2014 Real Estate Year in Review, CandysDirt.com Style

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Happy New Year! Steve Brown posted his year end wrap of Dallas real estate, residential and commercial, calling it one for the history books. Tis true: Dallas Real estate values are at their highest EVER, exceeding where we were even before the bubble. And he is right — this boom is fueled by the right stuff: jobs and population. We did not overbuild in Dallas during the boom. We did not over extend, thanks mostly to state laws that limit how much you can borrow against your homestead. So when the economy turned on — it was just about two years ago January when agents told me that  “a lightbulb had turned on”  — there was no stopping us except for one little bugaboo: inventory.

Steve says : “Construction cranes stretch from Uptown to Frisco.”

I would say even further north — Prosper is the new hot spot you will be hearing more of here on CandysDirt because we are in love and cannot wait to see what they do with Deion’s place. (If that house ever sells…) And then there’s Celina, just north, and it’s rocking. Spent a day at Light Farms which you will soon be hearing about as we are blown away: 3200 homes on the site of an old family farm that has become a veritable condo farm: tractors, gardens, mini farm plots, Saturday morning Farmer’s Market, a holistic food consultant and even a beekeeper! Here’s the way they describe it: ten minutes from downtown FRISCO.  Whoa, now that’s interesting. Oh the public schools — amazing! Here we go with Steve’s biggies and mine: 

Toyota Future Home

Steve’s biggest real estate dealToyota headquarters

Yeah, hands down the relocation of Toyota Motor Corp.’s North American headquarters from Southern California to West Plano is huge for Dallas North Texas. But what about Nebraska Furniture Mart (we get a sneak preview this month), State Farm Insurance, and Federal Express? Plus for every one of the 4,000 jobs Toyota brings here, four more jobs will be created. And the potential home sales will be cha-ching.

Oh by the way, as you know several of the Toyota execs are moving here and at least two major property purchases have been executed. I know Todd and Ellen Terry were showing a lot of the top execs and sources tell me one bought a huge spread in Vaquero — Todd won’t spill the beans, won’t tell me nada. But it’s kind of cool that he and his very famous mom over at Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s have their fingers in this major major deal.

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Steve’s biggest commercial property saleFountain Place

OK, $200 million he says, that’s a very nice price tag. Now if we could just do something about those dang one-way streets.

Steve’s biggest worryFalling oil prices

I would add rising interest rates. Oil prices may not hurt us here as as much as it will in the Oil Patch, but interest rates spiking could be a big chill on the market. Course, oil stays down, interest rates may, too…

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Steve’s biggest dust-upCityplace Sam’s Club

Oh my yes, this was a total disaster. Why did Trammell Crow “sneak” as some have claimed a deal to build a big box Sam’s Club across from the best public transportation depot we have in Uptown (Cityplace) and totally blow a chance to continue the live/work/walkable/play environment that has transformed Dallas in Uptown and the West Village with something we really don’t need? A 150,000-square-foot warehouse store to be built on North Central Expressway near the old ACS building. What about property values? I really cannot blame Trammell Crow as much for this as I do the City of Dallas staff, totally asleep at the wheel. Catatonic. Trammell Crow is all business, and they know they’ll get a faster return on that store than they would apartments. But who at City Hall is looking out for the best interests of the City. Of the residents?  Few, it seems. That plus with neighborhood groups still trying to block the new big box store legally, only the lawyers are making money.

Steve’s biggest redoThe Crescent

The Crescent was built in 1986 and if you thought the last recession was a Debbie Downer, well, you should have been here in the ’80s. The Crescent was the largest and most expensive real estate project ever in Dallas, and I’m not kidding: it was built in a wasteland. Think Harry Hines — that’s kind of what the area looked like.

Steve says: “30 years later, owners of the office, hotel and retail development will spend almost $65 million to bring the Crescent into the 21st century.”

Yeah, well I just think they are trying to keep up with Cesar Pelli’s 600,000 square foot, mixed-use high rise project at McKinney Avenue and Olive Street, right across the street from the Tower Residences at the Ritz-Carlton. 

Which have all but sold out, by the way thanks to the prowess of Kyle Crews and the Allie Beth Urban team.

“It will be a crescent-shaped building facing the Ritz,” says Joseph Pitchford, Senior Vice President of Crescent Real Estate Holdings LLC. “Office and retail. All doors to retail will face a one-acre green space.”

Think of a mini Klyde Warren Park with a lot more retail nearby. Like 50,000 square feet of retail, including a gourmet food market. There will be several restaurants, too, but also coffee shops. Crescent is very focused on offering a range for diners — fast and casual as well as leisurely. No wonder the Crescent is getting a face-lift. Pelli’s enough to make anyone want a major nip/tuck.

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Steve’s biggest boomFrisco

Totally.

