Thursday, August 10, 2017

Ready for commencement Old Dallas High is graduating to new life as office-retail center

Ready for commencement

Old Dallas High is graduating to new life as office-retail center

Photos by Ashley Landis/Staff Photographer
Developer Matthews Southwest has been working for more than a year to redevelop the Dallas High School building on the eastern edge of downtown into office and retail space.
Renovations to one of downtown Dallas’ oldest landmarks are on the last lap to the finish line.

Developer Matthews Southwest has been working for more than a year to redevelop the Dallas High School building on the eastern edge of downtown.

Built in 1907, the building has been empty since the 1990s.

Matthews Southwest bought the landmark in 2015 and has been working with architects and preservationists to restore the cherished building.

“This is probably the oldest building we have done,” said architect Jerry Merriman. “In terms of pure history, it means a lot to a lot of people.”

The school has about 78,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 of retail space.
Working with Merriman Anderson/Architects and Balfour Beatty Construction, the developer is spending $50 million to convert the long-vacant high school on Bryan Street into four floors of office and retail space.

“We have all the office leased but the top floor, and we have a letter of intent from a tenant for the retail,” said Mitch Paradise, one of the developers on the project who gave a tour of the building last week.

Architect Perkins + Will has already rented more than half of the office space in the old schoolhouse.

“The tenant needs to be in here by October. We’ll get there,” said Matthews Southwest senior vice president Kristian Teleki.

Just inside the columned entrance is a two-story atrium area that once housed an auditorium.

Former classroom spaces on the second and third floors are bright with tall windows, plaster walls and some exposed brick.

Workers have yet to install hardwood floors that will hide new electrical and telecom wiring for the office space.

M-Line apartments opening in Uptown

M-Line apartments opening in Uptown

The 20-story M-Line Tower on McKinney Avenue, in the works for almost two years, is opening its doors.

Built on the site of the popular Cafe Express restaurant at Bowen and McKinney, the tower includes 261 apartments and 11,636 square feet of retail space.

Cafe Express and Blue Sushi Sake Grill will open in the ground floor of the building in October.

The rental community includes a business center, conference rooms and personal study areas, a fitness center, a sun deck with a resort-style swimming pool and a “sky lounge” on the 20th floor.

Rents range from more than $1,600 for a 581-square-foot studio unit to $12,555 a month for a 2,511-square-foot penthouse.

M-Line Tower is one of more than a dozen new highrise residential buildings in the Dallas area.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

A More Multimodal Dallas Is Just A Vision Away

With a Downtown subway in the pipeline and whispers of better bikes lanes, integrated last-mile public transit, amended thoroughfares and sidewalks, Dallas has a lot of plans to make the city more appealing to non-drivers. 

But without a clear vision between public and private interests regarding how to allocate resources toward a common goal, these initiatives stand to make parts of the city marginally more multimodal, without truly transforming the city’s relationship with cars.

  Bisnow: Julia Bunch Surface parking lots in Downtown Dallas Initiatives like DART’s D2 subway, Downtown Dallas Inc.’s 360 plan and CityMap are working to give Dallasites options in how they get around. And while data shows Dallas is starting to loosen its grip on the keys, especially in the urban core, cars dominate all other forms of commuting, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. 

“Obviously, we’re trying to change that,” North Central Texas Council of Governments director of transportation Michael Morris said. Morris cites vehicle emissions, safety and poor land use for roadways as reasons to increase other modes of transit.  Too Many Choices For Funding = Too Few Choices For Residents Patrick Kennedy wants to see more choices afforded to Dallas residents.

 Kennedy is the urban planner behind Space Between Design Studio and A New Dallas, and he sits on the DART board. He got a lot of attention for his blog called Car-Free In Big D that chronicled the life and times of an automobile-less urbanist in Dallas. Kennedy’s voice has become one of the loudest on transit and urbanist subjects in Dallas.

 He does not want to make cars less appealing (though some of his opponents may say otherwise based on his campaign to tear down Interstate 345), but by making other modes more appealing. “We don’t have enough choice. I don’t think people would drive by choice,” he said. Deep Ellum Foundation executive director Jessica Burnham thinks viable and appealing choices are lacking. 

