Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rosewood's New Trophy Opening at 70% Leased

The just-delivered Rosewood Court has reached 70% occupancy, thanks to a triple run filling another 21,500 sf. The pipeline, including letters of intent, carries enough fuel to practically lease up the 400,000-sf, 19-story tower in Uptown.
The trophy's office tenants have been signing 10-year leases on average, according to Tim O. Terrell, executive vice president and partner for Dallas-based Stream Realty Partners LP. He says the latest wins went full circle in 30 to 120 days for the 2101 Cedar Springs Rd. project by Rosewood Property Co. of Dallas.

Terrell says Korn/Ferry International started its move as soon as construction wrapped up on the tower. The firm is moving into 13,500 sf on the 14th floor, vacating 2100 McKinney for Uptown's newest trophy. Also moving in soon is Elephant Energy LP, which took 3,500 sf for a headquarters office on the 18th floor and drive its relocation from 3500 Oak Lawn. The street retail will hold a 4,500-sf Paradise Bakery & Cafe, one of the leading brands in its industry. The oil and gas firm and the bakery will light their spots Jan. 1, 2009.

"We are ahead of pro forma in rents achieved as well as timing," Terrell tells GlobeSt.com. The office space is quoted at $38 per sf plus electric. He says there are "six or seven" signed leases, "three to four out for signature" and "three to four LOIs in latter stages"--enough momentum to "bring it close to full if we make everything," he adds.

Jeff Eiting with Cushman & Wakefield Inc. represented the publicly traded, Los Angeles-based Korn/Ferry. Brian Brooks of Lincoln Property Co. in Dallas was Elephant Energy's tenant rep. Terrell is teaming with Stream president and partner Jon Altschuler and senior associate Rebecca Smith on the tenant hunt for Rosewood. Retail leasing is handled by Jack Gosnell, partner of Dallas-based United Commercial Realty.

American National Bank of Texas plans Oak Lawn facility

An Oak Lawn tract has changed hands with plans for a banking facility.

American National Bank of Texas – which now has a location on Turtle Creek near Fairmount Street – bought the almost 1-acre parking lot at Oak Lawn Avenue and Brown Street.

American National intends to relocate its operations from the former Republic Insurance complex when it completes the new facility, said real estate broker David Glasscock with Colliers International.

Mr. Glasscock and Collier’s Schilling negotiated the sale, which closed at the end of last week.

“There were multiple zoning issues with this property that made it a unique transaction,” Mr. Glasscock said.

Both the parking lot and a nearby commercial building at Oak Lawn and Congress Avenue were put up for sale by a religious group, SGI-USA.

Colliers is still hunting a buyer for the four-story building and another adjoining parking lot.

“We are really selling it as a redevelopment site,” said Mr. Schilling.

New apartment, retail complex going up on Greenville

Wrecking crews are clearing away the last of the old Shamburger Building Center on Greenville Avenue to make way for an apartment and retail complex.

Prescott Realty Group bought the lumberyard at Greenville and Yale Boulevard in 2005.

Since then, the developer has been working on plans for redeveloping several sites in that area.

Prescott Realty hopes to complete the demolition and site work "in 30 days or so and close on all financing at same time" for the development, said chief executive Jud Pankey.

The project on the Shamburger site will contain as many as 450 apartments plus about 20,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, according to filings with the city of Dallas.

And Prescott Realty has more property to redevelop for mixed use farther west on Yale and adjacent to its Radisson Hotel and office tower on North Central Expressway.

The developer's other Dallas projects include the Lake Highlands Town Center development on Skillman Street and the condominium tower being built adjacent to the historic Stoneleigh Hotel.

One Arts Plaza – Redefining Elegance in Dallas

One Arts Plaza is a 24-story, $125 million, multi-use structure which consists of three buildings on over 10 acres of land on the eastern edge of Dallas’ Arts District, at Flora and Routh. The excellent, Dallas location allows for easy access to highways, uptown and downtown.

Luxury Residences

Located on the building’s top, six floors are the opulent residences of One Arts Plaza. Museum-inspired design sets the tone for these luxury residences, which boast 11-foot ceilings and ten-foot windows.

Dramatic views to the east and west are enjoyed from one of the many outdoor terrace rooms, while Miele appliances, 11-foot, solid core doors, Sub-Zero refrigerators and wine coolers, full-width terraces, granite, marble or travertine countertops, and limestone, granite, marble or travertine bathroom walls appear throughout the residences.

Other amenities of these exceptional residences include a rooftop fitness center, a rooftop pool with a lounge, an Owner’s Suite, a fireplace and a grill and amazing, panoramic, city views.

Residences also enjoy use of a 24-hour, concierge service, security and valet service, as well as private, reserved, resident and valet visitor parking. A OneSystem, automated, virtual concierge, which is included in each residence, features a touch screen interface panel.

