Mondara

Open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8

Highland Park is just about the most coveted neighborhood in Dallas. Sure there are sports stars, celebrity sightings, and film shoots, but the great schools, terrific police and fire department, and gorgeous luxury properties are what really draw buyers. There has only been one thing lacking … until now — Highland Park luxury condos.  Robert Elliott Custom Homes has solved that issue with their latest development, The Mondara, on Abbott Avenue.

A few days ago the certificate of occupancy was issued and it’s now move-in ready. A good thing, too, as 29 of the 39 units, ranging in price from $800,000 to $2.2 million, are already sold. We first heralded this incredible project in February of 2015, and then we gave you a sneak peek at this stunning development in April. When we were there on Thursday getting a grand tour from listing agent Lynda Piepgras of The Associates (Elliot’s brokerage firm), the one and only Nate Berkus and crew were hard at work on a recently purchased abode. That may give you a small clue as to just how special these homes are, because you know Nate doesn’t work on just any luxury condo!

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Rudy Bush at the Dallas Morning News reports that Developer Leobardo Trevino, whose company, Ricchi Dallas Investments is currently renovating the old LTV Tower at 1600 Pacific, has purchased The Statler Hilton, once one of Dallas’ finest downtown hotels. Trevino apparently plans to gut much of the building while maintaining its historic facade and important elements like the lobby. Trevino also purchased the Dallas Central Library and plans to re-develop both buildings. Be sure to click on the developer’s plans.

“We believe this is going to be a great icon again. This building is going to do what it did in 1956,” Trevino said.

He said that the building does have challenges, but that he sees many more positives.

“I don’t see an obstacle that would be an impediment. We have the issue with the parking, but we are considering converting the basement and some of the unused space,” he said.

“People complain about 8-foot tall ceilings; we don’t see nothing wrong with them. We don’t see a big challenge. The biggest challenge is the size of the building,” he said.

Enter the skeptics: Ricchi Development Group is also redoing the 1600 Pacific / LTV Tower project on Elm into what I heard was going to be the area’s first condo-hotel. Everyone is happy the building sold, but a bit skeptical about Ricchi and whether he has the resources to see the project through. Is he spreading himself too thin? The LTV Tower has been gutted for months, with only some renderings and a tiny website to show for it: http://www.thegrandricchi.com/.

Ricchi is San Antonio-based, headed by Monterrey, Mexico-born Leobardo Trevino, so I will check with my sources there. Trevino developed the Vantage Luxury Condominiums in Mission, TX which, according to the website, are condo hotels. Condo hotels¬† are terrible investments, according to some real estate experts, have imploded in Vegas, and while NYC’s Trump SoHo is probably the best hotel in the city, the condo-hotels have had mucho issues and are now heavily discounted. We have not had any condo hotels in Dallas yet, so I’m kind of watching this with bated breath.

The concept behind condo-hotels is actually pretty cool:  the developer sells the room,  usually an oversized hotel room with a mini-kitchen that includes a dishwasher, fridge, and maybe mini-stove, to the owner/investor who can use it when he wants, but rent it out as a hotel when he’s not using it. The developer collects the money, builds the unit, then takes a management/maintenance fee off renting it. Investor gets a little return, too.

Of course, if it remains vacant, no cash flow for either of them.

It’s a lot like fractional ownership, which is a huge trend in vacation homes, except the hotel units tend to be smaller. The Mission hotel condos are priced at $189,000.

What’s curious is a statement Trevino made to Rudy back in 2009 when he bought 1600 Pacific:

The first four floors of the project will be complete in 18 months and will include a bank, two restaurants, a bar and a gym, he said.

The remainder of the building will be converted into a hotel and residential condominiums, he said.

The condos will be built as they are sold, although some units will be built.