townhome4

We called it. When we first heard of Sphinx Development‘s plans for a townhome community just west of Corinth and south of Cedar Creek, we had a feeling it would sell out quickly. There’s a dearth of new construction in the $200,000 range, and plenty of opportunities for infill just east of North Oak Cliff. So we’re not surprised in the least to hear that all 49 units of the development’s initial phases have been snatched off the market.

The Fiji Townhomes development, marketed by Virginia Cook Realtor Angela Downes, will soon launch a third phase that will include lofts and retail, as well as office space. According to Sphinx, Phase Three will be ready for occupancy in 2018.

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ULIFall2016

The Urban Land Institute held its 2016 Fall Meeting in Dallas last week with a tizzy of tours, sessions, networking events, and dinners. In my experience, the biggest benefit of a conference is in the networking. But the content at this one also covered a large array of subjects, from community engagement to redeveloping skyscrapers, to global trends, to niche discussions like “To Sell or To Hold,” and “The Fundamentals of Attracting and Keeping Companies North Texas Style.”

Tuesday I led a tour of the seven new development projects going up in the Bishop Arts District for the Colorado ULI chapter through the North Central Texas Congress for New Urbanism (more on that to come!) Wednesday and Thursday I got to catch a few sessions.

Highlights from the sessions included:

  • new metrics to qualify which dense urban cities are the best investment opportunities
  • innovative ideas for community engagement (from Detroit, of course)
  • the argument for building wood frame apartments above concrete podium parking.

And one topic repeatedly came up in each session — whether in the presentation,  in conversations with attendees, or by Q&A with audiences — affordable housing.

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Real Estate Story

Best and Worst Texas Cities for Families

The Lone Star State is thriving economically, doing much better than many other parts of the country. We’ve also got hoards of people moving here for jobs at places like Plano’s Toyota headquarters near Frisco, JPMorgan Chase, and Liberty Mutual Insurance. As these people consider DFW, ranking the cities becomes important.

WalletHub, a personal finance website, just released an in-depth analysis of 2016’s Best Texas Cities for Families. The good news? Eight cities in North Texas made the top ten. The bad news? Dallas is ranked 107 out of 112.

Analysts at WalletHub compared 112 of the state’s cities across 21 key metrics in four categories: family life and fun; education, health, and safety; affordability; and socioeconomic environment. Their data set ranges from the number of playgrounds per capita to the the violent-crime and divorce rates.

So what made the ‘burbs so appealing and Dallas rank so poorly?

“Many big cities struggle in being family-friendly, especially depending on the size of the family— Dallas ranked poorly due to having the 2nd most expensive housing market in the state and the 4th lowest median family income (adjusted for cost of living) at just $47,428 per year,” said Jill Gonzalez, a WalletHub analyst. “It also has both a high crime rate and divorce rate, 27.18 percent, ranking 99th.”

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2512 Summit Ln ext

Okay, I get it: this is not Highland Park, but still, folks, please: Is this the best this agent could do with photos even on a $55,000 unit?

Well, I guess it is: she already has the place under contract. WELL SHUT MY MOUTH!

“TWO BEDROOM, TWO BATH ONE CAR GARAGE, LOTS OF WINDOWS THIS IS (sic) one half of a duplex. Current under Section 8 lease on a month-to-month tenancy in case you want to live here yourself.”

I might, if I could SEE the place! And what’s with the skylight? Listing agent is Ruth Dower with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. But I don’t see THIS listing on her site… I know I am declaring war on ugly Real estate photos this year, but methinks maybe photos like these make properties more appealing to investors. (Hat tip to some wonderful reader for this!)

2512 Summitt mess (more…)

5800 Palo Pinto guest house

District 14’s Philip Kingston is proposing a change to city ordinances that will allow the construction and rental of guest houses like this one at 5800 Palo Pinto, as well as garage apartments. Some M Streets residents object.

Head over to Stonewall Jackson Elementary tonight at 6:30 tonight as Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston will be hosting an informational session regarding the recent proposal to allow homeowners to build and rent garage apartments and guest houses inside the district.

Right now, city code precludes the construction of a full-sized kitchen in an “accessory dwelling.” To add one constitutes a duplex — two separate residences on one lot — which is another zoning category entirely. Of course, we have heard that what constitutes a “full-sized kitchen” varies significantly depending on who you talk to at Dallas City Hall. But as more people choose to tear down homes in the M Streets and build new, the lure of rental income compels many property owners to go ahead and put an apartment on top of that detached garage while they’re at it.