Premier Office Space

The offices of One Arts Plaza boast a state-of-the-art communication infrastructure, a stable, downtown, power grid, 24-hour security and large floor plates.

Excellent Dining Options

Five, different dining options, as well as live, daily entertainment on the plaza are found at One Arts Plaza.

Residents of One Arts Plaza can choose from Modern Southern, Japanese, Tex/Mex or Upscale Italian dining, as well as a wine bar.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Construction of a $150M Oak Lawn Redevelopment Under way

The first phase of a $150 million, 20-acre Oak Lawn redevelopment will open in early 2009.

Construction is under way on Cityville Oak Park on Lemmon Avenue just north of the Dallas North Tollway.

Developer Inland American Communities Group Inc. is building 372 apartments and 18,500 square feet of retail space in a series of three- to five-story buildings.

Architect James, Harwick + Partners Inc. designed the complex, which replaces several blocks of older rental housing and retail buildings just southwest of Highland Park.

The apartments will rent for $880 to $2,300 per month.

Inland American will start leasing the units this fall.

"North Oak Lawn has been a little underutilized," said Inland American's Todd Cook.

"We think having a large mixed-use development will definitely revitalize that area."

A second phase of construction will include 250 more apartments.

And the developer has set aside about 10 acres for townhouses.

Cityville is one of the largest of several such developments in the Oak Lawn area, which has been considered a more affordable rental location than nearby Uptown.

"It is a little bit cheaper, but not as big a price difference as you might expect," said Greg Willett, vice president with Carrollton-based apartment analyst M/PF YieldStar Inc.

"We are seeing more construction activity in these locations," he said.

"And as interest in doing that has risen, the land costs are going up."

Along with Inland American, other developers, including Lane Co. and Crosland Group, are building apartment projects in Oak Lawn.

Inland American – whose parent company is based in Illinois – last year combined its operations with Dallas-based builder FirstWorthing Corp.

Along with the Oak Park project, the developer is working on apartment communities at Lemmon Avenue and Cole in Uptown, and at the former Loew's Theatre site on Haskell Avenue near U.S. Highway 75.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Realty Capital Planning $31M Redevelopment

DALLAS-Two vintage office buildings, totaling 125,000 sf, on eight acres in the Southwestern Medical District have changed hands. The redevelopment plan, including acquisition costs, will hover $31 million.

Realty Capital Partners of Colleyville, TX and its development affiliate have formed RCP Medical District Urban Living Ltd. for the project at 5919 Maple Ave., just north of Inwood Road. A 300-unit, class A multifamily complex will be built and a 30,000-sf office building, built in the early 20th century and now leased to Harold's Stores Inc., will be converted into loft units. A second office building on the site will be demolished.

Realty Capital investment manager Jared Gossett says interviews have started with contractors and processing for construction financing has begun. The developer plans to start construction as soon as financing is in place, which is expected to be in the coming months. A construction timetable of 12 to 14 months is anticipated. Gossett says Realty Capital Partners financed the acquisition and pre-development costs with 33% equity. He adds that the borrower's 67% debt portion includes seller financing.

The Realty Capital exec reports rents have not been determined, but he tells GlobeSt.com rates in the general area run from $1.20 per sf to $2 per sf. He presumes project's rents will fall at the upper end of the spectrum. The targeted rental pool is young professionals working in Dallas' CBD and students and staff of the University of Texas' Southwestern Medical School as well those at Parkland, Children's and Scottish Rite hospitals. The medical institutions alone have more than 26,000 students and employees, he points out.

According to Gossett, the demand for multifamily product in the submarket is strong, with nearby competitors' complexes nearly 100% occupied. He says the nearest competition is 95% leased and has a waiting list for one-bedroom apartments. In addition, he points out that the project's location is in a major redevelopment corridor being fueled by a future Dallas Area Rapid Transit light-rail station. Several retail, office, and residential projects are scheduled for completion over the next several years.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Construction starts on office project near Medical City in North Dallas

Construction has begun on a medical office project located near North Dallas’ Medical City complex.

Seneca Investments is building the 32,596-square-foot building on the west side of U.S. Highway 75 just north of Forest Lane. The project also fronts on Coit Road.

The two-story medical complex is going up on one of the few vacant properties in that area.

Unlike similar developments, this one kicked off without pre-leasing. But given the need for medical space in North Dallas, the developers think that won’t be a problem.

“It’s one of the few projects on North Central Expressway that is 100 speculative,” said Jeff Smith, senior vice president with real estate firm Transwestern, which is marketing the complex. “This project will do well because there is heavy demand for it.”

Construction on the building should take about 10 months. The project includes two stories of commercial space plus underground parking. There’s also a surface parking lot for visitors to the building.

Robert Boyd Architects Inc. of Dallas designed the project.

The project is kicking off at a time when many speculative developments have been delayed because of the credit crunch.