“Now the city north of Dallas is ground zero for one of the biggest real estate booms in the country. More than $5 billion in property developments are in the works along the Dallas North Tollway, including the new headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys football team and a surrounding mixed-use project.”

My only question is this: will there be enough water for everyone?

And oh yes, what about those power lines?

Steve’s biggest reboundDallas-Fort Worth home prices

Yep, totally cool. And I think we still have a ways to go.

Steve’s biggest new marketWest Dallas

Nope, much as I love the the “popular Trinity Groves restaurant complex, the neighborhood along Singleton Boulevard and West Commerce Street” which he says is now alive with apartment construction, the Dallas Design District still floats my boat.

In early November, real estate investors firm Dunhill Partners (including Tim Headington and the owners of Highland Park Village) acquired 33 acres and about 700,000 square feet of buildings along Hi Line Drive, Oak Lawn Avenue and Stemmons Freeway, just northwest of downtown. Big plans are in store: the new owners will market and eventually redevelop the area for high-rise construction.

The Dallas Design District started as a warehouse/business district in the 1950s, but is now booming with new restaurants, apartment towers and retail. Go over there at night and young peeps are walking dogs, chatting, jogging. I call it Dallas’ SoHo.

“We are going to take what’s there and reinvigorate it and keep it going,” said Dunhill CEO Bill Hutchinson.

“Look at Uptown and all the high-rises over there,” Hutchinson said. “Where’s it going to go next? The Design District is a natural evolution.”

It truly is — and a natural evolution, too, from Victory Park. Also down here: way cool residential  — stay tuned.

Steve’s and Dallas’ biggest loss in 2014: RIP Ken Hughes

Makes my heart so sad to think of this dear departed man and early CandysDirt.com fan.

Next time you are at the movies at Mockingbird Station or eating lunch at the Quadrangle in Uptown, take a minute to thank developer Ken Hughes.

The Dallas builder and property agent, who was born in Pecos, went on to become one of the most creative commercial real estate players in the country.

Hughes died in November after a brief illness. But his legacy on the North Texas landscape lives on.

Steve’s biggest sectorIt’s still apartments

Yeah, I know, too many I think. He says 30,000 apartments are in the construction pipeline and personally, I think we are overbuilding. Typical.

Steve: “Dallas’ huge population and employment gains are getting new rental communities leased.”

Candy: “Most of that population and employment gain is up north — who is going to live in all these units?”

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williams-trueCandy’s Best Residential Broker Story of the Year:

Briggs-Freeman Sotheby’s settles their differences with the Williams Trew Realty Services in Fort Worth. Not that it stopped their success march one iota. Minutes after they announce this fantastic news,, Williams Trew announces they have been acquired by Ebby Halliday.

Ebby Southlake ribbon cutting

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Candy’s Best Residential Real Estate Office Opening(s) of the Year:

Ebby Southlake. The place just rocks. After months of construction and design, Ebby Halliday’s new Southlake office opened with a grand celebration and ribbon -cut to celebrate the grand opening of the brand-new Southlake real estate office mid November. 8000 square feet designed by LaWanna Wood of Southern Accents Too.  My favorite part is the detailing that Carolyn Rosson personally directed: every square inch of the new office is sleek, functional, warm and relaxing. There is a huge agent training room with a floor-to-ceiling wall monitor screen. There is a Bistro — a kitchen with cafe tables for eating, drinking, complete with cell phone chargers (outlets) below each seat: Carolyn doesn’t want one of her agents to miss a call or potential sale! There are several client conference rooms, including one with a darling children’s play area. There are oceans of desks for agents, private offices for top agents, and of course Carolyn’s gorgeous office that is very Hollywood Glamour but also has a collage of photos behind her desk surrounding her very favorite word in the English language: JOY.

The celebration included an official ribbon-cutting in the cold at 1575 E. Southlake Blvd., across from Southlake Town Square.

“This beautiful new office is built for the future,” said Ron Burgert, chief financial officer of the Ebby Halliday Companies. “Built from the ground up, it offers a superior location in the heart of Southlake and is a statement of our commitment to serving Tarrant County for many years to come.”

First runner up would be Ebby Halliday Preston Center’s new, 10,000 square foot, super high visibility office. More than 150 staff, company executives, agents and clients were serenaded  in early November with violin music and food/drink. The office is located at 8333 Douglas Avenue, Suite 100 between Berkshire and Luther Lane. This is phase I of a two-phase opening designed to give Ebby Preston Center agents a new look and haute profile in the coveted Preston Center market: the one everyone’s fighting over.

“Our new office offers experienced, high-quality agents a sophisticated atmosphere and the latest technology in a much-sought-after Preston Center location,” says office manager Ginger Gill. “We’re thrilled with the way Phase I turned out and can’t wait for the completion of our second phase in late January.”

