Sunday, August 30, 2009

Major Corporations Announce Their Intentions of Occupying Downtown Dallas Office Space

In recent years, Dallas office space and warehouse space has become a hot commodity that is increasingly in demand. Each day there are new announcements of the development of new office and warehouse space in downtown Dallas.

Just this week the American International Group announced that it will be moving its main office to Dallas, right in the heart of the downtown.

An In-Depth Look into AIG’s Decision

Tom Leppert, the mayor of Dallas commented, “We are clearly excited about this announcement. Not only did AIG decide to stay in Dallas, but it chose downtown Dallas as its new home. Their relocation adds to the exciting momentum already building in the city’s core.”

The momentum that Leppert is referring to is the numerous businesses; both large and small that are flocking to the area of downtown Dallas. This is a terrific time to invest in Downtown Dallas office space. There are several new announcements of Dallas office space for lease, which can be the perfect start for a local, nationwide or global business to set-up shop.

The American International Group is expected to move, as of 2009, into The Plaza of the Americas. AIG is a very large global insurance firm. It offers clients life, property, casualty and specialty insurance to individual and institutional customers. Last year, AIG experienced over $113 billion dollars in sales.

A New Announcement Concerning Dallas Warehouse Space

In addition to AIG’s decision to move their main office to the downtown area of Dallas, Holt Lunsford Commercial purchased a piece of valuable Dallas warehouse space known as “City Warehouse”. This was the warehouse where over 3 million Ford trucks and cars came off the assembly line. Many of these vehicles bore a sticker that read “Made in Texas by Texans”.

The City Warehouse, unfortunately, was shut down nearly 40 years ago. Holt Lunsford Commercial has huge plans for this historical piece of Dallas warehouse space. The plans for this property include a revitalization component that is designed to revive the City Warehouse’s role in the neighborhood. The owner hopes that the redevelopment of this warehouse will act as a powerful economic engine for the eastside of the city.

The owner of the City Warehouse commented, “The big push for us is, how we can be instrumental in the revitalization of the community?”

This premier Dallas warehouse space consists of over one million square feet, 12 warehouse, office and distribution buildings, covering 65 acres of land. One of the plans for the use of this space is to attract new retail shops and to offer affordable office space to new businesses. Also, the new owner of City Warehouse is looking towards creating a business incubator that will be responsible for bringing more manufacturing jobs to the area.

Both of these recent announcements, from GE, Land Tejas and Holt Lunsford Commercial will have a dramatic impact on Dallas Texas real estate. The future of residential and commercial development, in Dallas, is extremely promising as new projects are already being planned.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Downtown Dallas Facts

Did you know that Downtown Dallas has:

• 6,000 CBD residents
• 30,000 Downtown residents
• Over 135,000 employees
• 33 million SF of Office Space
• 150 shops / 250 restaurants
• 17% decrease in crime 2008-09
• 5,000 residential units under construction
• $30 million has recently been contributed to safety, maintenance, capital improvement and marketing programs in 10 years.
• 80 jobs have been created for Downtown Safety Patrol and clean Team

Over the past 18 months

• 40 companies relocated to downtown
• 6,500 jobs came with these companies
• 1.5 million space of office occupied by these companies
• 3 million+ sq ft of expansions and lease renewals
• Corgan and Hunt Consolidated have made long term investments in building their headquarters downtown

Living Downtown

• 14,000 residential units under construction
• Potential to have more than 50,000 Downtown residents by 2011

Retail Downtown

• Plans to bring 500,000 sq ft of retail to downtown areas is currently underway

These are only a few things the downtown Dallas area has been up to. Many other projects and efforts are said to be underway. Results are happening every day in Downtown Dallas. It certainly shows as in the past 50 years this area has gone from 5.5 million sq ft of office space to now over 33 million. Come down and see what we’re doing in Downtown Dallas today!

