Exclusive: Transwestern Terminates Deal to Develop Town House Row and NE Corner of Preston at Northwest Highway

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Well, at least those “Not in Preston Hollow” signs will be coming down in time for the elections, and there will be no new construction for awhile at the intersection of Preston and Northwest Highway. Maybe the Dallas City Council is even breathing a sigh of relief — one less community battle to fight.

I have had this news for a few days, but waited to confirm before posting: Transwestern just released a statement saying they and “the owners of Town House Row have ended their contractual relationship concerning the property at the NE corner of Northwest Highway and Preston Road.” Full statement below.

Here’s what happened: when Transwestern scaled back their density to accommodate the neighbors’s demands, they had to re-negotiate the sales price. Sources tell me the deal was about $18 million. At first, I’m told, the Townhouse Row owners were going to net $140 a square foot for dirt which was 3 acres. that’s 130,680 square feet times $140. Then I heard that when Preston Center Apartments came into the deal, the price was up to $170 psf. This would have been a record-setting price for land in the area, but then, you are talking Gold Coast: nestled in between Preston Hollow and Park Cities, some of the highest wealth demographics in the country.

(If anyone has different numbers, please holler at me.)

Also, the highest sale of a Townhouse Row unit was about $380,000 a few years ago. Most are on the DCAD books for $350,000 to $450,000.

No way the scaled-down project — from 296 units to 165 — worked with those numbers. So Transwestern renegotiated. I have heard that the Townhouse Row owners did agree to a lower price at some point, like $750,000.

But in the latest round, they did not, and the Preston Apartments owners did not. So a deal was not reached and Transwestern has now walked away. I’d be very interested in knowing how much this deal cost Transwestern ultimately, and how much the homeowners who had hired attorney P. Michael Jung to represent their interests shelled out. 

Yesterday, I addressed the NIMBY issue with Neal Sleeper, President of City Place Co. and the West Village Board, and Gail Thomas, President and Executive Officer of the Trinity Trust. I was moderating a panel discussion on behalf of Keller Williams Luxury Homes International at the Dallas Country Club. Jim Gandy, President of Economic Development for Frisco, had just rattled off so many new businesses and buildings coming into Frisco (like the Dallas Cowboys) I was mentally selling my home and thinking of where in Frisco I just might land. Dallas has actually LOST 266,195 jobs. They are all going north. I know we want to protect our homes and neighborhoods, and I hate the increased traffic as much as anyone. But I don’t think shutting down development is going to help us in the end — and guess what, that traffic is coming whether we like it or not: 10,000 people move here a month!

Neal Sleeper, who I think is brilliant, said it takes communication. Gail Thomas agreed. Neal told me to check into the origins of the Oak Lawn Committee. The OLC was instrumental, he said, in getting Oak Lawn homeowners to a comfort zone with development. That’s the reason why Oak Lawn is thriving, growing and adding billions of tax dollars to city revenue.

We need an Oak Lawn Committee in Preston Hollow/Preston Center. We need to find a comfort zone with homeowners, who also have to understand the more they say no to development, the higher their taxes will likely be, and fewer services they will enjoy from their city. Like police protection. Maybe this can be worked into the new Preston Center Plan Councilman Jennifer Gates is working on.

Is it over for re-development Behind the Pink Wall? Were the property owners too greedy? Are they holding out for another developer? Will a developer even touch this area with one brick? Or will the structures there just stand as long as they can, until the sub-flooring rots and the water-cooler systems break down to the point where you start seeing window units. Stay very tuned.

Statement from Mark Culwell, Transwestern:

“Transwestern and the owners of Town House Row have ended their contractual relationship concerning the property at the NE corner of NW Highway and Preston Road. After nine months of working closely with the neighborhood, we appreciate the many residents who continue to support positive redevelopment for this very important location.”

–Mark Culwell
Transwestern, Managing Director of Multifamily Development Transwestern Landscape-site-plan-Preston-and-Northwest-Highway-575x337
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Candy Evans

A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for Forbes.com, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature CandysDirt.com, and SecondShelters.com, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. RWard says

    A great example of how the ideal utopian development might work for everyone, that is until you run the numbers.

    I don’t think developers go out of their way to violate anyone, they are just working towards a number.

    Would the neighborhood have been better off ? I dont see how they could not have been, now structures will continue to age in place, yielding lower and lower rents/prices….until it gets so cheap a deal may work in another 5,10,15 years

      • ClintonTwiss says

        But Transwestern was planning rental units only, too. Rezoning might have found more supporters had the project brought in new homeowners instead of more renters. (I live in the area and heard again and again that developers don’t want to do condos now, for whatever reason.) Many of us were less troubled by talk of density and height from Transwestern’s plans than by chatter about bringing an Uptown vibe to our corner. The empty nesters here don’t want 28-year-olds next door.

        • mmCandy Evans says

          The reason developers don’t want to do condos is because of liability. There have been so many lawsuits against owners/developers of some of the largest condo buildings in town… methinks maybe I should start posting those. (You would be surprised.) Unless you are talking beaucoup bucks, you won’t see many more “mid price range” condos because of this. I am planning on doing a story on this soon. I felt the same way about owners versus renters — but the truth is we are becoming more of a renter nation and liability has a lot to do with it. One word: Uber.

  2. Blue Harris says

    As an almost 20 year resident Behind The Pink Wall, allow me to comment: I, for one, did my homework when I saw all the NO signs in the neighborhood. I spoke directly with Transwestern’s spoke person, and after considerable conversation with her, and later, reasonably thinking through the issue, I decided it might be the best thing for the neighborhood. I certainly understand that there would have been increased traffic flow through our ‘once-quiet’ street, but indeed, I consider that an outgrowth of progress in our city. There is increased traffic flow everywhere. It now takes me sometimes 20 minutes to go from Behind The Pink Wall to the Toll Road to go for clients to the Dallas Design District Life moves on.

    I live in a 1958 building, but let me assure you, my sub-flooring is not rotting, though we do face in the not-too-distant-future, the possibility of new air conditioning units behind our building (and not in our windows – thank you very much). We look pretty dowdy, however, at the moment as we have been saving our money for some time now to undertake an extensive landscape/hardscape endeavor. It is my understanding that when the units in my complex were built, it was for clients in an elite group. The continued longevity of the complex is evidence of its being so well constructed. Only occasionally in my long sojourn here have I ever seen a crack in my ceilings and certainly no sagging doors etc.

    My unit on the second floor is spacious to the tune of almost 2400 sq. feet. The rooms are large – my sunroom alone being about 30×18. My closets are deep and multitudinous. I have high ceilings, lots of glass, ebonized hardwood floors, white calcatta marble counters in my kitchen and both baths , and quarry tile in my sunroom. Both large baths have been totally remodeled, as has my kitchen – which has been published in a design magazine.

    This is a neighbor-friendly place to live; people walk their dogs at all hours of the day – and night. They wave when they see me park and many come over to speak.

    As the older people in our complex have disappeared, we have consistently been snapped up by a much younger clientele who have not been afraid to sink their hard-won dollars into BUYING the available units.
    They too are remodeling and making their living spaces quite desirable. Do not sell short their ability to be able to afford ‘nice’. Most seem to be here for the long haul.

    I do not want to sell. Where would I go for such accommodations and so much space, and at what outrageous price? I have used my design experience to make a lovely home in a desirable section of our city, but I do embrace change when it is for the better, which I believe Transwestern was offering to Town House Row.

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