Dallas High-Rise Buyer’s Guide: North of Northwest Highway (Mostly)

Amenity Deck at Turtle Creek's Vendome

Amenity Deck at Turtle Creek’s Vendome

Welcome to our second installment of the Dallas High-Rise Buyer’s Guide as I break-down some of the costs associated with Dallas’ high-rises.  The first installment featured Turtle Creek’s first high-rises where utilities and their costs are contained within their HOA dues.  For this installment, I’m moving north of Northwest Highway to detail the Athena, Preston Tower, Grand Treviso, and The Bonaventure. I know you’re thinking that Grand Treviso is in Irving, not Dallas.  Well, out there on its own, if not me, who?

But before we head north, there’s one more Turtle Creek high-rise that also includes utilities in their HOA dues. Built in 2000, it’s decades newer than its sister-utilities buildings. I’m talking about the Vendome.  Surprised?  Me, too. But last week’s posting was already really long, so here we are.

After Vendome, we return to a pair of buildings built in the 1960s when utilities were bundled into HOA dues. Personally, I prefer writing one check per month and not having to worry about where my thermostat is all the time nor when my water heater is going on the fritz. Others may think differently.  Either way, it’s important to pay attention to utility costs. When buildings pay utilities, they negotiate better rates, but some buildings where owners pay separately also benefit from negotiated, building-wide discounts. Their rates are significantly less than you’d pay in a house.

Turtle Creek Holdover

Vendome 1 SMVendome Chart 1

To many in the real estate world, you can’t tell the story of the Vendome without Judy Pittman.  You can credit her with cajoling the developer to shape the building’s French aesthetic. And it’s no surprise as Paris is Pittman’s favorite city.  She’s left that mark on Dallas with both Vendome and Place des Vosges. For many sellers, she remains the go-to gal.  Seeing such a new building include utilities guarantees a double-take … especially when you see the relatively reasonable HOA dues.  Given that the small-ish building is not short of multi-thousand square foot units, the dues can be big in actual dollar amounts.  Interiors tend to be very classic with the urban views expected of a high-rise.  Also, as a modern building, the bathrooms and closets are, well … uncrowded.

Preston Hollow

I hate to be an opportunist, but the recent fire at neighboring Preston Place and its eventual rebuilding should up the ante in Preston Tower and Athena if done right. That aside …

Athena - SmallAthena Chart 2

The units in this building are well-sized (1,543 and 1,899 square feet) with good storage options.  Around 80 percent of balconies have been enclosed which adds another 230 square feet to each unit. A few recent buyers have restored their balconies (hurrah!).  The building’s HOA dues were raised to reflect the addition of free internet.  But there have been a pair of special assessments reportedly used to fix deferred maintenance items (never a good thing). Also, Athena’s tighter delta between un-renovated and renovated selling prices means those without long-term plans must watch their pennies to avoid over-build.  That said, sources tell me that pretty much every unit sold is being renovated. So many units have been gutted in recent years that the rate of midnight dumping by neighbors into renovators’ dumpsters may be slowing as they run out of trash.   Pay close attention to recent sales. If the recent $1.1 million double unit closed for near its $268 per foot list ask, that may up the building’s game (or be a one-off, time will tell). Finally, an out-of-court settlement was reached in 2016 with an owner who’d sued the building and managing agent Intercity Investments due to damage from a flood in the owners unit.

Preston Tower 2 - SmallPreston Tower Chart 1

Preston Tower is a large building with 362 units that can be viewed as North Dallas’ starter condo. There are a mix of unit sizes, from small to three bedrooms, including some combined units. Preston Tower has a very full list of building amenities (I do love a car wash) and has been working in recent years on building updates.  The two floors of commercial condos add some interesting built-in options for residents by way of hair and nail salons but also lawyers and accountants.  It’s worth noting that while one unit attained $324 per square foot, the next highest in 2016 was just $263 per foot. In 2016, the building and managing agent Intercity Investments lost a lawsuit with a resident stemming from damage from a devastating flood in 2015. Finally, it’s worth noting that like many buildings its age, fire alarm replacement is on the books.  Ask about any potential financial hit.

Hinterlands: North-North Dallas and Irving

Grand Treviso 1Grand Treviso Chart 1

Just this past January there was an auction of a penthouse at the Grand Treviso, hardly the typical state of affairs for this Irving high-rise. There are two buildings here, a high-rise and a mid-rise that do impact pricing somewhat (mid-rise tends to be cheaper).  Also, while it was built in 2002, a well-priced unit may be worth a little spruce up … more than one unit remains with laminate countertops. But as you can see above, this complex almost has two of everything. For those looking to get off the ground but have/want to live in Irving, this is the place to look.  HOA dues are very reasonable, which is partly because utilities aren’t included, but most likely the result of its newer build date. But caution: Just because the building is newer doesn’t mean the dues should be lower.  Make sure the building is saving appropriately for the future. I’m not saying it’s not — I’m saying you need to check.

Bonaventure 1Bonaventure Chart 1

Ahhh, 1981.  The year three wedding standards were born. Straight weddings got Kool and The Gang’s Celebration while the gays got Diana Ross’ I’m Coming Out and The Police’s Don’t Stand So Close to Me became my personal romantic theme. Bonaventure opened amid these heady days with 336 units. But what makes this building different is land … 7.6 acres to be exact.  This huge tract of land gives this high-rise its own lake along with a walking trail.  While many Turtle Creek high-rises look at a park, Bonaventure is a park.  Of course maintaining all that land and amenities translates into HOA dues on par with several buildings where utilities are included.  Units can be quite large with most ready for significant updating. The delta between low and high sales points says that well-done renovations can pay off in this building.

As you digest the information in this series, remember, before you fall head over heels for a home, understand what you’re buying and what the ongoing costs are. Often first-timers freak out at HOA dues until they page through their checkbooks and add up all the maintenance they’ve done on their house over the years.

And yes, often it simply costs a bit more to live off the ground, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  How about you?  Ready to join me in the sky?  Keep reading future installments of this series.

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 sharewithjon@candysdirt.com.

4 Comment

  • Will be interesting to see how Windrose Tower in Legacy West ends up doing.

  • I live in Preston Tower and seeing those hefty special assessments at the Athena and Vendome makes me feel fortunate!

  • I would love to live in the Bonaventure, if you could time travel me back to those golden years of long nights and blurry days….then again in ’81, that would be quite the long drive from all the action.