Rooms with a View – For Now: High-Rise Building Boom Could Change The Landscape

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One of the main drivers for purchasing in a high-rise is the view. A buyer walks in “Oooo-ing and cooo-ing” as they’re transfixed by panoramic views. Other minor problems sometimes fall away, subsumed by the cliché “million-dollar” view.

Buyers must remember that while they’re sold on the view, their purchase actually stopped at the glass. The view, like that tiny free bottle of water from the sales office, doesn’t last forever. Even back in 535 BCE, Heraclitus knew, “No man ever steps in the same river twice.”

Dallas’ building boom is only speeding up the process of high-rises springing up to block (and themselves only borrow) those million-dollar views. If a permanent view is important to you, careful evaluation and broken rose-colored glasses are required.

If the views sought are urban high-rise jungle, high-rises inside the urban core are perfect. The view may change as new buildings are built, but without wide-open vistas to be blocked, the view subtly evolves. The potential exception to keeping a panorama view in the city core might be the west-facing units at the Metropolitan. The blocks between Belo Park, Big Red, and Dealey Plaza might stave off high-rise view-blockers.

Some may think that the high-rises adjacent to highways may be safe – because who else would build along noisy thoroughfares? But I can easily see a day when One Arts Plaza has view-stealing buildings in its path, ditto the high-rises of Victory Park as the Design District residential conversion continues. The only “secure” views from Museum Tower will probably be west across Nasher/DMA lands and east across Woodall Rodgers and the museum district concert halls.

Park Towers - Small
Park Towers condominiums

Older buildings are seeing the pinch too. Park Towers on Fairmount already lost some of its views when the mid-rise Gables rental block killed south-facing city views below the 10th floor. Rumored to be breaking ground soon, the Limited Edition on the north side will impact views. When (not if) the low-rise 2525 Turtle Creek condos (itching for a sale for years) and the mid-rise at 2727 Turtle Creek (sold in November 2014 to Republic Property) become high-rises, a curtain of high-rises will shroud the north views. East and west (unfortunately the narrowest part of the building) will remain open as they follow the parks and Katy Trail.

The building at 2727 Turtle Creek will impact both Park Towers and the neighboring Mansion Residences. Formerly home to Dallas National Bank and Republic Insurance, the building’s values flip-flopped in 2006. What was evenly valued by DCAD for $8.4 million each for land and building suddenly shifted to just $19,310 for the building and $15,980,690 for the land … a sure sign it’s a tear-down. In 2014, the building was valued at just $1,000 while the land still boasted a $15.7-million valuation. Trammel Crow owned it in 2005 and was likely behind the change in valuation shift as his plan was likely to demolish and rebuild.

Other buildings along the north side of Turtle Creek are already seeing construction occurring across the creek. These new buildings are already impacting downtown views for some. In uptown, the Ritz-krieg of agitation being caused by its view-stealing new neighbor has the makings for a whole column of its own.

For those seeking long-term panoramas, the best option is to seek buildings that are surrounded by single-family homes or low-rise buildings that are unlikely or unlawful to build high-rises on. Currently Preston Tower, Athena, Lake Cliff Tower, and Bonaventure fit this criteria.

Conversely, the closer a building is located to the city core in largely high-rise or commercially zoned areas, the more likely (or guaranteed) a building will be built that blocks your view. And it won’t take 50 years as it has for some Turtle Creek high-rises. Those choosing to live here must treat every day of panoramic views as the temporary gift it likely is.

This is another reason oceanfront high-rises are perfect. With climate change and ocean levels rising, the lobby may become a swim-up bar, but no one will build in front of you!

In any long-term view evaluation, the important concept to understand is perspective. If a gigantic building is far enough away it’s nearly invisible, but the closer it gets the more it impacts the view. It’s like holding your hand in front of your eyes; you see nothing but hand. But your friend waving from three blocks away is why texting was invented.

As you search for a high-rise, be aware of what’s between you and the view your jaw is dropping over. Then assess what could possibly be built in-between to kill it, keeping in mind the closer the potential problem (empty lot across the street), the bigger it will be.

If you’re thinking about a high-rise or perhaps you’re already living the high life, here’s a cheat sheet of my opinion of where I think views are going:

Turtle Creek including The Centrum: A case-by-case issue, but the area to pay attention to is just across the creek on the city side. Anything built there will be close enough to block or significantly change views. As always, the lower the floor, the more vulnerable the view.

