Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Work to begin in weeks on new Uptown tower at Hard Rock site

The 20-story residential and retail office building is planned for the northeast corner of McKinney Avenue and Routh Street in Uptown Dallas
After hiring Dallas-based Hunt Construction Group, an out-of-state development group is readying to start developing a 20-story luxury high-rise on the former Hard Rock Cafe site in Uptown. 
The tower will be one of the tallest, and most high-profile developments in the neighborhood.

Illinois-based Stoneleigh Companies LLC, along with Dallas-based Cheng Investments, recently submitted its building permits to get started on the 20-story residential and retail tower at the northeast corner of McKinney Avenue and Routh Street.

"We are going to start site utility work in the next two or three weeks and start digging a hole in June,"Stoneleigh President Rick Cavenaugh said.

The hole will be twice as deep as the hole Gables Residential recently dug to build an underground parking garage below the soon-to-be Whole Foods-anchored development on the kitty-corner site to the Hard Rock tract.

Hunt Construction will excavate about 65 feet deep, or about six-and-a-half levels of parking garage totaling about 480 parking spaces, Cavenaugh told me.

"In comparison, Trammell Crow Center is about 70 feet down, but that was a much larger site," he said, adding the development group selected Hunt Construction for the 1-acre site after interviewing six contractors in a competitive bidding process.

"This is a big project," Cavenaugh told me. "This is a high-profile project that will be one of the tallest buildings in the area with high-end finishes and high-end tenants."

Cavenaugh is finalizing the retail tenants for the tower, which includes about 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The project also includes 200 luxury apartments homes.

Waterford Residential was hired to be the management company for the tower, with apartments being leased for $2.25 to $2.50 per square foot. Phil Shepherd is the project architect.

If construction begins in June, he says he expects to complete the project in March 2016.

Dallas developer to build $300M community in north Fort Worth

Hanover Property Co. purchased the land at the corner of Farm-to-Market 156 Blue Mound Road and State Highway 287 in Fort Worth to build 750 single-family homes.
A Dallas-based development group plans to build a $300 million master-planned community after buying a large tract of land in north Fort Worth.

Terms of the land deal were undisclosed.

Hanover Property Co. bought the land at the corner of Farm-to-Market 156 Blue Mound Road and State Highway 287 in Fort Worth to build 750 single-family homes. The group plans to break ground on the site in the next month.

The community, known as Berkshire, is intended to attract young families looking for high-quality homes in the Northwest Independent School District, said Ben Luedtke, Hanover Property's executive vice president.

The homes will be priced from the low $200,000s to the mid $300,000s, with the first homes being delivered in spring 2015. Hanover's homebuilder list includes Highland Homes, American Legend Homes, Ashton Homes and K. Hovnanian Homes.

Plans for the master-planned community include a resort-style amenity center with a clubhouse, swimming pool and splash pad. The plans also include a 5-acre pond, trail system, ball field and playground.
Mesa Design Group is the project's landscape architect. Jacobs Engineering is the project's engineer. Texas Capital Bank is financing the development.

The Berkshire community is planned to include 30 acres of commercial development and 17 acres of planned apartments in future phases of the project.

Construction work is about to start at Downtown Dallas’ vacant 1401 Elm tower

Construction fencing is going up around the vacant Elm Street highrise. (G.J. McCarthy/The Dallas Morning News)
The work on what will be downtown Dallas’ largest building redevelopment is kicking off.
Building crews are putting up construction barricades around the 52-story former First National Bank tower at 1401 Elm Street.
New York-based Olympic Property Partners is about to start work to convert the 50-year-old office skyscraper into a combination of apartments, shops and offices.
The $175 million renovation will be the largest such conversion of a Dallas office tower.
The first phase of work will include removing the old office interiors and remediating toxic asbestos in the building.
The building has been vacant since 2010 when the last office tenants moved out.