“We have a confidence in the Dallas-Fort Worth economy,” said Transwestern’s John Waller. “You have to be a little bit of a contrarian.

“A year from now the economy will be much better, and we will have a well-located building.”

Other medical projects are under way in that same area.

Just east of Seneca Investments’ new building, construction is under way on a specialty hospital and medical building in the Westmount Health Campus.

And developers just purchased a property near U.S. 75 on Northaven Road for a new rehabilitation hospital.

UNT hopes to accelerate expansion of Dallas campus

The University of North Texas Dallas Campus plans to ask the Texas Legislature to issue $43 million in tuition revenue bonds to hasten the construction of a second building on its campus in Oak Cliff.

UNT Chancellor Lee Jackson said that the additional building was needed to grow UNT Dallas’ enrollment because its current building was already too cramped to serve its current needs that include more than 1,800 full- and part-time students.

UNT Dallas, which is under the authority of the University of North Texas at Denton, has one building which opened to students in January 2007. Its campus spans 264 acres near the intersection of interstates 35E and 20 on Houston School Road. The construction of its first building was made possible by a state bond initiative of $25.5 million.

Officials will ask for an additional $18 million in tuition revenue bonds as well as the early issuance of an already approved $25 million of tuition revenue bonds, which have been promised from the state to build UNT Dallas’s second building, under the condition that the school reach an enrollment of 1,500 student full-time equivalents.

7-Eleven’s conversion strategy

Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. is accelerating its plan to grow its number of convenience stores in North Texas by targeting existing independent stores and rebranding them.

7-Eleven’s goal is to add 20 Dallas-Fort Worth area stores by year-end, and another 35 stores next year, bringing its North Texas total to 300 by the end of 2009, said James Massey, the 7-Eleven real estate manager for the district that includes the Metroplex. During the next 18 months, the company expects half of its new stores to come from conversions, as opposed to ground-up construction or acquisitions, he said.

Slowing retail sales and thinning profit margins on gasoline are giving 7-Eleven an entree with existing convenience store owners who are willing to consider a new approach, said Massey, adding: “We look at this lull in the market as an opportunity for us.”

Eroding profit margins on gasoline were a major factor in Alan and Rick Golman’s decision to convert their Beverage City convenience store in Plano.

Developer plans Maple Avenue apartments

Realty Capital Partners said Friday that it will build 300 apartments in a development on Maple Avenue just north of Inwood Road in Dallas.

The Colleyville-based developer and investor has been working for several months on the project, which includes restoration of an existing 30,000-square-foot building into loft apartments plus additional construction.

The 8-acre project is located near the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and is close to a planned light rail station.

By Steve Brown

Eagle Oil & Gas moving to The Berkshire at Preston Center

Eagle Oil & Gas Co. has signed a lease to occupy 11,433 square feet inside The Berkshire at Preston Center, a Class A office building located at Northwest Highway and the Tollway.

The company’s employees will occupy one floor.

Commercial real estate firm Transwestern represented the building’s owner BPC Corp. in the negotiations.

Eagle Oil & Gas, which previously was located in Sterling Plaza in Dallas, brings the 184,794-square-foot building to 98 percent occupancy.

Scott Walker with Transwestern negotiated the terms of the lease with Stream Realty’s Matt Flory and Ben Sumner.The company will be moving after its lease expires in December.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Dallas' new homeless shelter, The Bridge, off to bumpy start

Despite overwhelming crowds, the operator of The Bridge stands by his philosophy of not turning away anyone in need. Dallas' new homeless shelter continues to serve twice as many people as the center was built to accommodate.

But its open-door approach has led to problems: drug-dealing, fights, thefts and lax security. People who weren't homeless were preying on guests with mental illnesses, disabilities and addictions.

Several staff members were assaulted by guests at The Bridge, according to Joel John Roberts, chief executive of PATH Partners of Los Angeles, which formerly provided social workers for the facility. And security guards were "accepting pizza and soft drinks from known drug dealers," he said.

"There appears to be no coordinated and proactive system to appropriately identify who is on the campus," Mr. Roberts said in a June 18 letter to Mike Faenza, president and chief executive of the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance.

The homeless alliance, which runs The Bridge for the city, has since terminated its contract with PATH Partners. A PATH Partners spokeswoman said Thursday that the agency had no comment about the letter.

Mr. Faenza said the problems outlined in the letter have been resolved.

The shelter now has a curfew so people cannot enter after 10 p.m. without approval, he said. The Bridge also has increased the number of security officers and kicked out drug dealers, he said. He said he had no evidence of officers accepting bribes.

Mr. Faenza disputed Mr. Roberts' claim that half the people in the center's courtyard were not homeless. He said staffers discovered roughly 80 people who preyed upon the homeless. He said they were told to leave.

