Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dallas’ Trinity Lakes project regains its mojo

A rendering released by Dallas’ Transportation and Trinity River Project Committee shows a portion of the proposed Trinity Lakes area.
A zip line over the Trinity River. Spray parks. A bicycle motocross track. A climbing wall on one of the support piers of the Commerce Street bridge.
Jugglers. Kayak rentals. Trails. An 18-hole, lighted disc golf course.
Months after endorsing a scaled-down — and seemingly more realistic — version of the Trinity Lakes, Dallas officials and key Trinity boosters are once again dreaming big, with an unfunded, $76 million list of possible amenities.
Despite attempts to temper expectations, despite cautions that the veritable theme park between the levees is what could be and not necessarily what will be, the grandiose vision behind them proved irresistible for some.
“So many things in the corridor are possible once we allow our imagination to go there,” said Gail Thomas, director of The Trinity Trust, the nonprofit that’s pledging to raise all the funds to build the improvements.
Dallas City Council members briefed on the concept Monday were split in their opinions. The open-ended presentation provided fodder for both sides.
And now the public, as is often the case with the Trinity, will have to wait and see what’s real and what’s not.
Will an additional lake be built under the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, or will engineering studies show that it’s not feasible? Will the lakes’ parking lots and access road remain, or will they be bulldozed to make way for the Trinity toll road?
Will the plan be even partially realized, or will it join other fanciful Trinity proposals that are collecting dust on shelves at City Hall?
“We’ve got to get realistic about what it’s going to look like down there,” council member Scott Griggs said. “We need to get the mythology out of this.”
Though the city’s Trinity River Corridor Project is perhaps most closely associated with the controversial — and largely unfunded — Trinity Parkway, the proposed toll road between the levees, the lakes have been a central component of the plan for years.
The lake idea well predates 1998, when voters approved a $246 million bond program that set into motion what’s commonly known as the Trinity project.
So it was no small deal that the council last February voted to approve a $737,000 design contract for two smaller versions of the planned lakes. That action set the stage for the council to vote in coming months on spending $44 million to actually construct the lakes.
The 30-plus acres of starter lakes was not what officials promised in years past: a 90-acre Urban Lake, a 56-acre Natural Lake and a 128-acre West Dallas Lake. But construction could begin next spring and finish, at long last, in 2016.
The slimmed-down plan — cheered by some as long overdue and derided by others as nothing more than “puddles” — also appeared to acknowledge that the grand plans pitched to the public over the years were really just pretty drawings.
That the big lakes, broad promenades and futuristic amenities — think solar-powered water taxis — were unrealistic. That all the Trinity bond money was going to buy was a small lake that could maybe be expanded.
Until Monday.
The drawings that accompanied the council briefing echoed the extravagance of past Trinity plans. The broad expanses of grass and weeds that today flank the narrow river channel through downtown Dallas were virtually invisible, so jampacked were those drawings with one attraction after another.
Even as officials stressed that the plans would evolve, and that everything probably wouldn’t get built, the details seemed, at times, to have little regard for that possibility.
The presentation gave the same weight — a “note” in small font — to pointing out that a zip line over the Trinity would have to be operated by a concessionaire as it did to observing that the toll road would eliminate parking and access roads to the river park. (Explaining how people would get to the lakes if there were no parking lots or access roads, Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan said officials would “have to figure out some other arrangement.”)
Predictably, the presentation stirred a proxy argument among council members over the merits of the toll road.
Sandy Greyson criticized the drawings for playing down the impact of the toll road on the park, even as she praised the lake proposal’s “aspirational” approach. Sheffie Kadane said opponents of the toll road need to get on board.
Vonciel Jones Hill said she saw no reason why an amenity-filled park couldn’t coexist with the roadway.
As for the notion that the lake proposal might be unrealistic, she didn’t deny that possibility.
“It is clearly dreaming,” said Hill, who chairs the transportation and Trinity River project committee. “But Dallas gets reality by dreaming.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Owners of key North Dallas corner eye redevelopment