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's a risk to say it, but it looks like the worst is over for real estate market

I've mentioned before that my great-grandfather was a survivor of the Galveston hurricane of 1900.After hours and hours of lashing wind and rain, he no doubt wondered whether the storm would ever end. More than 6,000 people were left dead in its wake.

Even when the worst was over, Grandpa was so rattled that he packed up and left for good. He wasn't convinced it was safe to stay on the storm-prone island.
We've had our own storm of sorts in the Dallas-Fort Worth housing market. For the last couple of years, home sales and prices have been falling here.

Now, finally, there are signs that the tempest is ending.But is it really over, or are we just in the eye of the storm?

Calling the bottom of any market is a dangerous prognostication. What you think is the deepest part of the pond might turn out to be just a ledge.It's safe to assume that you won't know the worst in any economy is over until about six months after the fact.

All that being said, I'll go out on a limb and say that the North Texas home market has bottomed out.After some significant declines in sales and prices early this year, the numbers are showing a definite leveling. This week, North Texas pre-owned home sales data showed that July had the lowest percentage decline in almost two years. And median prices last month were up 3 percent from a year ago, according to statistics prepared by Texas A&M University's Real Estate Center.

The National Association of Realtors reports that median home sales prices for the entire second quarter were basically flat in D-FW when compared with prices a year ago. That follows five consecutive quarters of falling prices in the Realtors' benchmark report.

Yet another home price measure, by Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller, recently found that the Dallas region was one of only two metropolitan areas in the country with three consecutive months of home price increases.

So what does it all mean?

Well, if you've been waiting to unload your house and make a killing with the price, you'd best go on waiting.Just because the home market here is pulling up from its dive doesn't mean things will go zoom zoom again.

Most economists foresee a long, drawn-out housing recovery that will depend on a rebound in the employment market. Good luck with that.And the thousands of home foreclosures – which are expected to continue – will still put downward pressure on North Texas residential values.Still, the fact that the home market appears to be stabilizing is positive news for our local economy.

Home inventories – new and pre-owned – are now at the lowest levels in several years. Tight lending restraints will make it hard for builders to put up a bunch of spec houses.The only real wild card left is the foreclosure situation.Home sellers who decide to brave the market with a "for sale" sign will find buyers are still looking for deals.

A lasting benefit of the housing downturn will be a more restrained view of the often-hyped residential market by consumers.That's the real rainbow that will follow this storm.

Dallas office space glut of '86 dwarfs today's oversupply

In 1986, the space shuttle Challenger blew up.And in what was then the Soviet Union, a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl exploded.In Dallas, we were struggling with an office market glut that generated plenty of its own dire headlines.

Back then, Dallas had the biggest oversupply of office space in the nation. There was enough empty space here to provide every resident in the area with a 10-square-foot office.Fretting economists predicted it would take at least 10 years to fill up the excess. Some said it might have to be torn down.

What a bunch of bosh. The office market rebounded quicker than the doomsayers predicted.So pardon me if I don't get all lathered about the current state of affairs in the local real estate market.

In the worst economy in generations, the commercial real estate business here is certainly facing challenges.But so far, it's been nothing like the meltdown we experienced 20 years ago.And unless the economy gets sickeningly worse or a ton of new building space just falls out of the sky, it's not going to be 1986 all over again. (Although I wouldn't mind being 30 again.)

If you don't believe me when I say the situation isn't so dire, just look at the real estate numbers.During the last big realty bust, we had 30 million square feet of office space going up when demand began to fizzle. A combination of loony lending practices and the Oil Patch recession slammed leasing of office space into low gear.

This go-round, we had – at most – 6 million square feet of office space in the mill.
Oh, and did I mention that the overall market in 2009 is about 75 percent larger than it was back in 1986?The flood of vacant office space that was hunting renters in '86 grew to more than 40 million square feet – more than in any other metro area in the country.

Indeed, D-FW back then had more empty office space than most cities had in their total market.So-called see-through office buildings up on the Dallas North Tollway became mini-tourist attractions, just like the acres of half-built condos on Interstate 30 out toward Lake Ray Hubbard.Currently, we again have almost 40 million square feet of empty office space in D-FW. But today, that works out to only about 20 percent of the market.

