Classing Up: Townhomes at the Intersection of Inwood & Forest To Be Replaced, Redeveloped (YEAH!)

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8:38 a.m. This post has been updated.
I say it’s about time: the northwest corner of Inwood and Forest, known as “Forest Wood”, is going to get a much-needed facelift. Wait, strike that: try a major gutting from the ground up. Yep, those 1974 rental townhomes are about to go far away, replaced by sturdier, prettier, higher quality homes that will create a walkable living environment and a brand new North Dallas community.
Forestwood Townhomes brings back memories, not all of them pleasant. This was where single dads and moms would go to live after a separation or suddenly being single because it was still close to the private schools their children attended, but more reasonable than a single family home. It was known as a safe, secure place to hunker down in North Dallas if you couldn’t swing a mortgage.
For years now, I wondered why the neat, but clearly aging, townhomes would not be replaced with something more upscale, attractive, especially considering the surrounding neighborhood demographic$$$: sprawling ranches on leafy half-acre lots that start at about half a million dollars, while the newer built McMansion are pulling in more than $1.5.

So why are we stuck with boring beige townhomes that had their prime in the seventies, like Cher?

We may not be, for long. Get ready for  what appears to be a mini Uptown, a development along the lines of a Preston Hollow Village. Residential — shiny new apartments and townhomes, a little organic retail, a 6 acre practice field for Jesuit Preparatory, trees and a creek as a natural buffer to the single family ranch homes to the north. The property owners, the Daniels family, who have owned the land since 1849, want to yank down the 208 old townhomes and replace them with (up to) 350 rental units, a mix of town homes and apartments. This would include townhomes with garages and small yards, and a large multi-family unit with elevators that would have a boutique-hotel feel to it. Oh, and also a pool.
“This will be a long-term lease with the developers,” says William Dahlstrom of Jackson Walker LLP, a land-use expert and attorney who is representing the owners. “The same owners will continue to own the 30 acres of land. It’s the same family that has owned this land since 1849!”
Back then, it was likely a farm or ranch, as was most of the surrounding area. In 1972 the land was zoned for townhome type residences, which is exactly what it’s been for the last 40 0dd years.

“We see it as a legacy  redevelopment opportunity that will improve the community and provide great amenities for an underserved neighborhood,” said Dahlstrom. “Family-friendly, specialty grocers, a few restaurants, maybe a bank, all with a neighborhood feel.”

I asked how much square footage would be devoted to retail: less than 50,000 square feet for the anchor grocer, said Dahlstrom. While he could not give me any names, because a, it’s early and b, everyone’s still in negotiations, an Oakville Grocers or Dean & Delucca or Eatzies concept was not far off base. But again, those are my names, not his.

(May I put in a plug for Draegers of  Menlo park CA? OMG!)

The owners are working with apartment builder Greystar, and retail real estate firm Regency Centers. I like Regency Centers: they own the large shopping centers at Preston Forest and Preston Royal, and post those nice “thank you for visiting” signs. They are innovative in finding specialty retail, like the ALTHETA store at Preston Royal I have yet to try, and they have beefed up security at Preston Forest after I complained (story forthcoming).

About the new units: the townhomes would be 3 story townhomes, same as what is there now, but loaded with luxury interiors: wood floors, granite counters, luxury appliances and fixtures. In the adjacent single family neighborhood, some homes can be built as tall as 36 feet. They didn’t say this, but I would bet there will be deep bathtubs in the masters.  IJS there should be. You’re looking at $2200 to $4500 a month to lease which is, yes, almost a house payment minus the property taxes. This would give baby boomers a great housing option to still be in their “old, familiar” neighborhood but have the ultimate lock and leave to jet off to a second home or ranch. Think Luke Crossland’s Highland House but in townhome format.

The current townhomes are pulling in about $1000 to $2200 a month on average. Talk about feeding the ad valorum tax base!

To bring in the retail, they will need a zoning change. Dahlstrom says  they’ve begun meeting with neighbors and plan to seek an amendment. One such meeting will take place next Wednesday.