Exclusive: Ark Group developer says $165M Music Factory in Irving 'unparalleled'

Courtesy of Ark Group, Gensler
Irving's Music Factory is envisioned to have a large open plaza for large concerts and to host major events throughout the region.

Irving's much-anticipated entertainment venue -- The Music Factory -- is getting closer to being built after the $165 million project received its funding earlier this year

"Our biggest challenge is that people don't realize that this project is real yet and we'll be moving dirt in 90 to 120 days," Noah Lazes, co-founder, president and COO of Charlotte, N.C.-based Ark Group, told the Dallas Business Journal in an exclusive interview.

"There was so much pent-up negative energy around this project with so many starts and stops ... people don't realize that it's real and happening," Lazes added. "It's a freight train that won't be stopped."
By the time it's built-out, The Music Factory is expected to employ more than 1,000 workers. But the future of Irving's entertainment destination -- meant to r eplace the draw of the former home of the Dallas CowboysTexas Stadium -- wasn't always a certainty.

Last year, Lazes and his father Rick came to the aid of the long-stalled entertainment development, which had become bogged down in a legal dispute between the city of Irving and the former development group, the Las Colinas Group.

Within months, the father-and-son duo were able to cool the hot tempers that fueled the contentious legal battle and a judge dismissed the lawsuit.

Now, the design of the nearly 500,000-square-foot entertainment-anchored development is nearly 70 percent completed, and it has received numerous approvals from Irving's City Council, which has gone from split decisions to unanimous decisions as the project goes from idea to concrete plan.
As the project stands, Lazes, 43, says before anything can be built by the Irving Convention Center, the Ark Group must remove the sponge-like top soil on the 17-acre tract, which is a common development practice in Las Colinas.
Plans for the project include about 100,000 square feet of office space and 375,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space. Mark Dickenson of Cushman & Wakefield of Texas Inc. is leading a team on the leasing of the office space, which will have a boutique, entertainment-influenced design throughout the building.

"The office space is as much of an activation to this project as anything else," Lazes told me.
Bryant Siragusa of UCR is overseeing the leasing of the retail, restaurant and entertainment space, along with Michael Miller and Brandon Harris of UCR. Lazes said the team has spoken to local chef-driven concepts and restaurants with international fame in New York and Los Angeles. 
The development will have a multiple outdoor stages, a large amphitheater and a large plaza that will be programmed much like Fort Worth's Sundance Square's plazas, Lazessaid.

The developer, who has developed more than 40 restaurants and nightclubs throughout the country, is spending about $4 million on exterior landscape lighting to highlight the importance of The Music Factory as a big draw. 
"We want to make a statement that this project is not only unparalleled in the region, but in the country," he told me. "We wanted to make a statement. We want this to be the most amazing entertainment centers built to date."

The Ark Group plans to begin construction by the end of the summer and open The Music Factory by early 2016.
Gensler is designing the entertainment development. Balfour Beatty is the project's general contractor. The project is being financed by an undisclosed real estate investment trust, the city and Ark Group's internal equity.

$85M redevelopment near Dallas City Hall ‘ready to go’

Lance Murray
The former Butler Brothers Building sits across the street from City Hall at 500 S. Ervay St. in downtown Dallas. The exterior of the building will be completely redone.
The long-awaited construction on the $85 million redevelopment of the historic building at 500 S. Ervay St., a 103-year-old building adjacent to Dallas City Hall, is nearly ready to get underway.
"By next week, the building will be 100 percent abated," developer Mike Sarimsakci told the Dallas Business Journal."We have all the construction approvals from the city and they are ready to be picked up when I get back to Dallas next week."

On Friday morning, Sarimsakci was in Istanbul finalizing the details of the massive redevelopment in Dallas with his Turkish investors. He leads Alterra 500 South Ervay LLC, a limited liability company of Alterra International, which owns the property.

The redevelopment plans for the property include a 270-room Marriott-branded hotel, 238 residences managed by Dallas-based Pinnacle and about 20,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. Plano-based Aimbridge Hospitality is expected to manage the hotel.