Uptown and Downtown: Consider all views here temporary. New and planned construction includes Bleu Ciel, Limited Edition (2505 Turtle Creek), 20-story One Dallas rental tower underway at McKinney Avenue and Routh Street, and the Gables-ification of the area.

Northwest Highway and North Dallas: I hate to toot my own horn (Oh, who am I kidding?) but Preston Tower, Athena, and Bonaventure have the most secure views in the city. While the tremble and fret continues surrounding Preston Center’s eventual redevelopment, it’s VERY unlikely the views from these buildings will suffer. At worst, the views from the lowest of the low floors may skim the roofs of any new development behind the Pink Wall. On the south side, surely Park Cities wouldn’t deforest the duplex McMansions on their side of Northwest Highway in favor of a(nother) high-rise peering down into their neighborhood.

As for Bonaventure, it’s so isolated and surrounded by low-rise residential, I don’t foresee a competing high-rise being built to block its views.

Preston Center: The Shelton already has some blockage in its north-facing units and I feel it’s only a matter of time before the south-facing units are hemmed in by something new and tall.

Shelton View SmallShelton’s South View: A Blocked Future?

At 8181 Douglas, the potential to be blockaded is worse. North, East and South faces all have lots ripe for a high-rise (low/no-rise buildings). On the south side, the parking lot for St. Michael & All Angels Church may be thought of as safe. However, it’s not a stretch to think that as Preston Center redevelops, a portion of the 11.25-acre parcel owned by Episcopal Diocese of Dallas and valued at $49-million could be jettisoned to development.

Highland Park: This other safe area includes the Crestpark and Park Plaza. I think views are safe here because Highland Park is unlikely to allow another high-rise. For most Highland Park residents, a high-rise très, très déclassé in this “bigger-is-better” city-within-a-city.

Knox-Henderson: I’ll admit indecision surrounding the Knox @ Travis’ view encroachment potential. On the one hand, it’s an isolated high-rise in a sea of low-rise residential (good), but it’s also within a commercial area (bad). But that commercial area has some history that may prevent nearby high-rise approval (good). I think the east side is safe. The north side has development potential but I don’t see the adjacent Gables apartment complex selling out. I could see development on the south side of Knox between Travis and the Katy Trail (architecturally ragtag retail).

Victory Park: With lots of lots it’s obvious that there will be more building beyond The House, W Residences, and the myriad of apartments. I’ll admit the un-cherry real estate bounded by 35E, Harry Hines and a rat’s maze of bad roads is a mystery to me. While it’s better than the power plant and 75 acres of chemical contamination it replaced, I’d never consider living in its traffic-strewn, freeway hugging glory.

Mandarin Oriental Dallas

However one sad demise of the recession was the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Residences. It was to have been the main tenant in cancelled Victory Tower, the tallest building planned in Victory Plaza at 650’ or 43 stories. No, I’d never have spent my lottery winnings on a residence there, but I do have a weakness for Mandarin Oriental bars.

The MO in New York overlooks Central Park from the 35th floor. Las Vegas sports a fab bar on the 27th floor with 270-degree views of The Strip. In London the Rosebery Champagne bar is quintessential London with stunning views out towards Knightsbridge from its 1902 perch across from Harvey Nichols. MO bars are where I can put a polish on my usual riffraff self.

I-35 Stemmons Looking South Circa 1960 - Small
Stemmons Looking South to Dallas Circa 1960; before Victory Plaza

Central Expressway: Like Victory Park, it sits on a highway. But prospects for the Palomar/Highland, who can stand the noise (Whaaat?) STAND THE NOISE, it’s unlikely the view will be impaired as long as your eye follows the highway. Ditto views to the north and west. Mockingbird Station is pretty fixed in size and while SMU has gobbled up lots of land across Central, so far its ministrations house a rather short tennis pavilion. Views to the west, I take no bets on.


Remember: Do you have an HOA story to tell? A little high-rise history? Realtors, want to feature a listing in need of renovation or one that’s complete with flying colors? How about hosting a Candy’s Dirt Staff Meeting? Shoot Jon an email. Marriage proposals accepted (as soon as they’re legal in Texas)!

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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

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  1. JE says

    I really wish the Mandarin Oriental had been built, but now that the empty lots at Victory Park are vanishing, perhaps we’ll see it in a new tower closer to the center of downtown next to a new St. Regis (another unbuilt casualty of the recession).

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