“We are looking at a mixed-use community,” he told me, “which will be a great enhancement for the entire neighborhood. This is a land-use issue.”

Thankfully, the entire project would be a maximum of three floors, which it’s already zoned for will be about 38 feet in height. Dahlstrom also needs a zoning change to cover the retail portion, which neighbors should welcome. I mean, I would. Imagine having a darling townhome at Forest Wood, you just get home from the Bahamas and the fridge is not just barren, it’s naked: nothing to eat. Do you want to get in your car and traipse over to the Tom Thumb etc. at Marsh lane, or the Whole Foods at Preston Forest. No. In two minutes you can walk over to the speciality grocer (whatever it is) in your FLIP FLOPS with no make-up. Or you can take a little jog along the trail, or walk your pooch, who can wait for you outside while you grab something for dinner.

Note to speciality grocer, whoever you are: carry dog biscuits!

Mixed-use community, semi-high density living, sounds like a picture plus perfect follow up of Forward!Dallas. Sounds like Seaside in North Dallas.

But will the neighbors buy it?

Well, let’s look at what’s there now… which would you rather have? townhomes-rent-dallas-4

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15 Comment

  • neighbor here, although just on the other side of the tollway on Forest. I’ve kind of been surprised myself at the lack of re-development in that corridor. I have taken my boys to the bachman branch creek by there, and can say with conviction what a totally underappreciated and underutilized gem it is. Here’s me dreaming, having two small boys and all, but wouldn’t it be nice to have the neighborhood-appropriate retail recognize the draw for parents with small children to utilize some of the common area (or perhaps some of the creek overlook) for a play area where tenants, parents, and shoppers can relax a bit? Spend some time at any restaurant in the area (village burger bar comes to mind)…and you’ll notice how many kids there are, and how much parents would love a relaxed setting for them. The neighborhood lost Kell’s Diner and The Purple Cow, so my vote is kid friendly…..just saying.

    • mm

      When did Kell’s close? OMG that place was an institution!

      • I think maybe 2 months ago or less, we packed up as usual and it was empty and locked..a sad day indeed. I misspelled…Kels. If that project happens, I would expect at least a refurb of at least some of the shopping center across the street. The boys dentist had to move from Forestwood due to a water flooding issue basically rendering part of the complex (nearest Lowes) condemned

  • OK…how did this work? I know of a perfect redevelopment opportunity in NW Dallas. Not as “TONY” an area…but how on earth did a developer get a hold of an entire townhouse community?

  • Why is it that every new development we seem to hear about is rentals? Why not a mix of rental and owner occupied? The last thing we need in Dallas with the shortage of homes on the market (which I expect to continue for several years), is more rentals!

    • mm

      I asked the same thing. What I was told: due to litigation, it costs much more to build owner-occupied condos now. I really should write about some of the nasty lawsuits HOAs have brought against developers, usually before the developer hands the property off. Next time I’m in Nexis Lexis I will plug in a few names and see what pops up. So this added insurance cost, liability protection, raises building costs, which is why the condos we do have for sale are so expensive. Then there is the financing of condos: a certain number must be pre-sold before you can even go vertical. Must easier to get lending for a multi family. I’m beginning to wonder if we have too many rentals now — not in this area, but in Uptown/downtown. Thoughts?

  • No surprise with this project. Any idea if/when the 5800 Royal Lane Condominiums (at Royal & Preston) will be redeveloped?

  • Since Laura Miller lives 3 miles south perhaps she can once again butt in and harangue and drum up opposition.

  • Please let’s not forget that this is going to displace many senior citizens living on fixed incomes. Also, young families who will be unable to afford the higher rents

    The City of Dallas will probably be very happy with the huge increase in traffic & citations at the intersection (red-light camera). However, I wonder if those of us in the neighborhood will be as enthusiastic about it there and at Inwood/Willow? As for commercial development, that whole strip on the east side is commercial but was unable to sustain the supermarket that used to be there. Having watched many fancy apartment complexes peak then disintegrate over the last 30 years (remember The Village in the 80’s?), we should be amazed that Forestwood has remained as stable as it has.