Plans for the property's amenities include three Alterra-operated restaurants -- a Greek restaurant, American bistro and European cafe -- as well as a pool bar.
Dallas-based Merriman Architects Associates is the project architect. AMX Cos. is the project's general contractor.

The cost of the redevelopment has escalated as the developer has become more entrenched in the project.

In October 2012, the redevelopment was expected to cost $55 million and the hotel flags changed from a Hilton-branded hotel to a Marriott-branded property. Within weeks, the developer held a "groundbreaking ceremony," to mark the beginning of the abatement process to ready the property for construction.
Over the years, the 103-year-old building has served as a warehouse, a merchandise showroom and office space. It also inspired other proposed developments.
In 2006, Bismo Development Co. planned to redevelop the building into 321 residential units and retail space. But that never happened, and the company abandoned its original conversion plans

Construction on the redevelopment project is scheduled to begin in mid-May.

Four Healthcare Real Estate Trends
You Should Watch

Healthcare providers are getting more savvy about using real estateto support operational strategies and create a competitive advantage. (It's not rocket science, friends... put the orthodontist office near the school, and put the orthopedist near the basketball court.) Working with both tenants and landlords, Lincoln Harris CSG EVP Webber Beall identifies four trends to keep an eye on.

1) Shorter leases

Webber (center, with part of his marketing team) shows us the 12,000 pages of ACA legislation. (Just something to read if you're lounging at the beach or on an airplane.) ACA lowers reimbursements for physicians, meaning they're searching for ways to cut expenses including office space, he says. Doctors and physician groups are looking for shorter lease termswith greater flexibility to buffer against the uncertainty associated with Obamacare, he tells us.

2) Rising construction costs

As construction costs rise and reimbursements are lowered, tenants are looking for ways to minimize their out-of-pocket costs. That impacts both the MOB users and the owners trying to find a happy medium. (Pictured is the W. B. Carrell Memorial Clinic at 9301 N Central Expwy, which Lincoln Harris CSG manages and leases.)

3) Evolving business models

Meeting the needs of the consumer-driven healthcare market means finding more convenient locations. One way is through “retailing” of emergency services, urgent care, primary care, and ambulatory services. These offices are finding their way into more cost-effective environments inlocations more accessible to patients. That may be in a strip shopping center between Justice and Buffalo Wild Wings or on pad sites nearby, he says. (Grocery lists: Milk, eggs, mustard, CT Scan, and a rotisserie chicken.)

4) Repurposing obsolete facilities

Underutilized, closed, and obsolete healthcare facilities are seeing new life in a couple of ways, Webber says. They're upgrading the physician environment to meet more progressive design styles or being repositioned completely to attract healthcare or other kinds of tenants. (Check out the Old Parkland, which is now office space.) Away from the doctor's offices, Webber loves to camp, scuba dive, and head to the mountains with his family (which includes three boys ages 12, 15, and 16.)

Fort Worth's 3M SF Construction Boom

AllianceTexas inked 5M SF in leases last year and has almost 3M SF of industrial space under construction. (The machines are building their own houses.) Its one part of Fort Worth's amazing growth and another reason we're hosting the fifth annual Bisnow Fort Worth State of the Market event on Thursday at the Omni. (You can get tickets here.)
Hillwood SVP Bill Burton (right, with General T. Michael Moseley, Ret. USAF) tells us there are two build-to-suits projects for LG Electronics andHeritage Bag Co (accounting for about 60% of that construction), and two spec projects (the other 40%) with a July completion. The spec projects were needed to add additional inventory. Industrial and aviation have been the bread and butter of AllianceTexas, Bill says, but as the rooftops have grown north, there has been significant demand for office and retail, as well. (It's not that they don't love you, industrial and aviation, they just want to play with other industries every once and awhile.) The diverse demographics provide a growing labor base that supports increasing office and retail jobs as well as the continued growth in warehouse and logistics, he says.
The last census showed that Fort Worth was the fastest-growing city with a population over 500,000 in the US, and half of that growth was in the I-35W north corridor, Bill tells us. AllianceTexas has 155k SF of office spec space under construction in addition to the new 357k SF FAA Southwest regional HQ (developed by Crow on land purchased from Hillwood). Since early '08, the 900-acre Alliance Town Center has addedfour hospitals1M SF of retailthree multifamily projects (with a fourth breaking ground soon), and two office buildings. Bill tells us he's enjoying a good book right now called Unbroken.

