Thursday, October 20, 2016

Developer's Oak Lawn Office Building Buy Gives It Control of Half a Block In Turtle Creek Area

Developers have purchased an Oak Lawn office building with plans to revamp the property.
The acquisition - which includes land for additional development - is the third property in the neighborhood to just change hands.
Abby Development & Construction purchased the 3333 Welborn Street building, which is located between Turtle Creek and Oak Lawn Avenue.
The building is in an area zoned for high-rise construction and it is surrounded by towers.
The 4-story, 48,000-square-foot office building and parking garage take up almost an entire half block at Hall and Welborn streets. And there is an undeveloped property at the west end of the block that came with the building.
Abby Development - which builds seniors housing and apartments - bought the building from previous occupant StructureTone, a general contracting company that relocated to another Oak Lawn building.
"It was built in 1966 and StructureTone bought it in the 1990s and totally rebuilt it," said B.D. Amend with Amend Group, which brokered the off-market building sale. "It never came on the market before we got the deal with Abby done."
The new owners have hired Dallas design firm Staffelbach to handle the building's reboot.
Plans call for renovating the building lobby areas, rebranding the property with new signage and upgrading the landscaping and outdoor areas to attract new tenants to the building, which is more than three-fourths vacant.
Abby Development plans to relocate its offices from near LBJ Freeway and the Dallas North Tollway to the building after the work is done.
"We started looking for buildings 12 months ago in the Turtle Creek area, Oak Lawn and Preston Center," said Abby vice president Mason Green. "To be able to control an entire half block in the Turtle Creek area is unique."
Amend said several potential tenants are shopping the vacant office space in the building.
"I've been surprised at the level of activity without the building even being marketed," he said. "The deals these guys have seen already are impressive."
The 3333 Welborn property is the third office building along the same street to sell within the last few weeks.
Chicago-based Origin Investments and Dallas-based Blackwatch Partners just purchased the 2-building Lee Park Tower I and II which is across the street.
The new owners plan to significantly upgrade the buildings which were built in the 1960s and 1970s and have almost 200,000 square feet of space.
"We believe that a comprehensive modernization program can breathe new life into these buildings and pave the way for a significantly increased occupancy rate," Matt Ozee, Origin Vice President of Acquisitions, said in a statement. "We see tremendous value potential in the land alone."
Written by Steve Brown - Dallas Morning News
Victory Park Asks City for 3.5 Million in Funding to Help with Retail Projects

Developers of Dallas' Victory Park project are asking for $3.5 million in city bonds to help pay for additional retail space.
Victory Park's owners plan to begin construction in February on the project, which will involve 40,000 to 45,000 square feet of new retail space in the project located near the northwest corner of downtown.
The money - from the Victory Park tax increment finance district - will pay for new retail space and parking, renovation of currently vacant space and renovation of existing space.
The total project is expected to cost $17.8 million.
Dallas economic development committee is approved the project on Monday and the city council is scheduled to consider the TIF funding on Nov. 9.
The construction must be completed by the end of 2018 to qualify for the city grant.
The money is coming from almost $10 million in TIF funds the city council earmarked for Victory Park in 2012, said Lance Fair, chief operating officer of Estein & Associates and vice president of Victory Park.
"We've just asked for a portion of that," Fair said. "The two primary uses are for rehabbing some spaces for a new use.
"And also tenants get tenant improvement allowances," he said. "As we get deals done it will help offset some of those costs."
In May Victory Park announced it has formed a venture with Dallas restaurateur Tristan Simon to create the new Victory Park retail and restaurant venues.
Simon's company - Rebees -plans to develop and operate a 4,000-square-foot retail emporium in Victory Park
and operate a 6,000-square-foot restaurant in the project.
Rebees also will have 14,000-square-foot Victory Park co-working office center that will include a 3,500-square-foot café.
"Tristan Simon's announcement was very big and has given us momentum in the marketplace," Fair said. "We are halfway or more on the retail tenanting and the progress we wanted to make."
Victory Park's owners have been working for the last few years to revamp traffic flow through the 75-acre development, reposition retail space and add additional parking.
Currently almost a half billion dollars in new development is underway or has recently been completed at Victory Park.
More than 1,500 apartments are under construction in five Victory Park projects.
A 700-seat Cinepolis movie theater is also under construction in Victory Park. And the developers are seeking a grocer.
Written by Steve Brown - Dallas Morning News
Despite Neighbors' Worries, University Park Signs Off on Controversial Plan for Vacant Building

