Friday, July 25, 2014

Steve Brown: More teardowns coming in Dallas’ booming Uptown market

This week on McKinney Avenue, a ceremony kicked off construction on Uptown’s next big development — a 20-story apartment tower with retail.

The One Dallas project is on the site of a historic church building that for years housed the Dallas Hard Rock Café.

The century-old church was knocked down just as the recession hit to make way for future construction. It was one of the oldest buildings in Dallas’ Uptown district.

Don’t be surprised if other old, low-density buildings in the booming neighborhoods north of downtown Dallas wind up in front of a wrecking ball.

Land prices for high-profile development sites have reached the point in Uptown that just about every piece of real estate not already built as a high-rise is fair game for new construction. Property prices in some cases have zoomed past $300 per square foot.

“We have never seen prices this high,” said Dallas property broker Newt Walker, who’s handled sales in downtown and Uptown for decades. “These prices are comparable to the biggest boom we have seen in 30 years.”

Walker said at the height of the 1980s building craze, downtown development site prices got to just under $300 per square foot before the market crashed.

“The market has come roaring back,” Walker said.Changing horizonAnd bulldozers won’t be far behind.

For instance, owners of a one-story retail building at Cedar Springs and Olive Street are marketing the property for a high-rise.

“With land trading at above $300 per square foot in the Uptown area, we've decided to explore all vertical options,” said David Pemberton, who heads the partnership that has owned the property for more than 20 years.

“We’re in discussions with office tenants, boutique hotels and residential and restaurant uses,” Pemberton said.

The urban texture of Uptown will change dramatically in the next few years as developments become taller and more expensive. And some of the area’s familiar buildings could wind up in a landfill.

“For those properties that are not already designated city of Dallas landmarks, it will be almost impossible to maintain the historic context of Uptown unless there is a concerted effort from concerned neighbors, property owners and the community at large to identify those structures or areas that have a visual and historic connection to the neighborhood,” said Mark Doty, Dallas’ historic preservation officer.

“The challenge will be not only demolition but also inappropriate alterations or additions that adversely affect the current structures,” Doty said.Buyers circlingOne cherished Uptown landmark that’s attracting attention from developers is the 90-year-old Maple Terrace apartment building. 

The high-rise was one of Dallas’ first luxury residential buildings and was designed by noted British architect Alfred Bossom. But it does not have a historic designation.

Since 2010 the 80-unit rental building has been owned by a local investor. But real estate brokers say builders are looking at the choice property at Maple and Wolf Street with an eye toward building hundreds of apartment units.

Current owners confirm they’ve been contacted by interested buyers but say Maple Terrace hasn’t been sold.

A previous plan to remodel the building into condos and build an additional 170 units in a new 16-story tower was killed during the recession.

Look for a lot of pushback from preservationists if buyers propose to knock down Maple Terrace.

Steve Brown- Dallas News