Behringer Harvard apartment REIT has new name

Behringer Harvard Multifamily REIT I - now Monogram Residential Trust - is controlling investor in the new Arpeggio apartments in Victory Park. (Rex C. Curry/The Dallas Morning News)
Behringer Harvard Multifamily REIT I Inc. is changing its name.
The Addison-based apartment investor and developer will now be known as Monogram Residential Trust Inc.
The new identity is continuing a transition for the 8-year-old company, which was started by Behringer Harvard.
Mark Alfieri, the real estate investment trust’s president and chief operating officer, will become the company’s new CEO when the shift to self-management is completed in June.
The company owns 16,000 luxury apartment homes investments in 55 multifamily communities in 12 states – including properties in Dallas, Addison, Arlington and Allen.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Million-dollar market
Sales of homes priced at $1 million and up are surging in North Texas as affluent buyers decide it’s time to hunt for new digs

WRITTEN BY
STEVE BROWN | REAL ESTATE EDITOR
Published March 21, 2014



Atight supply of homes on the market and tougher mortgage standards have kept Dallas-Fort Worth home sales in check so far in 2014. But that hasn’t put the brakes on high-end home purchases, which have surged in the first two months of the year.

Sales of homes priced at $1 million and more have exploded – up 53 percent in North Texas from a year ago, according to the latest real estate data.

At the same time, sales of modestly priced houses in the area have slowed – down by more than a quarter from a year ago. Overall pre-owned home sales by real estate agents are flat this year.

More than 100 North Texas houses priced at $1 million have changed hands since the start of 2014.

And there are another 857 homes in that price range still on the market, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.

The surge in high-priced home sales has caught the attention of economists and kept real estate agents busy.

“We seeing the same thing in Houston as in Dallas – million-dollar home sales are way up,” said Dr. James Gaines, an economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M. “We are in a housing recovery, and people with money recover faster than people without money.”


$29.995 MILLION
4939 Manson Court
Dallas, TX 75229
This 29,196-square-foot, 10-bedroom, 9-bath home sits on 3 acres in Preston Hollow. Built in 2011, the estate has a 14-car garage, an underground media room, an indoor basketball court and a resort-style swimming pool. Platinum Series Realty is marketing the property.
VIEW LISTING
SEE OUR PHOTO GALLERY
 
$19.5 MILLION
9806 Inwood Road
Dallas, TX 75220
With 14,139 square feet, this 6-bedroom, 7-bath home is on 5.5 acres in Preston Hollow. The house has a movie theater that seats 20, a 10-car garage and 2,200-bottle wine room. It was built in 1996. Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International is marketing the property.
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SEE OUR PHOTO GALLERY
 
$14.5 MILLION
3800 Beverly Drive
Dallas, TX 75205
This 8,938-square-foot, four-bedroom, five-bath Colonial style home is in Old Highland Park. Built in 1922, the home is newly renovated with a full basement, guest quarters and third-floor game room. Allie Beth Allman & Associates is marketing the property.
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$14 MILLION
4906 Park Lane
Dallas, TX 75520
Built in 1939, this English-style estate has 10,005 square feet, five bedrooms and five bathrooms. It sits on 5 acres on Bachman Creek and has a pool, landscaped grounds and four living areas. Dave Perry-Miller & Associates is marketing the home.
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Favorable conditions

Gaines said there is now demand for super luxury homes following the recession.

