Friday, February 06, 2015

Dallas land development would fill an empty corner of downtown

A development that’s planned for a sleepy corner of downtown Dallas could be getting some traction soon.
The 12-acre Spire project that’s in the works for the northeast edge of downtown will contain an office tower, hotel, retail and apartment high-rise.

The project, which has been in the planning stages for more than a year, would occupy one of the largest undeveloped properties in the central business district.
“We’ve been intentionally patient and have been working on our plans,” said Jon Ruff, president of property owner and developer Spire Realty Group. “We recognize they are not making any more land downtown.
“Everybody in the real estate business knows about this project, but the public generally doesn’t,” Ruff said.
With the Arts District as a next-door neighbor and development activity spreading east down Ross Avenue, Spire Realty’s vacant lots across the street are looking more appealing for new construction.
“What was once sort of a forgotten corner of the city is no more,” Ruff said.
Spire started buying up the land a decade ago and hired WDG Architecture to plan a high-rise mixed-use project for the property.
“We are in a position to be able to work on multiple projects at one time,” Ruff said. “We know we are going to have a high-rise office, a high-rise multifamily building and a boutique hotel.
“We are teeing them all up so that when the timing is right we can execute them.”
The first phase will probably be a 21-story, 375,000-square-foot office building Spire Realty plans to build on San Jacinto Street behind the Plaza of the Americas complex.
Ruff said construction drawings and designs are complete for the tower.
Out pitching
The developer is talking to potential tenants.
“We’re out pitching companies,” said Spire’s Campbell Henry. “With our location at the Arts District, we need to find the right tenant to be in the project.”
Spire Realty also owns downtown’s Bryan Tower, which is 80 percent leased and about to get some ground-floor upgrades.
Ruff said the developers hope to attract a major company that wants to move downtown to take advantage of the growth in the Arts District and Uptown.
“Now that we are starting to see companies move here from outside of downtown, we view that as a real possibility for our project,” Ruff said. “We think we will be in a real good position.”
Downtown officials agree that the property has potential as a corporate office location.
“At this point in the market and the progress made downtown, the location and size of the Spire assemblage is an enormous advantage for tenants looking downtown,” said John Crawford, CEO of the economic development group Downtown Dallas Inc.
First phase
Ruff said the developers are also considering an apartment project or hotel for the first phase.
“We could have sold that land — all 12 acres if we chose — to apartment builders,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of interest from hotel groups.
“We have three or four groups we are talking with about a 200-room full-service hotel.”
Closer at hand, Spire Realty plans to start making street-side upgrades and landscaping to give its property more appeal.
“We have dedicated land to the city so they can widen Routh Street, and that’s finally happening,” Ruff said. “We hope that next year we will be able to start to improve that site and make it look more like a development.”
Construction of the new Hall Arts office tower on Ross Avenue and redevelopments planned at several 1980s office projects in the neighborhood are pouring millions of dollars in new investment into the area.
Thousands of new office workers are moving to nearby buildings.
“The area is going to continue to get better, and the Arts District has improved with age,” Ruff said. “The activity and traffic has become heavier.”
Steve Brown, The Dallas Morning News