The family that has owned a strategic North Dallas property for more than a century wants to redevelop the site.
The Daniels family hopes to tear down the 40-year-old rental homes on the northwest corner of Inwood Road and Forest Lane. The old townhomes would be replaced by new apartments, neighborhood retail space and sports fields for Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas.
“We see it as a redevelopment opportunity that would be a betterment for the community and provide amenities for the neighborhood,” said William Dahlstrom of Jackson Walker LLP, who is representing the owners. “We want to do a legacy-type property that would last forever.”
The 30-acre property is now occupied by more than 200 townhomes and parking lots.
The owners are working with apartment builder Greystar, retail real estate firm Regency Centers and next-door neighbor Jesuit Prep School on the plans.
“We’ve owned the property since 1849,” said John Daniel.
In 1972, the land was zoned for construction of Forestwood Townhomes, which have occupied the corner since. The property is about a block off the Dallas North Tollway and just south of LBJ Freeway.
Laird Sparks of Greystar said the plan is to build “townhome-type residences.”
“The finish level would be very high — all the stuff you’d expect in custom high-end homes,” he said. “We want a residential feel.”
A portion of the property on the corner would be used for a neighborhood retail center.
“It would be a more intimate retail environment” than nearby shopping centers on Inwood and Preston roads, said Matt Booth with Regency Centers. “We will work with a small-format grocer.”
The entire project would be a maximum of three floors, the developers say.
Dahlstrom said they’ve begun meeting with neighbors in the area and plan to seek an amendment to the zoning to allow the retail space.
“We are looking at a mixed-use community,” he said.
In 2007, Jesuit considered buying the entire property for a major expansion of its campus to the north. The Catholic boys school planned to lease development sites on the tract for new apartments and shopping.
But the project didn’t get off the ground before the recession hit.
Greystar is a major developer of apartments in the Dallas area, with projects underway in Uptown and elsewhere.
Regency Centers has shopping centers all over North Texas, including in North Dallas along Preston Road.

Houston-area developer planning Flower Mound seniors community

Houston-based Avanti Senior Living said Thursday that it will build a new assisted living and memory care community in Flower Mound.
The $15 million Avanti at Flower Mound project will start in January just north of Cross Timbers Road and Long Prairie Road.
Avanti expects the community will open in the spring of 2016.
The development will have housing at least 90 seniors in a 77,000-square-foot building.
PRDG Architects and StudioSIX5 are designing the project.
“The layout of the community will give residents easy access to various destinations, including a state-of-the-art wellness center with ballet bar and fitness equipment, a theater, a full-service salon and spa,” Tim Hekker, CEO of Avanti, said in a statement.
The community will have 50 assisted living and 40 memory care suites.

Jackson-Shaw starting third hotel near Nebraska Furniture Mart

Developer  Jackson-Shaw said Thursday that it’s beginning construction on a 125-room, 5-story hotel located near the new Nebraska Furniture Mart in The Colony.
The hotel is in the 100-acre Cascades development which is on State Highway 121, two miles west of the Dallas North Tollway.
The new hotel will operate as a Marriott Courtyard when it opens next fall.
It’s the third hotel Jackson-Shaw has built in the Cascades  mixed-use community.
A Marriott Residence Inn and Fairfield Inn and Suites with 206 rooms are in the project along with the 8,000-square-foot Cascades Event Center.
Sovereign Bank financed construction of the new hotel.
Merriman Associates is the architect and Key Construction Inc. is the general contractor.
Along with office and industrial buildings, KB Homes is building houses in the Cascades project.

Houston, Dallas top U.S. in office building

Houston and Dallas have been the top office construction markets so far in 2014, according to a new report by Cushman & Wakefield Inc.
Houston had office building completions totaling almost 3 million feet and the in the Dallas area builders finished about 1.9 million square feet of space in the first nine months of this  year, according to the report.
At the end of the third quarter, 5.4 million square feet of office space was still under construction in the Dallas-Fort Worth area – up from only about 1.1 million square feet in third quarter 2013.
“The economic recovery and a rapidly evolving workforce have pushed the office market into a positive trajectory that has held steady through the first nine months of the year,” said Cushman & Wakefield’s head of research Maria T. Sicola. “Corporate America is actively expanding and working to position itself for the millennial workforce, which by 2020 is expected to make up more than half of the labor pool.
“Companies are seeking to establish lifestyle-focused urban operations and/or retrenching in transit-oriented, amenity-rich suburban settings.”
Cushman & Wakefield said the nationwide downtown office vacancy rate fell to 12.6 percent at the end of the third quarter, the lowest level since early 2009.
Downtown Dallas’ office vacancy in September was about twice that rate.
Cushman & Wakefield said net office leasing in the country is expected to  reach its highest level since 2007, with 31.9 million square feet in occupancy gains year to date, compared to 14.9 million square feet last year at this time.
“The absorption levels – both CBD and suburban – are dramatic,” Sicola said. “For the CBDs, Manhattan, Chicago and San Francisco combined were responsible for about two-thirds of total absorption. In the non-CBD markets, growth was spurred by occupancy gains in suburban Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles Metro and San Francisco.”
Dallas-area office net leasing has totaled about 2.3 million square feet so far this year.
Cushman & Wakefield said that the Dallas area ranks second in the country only to Los Angeles for total suburban office leasing.ouston and Dallas have been the top office construction markets so far in 2014, according to a new report by Cushman & Wakefield Inc.