In 1986, the overall office vacancy in North Texas was over 30 percent. In Plano, 38 percent of the buildings were vacant.And along with the offices, there were millions and millions of square feet of empty shopping centers, warehouses and the like going begging.

What all this meant was that for several years, real estate developers got to develop their fly-fishing and legal deposition skills while the economy caught up with the overburdened office market.This time, commercial builders might have the opportunity to get in some extra golf time but, hopefully, won't be spending as many hours in the courthouse.It's hard to argue that the current problems in our real estate market and economy in general were caused by eager-beaver office builders.
And I'm betting the bounce-back will be lots quicker than in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Westmount Health Campus Sells Seven Acres

DALLAS-Locally based Westmount Realty Capital sold 6.9 acres from its 27-acre Westmount Health Campus to physician partners Forest Park Realty Partners III to expand the adjacent 66,100-square-foot Forest Park Medical Center, a doctor-owned hospital. There is no construction launch on the next phase, but it's estimated the parcel could hold up to 150,000 square feet of medical real estate.
Forest Park Medical Center at 11990 North Central Expy. is next door to Medical City Dallas, and minutes away from Presbyterian Hospital. The physician owners broke ground on the $36 million project in early 2008, completed it in March 2009 and, according to Westmount Realty president Cliff Booth, are ready for more.

"This physician's group will be using this tract not only to build more hospital and surgical space, but also medical office space," Booth tells "There are many doctors who are a part of the hospital who want to have offices next to the hospital."

The exact financial details of the acquisition were not available. The quoted ask for the land is $35 per square foot.
When Westmount Realty acquired the initial 27 acres in 2006 for approximately $20 million, Booth says the land was envisioned for medical, multifamily and retail development, "in that order." After working with potential multifamily and retail developers, Booth says, medical development kept coming up.

Meanwhile, Westmount Realty has 7.5 acres remaining, and Booth says activity is strong. "We have nothing to announce, but it's definitely active," he says. "We see a variety of uses on this; medical and others as well."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

West End apartment complex in Dallas faces foreclosure

A high-profile West End apartment complex is scheduled for foreclosure next month.

The 1001 Ross Avenue apartment block was built in 2003 and contains more than 200 apartments, with retail space on the ground floor. The building is owned by a real estate partnership, Jefferson on Ross Avenue LP.

Bank of America has scheduled a Sept. 1 foreclosure auction on the property, which has $29.3 million in original debt, according to foreclosure filing information collected by Addison-based Foreclosure Listing Service Inc.

The downtown Dallas apartment project is one of 184 commercial and investment properties threatened with forced sale at next month's foreclosure auctions in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton counties.

Real estate with more than $496 million in loans is included the latest foreclosure filings on commercial properties. The largest category – almost 50 postings – is for apartment projects.

Almost three dozen tracts of land also are set for foreclosure, including large development sites on State Highway 380 in Denton County and State Highway 114 in North Fort Worth.

So far this year, commercial property foreclosure postings are up more than 10 percent from a year ago, according to Foreclosure Listing Service.

The type of properties being threatened with foreclosure also has changed, according to Foreclosure Listing Service president George Roddy. "The quality of the properties keeps getting better," Roddy said.

Counting September's postings, almost 1,700 commercial property foreclosure filings have been recorded in the D-FW area so far this year.
Steve Brown/DMN

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Dallas-area home prices decreased 4.5 percent between February 2008 and February 2009 and 11.1 percent from their peak in mid-2007, according to the latest measure by Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller.
February's local numbers showed a slight improvement from January, when the Dallas index was down about 4.9 percent.
Housing analysts point to the Case-Shiller numbers as an indication that home price declines will be moderate in the months ahead.
Dallas’ 4.5 percent slip was the smallest among the 20 cities surveyed nationwide. It is the only Texas market included in the Case-Shiller monthly price index. Nationwide, prices dropped 18.6 percent.
The Case-Shiller survey tracks the prices of typical single-family homes in each metropolitan area. The index survey does not include condominiums and townhouses. It covers pre-owned properties, not new construction. The researchers compare sales of specific single-family homes over time.