Mayor Olin Lane (right) spoke as he and the University Park City Council considered a proposed plan for what to do with a vacant Chase Bank building on Tuesday at City Hall. They voted to allow developer James Strode to move ahead with plans for a mixed-use development, with some modifications.Ashley Landis/Staff Photographer

UNIVERSITY PARK — City Council members on Tuesday signed off on a controversial plan to redevelop the vacant Chase Bank building, despite many residents' concerns about the valuable property near Snider Plaza.
The plan, deemed the Park Plaza project, calls for the demolition of the building  and the creation of a mixed-use development, featuring office space, retail shops and restaurants, at Hillcrest and Daniel avenues.
A variety of plans for the building, which has been vacant since 2012, have been submitted to the City Council for more than a decade, all of which were struck down in the face of intense opposition from residents.
"It has been a long and arduous walk down this path," Mayor Olin Lane said after Tuesday' 4-1 vote. "We've heard several hours of public testimony. We've had work sessions. Each of the council members have spent several hours of their own time speaking with members of the community."
The lone dissenter, Mayor Pro Tempore Dawn Moore, said she was voting against the proposal only because she wanted more time to speak with stakeholders in the plan.
"In the long run, I think we'll all be pleased with the result," said council member Taylor Armstrong. "I know that a lot of people think this is a zero-sum game and that there will be winners and losers, but I don't agree. I think the city as a whole will be a winner."
But residents say the Park Plaza project violates city zoning code and sets a bad precedent for future project proposals.
"If 20 years from now there's a canyon effect down Hillcrest, this would've been the beginning of it," said Rick Tubb, a University Park lawyer who represented the city in a lawsuit against the previous owner of the propertyabout a plan for an above-ground parking lot.
The approved plan is smaller than previous versions submitted by owner Strode Property Co.
The proposal caps the new development at 119,000 square feet, down from the previously proposed 128,000 square feet. The plan calls for an 86-foot-tall building with six stories, reduced from seven stories and 95 feet.
Tubb said the approved plan  doesn't address residents' primary concern about traffic in the area, which many say is already far too congested. Increased traffic poses a threat to pedestrians and schoolchildren, some residents say.
"This is a residential neighborhood with a small commercial area along Hillcrest Avenue and Snider Plaza," said Peter Moir, a 58-year-old lawyer who has lived in University Park for more than 20 years. "We don't want to be a big commercial area."
A study by Kimley Horn, a third-party traffic consulting firm, says the project would have minimal impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
The analysis expects only one-quarter of the visitors will drive to Park Plaza through the neighborhood streets, and most of those drivers will be residents going to eat at the plaza. The impact of the project would not be an "observable" issue, the analysis says.
Opponents say they aren't against redeveloping the building and have been expecting as much for years. But they want it developed in a way that adheres to city code and matches the aesthetic of Snider Plaza or Southern Methodist University.
The Park Plaza project was approved by the city's Planning and Zoning Commission in July. Even before Tuesday's vote, residents were so upset about the perceived neglect by city officials to public sentiment that they started a petition to amend the University Park charter to allow residents to recall elected officials.
"They seem more concerned about the developer's well-being than community's well-being," Moir said.
The residents' organization, UP Residents for Neighborhood Friendly Development, also started two online petitions against the Park Plaza project that each garnered more than 650 signatures.
Jane Rejebian, a Highland Park resident who owns a building in Snider Plaza, said she's concerned about potential glare that may bounce off the new building and affect her tenants. 
"It's going to be horrendous," she said as she walked out of Tuesday's meeting.
Written by Steve Brown - Dallas Morning News
Dallas Investor Buys North Central Expressway Office Building