Summit Office Park Passes to Pennybacker Capital

FORT WORTH (HFF) – The 242,482-sf, two-building Summit Office Park has been purchased by Pennybacker Capital.

Located at 1200 and 1300 Summit Ave., the Class-A properties are 95 percent leased and have 120,396 sf and 122,086 sf, respectively.

HFF represented the seller, Prescott Group, and secured acquisition financing for Pennybaker. ViewPoint Bank provided the seven-year loan.

Dallas law firm doubles space with new downtown office lease

A downtown Dallas law firm is more than doubling the size of its office space.
Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP has leased 30,073 square feet at 2100 Ross tower at Ross Avenue and Pearl Street.
The law firm was previously in the Bank of America Plaza on Main Street.
“Lewis Brisbois had a lease for just over 13,000 square feet six months ago and experienced explosive growth,” said Randy Cooper with Cassidy Turley. “The firm was ready to double in size, and our team found the building with an efficient floor plate and prestige their business required in a prime Arts District building. in the Dallas Arts District.”
Cooper, Craig Wilson, Frank McCafferty and Jonathan Larsen of Cassidy Turley negotiated the lease with Cynthia Cowen and William Brokaw of Cushman & Wakefield.
2100 Ross is owned by Atlanta-based Cousins Properties and was just remodeled.

Cassidy Turley Leases 2100 Ross

DALLAS--Cassidy Turley has announced that law firmLewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP has leased 30,073 square feet at 2100 Ross in the Dallas Arts District.
Randy CooperCraig WilsonFrank McCafferty andJonathan Larsen of Cassidy Turley represented the law firm.
2100 Ross is owned by Atlanta-based Cousins Properties. The landlord representatives were Cynthia Cowen and William Brokaw of Cushman & Wakefield.
Established in 1979, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP is a national, full service legal practice with 32 offices in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
"In this newly renovated building in a great location in the Arts District, Lewis Brisbois had to make a decision quickly as other tenants were looking at their contiguous space,” Wilson told “The firms growth and the buildings leasing plan coincide and allowed Lewis Brisbois to now occupy over 30,000 RSF of space.”
2100 Ross, located at the corner of Ross Avenue and Pearl Street in downtown Dallas, is a 33-story ENERGY STAR building with a conference center that seats 175, cafes, fitness center and sky bridge pedestrian system. The building is adjacent to Belo Mansion, which is the headquarters for the Dallas Bar Association, and across from the Plaza of the Americas, DART rail station and retail amenities.
So much is happening across the country in the office sector. Hear the latest in creative office, how millennials are impacting the direction of the market and where developers are focusing at a RealShare ConferenceCheck out the details and agendas to find an informative office panel and register today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mark Cuban: Good at Owning Basketball Teams, Terrible at Real Estate

