Highland House: A New Definition of Luxury High Rise Living for a High Class Demographic

Highland House

As we have mentioned, Luke Crosland, the man who developed The ilume, a mixed-use retail/residential project at Cedar Springs and Knight Street in Oak Lawn, is hoping to build an extremely high end, $100,000,000 residential apartment community into the very heart of Preston Center, south of Northwest Highway.

Crosland, principal of The Crosland Group, developed the 316-unit ilume, with 23,000 square feet of retail space, into one of the most successful apartment communities in Dallas. So successful, in fact, that he snapped up  four acres at Cedar Springs Road and Douglas Avenue, almost catty-corner from the original ilume, for another 240-unit apartment complex called ilume Park he recently completed.

Let me tell you, when developers name a second product after the first, you know they’ve hit a home run. Apartment developments are like movies: when one becomes a huge hit, a hundred clones follow.

The first ilume’s lease-up rate far exceeded expectations. Residential was more than 60 percent leased from the moment it was born, most of it to the gay community. But soon I began to hear that single women also wanted to live at The ilume: it was elegant, sophisticated, had terrific service, and gals knew a bunch of horny guys wouldn’t be hitting on them 24/7. When I visited it in, oh, about 2010, I recall over-the-top decor with an emphasis on fun social connection, pool parties. I wanted to move in: the Great Room has a Champagne Lounge! I haven’t been to ilume Park yet, but sources tell me it is even better than ilume, with stylish design and decadent but haut décor.

So score one right off the top: I know this developer, and he doesn’t build anything but Class Acts.

The first thing that impressed me about Highland House was the creativity of the luxury services. TRUE concierge service, valet, a driving range, a private dining club and one of the most unique ideas I have encountered to date in multi-family: air conditioned STORAGE space for tenants. Like, on-site!

The Crosland folks have figured out their market to a T: the baby boomer shedding a huge Preston Hollow/Park Cities home, who has a ranch or a vacation home(s), or kids who live out of state, who want what builders call a true lock and leave living situation. So, along come 1100 square foot condos and apartments — yes, this demographic IS ready to lease, many of them have tax deductions that far exceed the interest rate on their mortgage deduction or they earn too much to get it. What do you do with 7,000 square feet of STUFF? You sell it, donate it, yes, you give it to the kiddos but they usually don’t want it, so you go out and rent a storage unit across town and then have to hire someone every time you want to go get your Christmas decorations or grandmother’s china out.

The on-site storage is a small part of the over, but very well-conceived and designed residential living high rise to go in behind HopDaddy’s, or what we older residents recall as the old Woolworth’s store.

Aside: why doesn’t someone open a restaurant in Preston Center called Woolworths?

Highland House will have a loading dock off the street, adjacent to an alley, for all trucks and moving vans. One of the biggest pains about Preston Center is the trucks who stop in the middle of the street because there are simply no alleys. Crosland is building in two car parking spaces per unit plus 80 more spaces for housekeepers, secretaries, etc. and high access dock for deliveries. Two stories will be dedicated to underground valet parking, five stories above will be dedicated to tenant parking, all architecturally and aesthetically wrapped so you don’t see masses of cars at street or equivalent story view.Truck at Preston center

This is one reason why Crosland is asking for a zoning change to go up to 27 stories above grade.

Next, the apartment building itself: stunning lobby, meeting rooms, recreation rooms, a huge lap pool and outdoor garden with grills and cook-out facilities on one terrace floor. A DRIVING RANGE! A huge work-out facility. Then, as is his signature, Crosland plans a fine dining experience in the order of a private club. Here is where the hubsters will go to grab a sandwich and a beer, watch golf or football on a huge screen TV, leave their wives (or S/O’s or GF’s) alone (who will be in the gym, or let’s be honest, out at Neimans). The target market is people who may only live at Highland House six months out of the year, but they still want to be near their families. Rents are projected to be more than $3.00 per square foot with large units, so large that an average monthly rent could be $5000 or more. The top floors will be penthouses.

Oh yes. Highland House will not forget pets: there will be a dog walk area, and part of the on-site Concierge services will be dog walking and sitting, as well as personal training, valet, dry cleaning, maid and butler service, all that. After all, this is the apartment complex that brought out the Poo-Prints to keep the ilume pristine.

Luke Crosland had a meeting on April 14 at the Park Cities Hilton to present Highland House to local homeowners. Only about 40 attended, but those who did came away sold. Crosland has owned the southwest intersection of Northwest Highway and Preston for 27 years. He has seen the center evolve, and we will be posting more on the history of this area. Preston Center has become a major retail depot in Dallas, and the buyer demographics are off the chart. Example: Energy Transfer is leasing 131,000 square feet in Bandera Ventures’ new 200,000 Preston Center office project anchored by Chief Oil & Gas (the main tenant). Construction isn’t even complete, and the place is fully leased.

Translation: Kelcy Warren and Trevor Rees-Jones.

There are hundreds of doctor’s offices, 32 banks, 40 restaurants (actually 39 – hear Mi Piaci died), one hotel, four million square feet of office space, and a 35 year old apartment/condo property, The Shelton, which is consistently leased.

Highland House is to be an ultra luxury condo-style apartment community. There is no plan for retail in this building. The units will range from 1250 to 4,000 square feet on 21 floors of residential. Views will be phenomenal. Crosland envisions a walkability with this property that has never happened in Preston Center, unless you lived at The Hilton or Shelton, both west of Douglas.

As for traffic concerns, Crosland says that his building will create less traffic than an office building. In fact, car trips to and from Highland House will be 29% less than what is there today. He makes sense: offices, especially physician offices, do generate a lot of in and out: you have about 3 employees per physician, at least 8 to 12 patients a day (likely more with Obamacare). He says that the current Doctors Building causes more traffic in 46,000 square feet than Highland House will with 254 units.

“If the Doctor’s Building is removed,” says Crosland, ” and a development goes in built to current code, that is a 66,000 square foot medical office. It will cause two times the traffic that Highland House will have.”