Proponents of urbanization and say that in order to generate the density that will create the kind of critical mass for truly walkable neighborhoods, garage apartments and their more innocuous relative the “granny flat” will become a necessity. Plus, with property values soaring and tax assessments climbing in step, more people are being priced out of the M Streets. Building and renting a back house is a great way to generate income, helping people afford their homes and providing affordable rentals, all in one step.

Sounds simple, right?

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Doug Chesnut-cropped

 

DFW Reimagined and CNU North Texas hosted their Fall Breakfast Seminar Wednesday, with an interview of Doug Chestnut, CEO and Founder of StreetLights Residential.

With their eight recent and current projects in Dallas, and many more nationwide, StreetLights Residential is on a roll. In Dallas, you’re probably familiar with their work. Recent and current projects include:

The Jordan on McKinney Ave at Pearl St, The McKenzie just off Knox St, The Case Building in Deep Ellum, The Taylor on Carlisle St in Uptown, Trinity Green on Singleton in West Dallas, The Union at Field and Cedar Springs, Residences next to Deep Ellum’s Knights of Pythias building, and another yet-unannounced residential project in Deep Ellum featuring artist living and artisan shops.

The Jordan

The Jordan

Doug confirmed that this demand wave they’re riding, for more urban residences, is a demographic trend that will not be changing anytime soon. Many Baby Boomers who lost a lot of equity in the financial downturn of 2008 decided to liquefy their home equity and change their living situation. That, plus the 2 million Millennials turning 22 years old every year for the next eight years, is a lot of demand. Many of these young professionals don’t have the income to buy a home, nor desire a lifestyle that requires driving. In essence, they’re looking for quality of life through an urban lifestyle with amenities close at hand.

StreetLights Residential has built its business on this principle — that a building and the neighborhood’s design creates lasting value and quality of life. Said Chestnut: “Endearing neighborhoods have activated streets, parks, and entertainment nearby. You go to bed exhausted and can’t wait to get up early and do it all over again. Entertainment doesn’t have to be Six Flags or million-dollar museums, it can be as simple as having a glass of wine on a patio.” Great cities flow.

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IMG_5519

After someone sent me a story about the mindset behind a certain email circulating regarding Highland Park ISD’s bond election, you know what stuck out to me?

Besides the fact that it felt like a prop from recent HBO miniseries “Show Me a Hero,” which unspooled the whole mess Yonkers, N.Y., found itself in regarding affordable housing, the other thing was this: There was absolutely no attempt to show any work regarding assertions. No aspersions cast on the writer of the story — he’s just quoting a guy. My beef is with the lack of solid bonafides behind the claims.  I used to have this editor that got all kinds of twitchy and irritable when (even in an op-ed) you didn’t at least attempt to give some sourcing for your assertions. “SHOW YOUR WORK,” he’d bellow.

So instead of picking apart the arguments in that email (and the quotes in that story) based on my ideological differences with the claims, I decided to approach things with an open mind and actually look at real studies done on affordable housing and crime. I mean, what if the guy was right? Or, what if he was quite wrong? Don’t you think it deserves a little look-see, at least, to see what we can find from reputable sources?

The area highlighted in red roughly shows where Highland Park ISD serves Dallas addresses.

The area highlighted in red roughly shows where Highland Park ISD serves Dallas addresses.

First off, let’s unpack where this particular brand of NIMBY likely came from. If I had to guess, it probably dates as far back as the 1930s, when the presence of low-income families meant the difference between no ability to get a home loan (areas that had predominantly black families and low-income families were redlined), or even as much of a difference as 80 percent financed/20 percent down (for an area with no low-income families and solely white) or 15 percent financed and 85 percent down (in an area where there was a racial mix and a lot of low-income families). The appearance of low-income or non-white ethnicities in your neighborhood during this time was a harbinger of plummeting property values and hardship.

But what about now? Is that true?

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BarPolitics-napkin

By Amanda Popken
Special Contributor

It’s only the fifth installment of Bar Politics, so if you have no idea what this is, you’re not that out of the loop. You’ll definitely want to check out this amateur roadshow this month if you’re at all interested in housing, development, real estate, and the gentrification-storm we’re preparing for in North Oak Cliff.

Hosted by Josh Kumlar, the event is formatted similarly to the Late Night Show or the Daily Show. Political news jokes, a skit or two, and interviews with special guests. And music, of course.

Once a month they pick a topic, pick a bar, and start talking smack. Josh is a recent SMU grad, a theatre major. His friends help him with the show’s shenanigans. The interviewed guests are local celebrities, knowledgeable on the issue at hand. As Josh describes it: (more…)