Saltillo Apts on Cole

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Preston Hollow VillageCandy’s Best Neighborhood Redevelopment Story: 

The Dallas City Council in August wisely approved the redevelopment of the crusty old Saltillo Apartments on Cole Avenue, then Highland Park (which was against it) tried to get a TRO to stop it, and then Judge Craig Smith denied the request. Thank you, Judge Smith. This is how Dallas grows a tax base.

First Runner Up: I’m really torn here. I think the new Preston Hollow Village just rocks. As someone said the other day, it already looks like a NorthPark II. Those Provident Realty Advisors guys are genius and I can hardly wait for Trader Joe’s to open!

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Candy’s Worst Neighborhood Redevelopment Story I: 

The antics in and around Preston Center kept us on Xanax half the year. First Transwestern tries to redevelopment Behind the Pink Wall, where, full disclosure, I own a condo that was not in the area to be re-developed but nearby. The neighbors raise a ruckus over height and density, traffic, all of it, hire an attorney to fight City Hall. Laura Miller gets involved, as do the influential multi-millionaires across the street. After so many neighborhood meetings and so much talking I’m sure Transwestern’s Mark Culwell probably never wants to step foot in Preston Hollow again, the company bailed.

Transwestern said see ya, wouldn’t want to be ya, and we sure as hell are not paying you a million per townhome. See, 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.

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. Alas, it was too late. Will other developers even look at this area again? Or will they just do what everyone is doing: go north?

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Candy’s Worst Neighborhood Redevelopment Story II, Divorce American Style:

While those “Not in Preston Hollow” signs dominated Preston Hollow all the way up to LBJ, another battle was brewing in Preston Center for Luke Crosland who was trying to develop a beautiful luxury high rise apartment building where the Westchester Doctor’s Building is currently sadly crumbling. The Highland House project was met with more nays — mostly concerned Park Cities parents who feared an onslaught of apartment kids in the HPISD. But Laura Miller put a lot of effort into stopping this, too, though she asked City Councilman Jennifer Gates to do a planned land use study of the area before any development progressed. Which is apparently happening, though Tom Thumb now wants a stupid crossbridge to the double decker parking garage. Others feared traffic and more congestion for one of the most hurting little commercial clusters in town. (It’s been referred to also as a “cluster you know what”.) The night before the City Council hearing, details of Luke’s divorce and legal affairs with prominent plastic surgeon Dr. Rod Rohrich, who he accused of having an affair with his estranged wife, after Dr. Rohrich treated both Luke and Mary Crosland, were leaked to KXAS-TV. Oh the drama. We needed something stronger than Xanax. Dr. Rohrich?

Alas: Crosland pulled the plans and sold the building to former City Council candidate Leland Burk.

Candy’s Best Neighborhood Paranoia Story for 2014: 

Mark Cuban chops down a few crappy trees after a storm and takes down a fence, buys some land on the north-west side of Preston at Northwest Highway, and FREAK OUT! All I know is, I’m including “Go Mavs!” in all my emails in 2015!

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Sure he hasn’t technically done anything wrong, but Mark Cuban’s unwillingness to kowtow to the neighboring homeowners of  the spate of Preston Hollow properties he’s recently bought up sure doesn’t seem, well, neighborly.

He’s cleared trees from the estates that line Northwest Highway and Preston Road, leaving little visual screening from the busy six-lane thoroughfare. Dallas City Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates says Cuban can do what he wants with his property, and that he hasn’t done anything to run afoul of city regulations. Still, he’s refused to meet with residents and doesn’t seem interested in the Preston Hollow Area Study. Of course, these are the same homeowners who arranged angry town halls over residential developments on two corners of Northwest Highway and Preston Road, so they may already be sharpening their pitchforks and lighting their torches.

In a story from the intrepid Eric Nicholson over at the Observer, emails between Cuban and Gates paint the billionaire as someone who sounds a lot like Cartman. To help you digest the emails, we’ve added a few fun gifs of Cuban doing what we imagine as he reads and replies to Gates:

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“I believe a face to face meeting would help calm emotions and possibly lead to some harmony in the neighborhood.”

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“If it takes 5, 10, 20 years to do something I’m happy. Things change over time and I’m patient”

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“Would you work with the neighbors and allow them to construct and maintain a fence along NWH? I know they desire the screening and I believe it would create a more secure environment.”

Gates got radio silence, so she followed up a week or so later:

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“I sent a follow-up email earlier this week (copied below, which included a request from your neighbors that would allow them to maintain a fence along NWH to protect the residential nature of the neighborhood.”

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“No. I’m not willing to let a 3rd party put a fence on land I own. That’s a crazy idea … Go Mavs!”

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