Landmark Setting in Preston Center: Eric Nicholson at The Dallas Observer is Writing a Great Post Mortem of Battleground Preston Center

Highland House

“Somewhere in Preston Hollow, Laura Miller is wiping clean the dagger with which she eviscerated two proposed apartment developments at Preston Road and Northwest Highway”

It’s been a few weeks now since Transwestern walked away, probably as far away as they could run, from the months-long, up-and-down, costly, and then down down down-to-four-stories saga of trying to bring a luxurious apartment complex to the corner of Preston Road and Northwest Highway in Preston Hollow. The “just say no” signs are still up in some yards, as if the homeowners were out of the country and didn’t get the message that it’s over. OVER. Transwestern walked, and Luke Crosland sold to former city council candidate Leland Burke.

In development parlance, these projects were an attempt to bring more density to the city, a notion strongly suggested by the creators of the Forward Dallas plan commissioned by the City of Dallas. This is supposed to be good for us, like eating broccoli and working out. Crosland Development tried it at Preston Center, where construction is already near completion on Bandera Venture’s new headquarters for Chief Oil & Gas. Transwestern tried it Behind The Pink Wall. I even went out to Carrollton to see what they were thinking of building. As a homeowner in the area — I own a condo Behind the Pink Wall on Averill Way — I was gung-ho new development, but preferred it to be more along the lines of condominiums. But condo units are costlier to build in the development process because of several market realities, beginning with, surprise surprise, liability issues. If you are building a condominium, go ahead and tack on an extra 3% to the cost of construction to cover the liability insurance coverage. It is also more expensive to get financing and you have to have 2/3rds of the units pre-sold even before you can OBTAIN financing. Remember that thing called the recession? Also, finishing out condominiums is more costly because they are inherently more expensive with upgrade finishes to attract buyers. This is the reality of the marketplace. Apartments are cheaper to build and according to trends, more Americans are leasing.

So that’s likely all that will ever be built there, if anything.

Transwestern Landscape-site-plan-Preston-and-Northwest-Highway-575x337I asked Lee Kleinman what he thought of Transwestern’s departure:

“…. in the end, no I was not surprised. The neighborhood organized and worked the case to their desired outcome. The owners could not get the values they had hoped for. The expectation of value for those properties was way too high, as you have written about. Now that we have a better idea of what the neighborhood will support (MF-1). I anticipate the next project (if any) will be garden style apartments with surface parking and cheap materials.  In some ways this was a landmark case setting values for years to come. I don’t think we can anticipate any more developers any time soon.”

So I can hardly wait to see what Eric Nicholson comes up with. I have known him since he was a reporter at Park Cities People, where he wore out shoe leather walking an entire neighborhood in Preston Hollow to research a story on backyard chicken coops. A beloved backyard chicken named Oprah had flown the coop. Eric knew chickens were incapable of traveling long distances, so he started knocking on doors (the ones that weren’t gated anyways, he tells me, he he he), all of which led to a joyous chicken and owner reunion. All of this happened, by the way, about one-half mile north of where former mayor Laura Miller lives currently on Dentwood.

I love his opener: 

“Somewhere in Preston Hollow, Laura Miller is wiping clean the dagger with which she eviscerated two proposed apartment developments at Preston Road and Northwest Highway. “

With a Lady Macbeth-esque beginning like that, it can only get better? Laura Miller and Mitchell Rasansky are, in my opinion, anti-development, unless, of course, it benefits them. I had heard rumors, unsubstantiated, that Rasansky would have given his blessing to the Highland House deal had he had a stake in it. There’s a whole lot of history over that parking garage at Preston Center, which is a mess, which the City owns but the property owners surrounding it have a perpetual easement on for parking. The City of Dallas filed a lawsuit hoping to build a parking garage, and then sell it. The City of Dallas lost. I sure hope Eric digs into that, and then we can all settle down with a nice glass of bubbly and read. And sigh.

 

 

5 Comment

  • Well, regardless, Preston Center is still a market. This means, like Highland Park Village, it will have to rely more on quality than quantity. Meanwhile, if you are looking to invest, consider the area in and around Inwood Village.

  • If Mr. Crossland wants an investment opportunity, I’ll give it to him for free: REDEVELOP WYNNEWOOD VILLAGE.

    Oak Cliff is a solid bet, and the growing neighborhoods of Kessler, Wynnewood, Elmwood, Kiest, Bishop Arts and others are a guaranteed customer base for retail and entertainment anchors at a rejuvenated Wynnewood. Get it done.

  • As we were driving home from Fair Park tonight thoughts of Laura Miller came to mind as we looked at devastated-crime-ridden neighborhoods and thought what could have been with Cowboy Stadium nearby.