Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ilume complex going up on Cedar Springs

A new development is giving Oak Lawn's Cedar Springs strip the biggest makeover in two decades.

Called Ilume, the project at Douglas Avenue and Cedar Springs Road combines a shopping center and apartments in a resort-style building.

The five-story complex – already under construction – would be at home in West Hollywood or Miami's South Beach.

More than 300 apartments and 23,000 square feet of retail space will be in the building, which sits on the former site of a Tom Thumb supermarket.

"We believe this project will be an anchor for the strip," said developer Luke Crosland, chief executive of the Crosland Group. "We want to see the street brought up to new standards."

Starting in the early 20th century, when the retail strip grew up along a streetcar line, Cedar Springs between Oak Lawn Avenue and Douglas evolved into a neighborhood of nightclubs, restaurants and shops.

The commercial district is anchored on the south end by the historic Melrose Hotel, built in the 1920s.

The high-rise Centrum complex across from the Melrose was the last major mixed-use addition. It debuted in 1985.

Mr. Crosland hopes that his firm's project will "bring a more upscale touch" to the area.

"The whole project is being built like a boutique hotel," he said.

The ground-floor retail complex will include room for restaurants and shops and has large outdoor dining areas that face Cedar Springs.

Above the shopping center, four floors of apartments will have balconies overlooking the street.

In some respects, Ilume will be similar to the successful West Village on McKinney Avenue.

But this project will include many more amenities for the apartment renters.

The apartment block has a large resort-style pool and outdoor recreation features in a central courtyard.

And residents will have access to health club facilities, a lounge, coffee bar and business center.

Designed by BGO Architects, the building will have a stucco and cast stone exterior.

The apartments will have a separate lobby and entrance on Knight Street. Rents will begin at about $1,000 a month.

"We are trying to build a better mousetrap in a competitive market," said Crosland Group's Mick Rossley. "By the summer of '09, we'll open on our first portion of the project, which will include all the retail and 78 apartment units.

"I think the neighborhood is going to be very pleased."

The surrounding residential district of aging apartments and old homes is already seeing a makeover.

Apartment developer Alliance Residential has completed two large rental complexes in the area.

And across the street from Ilume on Cedar Springs, Atlanta-based Lane Co. has plans for another apartment community.

Crosland Group has been active in the North Texas real estate market for more than two decades.

The developer is planning an even larger mixed-use building on Westchester Drive in Preston Center.

Crosland already owns the nearby Berkshire Court building at Northwest Highway and Preston Road.

"We want to do more close-in stuff," Mr. Crosland said.

"I think the future of development is doing redevelopment in the core of the city.

"It's because of high gasoline, and the type of living people want to enjoy right now."