 “We don’t have to be a car-centric city,” Burnham said. But DART is not very reliable, the new D-Link in Deep Ellum takes a complicated route, sidewalks randomly end, and there are few protected bike lanes throughout the city, she said.  

Many of these transit conversations have become more important in the last real estate cycle because the urban core has reached something it never had before: critical mass. 

It is too difficult to build and maintain good transit without density that creates walkability to drive ridership, according to Greg Lindsay. Lindsay holds a slew of urbanist titles such as senior fellow of the New Cities Foundation and Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Initiative, director of strategy for mobility festival LACoMotion, a visiting scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management and co-author of "Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next." In an ideal world, cities would build better sidewalks, bike lanes, public transit, roadways and thoroughfares all at once.

 But in the real world, you have to build incrementally and innovate where you can, he said. Courtesy of DART DART Bus How decision-makers (and voters, to a lesser extent) choose to fund maintenance and improvements to roadways impacts the car culture in the city.

 Because of this, NCTCOG may be the organization with the most power to shape mobility. NCTCOG, Dallas’ metropolitan planning organization, funds various infrastructure and transportation programs that advance regional priorities. In partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation and Regional Transportation Council, NCTCOG decides how to spend federal, state and local dollars on transportation projects.

  Though NCTCOG holds the purse strings, few would say is it spearheading an overall vision that aligns with a multimodal future for Dallas’ urban core. And that is a problem, experts say. “Every city must decide what it wants to be and what it wants to look like five, 10, 20 years from now,” said Michael Flynn, director of city strategies at Sam Schwartz. 

“It’s impossible to answer that without a vision. Knowing a city’s overall priorities helps you figure out how to use resources.” Mobility 2040, NCTCOG’s road map for funding allocations, identifies regional solutions for travel options. Top priorities for Mobility 2040 include congestion alleviation and regional planning. 

 Morris likens NCTCOG’s role to a three-legged stool. The metropolitan planning organization must balance local, regional and international transportation agendas to make Dallas’ network attractive on all levels.

 Approximately 85% of NCTCOG’s budget comes from federal, state and local grants. (In 2015, the last fiscal year publicly available, NCTCOG spent $154M on government activities.) The organization cannot prioritize one at the expense of another, Morris said.  Kennedy believes the chain of command and breakdown of public dollars is part of Dallas’ transit problem. 

 “The local market always knows better what it needs, but [the] federal government gives most of our [transportation] money, which is then funneled through MPOs,” Kennedy said. 

Bisnow: Julia Bunch Interstate 345 in Dallas Regional and local needs can be in conflict, Downtown Dallas Inc. CEO Kourtny Garrett said. But part of DDI’s job is to find those potential conflict points and determine how regional projects (such as high-speed rail or the future of I-345) can integrate into the local grid in a gentle and interactive way, she said.

 A clear vision for the future should make prioritizing choices of where to spend resources easier, Flynn said. “Is the ultimate goal to offer more mode options in Downtown or is it to offer more options for commuters? Is it to relieve traffic congestion or promote economic development?” Flynn said. 

“If you have one agency focusing on one goal and another agency on a different goal, that can be hard to coordinate. You can do multiple things, but if it starts to be too much, it’s difficult to move any one thing forward.”

 Voices that are loudest, wealthiest and best-connected often find themselves the recipient of new public transit developments, Lindsay said. Many criticized DART’s October decision to fund both the Cotton Belt suburb line and the D2 Downtown subway by saying it showed DART’s inability to prioritize sprawl or urban core density, which could cause both to suffer. 

See Full Article Here
Julia Bunch/Bisnow

An inside look at Jim Lake's $24M plan to turn the historic Ambassador into an urban oasis

Dallas developer Jim Lake is getting closer to beginning work on the proposed $24 million transformation of the historic Ambassador — turning the 113-year-old, six-story hotel into a micro-unit urban oasis near downtown Dallas.

Until then, Lake and his team at Dallas-based Jim Lake Cos. are meeting with members of the Cedars neighborhood and getting the property designated as a historic landmark.
The 1904-built hotel — originally called the Majestic Hotel — has played host to U.S. presidents Theodore RooseveltWilliam Taft and Woodrow Wilson, with hotel guests like Sarah Bernhardt and other actors of the era spending the night at the six-story, wood-built structure.

A few weeks ago, the Ambassador was in the limelight again, this time in the USA Network television show, 'Queen of the South."