In addition, Mr. Faenza said he knows of only one assault against a caseworker and said it did not lead to serious injury. He said some staffers were uncomfortable working with people with serious mental illnesses.

The Bridge, which opened May 20, aims to help Dallas' chronic homeless population: people with severe mental illness or addictions who have been on the streets long-term. And Mr. Faenza said that includes people who may be angry and who can be unpleasant.

In its efforts to attract homeless people who don't typically go to shelters, The Bridge does not immediately interview new guests, Mr. Faenza said. But staffers do follow up with them within a day, he said.

Mr. Faenza takes issue with perceptions that the shelter has no rules, saying that it does not allow violence, drugs or alcohol. But unlike most shelters, guests do not have to pay or participate in programs.

"We have done a wonderful job working with people with very difficult problems," Mr. Faenza said.

Police respond to calls to The Bridge almost daily, according to police reports. Some of those calls involve thefts or fights. Others involve people in psychiatric crisis. Dallas police Lt. Anthony Williams said he's satisfied that The Bridge has made efforts to address safety at the shelter.

"The Bridge is a victim of its own success," Lt. Williams said. "There are going to be growing pains."

Mike Rawlings, Dallas' homeless czar, said most of the homeless people at The Bridge are pleased with its services. He also said The Bridge has had a positive effect on the downtown area by reducing crime and moving people off the streets.

"People are coming in droves, and if it wasn't a good situation, they wouldn't be coming," Mr. Rawlings said.

The next step, he said, is to find housing for homeless people, which would alleviate the overcrowding. He also said he's working on a plan that would allow some of the homeless guests to use other shelters.

"We never intended to have people sleeping in the courtyard, but it's better than having them sleep on the streets," Mr. Rawlings said.

The Bridge was bustling Thursday afternoon. Many homeless people sat in nearly 100-degree heat on the concrete or on benches next to sleeping bags and duffel bags containing their belongings. The shelter's storage area was full.

Louis Jones, who's staying at The Bridge, said he hopes to leave town as soon as possible.

"This is a hellhole," he said. "There are pedophiles, criminals. They don't screen anybody. I'm afraid I might catch TB."

Mr. Jones said that there are frequent fights at the facility and that people use drugs there.

Another resident, Diana Watson, said there are fights and thieves. But she said she's thankful to be living inside The Bridge's transitional housing and to be working with a caseworker who's encouraging her to find work.

"This place is helping a lot of people," she said.

Dallas' new homeless shelter, The Bridge, has been serving about twice as many people as the $21 million facility was designed to accommodate since it opened May 20. Hundreds of people sleep in the concrete courtyard each night because the shelter's 300 beds are full. The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, which runs The Bridge for the city, does not have data to explain the unexpected numbers. Among the theories:

OUTDOOR CAMPS: The size of this hidden population has been underestimated, advocates say.

OTHER SHELTERS: They charge fees or demand that residents participate in rehabilitation programs. The Bridge does neither.

OTHER CITIES: Officials from The Bridge said that's only a small percentage of the population.

POLICE: Some homeless people say officers threatened them with jail if they didn't go to The Bridge. A police spokesman disputed that, but said officers at times have allowed homeless people caught violating the law to go to The Bridge instead of jail.

NOT HOMELESS: Operators say they have identified and removed people who have come to prey on the vulnerable.

High-rise surrounded by urban arts district

The developers of Museum Tower, the new 42-story landmark in the Dallas Arts District, have announced a limited release of 20 condominium homes. This release follows on the success of last December's premiere release, which sold out in just more than 30 days.

The newly announced release represents buyers' last chance for pre-construction home selection customization and pricing.

Located in the world's largest urban arts district, Museum Tower will surround its residents with masterpieces of the visual arts, performing arts and architecture. The site is between the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center and the Nasher Sculpture Center. Two-dozen other arts organizations also will call the Arts District home.

Even the culinary arts are represented at Museum Tower, with several of the city's top restaurants within a short distance and chef Stephan Pyles as resident culinary ambassador

For Museum Tower residents, a typical day might begin with a ride down a private elevator for coffee in the library with neighbors, then a brisk walk in Woodall Rodgers Park or a more vigorous run on the nearby Katy Trail. For a slower-paced morning, stroll with your dog to the cafe in the park. Afterward, wander over to the Nasher for the latest exhibition.

With groundbreaking scheduled for 2008, Museum Tower is now accepting appointments for tours of the site and evirons. For a private appointment at the Sales Gallery at 2112 Flora St. at Olive, call 214-954-1234 or visit www.museumtowerdallas.com.

Tenet Healthcare considering a move to downtown Dallas

Tenet Healthcare Corp. – one of the country's largest hospital operators – is considering moving its corporate offices from the suburbs to downtown Dallas.

The firm has looked at several buildings in central Dallas, including the Fountain Place tower on Ross Avenue, real estate brokers say.