“They are taking money out of the stock market or they are simply people who have capital and don’t know what else to do with it,” he said. “Putting it into a luxury home is not a bad proposition.”

While many of these deluxe property buyers pay cash or finance only a percentage of the purchase, for buyers who need a mortgage, high-end home financing is now more plentiful and affordable, Gaines said.

“Jumbo mortgage rates are now at or slightly below conventional loan rates,” he said. “And lenders aren’t as risk adverse as they have been.”

If mortgage companies are loosening up on high-end home loans, then they have become more stringent when it comes to financing low-cost housing for some moderate income buyers. People must meet tougher debt to income ratios and have higher incomes and credit ratings to buy a house than in the period before the recession.

ALT TEXT
“That’s the end of the market where the new mortgage regulations have hit the hardest,” Gaines said. “These are the people who have the most trouble qualifying for loans – generally young people and first-time buyers.

“Otherwise, this lower-end market would be doing better than it is.”

Some loan requirements may be up, but real estate agents aren’t complaining – particularly those who sell exclusive properties.

“Last year was unprecedented — the biggest year I have ever had,” said luxury home agent Erin Mathews. “And this year has seen that continue.”

Mathews said many affluent home buyers sat on the fence during the recession, and they are now ready to make a deal.

“People feel like that if they are going to make a move to upgrade, the time is now,” she said. “We are also getting an influx of relocation buyers, and that’s a nice segment of the market now.”

The tightest home inventory in probably 20 years has made it more challenging for home shoppers, agents say. But that doesn’t mean another price bubble is happening.

“You have to be fast on your feet to make a buy,” Mathews said. “But nobody is being crazy with prices.

“Even though prices are inflated from where they were in 2008, buyers want to see what else has sold and at what prices in this boomlet we are in.”

Nowhere to go

Million dollar home sales would probably be even higher this year if there were more properties to purchase.

1That’s keeping some owners of luxury houses from selling, too.

“I had two properties under contract where I could not find another house for either seller,” said top Dallas real estate agent Allie Beth Allman. “They backed off the sales.

“They said they couldn’t find anywhere to go.”

Allman said the demand is strongest in one segment of the luxury market. “The $1 million to $3 million market is going crazy,” she said. “There are multiple offers for properties at that end of the market.”

Allman said there’s also been a shift toward new construction in the higher price ranges.


“They want new houses that they don’t have to do anything to,” she said. “People that can afford the upper end want brand new construction.”

Uptown’s turn: Office building wave starting up in top Dallas market

Crescent Real Estate/Crescent Real Estate
The tower, where Gardere will occupy four floors, will include ground-floor shopping.
The building boom that’s taken hold in the northern suburbs is spreading to central Dallas with a series of new office towers starting in Uptown and the Arts District.
One office high-rise is already under construction downtown, and another is on the way in Victory Park.
And now, one of Dallas’ largest and most prestigious law firms will anchor a tower to be constructed on McKinney Avenue.
Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP is leaving its longtime home in Thanksgiving Tower for Crescent Real Estate’s 20-story Uptown high-rise. Work will start this summer on the building next door to the Ritz-Carlton Dallas hotel.
Gardere will take four floors in the sleek glass tower, which will have a ground-floor shopping center and a lush park stretching along Olive Street. The law firm will move into its 109,000-square-foot offices in 2016.
“We’ve been in Thanksgiving Tower since 1989 — it’s been a good 25 years,” said Gardere chairman Holland O’Neil. “It was a difficult decision for us to make, but we are excited about the move.”
Gardere is renting about 100,000 fewer square feet than in its current downtown location.
“We have a lot of dead space in our current office,” O’Neil said. “When we moved into this building, the way we constructed our space was for a time when there were main-frame computers, big file rooms and libraries.”
New technology has allowed law firms to cut back their office size.
Even so, Gardere had only a handful of choices for its new location, said partner Kevin Kelley.
“Our real estate brokers told us in advance our options would be fairly limited,” Kelley said. “Our competitors are moving out of this area and either moving along Ross Avenue or to Uptown.
“The location for the new building is fantastic.”
Designed by award-winning architect Pelli Clarke Pelli, the 530,000-square-foot Crescent tower has been in the works for more than two years.
“I don’t give up easily,” said Crescent Real Estate CEO John Goff. “I think our timing for this building is very good.
“Once this project is underway, it will attract even more attention from prospective tenants.”
With the signing of Gardere’s lease, the building will move ahead quickly.