"We bought this two years ago, but we've been waiting for our other projects in Waxahachie and Jefferson to be completed," Lake told the Dallas Business Journal."We put together our team two months ago and we could begin starting construction, depending on hurdles, in early 2018."

The redevelopment of the historic Ambassador near Dallas Heritage Village could be a catalyst for other projects in the Cedars neighborhood. Lake said he is working with city officials to connect the 2.4-acre property directly with Dallas Heritage Village with the help of abandoning St. Paul Street and putting two-way traffic on Ervay Street.

If all goes well, Lake said this would create a "centerpiece destination," for the Cedars by connecting the 20-acre park directly to Cedars residents at the Ambassador and developing an oasis of sorts — the Ambassador Swim Club — for neighborhood residents to utilize.

"We want to make this an amenity not just for us, but the whole neighborhood," he said.
The swim club would be built four-feet above the surface-grade parking lot to give visitors views of the downtown Dallas skyline.

With Four Corners Brewery slated to open its tap room to the Cedars neighborhood next month adjacent to the Ambassador, Lake said there's a lot of energy in this part of the city. The developer also says he plans to have some synergy with the brewery and the Ambassador.

At one time, the stable house across Ervay Street (now the site of Four Corners Brewery) was connected to the hotel in the 1920s with the help of an underground tunnel that was used as a speakeasy entrance.

Lake and his team plans to convert the six-story, historic Ambassador into loft-style, micro-sized apartments totaling an average of 500 square feet. This initial phase of the property's redevelopment is expected to cost about $24 million.

"After we looked at the structure, we felt like these suite sizes would make good micro units," Lake said. "It's edge-y for a person willing to be in a smaller space, but close to everything and within walking distance to downtown Dallas."

The former hotel could be converted into about 103 micro-units, he said. Ambassador residents would have a rooftop terrace, tenant lounge, a coworking area totaling up to 4,000 square feet and a speakeasy within the basement.

Plans also include adding a 2,500-square-foot restaurant with a lounge area next to the Ambassador Swim Club that will be an amenity for the neighborhood and residents.

Dallas-Fort Worth job market sizzling, but not as hot as these places

Hiring continued its summer streak in Dallas-Fort Worth, rising more than 20 percent over July 2016, but DFW is losing workers to a handful of cities with even hotter job markets.

DFW gained the most workers in the last 12 months from Houston, Chicago and Los Angeles, but lost workers to Seattle, Denver and Colorado Springs, according to this month’s LinkedIn Workforce report.

Of people leaving DFW in the past year, more went to Seattle than to any other city. And of all people moving to DFW, more came from Houston than from anywhere else.  

Why are workers trading their Texas tans for coffee, rain and grunge?

“The places that Dallas is losing talent to are the hottest talent magnets in general in the country,” said Guy Berger, economist for LinkedIn. “It doesn’t mean anything negative about Dallas. Those places are attracting talent from everyone. Everybody is moving to Seattle right now.”

For every 10,000 LinkedIn members in DFW, 1.4 moved to Seattle in the past 12 months. DFW lost 1.3 people to Denver and 0.4 people to Colorado Springs in the same period.

For every 10,000 of the business networking site's members in DFW, 3.8 moved from Houston in the past year. By comparison, 3.4 people moved to the Dallas area from Chicago, which ranked second on DFW’s list of migration gains, and 2.9 people moved here from Los Angeles.

Berger chalked up the transplants from Houston to Dallas’ superior economy.
“Even though Houston is rebounding a little from the small recession or near recession it had after the collapse of oil prices, Houston’s economy is still not as good as Dallas’ is,” Berger said.

DFW’s relative housing affordability plays into the move-ins from the Los Angeles area, and the ongoing migration from Rust Belt to Sun Belt states helps explain the Chicago inflow, he said.

Overall hiring in Dallas-Fort Worth in July rose 20.3 percent over July 2016, outpacing the national average of 17.3 percent.

That’s good news for workers, but it can make it tough for employers to fill key positions, Berger said.

“We’re getting closer to full employment each month,” he said. “Companies face more pressure to expand business while at the same time, it’s harder to find people. You’re going to see more quitting as employees jump from place to place to get better pay, and that means that companies have to fill those openings.”