A plan to aid struggling homeowners was defeated in the Senate by a 45-51 vote on Thursday.
The bill would have allowed debt-ridden homeowners to ask a bankruptcy judge to reduce their mortgage payments.
The plan fell 15 votes short of the 60 needed for approval. Lawmakers worried it would encourage bankruptcy filings and spike interest rates.


The recent trends of home foreclosures, declining building permits and high office vacancy rates will cause area property values to fall for the first time in years.
For many homeowners, this means a break in taxes owed on their properties. About 92 percent of all residential properties will either fall in value or remain the same, said Ken Nolan, Dallas County's chief appraiser.
On the commercial side, about 88 percent of properties will either lose value or remain unchanged, Nolan said.
In contrast, last year’s preliminary property values rose about 13 percent. In 2007 they rose 20 percent.
The Dallas Central Appraisal District will begin sending notices to property owners today. These are sent only if any change is made to the property or its value. Of the roughly 374,000 residential notices to be mailed, 55 percent will reflect a decrease in value, Nolan said.
This year's preliminary tax roll numbers will be released May 22.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Construction contract awarded for Woodall Rodgers Deck Park

TxDOT yesterday morning announced the award of a contract to begin construction on the planned deck park over the Woodall Rodgers freeway that will link Uptown to downtown.

The contract went to Atlanta-based Archer Western to build the 5.2 acre span that is expected to become the city's most lavish park and a critical pedestrian connection between the Arts District and Uptown.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 14, according to a press release from TxDOT.

The $44.5 million contract will go toward construction of the main bridge between Pearl and St. Paul over the 8-lane freeway.

Sponsors of the deck park also say that they will now refer to it simply as"the Park" while they work toward selling naming rights to some major donor.

City Hall has long been eager to name the entire park in honor of a donor and to sell off the names of specific amenities planned inside the park.

Similar efforts have been successful nationally in funding significant features in important urban parks.

UPDATE: The deck park is scheduled to open in mid-2011. All of the features (or amenities as parks folks say) are to be in by 2012.

Rudolph Bush/Reporter

Monday, August 03, 2009

2010 Commercial Property Tax Relief!

Since the early nineties commercial tax rolls have experienced continuous growth. We are at a point where in 2010 commercial property owners will have the most leverage to cut their property tax valuations.

In 2009 some commercial property owners just knew their assets were not worth what they were in 2008. So they felt as though they could take advantage of the declining market to receive some tax relief. They were not as successful as they believed they would be.

Why? Central Appraisal District (the entity that handles property tax appraisals in your county) created an excuse that as of the assessment date January 1, 2009, things were not as bad as they are today. In-other-words, the sales data collected by them between January 1, 2008 and the current assessment date, will not justify whole-sale value reductions.

How do I know this?

The scenario has occurred before during the S&L Crisis which occurred in the late eighties and early nineties. During that period appraisal districts experienced shrinking tax rolls and values declined to unprecedented levels. To make up for budget short falls municipalities raised their tax rates and other service fees.

During these challenging times Texas appraisal districts will be under pressure to hold values to 2008 levels and in some cases raise values. The taxing entities need and want growing tax rolls to pay for the goods and services provided by municipalities.

Next year will be different!

2009 sales data will certainly reflect significantly lower values, limited access to capital and long days on market will stick out like a sore thumb. But property owners will need a few more strategies to maximize their chances in lowering their 2010 tax valuations. This where experienced property tax consultants can help by executing their many valuation reduction strategies.

2010 is sooner than you think, so start looking for a quality property tax consultant early.

Don’t be the 54% of commercial property owners/ tenants who don’t actively protest our high and unfair property taxes. Be one of the owners who protest their taxes and save thousands of dollars next year in tax expense.