Tenet is currently located in an office tower that sits just north of the Galleria complex at 13737 Noel Road.

The company has been evaluating potential locations for its move and could make a choice in the coming weeks, brokers familiar with the transaction say.

A spokesman for Tenet would say only that no decision about the company's offices has been made at this point.

If Tenet makes the move downtown, it would join a growing list of companies shifting operations to the central business district.

Telecommunications giant AT&T announced last month that it is moving its headquarters from San Antonio to downtown Dallas.

Other firms, including Autonomy etalk, 7-Eleven Corp., American International Group and TM Advertising, have recently shifted operations to Dallas' city center.

"I continue to be encouraged by tenants looking at downtown to relocate," said John Crawford, president and CEO of DowntownDallas, the central business district economic development organization.

"With the amount of office space we have and rates being offered, it's a very attractive option," he added.

Plus, downtown is getting a boost from high gasoline costs that have underscored the importance of public transit.

The central business district is the hub of the Dallas area's light rail system.

And construction of several thousand residential units downtown in recent years has added to the district's appeal.

"Downtown is in a sweet spot because we can provide an urban environment in a central location," Mr. Crawford said.

By Steve Brown

Record numbers hopping on DART

More weekday riders boarded DART's light-rail and commuter trains in June than ever in the agency's 25-year history.

Weekend trips were up, too, compared with a year ago. And on buses, where total ridership has remained flat or even down in recent months, the numbers jumped 6 percent from June 2007 – making this June the second-busiest month ever for Dallas Area Rapid Transit's buses and trains.

When the 4.5 million passengers who used DART's fast-growing network of HOV lanes are included, the month was the best ever for DART, agency spokesman Morgan Lyons said.

That doesn't surprise Jack and Aaron Glenn, who said Thursday that they often visit friends in downtown Dallas by taking a 20-minute express bus from their home in Irving. Or, as they did Thursday, they drive to Dallas for one errand, park their car for the day and hop on a light-rail line to move throughout the city.

"I never realized how convenient it is," said Jack Glenn, 50, who was looking for a bag at Whole Earth Provision Company near the Mockingbird Station rail stop Thursday and stopped for coffee at Starbucks. "It's like the transit station is the hub and then there are all these other businesses around it."

That's exactly what DART officials want to hear, and a reason why the agency says $7 billion worth of transit-related real estate developments are either already on the ground near its stations or on planning maps for future development.

The prospect of all that development lured dozens of officials from Fort Worth, including Mayor Mike Moncrief, to Mockingbird Station, too. They took a 95-minute ride from downtown Fort Worth to Mockingbird Station, the 10-acre development seen as the prototype for similar live-work-and-play projects in North Texas.

"We wanted to experience the seamless interconnectivity you have here with DART," Mr. Moncrief said as he stepped off the rail car. "I don't think people realize how nice it is, until they get on the train."

'We are spoiled'

Dallas operates the Trinity Railway Express jointly with Fort Worth's transit agency, and in June it provided 251,000 trips. That's a lot, officials said, even as Mr. Moncrief later conceded that for many, transit and North Texas still seem an odd fit.

"We are spoiled," he said. "Just spoiled by our cars. We like to go where we want and leave when we want to. And I readily admit, I am one of them that is spoiled. We need a change of attitude, but I can tell you this, too – $5 gas is doing a lot to change the way people are thinking."

DART's numbers show he may be right. The TRE gave 31,000 more rides in June compared with May, and about 45,000 more than June of last year.

Increases on TRE have been steady for months as commuters have recoiled from gasoline prices that have topped $4 per gallon. But increases on the light-rail lines, which have much higher ridership than the TRE, have been more modest. And on DART's busiest mode of service, its buses, ridership hadn't grown at all.

But that all changed in June, when any ambiguity about transit ridership trends appears to have vanished, at least for now. In June, light-rail passengers took 1.69 million trips, about 200,000 more than June 2007.

Each weekday in June, on average, light-rail passengers took 70,000 trips. TRE passengers took about 11,000 trips each weekday. Both numbers set all-time highs for DART.

That's welcome news for Dallas' efforts to add density to development downtown and elsewhere, Mayor Tom Leppert said Thursday. "Dallas, like a lot of cities in the South and Southwest where land was so plentiful, grew so fast that the growth happened before we even really thought of transit. Now, we're trying to change that."

Studying streetcars

Dallas and Fort Worth are studying ways to add streetcars downtown, something they may work together on to try to get better prices for the trolleys. Fort Worth has no light-rail service, but wants to build a commuter rail line to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport by 2013.

Still, even the big numbers in June don't change the fact that DART buses and trains still service only a fraction of area residents. Just 2 percent to 3 percent of the Dallas area's daily commuters use transit, for instance.