A Dallas family investor has purchased a North Central Expressway office building.
Embrey Interests acquired the 4228 North Central building near U.S. Highway 75 and Fitzhugh Avenue.
The four-story, 52,727-square-foot building was constructed in 2000 and recently renovated.
The building is 90 percent occupied by a dozen tenants.
"As a long-term holder, the stability of the 4228 North Central rent roll fits perfectly with the buyer's investment strategy, " Beth Lambert, Cushman & Wakefield executive managing director, said in a statement.
Lambert and Cushman & Wakefield colleague Diego Arroyave brokered the sale.
Written by Steve Brown - Dallas Morning News

Tower Goes From Underperforming To Upgraded

Magnolia Medical Tower

DALLAS—Built in 1985, Magnolia Medical Tower is adjacent to Baylor All Saints Medical Center. This location offers access to Cook Children’s Medical Center, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth and Plaza Medical Center of Fort Worth, as well as medical offices in the surrounding downtown medical district.
Velocis, a private equity real estate manager, purchased the property in 2012, and invested $1.5 million in property renovations, with substantial upgrades made to all six floors of the building and the parking garage. Renovations included modernizing the building’s elevators and upgrading common areas, applying new corridor finishes, upgraded lobby areas and reconstructing restrooms, as well as signage, mechanical and lighting updates to improve energy performance.
“Velocis recognized that it was in need of substantial capital improvements and professional management,” said Jim Yoder, Velocis principal. “The significant upgrades we implemented took the building from class-C-minus to B-plus and helped increase the leasing velocity at the property.”
Velocis recently sold the 89,991-square-foot medical office building located in the heart of the Fort Worth Medical District. Ridgeline Magnolia MOB LP purchased the property for an undisclosed price. Ridgeline will build off the upgrades made by the prior owner and plans to make minor improvements. 
CBRE’s Lee Asher and Chris Bodnar of the US Healthcare Capital Markets Group partnered with Austin Barrettin the Dallas/Fort Worth market to broker the sale on behalf of Velocis.  The buyer was unrepresented.
Written by Lisa Brown - Globe St.

Upscale Dallas apartment community lands

 $43 million in debt

An upscale apartment community in Dallas' Oak Lawn neighborhood has landed $43 million in debt as part of a $71 million acquisition by a Canadian real estate investment trust.
It will be re-branded from the Alexan Fairmount to the Avenue on Fairmount.

The five-story, 368-unit luxury apartment mid-rise apartment community at 4210 Fairmount St. was sold to Vancouver-based Pure Multi-Family REIT LP, which placed a 12-year fixed-rate loan with Cigna Investments.

The loan proceeds were used to acquire the property. HFF helps secure the financing on behalf of the buyer.

The apartment community sits one block east of the Dallas North Tollway adjacent to the Maple Avenue restaurant row, which includes 18th and Vine and Sprezza.

The property was developed in Sept. 2015 and was ranked as one of the largest apartment communities completed last year.

Written by Candace Carlisle - Dallas Business Journal

Thursday, October 13, 2016

How Technology Is Revolutionizing CRE Investing

Commercial real estate investing is a growing industry where personal relationships are pivotal—and these relationships are commonly built via face-to-face meetings and document-heavy correspondence. Sponsors and investors have typically exchanged information through low-tech and high-touch channels, without a great reliance upon technology.
As a result, the traditional commercial real estate investment process ends up being long and drawn-out, and because of regulatory restrictions, a sponsor’s network of investors has been limited to the people he or she already knows—friends, family members and business colleagues in particular.
Recently, however, some restrictions have been lifted, and momentum is building toward a tech-driven revolution that promises to provide a much-needed dose of modernization to commercial real estate investing. 

A new era

Thanks to the JOBS Act, sponsors are now allowed to market investment opportunities more broadly through general solicitation of accredited investors. This means they can post properties online, thus opening up an immense new audience of potential partners. In fact, according to the SEC, more than 12 million U.S. households qualify as accredited investors.
With access to so many more potential investors, it only makes sense for real estate sponsors to embrace modern technology to reach these individuals, remain organized, boost efficiency and maximize this key opportunity.
As we’re beginning to see, tech is turning commercial real estate investing into a scalable, transparent industry of long-term relationships. Think along the lines of social media: investors can be “linked” with sponsors and monitor investment opportunities—all from the comfort of their smartphones or computers.
Everything is readily available at the click of a mouse. Relationships can be formed online in a matter of minutes, and information that used to take weeks to compile and digest can now be created and consumed within days.
A process like this has never really existed in private real estate investing, and countless investors and sponsors are beginning to reap big rewards from it.
These benefits include:

