dance to live bands while local radio stations broadcast the music. Perhaps this is what Mehrdad has in mind? (ce)

We love Mehrdad Moayedi, whom we’ve dubbed “Saint Stoneleigh.” Steve Brown at the DMN wrote yesterday what we wrote a month ago: Moayedi is buying downtown Dallas’ iconic Statler Hilton with plans for a residential conversion with unique amenities.

But this building has had previous owners and big plans before, but none that have come to fruition. There are several hoops to jump through with this William Tabler-designed building — including parking and other abatement concerns — some of which have stymied successful developers such as Jack Matthews of Matthews Southwest.

But Moayedi’s Centurion American breathed life back into the Stoneleigh, is well equipped to revive the 19-story Midcentury stunner of a hotel on Commerce Street. We also love that Moayedi want’s to bring more amenities to downtown with this project, including a movie theater and a grocery store. There’s also been talk of a live music venue. Wonderful ideas, and all sorely needed downtown.