Lakewood resident Greg Gardner, 39, is in the majority when he says that when he's going someplace in Dallas, he's driving. He was at Mockingbird Station on Thursday, too, but he said he had simply walked from his office for a midday break. He rarely uses DART.

"If DART had serviced Deep Ellum in my 20s, then I might have used it," he said with a laugh. "But it didn't. And it's probably too little, too late for that."

The trend is clearly upward for DART, however. And officials there hope to prove Mr. Gardner wrong, even about Deep Ellum. A new station is scheduled to open there in September 2009.

By MICHAEL A. LINDENBERGER / The Dallas Morning News

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Mayors of Fort Worth and Dallas, Fort Worth City Council and Transportation Authority Board to converge July 17 on North Texas’ first transit-oriented, mixed-use development

DALLAS (July 14, 2008) – City leaders from Fort Worth will visit Mockingbird Station, the pioneer of transit-oriented, mixed-use developments in Texas, this week as part of a recently initiated modern streetcar feasibility study. The Station’s developer, Ken Hughes, will take Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, as well as members of the Fort Worth City Council, Fort Worth Transportation Authority Board, and the City’s Modern Streetcar Study Committee on a tour of the property July 17 beginning at 10 a.m. Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert also will be on hand to deliver remarks on how Mockingbird Station has influenced development around DART stations.

Participants will arrive on the DART rail line shortly before 10 a.m. Following the guided tour, the group will gather at Trinity Hall Restaurant & Pub at 10:30 a.m. for Mayor Leppert’s welcome address, in addition to a TOD presentation by Hughes and a DART message about Dallas’ ongoing downtown streetcar project.
“Fort Worth is experiencing explosive growth which, along with economic and environmental factors, is necessitating the development of alternate means of transportation,” said Mayor Moncrief. “The T is implementing a regional commuter rail project that will connect us to the regional rail network. As we consider other rail transit to provide circulation within our City that connects with that regional network, Mockingbird Station offers us a terrific template for blending residential, retail and office space near that.”

This event, adds Hughes, reinforces how Mockingbird Station has become the model for transit-oriented, mixed-use developments in the Metroplex and throughout the United States. The Station hosted a mobile workshop in May in conjunction with the Urban Land Institute’s Spring Council Forum. Last month, representatives with the Tampa Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority toured the property for inspiration as they expand and develop around their own light rail system.

“We are pleased to welcome our Western neighbors to Mockingbird Station and to demonstrate the positive impact our property has had in Dallas,” said Pam Baker, general manager of Mockingbird Station. “We hope this visit will provide Fort Worth with beneficial insights they can use to ensure the overarching and far-reaching success of their own transit project.”

About Mockingbird Station

Mockingbird Station became an instant urban village success upon completion in 2001, mixing architectural styles and unprecedented amenities to create a lively atmosphere unlike any other development in North Texas. Blending lifestyle, work and retail with mass transit in a ten-acre pedestrian friendly site, the Station is filled with 198,000 square feet of both boutique and chain retailers and restaurants, plus the Angelika – an eight-screen independent theater. In addition, it is home to 211 loft-style apartments and 150,000 square feet of office space. Its convenient location at the northeast corner of Mockingbird Lane and North Central Expressway, adjacent to a DART station, make Mockingbird Station equally appealing to motorists and rail commuters. In addition to valet parking, there are 1,500 surface level and covered below-ground parking spaces, with direct platform access to Red and Blue Line trains that run every 10-20 minutes. On-the-gocasual and world-class cuisine can be had at Mockingbird Station, along with a unique retail experience ranging from favorite chains to eclectic boutiques. For more information, visit www.mockingbirdstation.com.

About Hughes Development LP
Hughes Development creates, owns and leases major transit-oriented, retail and residential projects, including the in-construction SoSeven, Fort Worth’s first high-end, mixed-use development. Through a dedication to the enhancement of communities, the use of thoughtful planning processes, and an appreciation of architecture, Hughes Development LP has earned a reputation as one of the premier development firms in the country. To learn more, visit www.hughesdevelopmentlp.com.

Balcones Selling Largest Dallas Assemblage in Decades

Site Includes 37 Acres in Heart of City

Balcones Realty has put together one of the largest contiguous assemblages of fully entitled land in decades within the loop in Dallas. From September of last year to January, Balcones purchased 10 tracts of land northwest of downtown that total 37 acres. The assemblage is located near Love Field, Southwestern Medical District and the affluent Park Cities neighborhoods, as well as Oaklawn/Uptown and downtown Dallas.

The site has more than 180,000 square feet of industrial space, which will have to be torn down by a new owner. Balcones received necessary approvals from the city of Dallas, and is currently fully entitled from an environmental and land use perspective.