Demystifying commercial real estate

When it comes to investing in the stock market, you can click around the internet and get a pretty good idea of whether you’re making a smart decision. But when it comes to investing in properties, the only information that is readily available to the average person is much more generalized. Any deep analysis costs money to access, and even that information may not help you make an informed decision.
Tech-driven investment platforms, on the other hand, serve as easy-to-use news hubs for investors, making data, insights and trends highly accessible to all. Over time, sponsors can amass robust profiles of information that help build understanding around commercial real estate, boost transparency to unprecedented levels and empower investors to make smart decisions.
As a direct result of this demystification, we are seeing a drastic increase in tech-enabled commercial real estate investing. In fact, according to Massolution’s 2015CF Crowdfunding Industry Report, more than $2.5 billion was invested globally via online avenues in 2015, and that number is expected to grow to $3.5 billion this year.

Deeper details

Armed with the right technology, sponsors can now easily create and distribute digital information packets regarding each and every investment opportunity they’re offering. They can use templates and input in-depth information regarding a property’s history, location, tenants and surrounding market. Then, they can digitally send them to interested investors or make them publicly available via web-based platforms.
Beyond that, online platforms provide sponsors with better ways to tell their personal stories and explain their investment philosophies. They can clearly express their value proposition, highlight their trustworthiness and describe their approach to running a property.
Deeper details about both sponsors and buildings result in less risk and fewer surprises, as investors fully understand the past, present and future of the properties in which they are interested.

Ongoing reports

The latest investor relations technologies provide sponsors with the means to regularly report to their investors. Today’s investors demand ready access to information about their investments across every asset class; now, commercial real estate can meet these demands with efficient online reporting.
These technologies have created a new type of progress report—one that allows sponsors to provide on-demand information to investors from reporting templates that are updated on an as-needed basis when developments or changes occur.
It’s paramount for the commercial real estate industry to respond to the demands of up-and-coming investors—and the transparent, real-time nature of tech-enabled investment and reporting platforms is doing just that. In fact, one study cites that Millennials are 10 times more likely to use online investing platforms than baby boomers.
In a world that has evolved to meet modern investor expectations—where unlimited real-time information has become the norm—tech-driven investment platforms are ushering commercial real estate into the future.
Written by A.J. Chivetta - National Real Estate Investor
Imagine a Trio of Boulevards Connecting Fair Park to Trinity Park