Thumbnail image for Wndrvw 1.jpg
Dallas -- nay, America -- has many good reasons to love Mark Cuban. He turned the Mavericks into NBA champions. He's the most accessible billionaire in the universe. He yells at terrible refs on our behalf and feuds with the Perots. He was a disruptor before disrupting was cool. But for all of Cuban's endearing qualities, let's be honest about something: He's really terrible at real estate.
The sample size here is small, just the office complex he wants to build at Preston Road and Northwest Highway and Wonderview, the gigantic mixed-use development he was going to build on a landfill next to Cedar Crest Golf Course.
Wonderview was announced in 2010 to great fanfare and rosy predictions that it would save southern Dallas. It would be massive, 176 acres of shops, apartments, townhouses, sports fields, parks, the Mavs' headquarters and so on costing up to $1 billion Constructionwas imminent.
In retrospect, the name alone should have been enough to trigger bullshit detectors citywide. "Wonderview" sounds like a ride at Disney World. Not a cool one like Space Mountain either but one in the little kid area with polyresin Dumbos and bored 3-year-olds. How can that development not flop?
Four-and-a-half-years on, Cuban's shovel has yet to pierce the earth, and neighbors and everyone else have mostly forgotten about the grandiose promises. Even the government-subsidized apartments haven't been built, thanks to HUD's refusal to support the project.
"Nobody's paying attention because that property's been over there vacant for over 100 years," says Betty Culbreath, the district's plan commissioner. She doesn't think Wonderview is dead, but she's never met with Cuban or his reps and there is no sign that activity is imminent
Cuban is not unique among real estate developers for over-promising and under-delivering. Deals fall apart. Relationships sour. Even realistic plans can be derailed.
Cuban's proposed office buildings at Preston and Northwest Highway is stupid for different reasons. From an economic standpoint, putting offices there makes sense. Preston Center is the hottest/most lucrative office market in the city right now, and there's plenty of demand for more space. It's how he's gone about getting in on the Preston Center office market that's curious.
As we mentioned last week, Cuban has been collecting properties on that corner since 1988. He now owns six valued on the tax roles at $7 million. This year, according to DCAD's property tax calculator, he'll owe about $200,000 in property taxes. Stretched over three decades, the total he's paid to Dallas County is well into the millions.
That's little more than a rounding error for Cuban, but paying it only makes sense as an investment if there's a payoff at the end, and it's all but guaranteed that Cuban's office buildings won't get built. Trying to do so in a corner of Preston Hollow that is marginally wealthier and more powerful than the one that just killed two less offensive residential projects is akin to vigorously shaking a hornet's nest while naked and deathly allergic to hornets, doubly so when you go about it as Cuban has. Even die-hard opponents of Transwestern's plans to build an eight-story apartment complex on the northeast corner gave the firm credit for transparency and trying to compromise with neighbors. Cuban, by contrast, started razing fences and uprooting trees unannounced and hired a property developer, Michael Romo, whose flippancy has not endeared him to neighbors.

Maybe, though, Cuban is playing a game that's longer and smarter than non-billionaires can comprehend.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Presidium Acquires 3 Apt. Communities

The Villa Jolla, located in northeast Dallas, has 216 units.
DALLASPresidium Group LLC, a real estate investment and management firm, recently acquired more than 900 apartment units in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. 
The properties include Ridgmar Square, a 332-unit complex in west Fort Worth; Vineyards Apartments, a 353-unit complex in Irving; and Villa Jolla, a 216-unit property in northeast Dallas.
Presidium Group plans to conduct extensive interior and exterior renovations in order to reposition the assets within each submarket. Presidium will also rebrand the properties within the next few months.
“We’re excited to continue our corporate growth with the acquisition of several well-located assets that offer tremendous upside potential,” says Presidium co-CEO Cross Moceri. “Despite the aggressive environment in the Texas multifamily arena, we continue to find compelling acquisition opportunities throughout Texas. Furthermore, North Texas has seen strong economic and population growth in recent years and this growth is projected to continue, making it an ideal place to invest in multifamily real estate.”
Presidium now owns and operates more than 3,000 apartment units in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and 10,000 units in the state of Texas.
 By Anna CaplanSouthwest

Oklahoma developer plans projects in McKinney and Frisco

One of WholeLife's planned homes.(WholeLife)
An Oklahoma company said Wednesday that it plans to build two new communities in the Dallas area.
The planned communities in McKinney and Frisco will provide health and fitness services to their residents in multifamily and single-family homes.
WholeLife Cos said its 7-acre WholeLife Craig Ranch project will have 176 units in 11, 5-story buildings in the 6000 block of Alma Road in McKinney.
The rental homes in the $80 million project will average 1,800 square feet.
In Frisco WholeLife said it will build 176 individual bungalows in two phases on 122 acres. The $70 million project is located southwest of Witt and King roads.
Each of the new communities includes a central club building for gatherings and events, a state-of-the-art fitness center, pool, game room and community services. There will also be an on-site medical facility – all included in monthly rental fees.
Oklahoma City-based WholeLife said it plans to finance the two North Texas communities and one planned in San Antonio with $212 million tax-exempt bonds.