Balcones would not reveal how much it paid for the property. However, The Falcon Cos., which is representing Balcones in the sale, has the property listed for $27 per square foot, for a total listing price of $43.5 million. Even before Falcon began to openly market this property for sale on CoStar.com, Balcones was receiving offers for this property. Currently, negotiations are being conducted with several developers, but as of the date of this story nothing has been finalized.

Balcones Realty Partners is the retail development arm of Golden Boy Partners, started by the former welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya. Golden Boy Partners specializes in urban infill mixed-use and residential developments. It employs a comprehensive approach to real estate development that encompasses substantial community outreach, careful interaction with city staff, and on-going discourse with civic leaders and elected officials. Balcones is focused on providing development opportunities to retailers in urban underserved markets where the barriers to entry are high.

The Falcon Cos., headquartered in Dallas, provides comprehensive commercial retail real estate services including brokerage, tenant representation, site selection, surplus property disposition, acquisition and redevelopment build-to-suit services and landlord representation.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Some Dallas-area residents moving closer to work to save money on gas

The old real estate maxim "location, location, location" couldn't be more apt during these days of $4 gasoline.

Some Dallas-area residents are already making a housing move to cut down on fuel costs.

Ben Patterson and his partner, Rick Ortiz, recently moved from an apartment near White Rock Lake to a central business district condo.

"Rick works downtown, so now he only has to walk about two blocks," Mr. Patterson said. "As a result, we pretty much only drive one vehicle these days."

And Mr. Patterson said his daily commute to Arlington was significantly shortened.

"With gas prices what they are, I'm not interested in having a 30-mile commute to work," he said.

The downtown transplants walk to do their grocery shopping at the Urban Market on Jackson Street and can dine at nearby restaurants.

Real estate agents say they are seeing a steady stream of potential buyers shopping for housing options in central Dallas neighborhoods – including downtown.

"I absolutely believe the cost of gas will have a substantial positive impact on in-town housing," said Dallas residential agent Jeff Updike.

But the shift may take a bit for some homeowners.

"Selling, buying and moving is a big financial decision, so people won't have the knee-jerk reaction many have had in changing to a more fuel-efficient car," said Mr. Updike, who is with Re/Max Urban.

"Now the investigation process has begun, and we have seen a tremendous increase in calls regarding the cost of urban living, homeowners associations, DART rail stations, etc."

New downtown resident James Howard just moved with his fiancée into the DP&L Lofts building, which ended his daily commute from Bedford.

"I've been in the 'burbs for many years," Mr. Howard said. "I was looking forward to the move. We saw it as an opportunity too good to pass up."

Mr. Howard walks to his job at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"It's a grand total of four blocks," he said. "That means quite a bit of savings" in weekly gasoline expense.

Before, his round-trip commute was 45 miles.

"Where you live in relation to where you work is definitely going to be higher on the list of things people need to consider," Mr. Howard said.

Homebuilders, who have traditionally gone to the suburban edge to find cheaper building sites, may also have to rethink their strategy.

"We're already seeing some impact" of the higher commuting costs, said Ted Wilson of Dallas-based housing analyst Residential Strategies Inc.

"I talk to builders in the outer ring locations who've seen a significant drop in their traffic," he said.

"When you combine the longer commute times with the higher gasoline prices, you will see a lot more interest in closer-in locations," Mr. Wilson said.

Homebuyers may opt to trade the higher purchase price of a close-in home for the lower monthly gasoline expense and still save on time spent in the car each day.

Major homebuilders are voicing concerns about the impact the record gasoline costs will have on their inventories.

At a recent conference with analysts, an executive with Dallas-based Centex Corp. said that close-in homes are more valuable now than far-flung unsold homes owned by the builder.

"In this market with $4 gas, if you're sitting on standing inventory in fringe areas, that's probably more problematic than if you're sitting on inventory in in-fill areas," Centex senior vice president Larry Angelilli said.

Even homebuyers who don't opt for a house near their job may choose to move to save on monthly energy costs.

Dallas accounting executive Harold Gaar and his wife, Marilee, are trading their North Dallas house for a close-in townhome that's about half the size.

"Our kids are grown," said Mr. Gaar, a former executive with The Dallas Morning News. "Do we need a 3,900-square-foot home anymore?

"Once you get rid of the emotional issues, the answer is no," he said. "And I believe that energy costs are going to continue to go up."

The Gaars worked with Dallas-based David Griffin Realtors to find their new Cole Avenue townhouse.

After the move, Mr. Gaar will still have to commute to his job on LBJ Freeway. But he expects the couple will do more walking in their new neighborhood near Knox Street.

"I have a car that's larger, and I'm going to sell it," he said. "I've ordered a Mini Cooper.

"It's the wave of the future if you believe what we are seeing in energy prices is not a spike but a long-term trend," he said. "We will start looking at housing differently."

By Steve Brown

Dallas parking is on the cheap side, survey finds

Suburban visitors and office workers sometimes lament the "high" parking costs in downtown Dallas.