Throughout my career as an architect, I have been fortunate to visit many of the world’s greatest cities, including London, Paris, Rome, Beijing, San Francisco and Portland, Ore. What makes these cities great? Most prospered early in their history on waterfronts that supported trade and transportation. Eventual crowding forced organized transportation, park development, vertical growth and infrastructure. All great cities provide places for people to live, learn, work, play, govern and heal. Great cities grow in a thoughtful way. They are livable environments.
I am proud that Dallas has accomplished much toward becoming a great city. Downtown and Uptown flourish with residents, retail, restaurants and services for the 24-hour population. Transportation options provided by DART and the trolley serve our needs to move about without cars or parking spaces. The Arts District and Klyde Warren Park have added vibrancy.
Yet the development of interstate highways and toll roads has created significant barriers. Just as Woodall Rodgers was depressed to leave the downtown streets intact and allow the development of Klyde Warren Park, are there other opportunities to connect resources and neighborhoods to expand our urban core?
HKS, which has been a part of Dallas for 75 years, is interested in exploring ideas about how the city can grow and develop with greater connectivity. So we started imagining around big ideas: How could our city transform in the next decades?
Other civic and professional planning leaders joined with our in-house effort — among them Don Williams, Antonio Di Mambro, Wick Allison, Scott Rohrman, Hank Lawson and Dan Noble. We also enjoyed the benefit of Brent Brown’s study of how to best connect the city with the future Trinity Park. Randy Morton and Takeshi Kamiya of HKS Urban Design Studio led the effort.
With the recent discussion of I-345 (the interchange near downtown where I-30, I-45 and Woodall Rodgers converge) needing repair at a reported cost of $100 million to $150 million — or even more — we explored how that elevated highway could be transformed into a ground-level boulevard. The idea is to create a destination and generator of future development and expansion rather than just an elevated highway with deserted space underneath.
We realize the discussion about this is extremely controversial, yet does an elevated I-345 make sense?
One of our city’s greatest treasures is Fair Park. Unfortunately, a massive amount of surface parking surrounds it, separating it from the neighborhood. Not to mention that Fair Park is disconnected from downtown and East Dallas by I-30 and I-345. (Well-known planner Di Mambro recently prepared a detailed report for the Foundation for Community Empowerment, strongly supporting the revitalization of Fair Park and integrating it more with the surrounding neighborhoods.)
In addition to isolating Fair Park, I-345 also separates Deep Ellum and Baylor University Medical Center from downtown. With Baylor’s proximity to where our streets turn from downtown toward Fair Park, this specific area has the opportunity to be a major hub to connect with other parts of the city.
We then explored the other axis. Could I-30 also be depressed to allow surface access directly to Fair Park? Access from Fair Park could continue to the Baylor campus and then turn toward downtown through Deep Ellum. These streets, with landscaping, could connect a necklace of parks and public spaces through the city along Commerce, Main and Elm streets, continuing through downtown and connecting to Trinity Park. This also could be an opportunity to create a transportation loop connecting Trinity Park all the way to Fair Park.
Written by Ralph Hawkins - Dallas Morning News

Downtown Dallas: A Turnaround Built on 

Parks, Arts, and People

The downtown Dallas Arts District features lawns and a reflecting pool that provide a gathering place for families and arts patrons. The 68-acre (28 ha) Arts District delivers a catalyst for growth in the central business district, where residential and office towers are under construction.