Landscaped plaza

The project will have about 50,000 square feet of retail space fronting a landscaped plaza on Olive Street.
Phil Puckett and Jeff Ellerman of CBRE Group represented Gardere in its search for a new location.
The firm looked at two or three older buildings and three proposed projects before making its choice, Kelley said.
Uptown is one of Dallas’ tightest office markets, with less than 10 percent vacancy in first-class business space. And rents are up to twice the cost of space in nearby downtown.
Only one office building is under construction in the neighborhood — a 22-story tower developer Harwood International is building that is anchored by Frost Bank.
“In the Uptown market you can probably find only one building with a full floor of currently available office space,” said Crescent managing director John Zogg. “In my 25-year career, I’ve never seen this market as tight.
“So many people are trying to move to Uptown because of all the great things that are happening.”
But of almost 20 office projects underway in North Texas, only one is being built in Uptown. And downtown Dallas has only one new project, the 18-story Hall Financial Group office tower being built on Ross Avenue.
The high cost of building in Uptown and downtown vs. the suburbs means that most of the projects are outside Dallas’ core.
Also, building sites are more scarce and expensive in central Dallas.
“The dynamic that is different from 10 or 15 years ago is you have very limited development sites,” said Steve Everbach, senior managing director of Cushman & Wakefield of Texas Inc. “It’s pushing pricing for land and construction costs.
“And the market in Uptown and downtown is demanding premium properties.”
Developers can construct a value-oriented low-rise office campus in Plano, Frisco or Irving. But with development sites in Uptown topping $300 per square foot, office buildings have to be taller and more expensive.
“Right now, the fundamentals are the best I’ve ever seen for this market,” Everbach said. “You are going to have premium rents and premium tenants, and they are going to pay for it because they want to be in prime real estate.”

Uptown’s turn

CBRE Group’s Puckett said that expanding and relocating businesses leased most of the prime office space in Dallas’ suburbs as the economy rebounded from the recession.
Puckett said that in the suburbs, he saw “office building construction starting sooner than the Uptown and Arts District market.”
Now it’s Uptown and downtown’s turn.
This week Houston-based developer Hines announced it will build a 23-story office tower starting later this year at Victory Park.
Developer KDC and Invesco Real Estate are working on a smaller office building at McKinney Avenue and Harwood Street in Uptown.
“There are a couple of three other buildings that could conceivably be built in this cycle in Uptown,” said CBRE Group’s Ellerman. “For a long time, the Crescent was the only game in town in Uptown.
“All of the office buildings that have recently been built have done well,” he said.

Dallas-area home prices soar 12.2 percent in January


Nationwide home prices rose 12 percent.
Dallas-area home prices jumped by more than 12 percent in January from a year ago – one of the largest such increases on record, according to new data from CoreLogic Inc.
Texas Louisiana and Nebraska all hit record high home prices in the first month of 2014, CoreLogic reports.
Nationwide prices were up 12 percent and 12.2 percent in the Dallas area.
“The last time January month-over-month and year-over-year price appreciation was this strong was at the height of the housing bubble in 2006,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.
Dallas-area home prices are growing at almost three times their traditional annual rate.
A shortage of homes on the market and the strong economy in North Texas have caused home prices to soar.
CoreLogic is predicting that nationwide prices will rise by 12.5 percent for February.
“Home prices continued to march higher in January and we expect to see more increases as the market comes out of hibernation for the spring buying season,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Excluding distressed sales, all 50 states and the District of Columbia showed year-over-year home price appreciation for January.”

