The folks who live at the Preston Center Apartments, 8502 Preston Road at Northwest Highway, at the northeast intersection with the big Texas star, are a little concerned about where they will move if the Transwestern deal goes through. They are at the tip of the primo 3 acres where the developer plans to scrape and build new units, which are now proposed to be six stories graduating down to three with underground parking.
Which is only natural. Which is also the natural course of real estate as properties and neighborhoods change, and values increase.
We like it when our property values increase. We feel rich. Talking to Charles Dilbeck’s grandson, he was telling me how he is shopping for a place in Brooklyn and how buildings that were affordable there a few years back are now selling for millions. Same story in most major U.S. cities. Last year, the median home sales price in the United States shot up 11.5 percent year-over-year, with homes staying on the market for an average of 35 days. Dallas real estate is among the hottest in the country.
So if you own some dirt, this might be a great time to sell. I spoke with the owner of these units, Toledo Tex LLC, who told me he was approached by the broker, LaSalle, AFTER they had talked to the owners of Townhouse Row. Frankly, he says, I want to sell because of the economy. Collectively, his units are appraised by DCAD at about $823,200 or $34,300 each. When I asked what he had been offered, he said, a fair price. If the sale does not go through, he will likely have to raise rents. He has worked to clean up the property over the past few years, but knows it’s not Class A Preston Hollow material.
“In the long haul, my properties and Town House Row should be replaced with something that fits in with neighborhood,” he said.
This area is a developer’s dream. The Preston Center Apartments (formerly called Park Embassy Condominiums) are located in one of the best real estate universes in the country, jammed in between Preston Hollow and University Park. The 24 rental units were recently remodeled by the owner, who acquired them gradually over the years, unit by unit, beginning in 1985. The apartments are each about 620 square feet with one bedroom, one bath, a washer and dryer, dishwasher and microwave, all supplied by the landlord. The rent covers the water. There is a swimming pool. There are no longer crappy, dilapidated cars in the parking lot, the drug dealers are gone.
Those rents: $860 to $920 a month. That’s like $1.45 ish a square foot, cheap for Dallas rents. Uptown is now asking $2.50 per square foot and getting. It’s even cheaper than the rents at the new mini warehouse down at Northwest Highway and Hillcrest Road on a square foot basis. Are they noisy? You bet. Northwest Highway is no longer a country road.
But the location cannot be beat. $860 to $920 a month, and you can be off on Northwest Highway, this city’s primary east-west artery, in minutes north, south, east or west. One of the greatest benefits of this community is it’s walkability. When my own mother lived “Behind the Pink Wall”, she walked to Preston Center and even to her hairdresser at Preston Tower.
On the other hand, some residents do tell me they hate the traffic in the area, but the fact is, Dallas is growing and expanding. One agent tells me that out of every three clients he has, two are moving here from out of state.
Where will we put them? Where will these people go to find safe, close-in digs for $1.45 a square foot. Good question — The Village? North or west?
Maybe the answer is to tear out Northwest Highway…