Monday, March 16, 2015

Homebuilders try small, high-density communities to woo urban buyers

Drivers coming into downtown Dallas may do a double take at the David Weekley Homes sign on Live Oak Street.
The Houston-based high-production homebuilder is constructing houses in more than two dozen North Texas locations. Most of them are in the suburbs.
But Weekley is working on several high-density projects close to downtown — including the one on Live Oak.
“There is a larger appetite for people to live centrally,” said Weekley’s Dustin Nelson, who heads the North Texas operation. “It’s young professionals, young families, retired people.”
Weekley’s Live Oak project will have 26 homes priced from the high $400,000s. The 1,800- to 2,600-square-foot, three-story units will look like townhouses but will be separate units.
The builder is already constructing 22 of these houses on Garrett Avenue near Henderson and is planning a 40-unit community just south of downtown off Lamar Street.
“We’ve already done like 30 different projects in Houston,” Nelson said. “We are one of the few major builders doing this in Texas.”
The nontraditional housing appeals to residents who might also be attracted to condominiums or luxury rental units.
“The high-density, detached product is certainly ‘lifestyle’ in nature,” said housing analyst Ted Wilson of Residential Strategies Inc. “Typically the buyer has a minimal yard, and often the master bedroom is located upstairs.
“The tradeoff for the buyer is that the locations of these high-density neighborhoods is typically much closer to work and play, and the buyer will not have to endure the lengthy commutes often associated with outer-ring, more affordable new home neighborhoods,” he said.
Texas builders in some cases are taking design tips from California projects that have been a hit with buyers.
“It is not surprising that we are seeing the emergence of these high-density home neighborhoods increasingly crop up,” Wilson said.
And it’s not just near downtown.
A new development just approved in Plano will put more than 100 luxury homes in the $2 billion Legacy West development on Dallas North Tollway.
The project is the new home to headquarters for Toyota and FedEx Office. And construction is underway on a $400 million urban village with shops, apartments, restaurants, offices and hotel rooms.
Scott Felder Homes, a Central Texas homebuilder recently acquired by BR Homebuilding Group of Plano, plans to build a 12.2-acre, single-family home community on the east side of J.C. Penney’s corporate headquarters and next door to the new urban village project.
The new residential community will have three-story houses clustered on small lots. The contemporary houses will be built around a small green space with a walking path.
Steve Brown, The Dallas Morning News