Downtown skyscraper will be Dallas’ biggest building redo

Tom Fox/Staff Photographer
The former First National Bank tower on Elm Street was constructed in 1965. At 52 stories, it was Dallas’ tallest tower for more than 15 years.
It’s the biggest empty building in downtown Dallas — 52 stories with more than 1 million square feet of space.
The former First National Bank on Elm Street is so big that some prospective buyers were put off by the task of remodeling the vacant skyscraper.
But it was the huge scale of the property and its potential impact on downtown that attracted New York-based Olympic Property Partners to the deal, principal Seth Weinstein said.
“To come down to Dallas and make a substantial investment of time and energy, the size is important to us,” Weinstein said. “We would not have come down here for a quarter-million-square-foot project.
“We think that the sheer size of the project will in itself create a critical mass.”
Since buying the tower last month, Olympic Property Partners execs have been poring over redevelopment plans and working with architects and engineers.
Demolition inside the 50-year-old skyscraper will begin in 60 to 90 days, Weinstein said.
“We plan to start construction around the first of the year,” he said. “We hope to open the building in the summer of 2016.”
First, the developers have to rip out the insides and haul away tons of construction debris and asbestos before starting to rebuild.
Expected to cost $175 million, the redevelopment will be the largest such venture to date in downtown Dallas, where more than a dozen old office buildings have already been repurposed for new apartments, retail and commercial space.
The Elm Street tower has been closed since 2010, when the previous owners could no longer afford to operate the mostly vacant high-rise.
Since then, the tower has changed hands three times while developers pondered potential remodeling plans.
City incentives
Olympic Property Partners finally stepped up to the plate when it received a promise of $50 million in development incentives from the city.
“Without those tax increment finance district dollars, we would not be able to motivate the capital to do this job,” Weinstein said. “It showed me that the city of Dallas is really committed to this project.”
Dallas has a lot riding on the building redo.
“Leaving any major asset like that to just sit there and continue to decay is not a plan,” said John Crawford, CEO of the economic development group Downtown Dallas Inc. “It is a drag on everything around it and the entire downtown area.”
Crawford said it’s important for the project to succeed as a mixed-use venue.
“It’s not just some more apartments going in,” he said. “They are trying to create a destination.”
Much more parking
Olympic Property Partners’ redevelopment scheme calls for turning the lower floors of the building into retail, office space and parking.
The tower section of the project will house about 500 apartment units.
“The whole base will really change,” said architect Jerry Merriman with Merriman Associates Architects. “The tower itself will remain pretty much intact.
“On the lower levels, that’s where the radical new designs come.”
The redevelopment will add about 500 parking garage spaces.
“It will be the best parked building in downtown Dallas when we are done with 950 parking spaces,” Weinstein said.
On the ninth floor of the building, the developers plan to create a large outdoor park area with restaurant space, outdoor dining and recreation facilities for the apartment residents.
“We are going to reopen the old observation deck on the 50th floor,” said Bryan Dorsey with BDRC 4Site, the local partner in the project. “We are ready to take this project all the way.”
The developers will blow out enclosed areas on the lower floors for new public spaces and install bright graphics and signage.
Walk-ins welcome
“These buildings in the ’60s and ’70s were built fortress-style,” Weinstein said. “They didn’t encourage people to walk into the building.
“We’ve opened up all four sides of the building to invite people in.”
Weinstein said he has secured equity and debt to pay for remodeling the building. The company has a track record of developing apartment and commercial projects.
He said he saw the potential for the tower when he first toured the property.
“As soon as I took a look at this, we decided to pursue it,” he said. “Very few office buildings of this scaleactually lay out appropriately for conversion to residential.
“This is a much better residential building than it is an office building.”