Thursday, June 19, 2014

New Uptown tower raises the bar for design and project cost

Construction is kicking off on the most expensive Uptown development in more than a decade.

Crescent Real Estate Holdings’ $225 million office and retail project at McKinney Avenue and Olive Street attracted a crowd for its start Thursday morning.

The 530,000-square-foot, 20-story McKinney & Olive development is on one of the last large empty blocks located just north of downtown Dallas.

While the office tower is the most prominent part of the project, it’s the lower floor retail and restaurant center and almost one-acre outdoor public space that will set the project apart from other buildings in the area.

Acclaimed international architect Cesar Pelli and his team spent time getting to know the neighborhood and visiting buildings along McKinney Avenue before coming up with the design.

“We think this is a very pedestrian area and we want to celebrate that,” Pelli said. “When you drive by, this is going to catch your eye.”

The lower two levels along McKinney and Olive will be clad in transparent glass to open the project up. The parking garage at the corner of Olive and Cedar Springs Road will also  be wrapped with shop and restaurant space on the ground floor.

Pelli said the design of the building will contribute to the feel and appeal of the area.

“Uptown represents the future of all Dallas, he said.

With more than three acres to build, Crescent chose to devote a large portion of the block to pedestrian and retail features rather than maximizing construction with more high-rise space.

“We wanted to create a public open space that would be incredibly inviting,” Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects’ principal Greg Jones said. “Twenty to 25 percent of this site is not built on and is non revenue generating.

“It’s a linear park in the middle of a city.”

The idea of mixing top-class office space with retail and outdoor spaces seems to be resonating with tenants for the development.

Prominent Dallas law firm Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP has leased four floors in the tower and Crescent Real Estate CEO John Goff said more office deals are in the works.

‘The interest level has really accelerated,” Goff said. “We hit the market at a good time, and I feel very comfortable at our ability to fill it up.”

Tenants will pay a premium to locate in the new glass tower. Rents in the building will be in the mid to upper $40s per square foot – some of the highest ever in Uptown And twice the cost of some downtown buildings.

Goff said the actual start of construction on the project should increase the pace of leasing.

“The market always questions whether a development is real – is it really going to come out of the ground?” he said.

Along with Pelli Clarke Pelli, Kendall/Heaton Associates is executive architect for the building and Beck Group will be general contractor.

The Office of James Burnett – which designed the Klyde Warren Park – is doing the building’s park space.

The tower will take about two years to build.

Steve Brown- Dallas News