But a new survey shows that Dallas' central business district has one of the cheapest parking rates of any major U.S. city.

Daily and monthly parking costs in downtown Dallas are about two-thirds the national average, according to a just-released study by real estate broker Colliers International.

On average, downtown Dallas parkers pay $10.50 a day and $90 a month.

That compares with a nationwide average of $15.42 and $153.79, Colliers International found.

But Dallas costs are just a fraction of what drivers pay monthly to park in some major cities, including New York, Boston, San Francisco and Chicago.

Dallas is even cheaper than some other Sun Belt cities, including Houston and Denver.

Fierce competition with suburban office locations helps keep Dallas downtown parking costs low, Colliers International's Ross Moore said.

"And your land prices are cheaper than places like San Francisco and Boston," he said.

Researchers found that it's not just the soaring cost of gasoline that has added to commuters' woes.

Overall parking costs around the country have risen for five years in a row.

"Parking inventory in CBDs across the country is increasingly tight," Mr. Moore said in the report.

"This dearth of parking and accompanying rise in cost, coupled with skyrocketing fuel prices – all in the face of a stagnating economy – exacerbates the everyday headaches faced by commuters nationwide."

By Steve Brown

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Dallas-Fort Worth surges to No. 1 in apartment construction

Surging construction has made Dallas-Fort Worth the No. 1 apartment development market in the country.

But the boom in building comes at a time when net demand for rental units here is shrinking.

During the second quarter, developers broke ground on more than 6,100 D-FW area apartments. That pushes total area construction to more than 19,217 units – the highest total in more than five years, according to M/PF YieldStar.

“Dallas-Fort Worth looked like it would avoid overbuilding during the current cycle, but this big block of starts changes the big picture considerably,” Greg Willett, M/PF YieldStar’s vice president of research, said in a statement Tuesday.

“Given that developers are struggling to obtain capital for new building right now, it’s a little surprising to see construction activity jump so dramatically.”

The biggest concentrations of apartment starts during the second quarter were in West Plano and Frisco, Lewisville and North Fort Worth.

Even with all the construction, local apartment vacancies remained low at an average of about 7 percent.

But the decline in net leasing is troubling at a time when so much is being built.

During the second quarter, tenants moved out of a net 1,830 units in D-FW, according to M/PF YieldStar. The latest decrease came on top of a smaller dip in the first quarter, which brings the year-to-date tenant loss to 3,020.

Mr. Willett said that many of those renters are relocating to single-family homes, which are offered for lease by investors or homeowners who can’t sell their properties.

“The shadow market of single-family rentals is taking an unusually large share of total housing demand,” Mr. Willett said.

Regardless of the moveouts, rents continued to rise in the second quarter – up about 3 percent from a year earlier to an average of $752.


First apartments in Dallas Arts District going up

Construction has begun on the first apartment community in downtown Dallas' booming Arts District.

Developer JPI is building the midrise complex on Routh Street across from the new Dallas Center for the Performing Arts.

he project will contain 228 apartments in a modern-style building that stretches along Ross Avenue.

"We look at Ross Avenue as a gateway to downtown, and that gateway will drastically change in the next two years," said Brad Taylor, JPI's senior vice president and regional manager.

JPI bought land on both sides of Ross west of North Central Expressway. The Arts District apartment project will be its first effort to redevelop an area that was formerly used mostly for parking lots and auto repair.

Designed by architect Preston Partnership of Atlanta, the six-story building will have an exterior of multi-color stucco with balconies overlooking the streets.

The ground floor and basement of the building will be used for parking.

"We designed it very modern to be a key piece in the district," Mr. Taylor said.

"We only have one shot at the Arts District."

The first apartments will open in early 2010. Rents will average $1,800.

The complex will have a cyber lounge, a fitness center, a resort-style pool and an outdoor lounge with a fireplace.

JPI has a larger piece of property on the south side of Ross outside the district where it can build 242 more units in a second phase.

The developer's Jefferson at the Arts District building is next door to One Arts Plaza – a high-rise that contains retail, office and condominium units.

And the $338 million performing arts center is being built to the west between Routh and Leonard streets.

"By the time we deliver our first apartment units, pretty much everything will be finished," Mr. Taylor said.

"We think our timing is pretty good."

The project is one of two JPI is building downtown. At Ross and Market Street, the developer is constructing its 146-unit West End Station, a five-story apartment building.

"We'll have the first residents moving into the West End project in September," Mr. Taylor said.

JPI has been a pioneer in city center apartment construction, developing the first new projects in the Victory neighborhood, in North Oak Cliff and in Deep Ellum.

"We've built 2,942 units in eight close-in projects," Mr. Taylor said.

JPI was founded in Irving in 1989 and is one of the country's largest apartment developers, with about 40,000 units managed and leased.

By STEVE BROWN / The Dallas Morning News