Dallas residents called it Stonehenge. This Texas version of the English landmark, like a monument to unfulfilled dreams and lingering failures, was an arrangement of heavy concrete pillars constructed in the 1980s to support an ambitious pair of 50-story office towers in downtown Dallas.
But the Texas real estate market went south in a hurry in the 1980s economic crash, and the developer, Metropolitan Ventures, pulled the plug on the twin towers, leaving behind the support columns dubbed Stonehenge. The 50-story buildings were never built.
Companies left downtown Dallas in droves in the 1980s, and it went on to have the emptiest office market in the nation in the early 1990s. Stonehenge stood as a negative symbol for years.
But that era is over. Today, downtown Dallas is a different place. Stonehenge has been replaced by Hall Group’s new 18-story Hall Arts office tower—the first office project built in the central business district in years. In downtown’s Arts District, new performance halls and museums have been erected. The new Klyde Warren Park, a transformative downtown recreational haven built over a below-grade freeway, attracts scads of people every day of the week. And perhaps most important, dozens of older office buildings have been converted to residential use, giving rise to a more active street life.
After decades of efforts—and some missteps—the core of Dallas has been transformed. No single strategy or project is credited for the turnaround. But the emergence of residential development is widely acknowledged as having been a spark plug.
Downtown Living
The 18-story KPMG Plaza at Hall Arts office building, which was completed in 2015, is illuminated in the evening. (© Hall Group)
The 18-story KPMG Plaza at Hall Arts office building, which was completed in 2015, is illuminated in the evening. (© Hall Group)
“The major driver for the change was the residential component,” says John F. Crawford, chief executive officer of Downtown Dallas Inc., a nonprofit advocate for economic development. “In the urban core we’ve got about 10,000 people who live there, and in the greater downtown area there’s almost 50,000.”
In recent years, developers created thousands of residential units, primarily apartments for rent, from old office properties that were largely obsolete for corporate use but which held tremendous value as dwellings for young professionals who thrive in urban environments.
One breakthrough was the redevelopment that transformed the landmark 31-story Mercantile National Bank building on Main Street, which was redeveloped as apartments in 2008.
The Mercantile building had been an eyesore for years. “The windows were falling out of it. It looked like Beirut after the war,” says Jack Gosnell, senior vice president with CBRE | UCR Urban in Dallas. Gosnell convinced representatives of Forest City Enterprises to tour the art moderne Mercantile building, and everything started to click.
Forest City Texas, with the assistance of tax increment financing obtained through the city, created a 213-unit residential rental community out of the Mercantile tower. It and three other buildings that were subsequently developed by Forest City now make up Mercantile Place, which has a total of 704 apartment units.
Downtown Dallas had seen smaller buildings redeveloped, but the Mercantile project made Dallas residents marvel at the transformation. The project demonstrated the possibilities for the future.
“Forest City took this black hole on Main Street and turned it into a really cool apartment building,” says Ian Pierce, vice president of communications at Weitzman Group, a Dallas-based real estate firm.
Another key redevelopment at a separate site transformed the 1926-vintage Davis Building at 1309 Main Street into 180 loft apartments. The developer, Hamilton Properties, a prolific real estate firm led by Ted Hamilton and his father, Larry, has tackled a number of redevelopment projects in and around downtown Dallas. Hamilton Properties is currently transforming an old Ramada Inn on the south side of downtown into a 237-room boutique hotel that will be called the Lorenzo.
One of the largest redevelopment projects underway is the $220 million transformation of downtown’s historic Statler Hilton by Dallas-based Centurion American Development Group. The 19-story hotel will become the Statler Hotel and Residences, with 219 apartments and 159 hotel rooms operated under Hilton’s Curio brand for historic hostelries. The Statler, which opened in 1956, in its heyday presented performances by Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra on its ballroom stage before closing more than a decade ago.
But after scores of redevelopment projects, the game is changing in downtown Dallas, Crawford says.
“We no longer have any older buildings left in downtown anymore. They’ve all been converted to residential or some form of adaptive reuse,” Crawford says. “So we are now moving to new construction.”
Within walking or biking distance of the central business district, residential construction has been ongoing in full force in the districts and neighborhoods on the edge of downtown, such as Uptown, the Cedars, Deep Ellum, and Victory Park.
The lobby of the new KPMG Plaza building displays Dallas Rag, a 43-by-30-foot (13 by 9 m) artwork created in situ by the renowned British artist Richard Long in summer 2015. (© Hall Group)
The lobby of the new KPMG Plaza building displays Dallas Rag, a 43-by-30-foot (13 by 9 m) artwork created in situ by the renowned British artist Richard Long in summer 2015. (© Hall Group)
“That’s the big story in what’s going on in Dallas—the multifamily demand by the young urban professionals,” says Ken Reese, executive vice president of Hillwood Urban, part of the Dallas-based Hillwood real estate organization founded by Ross Perot Jr.
The 75-acre (30 ha) Victory Park, a mixed-use development started by Hillwood on a reclaimed brownfield site over a decade ago, is adding 1,800 units of new residential units to the downtown mix. Victory Park now has four new high-rise towers and a mid-rise apartment project under construction by a strong lineup of multifamily developers that includes Camden Property Trust, Novare Group, Greystar, Lennar Multifamily, and Genesis Real Estate.
Downtown’s residential boom eradicated that lonely, unpopulated feeling that had plagued the central business district for decades. “Our downtown used to evacuate at night. By 6 p.m. all the people were gone,” says Phil Puckett, executive vice president in the Dallas office of CBRE.
Downtown Dallas, like many downtowns across the country, lost momentum in the 1960s as new freeways and affordable homes for the middle class in the suburbs sucked growth out of the cities. Many businesses followed as office buildings rose on the suburban prairies.
Before the 1960s were over, the Dallas City Council tried to stop the outward tide by adopting the recommendations of urban planner Vincent Ponte, who designed a system of downtown tunnels and underground retail shops linking the major buildings. The city leaders were prodded along by Esquire magazine, which ran a headline on its cover in June 1968 reading, “Vincent Ponte Should Have His Way with Dallas.”
But Ponte’s way was the wrong way, city leaders later discovered.
Over the years, the tunnel system grew to more than two miles (3 km). It provided a convenient lunchtime amenity for downtown office workers but was blamed for choking off life and commerce on the street above.
“If I could take a cement mixer and pour cement in and clog up the tunnels, I would do it today,” said then mayor Laura Miller in a 2005 interview with the New York Times. “It was the worst urban planning decision that Dallas has ever made.”
