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story.lead_photo.caption This combination of undated images shows a photo of how the Texarkana National Bank Building originally looked, left, a photo of the bank after its expansion, center, and an artist's rendering of modernizations made around 1970, right. Local developers plan to rehabilitate the building, which has been vacant for more than 15 years. Images courtesy David Peavy. Illustration by Karl Richter / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Texas — Local developers plan to rehabilitate the former Texarkana National Bank building downtown, a historic structure that has been vacant for more than 15 years.

Texarkana Renewal Properties LLC, led by local entrepreneur David Peavy, promises to bring back much of the building's historic character as it is redeveloped into luxury apartments and condominiums, as well as overnight and extended stay residences and retail and office spaces.

The company will hold a launch event at 10 a.m. May 12, during which the metal that has covered much of the building's lower sections for decades will be removed, revealing the original architecture beneath.

It's good news, said Ina McDowell, executive director of historic preservation advocacy group Main Street Texarkana.

"We are very excited about another major project in our downtown. This building was such a significant part of early commercial business in Texarkana, and this project is going to make an impact on development in our historic downtown. The additional housing will also be a plus for continued growth in all kinds of businesses," she said.

Steps toward financing the project are underway, Peavy said.

"TRP has been working with the city, state and national officials with positive results. TRP will be seeking funding from state and local loan programs as well as private investors and condominium sales," he said.

Made of red brick with classical-style ornamentation, the eight-story Texarkana National Bank was built between 1914 and 1920 — sources differ on the construction date — at West Broad Street and North State Line Avenue. Originally tall and narrow, the bank doubled its available rental space between 1926 and 1928 by expanding to the west.

Around 1970, an attempt to modernize the building's look encased it in white aluminum, stucco and marble.

Texarkana National Bank remained the building's prime occupant between 1920 and 1997. Doctors, lawyers, dentists, architects, investment firms and construction companies also operated in the building.

Texarkana National Bank's departure in 1997 led to a mass tenant exodus from the building between 1997 and 2004. By that time, New Orleans-based Hibernia Bank had become the sole tenant, eventually giving way to Capital One.

Peavy noted early competition between Texarkana National Bank and State First National Bank, now the Landmark Building, directly across State Line Avenue. Texarkana National's eight stories were meant to surpass State First's five, for example, he said.

Much of the Texarkana National building's original architectural details remain intact but covered by later modernizations, and Peavy plans to bring it "back to its original glory," especially in the lobby.

The original lobby was "so ornate it might have reminded you of a palace, with marble, granite, tall beautiful columns and ornate plaster molding most everywhere you looked," Peavy said.

Peavy's other downtown ventures include 1894 City Market, formerly known as the Ritchie Grocery Building, which he is continuing to renovate into apartments, office space, entertainment venues and retail outlets such as an art gallery. Peavy also owns the Flying Crow, a former railroad dining car he converted into a cafe. Both are at Front and Olive streets.

The Texarkana National Bank building project is the latest in a series of recent downtown rendevelopment efforts, including the ongoing rehabilitation of the Hotel Grim, expected to be completed in spring 2021.

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