Development deal could save downtown landmark and bring apartments to Deep Ellum

The vacant Knights of Pythias building was opened in 1915 on Elm Street. (DMN files)
A development deal in the works could save a languishing downtown landmark while adding hundreds of high-end apartments on the edge of downtown.
Real estate brokers say that the owners of the century-old Knights of Pythias building in Deep Ellum (more recently known as the Union Bankers building) are working with developer StreetLights Residential on a mixed-use project for the property at Elm Street and Good-Latimer Expressway.
The former fraternal organization temple has been vacant for almost two decades and is prized by preservationists. The 5-story brick building was designed by noted African American architect William Sydney Pittman.
Since 1998 the building and surrounding land has been owned by Dallas-based investor Westdale Properties.
Previous owners and potential buyers studied plans to restore the Knights of Pythias building as part of a mixed-use development.
Now Westdale is working with StreetLights on a project to build apartments on the empty properties and convert the historic building to a boutique hotel, sources familiar with the deal said.
StreetLights is a successful developer of Uptown high-rise apartments with other projects underway in West Dallas and Frisco.
An officer with the company this week said the firm has a new Deep Ellum project, but he didn’t go into details about the Knights of Pythias property.
StreetLights officials on Thursday declined to talk about the proposed development. And officials with Westdale could not be reached for comment.
The Elm Street tract at the eastern gateway to downtown has long been considered a prime location for new housing and commercial space.
Any project that would restore the threatened Knights of Pythias temple would also be welcomed by city officials and preservationists who are speaking out about the recent surge in demolitions of Dallas historic buildings.
The development would also come at a time when new projects are planned to pump millions of dollars in new investment into Deep Ellum.
Vacant land surrounding the Knights of Pythias building on Good-Latimer extends along Elm Street and Gaston Avenue to the north. (Google maps)
By Steve Brown 

Miller sells multifamily company to Oklahoma-based WholeLife

Dallas’ Henry S. Miller Realty Management said Thursday that it has sold its management contracts and assets to Oklahoma-based WholeLife Cos.
The deal includes more than 20 properties and 5,000-plus units.
“The partnership with the multifamily management group and the acquisition of affiliated assets from Henry S. Miller Realty Management provides our senior housing development investors and tenants a complete package of asset development and management services,” John Lowery CEO of WholeLife, said in a statement.
Henry S. Miller Realty Management exec Ron Taylor has been named president and CEO of WholeLife Management Co. and will continue to oversee the operation.
Miller Realty Management was formed in 2012 by the merger of the Miller company and Taylor’s TriVest Residential, a multifamily asset and property management company.
Terms of the sale to WholeLife were not disclosed.
WholeLife has announced plans for three new residential communities in Frisco, McKinney and San Antonio.
The developer says its projects are “designed for those who wish to integrate the concepts and practices of a healthy and enriching lifestyle into their daily lives.”

Addison office tower sold to PM Realty Group

One Hanover Park was built in 1998. (PM Realty)
A tollway office tower has new owners.
Houston-based PM Realty Group and American National Insurance Co. have jointly purchased the 8-story One Hanover Park building at 16633 North Dallas Parkway in Addison.
The 195,894 square-foot property was built in 1998 and is more than 80 percent leased. It’s located on the west side of the Dallas North Tollway, north of Keller Springs Road.
The building was sold by a partnership between Cawley Partners and Stockbridge Capital. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
“The acquisition of One Hanover is indicative of the type of product PM Realty Group is looking to and has purchased across the country,” John Dailey, executive vice president, said Thursday in a statement. This is reflected in the asset quality, preferred location and strong improving market conditions.”
CBRE Group’s Eric Mackey, Gary Carr, John Alvarado, and Robert Hill brokered the sale.

North Dallas seniors community starts expansion next week

Presbyterian Village North's expansion will accommodate an additional 200 residents a year.(Presbyterian Village North)
Presbyterian Village North plans to break ground next week on a $93 million expansion of its seniors housing community in North Dallas.
The project will include the addition of two independent living buildings, assisted living units, memory care apartments and services, a lifestyle fitness center, a transitional care unit, a chapel and a central park.
The expansion of the facility will provide at least 150 new full-time jobs, according to Presbyterian Village North.
And the development will add 350,000 square feet to the Presbyterian Village North campus at 8600 Skyline Drive to provide services for an additional 200 seniors annually.
Presbyterian Village North provides housing for residents aged 62 or older on its 63-acre campus.
Construction will start on the expansion project on Oct. 15.