In recent years, the downtown tunnel system has become disjointed and been deemphasized as some landlords closed off tunnel connections, breathing an extra measure of life into downtown streets and sidewalks.
“They have done a great job of turning it around,” says Dallas office broker Fletcher Cordell, a principal with the Transwestern real estate company.
A Spark from Parks
The 30-foot (9.1 m) Eye sculpture by Chicago artist Tony Tasset was installed along Main Street in Dallas. In the background at left stands the 32-story 1600 Pacific building, which was recently redeveloped by HRI Properties as hotel and apartment space; to the right is the 50-story Thanksgiving Tower. (© Hall Group)
The 30-foot (9.1 m) Eye sculpture by Chicago artist Tony Tasset was installed along Main Street in Dallas. In the background at left stands the 32-story 1600 Pacific building, which was recently redeveloped by HRI Properties as hotel and apartment space; to the right is the 50-story Thanksgiving Tower. (© Hall Group)
When it comes to the downtown turnaround, nothing has been praised like the catalytic Klyde Warren Park, which opened in October 2012.
Built over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway, the 5.2-acre (2 ha) park effectively erased the barrier between downtown and the bustling Uptown district’s multifamily, retail, and office markets. Not only has Klyde Warren Park made it easier to walk to downtown, but it also draws large crowds to its heavily programmed activities of yoga and music performances, as well as a dog park and a playground. The success of the park, designed by the Office of James Burnett, a Solana Beach, California–based landscape architecture firm, has prompted city leaders to discuss a proposed expansion that could cover more of the freeway.
Klyde Warren Park generated a real estate boom. Rents for office buildings near the park have gone up as much as 60 percent since 2014, and prices for development sites, such as surface parking lots, have recently approached $400 per square foot ($4,300 per sq m) in some cases, says Puckett of CBRE.
Along Pearl Street, which borders the northern edge of the park, two office projects are under construction. A partnership of Trammell Crow Company and MetLife is building the PwC Tower at Park District, a 20-story, 500,000-square-foot (46,500 sq m) office tower slated for completion in 2018 with PwC occupying 200,000 square feet (19,000 sq m) of space. The building is part of the partnership’s mixed-use development, called the Park District, which also will have a 30-story residential tower and retail space overlooking Klyde Warren Park.
Across the street from the PwC Tower, Dallas-based Lincoln Property is developing a 260,000-square-foot (24,000 sq m), 25-story office project at 1900 Pearl Street.
The Lincoln Property site is adjacent to the Meyerson Symphony Center in the Dallas Arts District. The symphony building, designed by I.M. Pei, opened in 1989 and has been a cornerstone of an impressive collection of performance halls and museums built in recent years.
The new Dallas Farmers Market in downtown offers local produce, restaurants, a brewery, and outlets for artisanal food vendors. The second phase of the market will include residential units and additional retail space. (© Hall Group)
The new Dallas Farmers Market in downtown offers local produce, restaurants, a brewery, and outlets for artisanal food vendors. The second phase of the market will include residential units and additional retail space. (© Hall Group)
Downtown’s 68-acre (28 ha) Arts District, with more than a dozen visual and performing arts institutions, has been a growth generator in its own right. Nearby, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, designed by Pritzker Award–winning architect Thom Mayne, opened in 2012 and has been attracting 1 million visitors annually.
The buildup of the Arts District created a welcoming environment for new residential projects, such as the 42-story Museum Tower condominiums, which opened in 2013.
Dallas developer Craig Hall, chairman and founder of Hall Group, produced the Hall Arts Center, the first new downtown office tower built in years. The first phase was an 18-story, 500,000-square-foot (46,500 sq m) office project built on the so-called Stonehenge site on Flora Street. The office building, which opened last year, was renamed KPMG Plaza at Hall Arts after its lead tenant.
Hall expects to break ground next year on Hall Arts Center Phase II, a high-rise residential tower with 44 condominium units for sale and an adjoining mid-rise hotel. Hall owns another parcel of land for a yet-to-be conceived Phase III project in future years.
But Hall says his eye is truly focused on placemaking, not just erecting new buildings in the Arts District.
“We need to energize the street life. We need to get people to stay and walk around rather than just come in their car to a symphony event and then get back in their car and drive somewhere else,” Hall says. “That’s my personal goal.”
To that end, Hall created a half-acre (0.2 ha) sculpture garden featuring the works of Texas artists, which is located at the side of the new office building and easily accessible to the public. The Hall building also has a 30-foot-tall (9 m) glass-walled lobby that fosters engagement with pedestrians on the sidewalk, says Eddie Abeyta, principal and Dallas design director for HKS architects, which designed the Hall building.
Abeyta, a key advocate for urban walkability in downtown Dallas, is one of seven professionals on the city’s Urban Design Peer Review Panel, an advisory group that reviews proposals for new developments. “We try to put people first and automobiles second. Dallas itself is very auto-centric, like most big U.S. cities,” Abeyta says. “But we are trying to learn and we are trying to improve. We want to make sure developers, architecture firms, and landscape firms are responsible about how these buildings touch and engage with the public realm.”
The Art of the Skyline
Downtown Dallas goes above and beyond changing the city on the sidewalk level. The city’s skyline evolved significantly in recent years for those viewing it from afar.
New signature bridges, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, are becoming highly visible landmarks for the skyline. The 400-foot-tall (122 m), cable-stayed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, spanning the Trinity River, opened in 2012. It will be followed by another skyline-altering structure by Calatrava, the Margaret McDermott Bridge, slated for completion in 2017. Some believe the new bridges will become Dallas icons equivalent to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
The Dallas skyline has been taken a step further toward distinctiveness with several landlords’ approach to lighting that has been gaining wide notice. The use of LED lighting on the exterior of a number of the city’s towers has gone beyond regular decoration to becoming a nighttime public canvas for commemorating celebrations, holidays, and social statements. For example, last year when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage, the downtown buildings were lit in a rainbow pattern. Pink lighting supports breast cancer awareness, and patriotic red, white, and blue lighting comes on for the Fourth of July.
“I think Dallas was named one of the prettiest skylines of the world because of the lighted buildings,” says Linda McMahon, president and chief executive officer of the Real Estate Council, a Dallas-based nonprofit organization. “It’s beautiful. Every building is almost a work of art.”