Demand for mental health and psychotherapy skills has risen in Dallas and Houston since the beginning of 2017, and in the country’s other biggest cities including San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. 

Biggest DFW food distribution hub to hit the market in a decade could attract major operator

The biggest refrigerated food distribution facility to land on the market in Dallas-Fort Worth in the last 10 years is being shopped around town and could bring a major grocery operator to the region.

Associated Wholesale Grocer's decided to consolidate its regional operations in Oklahoma and put the nearly 1.15 million-square-foot facility on a 90.68-acre tract at 7550 Oak Grove Road in Fort Worth on the market.
The distribution hub also includes nearly 400,000 square feet of freezer, cooler and other temperature-controlled space, which makes it a compelling proposition to a grocer, said Kevin Kelly, a senior vice president in CBRE's food facilities group.

"There's nothing like this on the market in North Texas," Kelly told the Dallas Business Journal."There's a pent-up demand from a lack of existing product. We work with a lot of companies and this is right where you want to be if you are a grocer. This is a desirable corridor that serves the broader region in Texas and its surrounding states."

The Fort Worth facility sits within the Interstate 20 corridor, which is a major east-west connector in Texas. Kelly said the allure of the property will likely bring in a full-building occupier wanting a discount to build-to-suit prices.
"This is about a 50 percent discount versus a built-to-suit effective lease rate," he added.

The Interstate 20 corridor has several newly-built speculative distribution facilities and warehouses that have yet to lease on the ground, but they don't have the refrigeration requirements needed by grocers and it's an expensive retrofit, he said.

Kelly and his CBRE team including David Sours and Lucy Durbin have already begun touring interested parties through the distribution facility. And Kelly said he already has more tours in the next few weeks.

He doesn't expect the largest refrigerated food distribution facility in North Texas to last long on the market, given the interest from grocers. Kelly declined to share the property's price tag, saying, "It's not actually priced, but it will be at a substantial discount versus anything new."

The distribution facility was purpose built for grocery store Albertson's. In a lot of ways, the store overbuilt some of the components that could benefit a new owner. Associated Wholesale Grocers later acquired the property in an off-market deal with the grocer.

'Upper echelon' of Dallas society heading to high-end tower in Plano's Legacy West

The beginnings of what could be one of North Texas' most luxurious residential towers got underway Thursday, and already it is attracting some of Dallas' elite to the fast-growing city of Plano.

The 27-story, 104-residence condominium called Windrose Tower, at the northwest corner of Windrose Avenue and Headquarters Drive, will be the only high-rise, for-sale residential tower in Plano's Legacy West.
The upscale design of Windrose Tower is helping attract some big names to the community, said Charles Gromatzky, founding partner and senior principal at Dallas-based GDA Architects.

"The upper echelon of Dallas is headed to Legacy West from doctors to lawyers to developers," Gromatzky told the Dallas Business Journal. "People who have made a lot of money up north, but have always been in Dallas wanted to be in the building. We have no doubt it will draw from all over from the companies up there. We think it's a slam dunk."

He declined to share the names of would-be residents at Windrose Tower, but said for many it would be a second home in North Texas.

The development team led by Jim Duggan pre-sold a number of condos to begin construction on the tower, which Duggan says will "forever change the skyline of Plano."

When Duggan first approached Gromatzky to help design the luxury residential tower, he told the longtime Dallas architect who worked on projects, such as the Stoneleigh and Museum Tower, it couldn't be a mediocre building.

"He told me, 'I don't want to go up here with a mediocre building, it will never sell. I want luxury, luxury, luxury,'" Gromatzky recalled on Thursday.

The result? Fireplaces on terraces overlooking Legacy West. High-end Italian cabinetry. Wolf and Subzero Appliances with gas cooktops. An English-style pub room for community gathering. A golf simulator and fitness center. Resort-style swimming pool and spa. An owner's conference room. And much more.

"This is a contemporary building that is timeless," Gromatzky said. "Some people might call it sexy, but I would call it a sensual design. It looks different from every single angle with no back door or front door. I think it will be hip."

At 340 feet tall, Windrose Tower will be as tall as anything built or planned in Plano. It will also be every bit as luxurious as Museum Tower or any other luxury condo tower in the region, he said.

The tower will have homes ranging from 1,850 square feet to 11,000 square feet of living space with prices beginning at $1.05 million.