It’s August, and still we see those “NO!” NIMBY signs all across Preston Hollow, indicating homeowner’s opposition to a potential multi-family residential development by a company called Transwestern, at Preston and Northwest Highway, Behind the Pink Wall. It’s been eight months since I wrote these words:
“…a real estate firm named Transwestern wants to mow down that brown building right on the corner, and take down the townhomes. In their place: a luxury rental community of more than 290 high-end rental homes with A $100 million price tag. Cheapest rents would be $2000 a month. And the developers say the homes would be larger units than what you see say in Uptown.
“We are not trying to create something from Uptown at all,” said Mark Culwell, Transwestern’s managing director who’s heading the deal. “We think this is more of a Turtle Creek type project. We are going to have larger home sizes than typical,” he said.
Transwestern has to get new zoning for the eight story high-rise it plans –Addison-based Wilder Belshaw Architects Inc. drafting blueprints –for the corner. There would be two large landscaped courtyards facing Preston. Nice. All parking would be underground, and the northern end of the project (where the townhomes are now) would be three story units. A small park would separate the new luxury apartments from the existing condos on Averill Way and Bandera.
“We are trying to blend into the neighborhood,” Culwell said. “We want to treat this respectfully and get the input of the neighborhood and find out what their fears and concerns are.”
If everything falls into place, construction would start later this year.”
Wrote that in January. City Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates recused herself from the entire re-development issue, because her husband, John Gates, is president of national real estate services for the company brokering the deal for Transwestern, Jones Lang LaSalle. In February, the “No” signs started making an appearance. In March, the neighbors hired attorney P. Michael Jung to represent them, in April, Laura Miller and Steve Wolens held a meeting at The Athena, where Steve owns a condo, to complain about all the high density development coming to Preston Center and to let Mitchell Rasansky say something to the effect of “no one ever built a monument for a developer.” In May, Transwestern filed its zoning case, The Dallas Morning News wrote an editorial in support of the development, and there was another Town Hall Meeting held by City Councilman Lee Kleinman.
In June, I decided to go see what kind of multi-family Transwestern builds. Or at least, what Mark M. Cullwell, Jr., Managing Director of Development, built.
By the way, it is not unusual for a developer to go vertical then turn a property over to a management company and walk away. They are not abandoning it.
“Upon completion we turn it over to a management company whose specialty is property management,” says Mark.
Developing is Transwestern’s specialty — they develop from scratch, then turn the properties over to another company to lease and manage. It’s like how how hotels are really management companies who don’t own or build the brick and mortar.
“Marriott is a great hotel operating company, but they seldom, if ever build their own hotels,” says Mark. Before joining Transwesterm , Mark worked for UDR, where he led the design and development of Vitruvian Park in Addison. Fiori is the most recent addition to that development. He left UDR just prior to the completion of the last phase there. So let’s see what Mark built!
Here, then, is the Fiori, one of seven apartment communities up at Vitruvian Park. Mark took a marshy, narrow, unsightly creek in 2006 and turned it into a beautiful, lake-filled living community on Spring Valley in-between Midway and Marsh. Here’s the Laura Abrahms sculpture in the center of the Fiori’s circular drive:
Here’s the lobby — filled with art, light, a glimpse into some of the common rooms, and a Concierge desk. There is covered parking (it will be underground at Preston and Northwest Highway), a marble-floored entry, a business center, a coffee bar, a technical center, a knocked out mailroom, an electronic message board for building notification — notifies you if you have a package at the desk, etc. — and elevators. There is even marble on the elevator floors. Mark Culwell with Transwestern developed the Fiori, and tells me there will be the same features Behind the Pink Wall.
This is the Fiori. Of course, at Preston and Northwest Highway, there is far less land to work with and no lakes, at least we hope not.
This is a typical Fiori kitchen in one of the two-bedroom apartments. Granite counters, stainless steel appliances, wood floors — your choice of porcelain or hardwoods in the two-bedroom units. There are California Closets, a free-standing shower, separate whirlpool soaking bath tubs. Ceilings are 9 feet tall. There are freight elevators to hold all your furnishings.
There are two pools, one shaded, one sunny. The shaded pool is on a platform with a Hawaiian-type waterfall and the sun pool is an infinity.
There is a 4600 square foot exercise room/fitness center with tons of equipment, a yoga room, and even exercise classes. Transwestern is planning on having an exercise room Behind the Pink Wall. “Our tenants don’t have to join an exercise club,” says Mark Culwell.
There is a SkyVue lounge room on the 13th floor where you can sometimes see all the way to downtown Dallas. Great views of Dallas/Fort Worth.
All the units have laundry closets. And the hallway finish-outs are beautiful — “You can see we don’t buy our light fixtures from the Home Depot,” said Mark. I COULD see that. So here are some of the features that Transwestern will have in the new luxury apartments it hopes to build Behind the Pink Wall: Concierge desk and service, public art, fitness center, resident lounge, pool, water feature, private garages, electronic mail notification,9 foot ceilings, granite kitchens, stainless appliances, hardwood floors, garages with doors in the private garage option.
So I just thought that we ought to SEE what these folks build, maybe, before we say NO?