Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New office tower will replace Uptown’s landmark Old Warsaw restaurant

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Contributed/Gensler
A 14-story office tower will replace Dallas' landmark Old Warsaw restaurant on Maple Avenue next to the Crescent.
A new Uptown office tower is going up on the site of one of Dallas’ oldest restaurants.
The 14-story building will replace the decades-old Old Warsaw restaurant and two other buildings on Maple Avenue next to the Crescent.
Construction of the sleek, metal and glass tower will start in early 2016, according to M. Terry Enterprises and Holt Lunsford Holdings, the two firms building the high-rise.
“We decided this is where we wanted to be,” said Mike Terry, who heads the family-owned investment firm. “We looked at locations in Preston Center and all over Uptown and Oak Lawn.
“All of a sudden we found out this property was available and we decided this is where we want to be,” Terry said. “We felt like this was a special, unique location.”
The Old Warsaw restaurant has been in business since 1948. It originally was located on Cedar Springs Road near Oak Lawn Avenue and moved to the current location in the early 1970s.
The restaurant specializes in French Continental cuisine and has been a Dallas favorite for generations.
Terry and developer Holt Lunsford bought the building from Old Warsaw owner Al Heidari. As part of the purchase agreement, the restaurant may stay in the building until the end of this year.
The developers also purchased two small adjoining properties and have just over an acre for the new high-rise.
Architect Gensler designed the 125,000-square-foot building which steps back on the upper levels and will have landscaping and retail on the street level. Parking for the project will be in an underground garage.
The developers held an architectural competition before picking the Gensler design.
“We didn’t want to steal any of the Crescent’s thunder or be a copy cat,” Terry said. “”We think we have landed on something that will complement the Crescent and the area.”
The office tower is being planned to cater to small, exclusive businesses and will have outdoor terraces on the upper levels. The building will be priced to rent at costs comparable to other top-tier Uptown buildings and the Old Parkland campus in Oak Lawn, Lunsford said.
“We think this site is the Tenderloin of Uptown,” Lunsford said. “We want to be very particular about who is in this building.
“The reason we kept it to this size is to attract the people we want and not to have to play to the entire lease market.”
The office tower will have a private lounge area for the tenants and their guests, he said.
“We want a real collegial feel,” Lunsford said. “We are having what we call the library with a fireplace and wet bar.
“The purpose is to create an environment where our tenants can invite their friends and have social events.”
A small separate building will house a 7,500-square-foot restaurant. The developers have hired JLL and Stablemade Retail Group to find an operator for the space.
“This project is going to change the Uptown skyline,” Lunsford said.
With development sites in short supply north of downtown, builders have been looking at every square inch of property for new projects.
Real estate broker Newt Walker said he approached the owner of Old Warsaw about selling late last year.
“Most people saw the Old Warsaw but I saw the dirt under it,” Walker said. “It is an institution, and it wasn’t on the market.
“We got there at the right time and they decided to sell.”
Walker said Old Warsaw’s owner has other properties on Maple Avenue and may relocate the storied eatery.
“I have watched Uptown undergo major transformations,” Old Warsaw Heidari said in a statement. “This was an opportune time to sell.”
The new tower will take 18 to 24 months to build.
It’s one of a handful of new office projects on the way in Uptown.