Written by Ralph Bivins - UrbanLand

Parking Structure Built To Last Up To 75 Years

Parking Structure
The entire structure is clad in an exterior skin incorporating a wave design.
DALLAS—The University of Texas at Dallas’ new parking structure IV opened on the first day of classes this semester. Located on the west side of campus, the $25.5 million facility will serve the needs of students, faculty, staff and visitors. 
The 392,000-gross-square-foot project is a stand-alone, five-story, cast-in-place post-tensioned garage that includes three signature garage entrances with elevator cores and stairs. The entire structure is clad in an exterior skin incorporating a wave design into the scrim. With 1,150 parking spaces, the new structure is expected to have a building life expectancy of 50 to 75 years.
JQ has substantially completed its structural engineering engagement on the structure. The project team included architect HKS Inc. and general contractor SpawGlass. The owner was represented by Dayle Pettus, project manager II, and Thomas Lund, senior project manager with The University of Texas System, as well asCalvin Jamison, vice president for administration, Robert Fishbein, assistant vice president of auxiliary services, Richard Dempsey, associate vice president for facilities management, and Thea Junt, associate director for energy conservation and sustainability, with UT Dallas. 
According to JQ principal Barry K. Krieger, “Although this parking structure presented numerous engineering challenges related to sloping grades, exterior skin, elevator cores, and funding for building and road work in separate packages, the visual impact is remarkable.”
JQ has been working with UT Dallas since 2000. The parking structure is one of several construction projects currently planned or in progress at the university campus for which JQ has been retained to provide engineering services.
“We are also in the design phase of work on a new 200,000-square-foot engineering building scheduled for completion in fall 2018, and our civil engineers are finalizing work on the 68,000-square-foot student services building addition slated for completion this November,” says Krieger.
Written by Lisa Brown - GlobeSt