A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the second meeting between local neighbors and Portugal’s Teixeira Duarte, Masterplan and architect Javier Espinoza, the team developing the so-named Turtle Creek Haus high-rise at Hood and Dickason in Oaklawn.
Last night there was a third meeting and to borrow from Dan Savage, it got better.
First, Masterplan brought out heir-apparent Dallas Cothrum to open the meeting with more finesse. His goal was to relieve some of the negativity that permeated the last meeting. Thankfully the threats of “Plan A” were largely history with the assumption that neighbors … and the developer … wanted something better than a dormitory. With that empty-threat mostly dispensed with, neighbors were able to discuss the real-world impacts a neighboring high-rise would pose and how to mitigate the jolt to nearby residents as much as possible.
This isn’t to say the meeting was a love-in. There were a few times emotions erupted. When things got heated, Masterplan too quickly reverted back to an unhelpful “we can build what you don’t want tomorrow” attitude. On the upside, neighbors were quick to notice and call them out, usually deescalating the situation. But one neighbor got ticked and gave a less-than-logical riff before storming out of the room.
What also came out were tacit admissions that timelines quoted in the previous meeting were not as tight as neighbors were led to believe. In the prior meeting neighbors were told that this project was to be at City Hall before the end of summer.
Given that timeline, it would be impossible to NOT have had significant design work underway and signed-off by Teixeira Duarte management. Seems that timeline was either overly optimistic or a little Masterplan hardball to get neighbors in line.
Architect Espinoza admitted he’s in the conceptual design phase which isn’t the phase you’re in if your date with City Hall is just a couple of witheringly hot months away. I still find it mildly fishy that Teixeira Duarte has supposedly signed off on costly land purchases, including a high-rise on the Poston lot, without more design and costing work being completed. I mean you don’t send a 16-year-old to NorthPark with your AMEX card and tell them to buy what they want.
Condo or Rental
Seems the prevailing thought is to build a quality building that would likely begin as a rental (that’s the market, folks) with the plan to transition to condos when the market turned. It could also mean that the banks think it’s an apartment, but once built and before the Certificate of Occupancy is granted, paperwork is changed to condo. Either way, not the answer neighbors were hoping for, but I believe an honest one.
Number of units
Turtle Creek Haus looks to clock in with 150-plus units. This is a good size. As eventual condos, this provides enough ownership to spread repair bills. As smaller buildings age, big ticket replacements cost each owner more which can result in deferred maintenance. Ownership in older, smaller buildings makes special assessments and/or higher HOA dues almost a given. Haus’ size should make neighbors happy as it bodes well for a more stable, well-maintained future.
Since the last meeting, design work has progressed in the right direction. What was a single half-story underground garage with four stories above had changed to two under, three above ground. The added floor space was to provide additional guest parking to minimize on-street overflow parking. Compromise. Streetscapes had been visualized that didn’t look like a crappy stucco slab.
There was a little weaseling though.
The above-ground portion was listed at 22 feet above ground, yet it was three stories. Unless you’re talking about six feet of headroom, the math’s not right. Several neighbors noticed. Turns out the top level wouldn’t be covered. Because in our glorious summer, some resident would want to park in an uncovered space? Because downward views from the lower floors would be of car roofs and accompanying noise? Thanks, but no.
I was buoyed near the end when the group was focused again on the parking structure and really hitting hard for its total submersion. Masterplan blurted out that if they submerge the garage an extra two stories below ground, they’d have to build another three stories to offset the cost. The neighbors didn’t flinch.
At the last meeting every floor added was a personal wound. This time neighbors understood that the fight needed to be directed at the streetscape because no one was going to notice a few more stories nor the few extra cars it would generate. More progress and more compromise.
We did see sample façades from other buildings to give an idea of what general direction they’re heading design-wise. More limestone than stucco. More proportional windows than curtain wall. More classic than slap-dash. All good queues, but until the actual design is on paper, more show-and-tell than bankable.
Personally I liked the exemplars that more resembled New York City’s pre-War step-backs. I think they have more grace and visual interest than a single homogenous up-ended shoebox. They would also give the units above the setback some cherry terrace space.
When Masterplan quipped that they might put the pool on the roof, I got to thinking of The Mayfair with its penthouse clubhouse for residents. Prime real estate dedicated to all residents’ use would certainly be a draw for tenants or owners.
Neighborhood Financial Considerations
I’ve written more than once that Dallas is over saturated with spendy condos and one planned Turtle Creek high-rise returning to the drawing board. Before this project gets my seal of approval (for whatever that’s worth), I’d want to see the financials. What are rents expected to be? What would units sell for in today’s market? As a condo, what’re the expectations on HOA dues?
I ask because words like “expensive” and “high-quality” were bandied around pretty freely. The Ritz was mentioned more than once. I also see a list of potential amenities from last night’s packet that read, “more condo/hotel like; laundry/dry cleaning; concierge; bike storage/extra storage; trash service; business center; common event kitchen; bigger lobby; more on-site staff; dog wash/designated pet areas; potential valet service.”
Aside from being confused by “trash service” being an amenity rather than a given, all of these things require space and money. Ultimately this adds expense to renters as well as buyers and their associated HOA fees.
It’s good that they’re building small, medium and larger units within the building, but while quality is good, city neighborhoods like Oaklawn thrive with multi-income housing options. It’s likely what attracted the area’s current residents in the first place.
Just something to consider.
I will say that neighbors, while more cohesive in their asks from Teixeira Duarte, were guilty of a little magical thinking that needs to be nipped. The building is coming and it will be a profitable venture for the developers. They’re not a charity, so every “give” likely has some kind of “take” involved. Spouting that you don’t care about Teixeira Duarte’s profitability is facile and counterproductive.
It’s also crazy to think that they’re going to give until the project becomes unprofitable. This is a negotiation and it’s unrealistic to think either side will be walking away with nothing.
After this meeting, I think it’s very likely there will be an underground garage, attractive streetscape, limited overflow street parking and a building that’s not a rack-and-stack dorm built with 2-by-4s and stucco. Remember that junky apartment building that stood where the Ilume Park stands? You’re not getting that. The newly-built Gallery at Turtle Creek? You’re not getting that either.
Definitely progress … and more to come.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016, my writing was recognized with Bronze and Silver awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.