Dallas High-Rise Buyer’s Guide: The Entrance to High-Rise Living

View From Park Plaza Penthouse

Welcome to Part Seven of CandysDirt.com’s Dallas High-Rise Buyer’s Guide.  We’ve covered a lot of turf so far. Thirty-Three high-rises in fact. We began with two columns discussing the merits of buildings that include utilities in their HOA dues (here, here). We moved on to the house porn of Dallas’ most expensive high-rises (here, here) before continuing again to what passes for a high-rise mid-market (here, here).  These final two columns will focus on the gateway drugs of high-rise living … those most affordable for those with less stratospheric budgets.  It’s worth noting that many of the high-rises that include utilities in their HOA dues also fall within this more budget-friendly category. If you’re in this group (with me), it may be worth a peek back at those columns as you shop around.

The most glaring thing about this grouping is that fact that Dallas hasn’t built a new non-millionaire high-rise since 2002’s Travis at Knox and 2007’s Beat Lofts.  It’s equally been a decade since The Metropolitan was converted to mid-budget condos (covered in next week’s final installment).

Dallas needs more reasonably priced high-rises, but builders and banks aren’t willing to build and finance them. Even when it can be done, some neighborhoods, like Oak Lawn, are trying to fight them.

Park Plaza is an example of what happens when a building ages gracelessly.  On the upside, units are enormous at 2,000 to over 3,000 square feet (so buy-in isn’t cheap and HOAs are spendy). South-facing units have uninterrupted, relatively safe from blockage, skyline views. You’re across the street from Whole Foods and PK’s Liquors and can hop on the tollway in a trice. But … the public areas are very dated and dowdy. The hallway walls are fabric panels that show every atom of dirt from the past 35 years. Light switches and elevator call buttons are surrounded in a blast zone of finger-swiping grime. I fear triggering asthma attacks were I to even post a picture.

For the modern buyer, unit interiors tend to be equally out of date, requiring extensive renovation. But when you look at the cost-per-square-foot selling range, you see that the building economics don’t support extensive renovations.  The people who purchase here tend to be as old as the interiors and make do.  In fact, when I looked at high-rise demographics back in 2015, Park Plaza had the oldest high-rise population in the city.  A full 76 percent claimed an over-65 exemption on their property taxes while only 11 percent didn’t (the remaining 13 percent were non-homesteaders of unknown age distribution). Sure, some kitchens or the odd bathroom have been redone, but not the kind of full-scale remodel that’s desperately needed.  There are any number of buildings featured in this series where $275 to $300 per square foot condos can be brought up to date and still resold at a profit.

The key to Park Plaza to attracting the renovators needed to increase selling prices is to renovate the lobby, hallways and other public spaces.  If they do that, the rest will follow.

The Travis is an oddity containing mostly two-story units.  It’s even odder as you sometimes enter on the bedroom level and go downstairs to the living areas. But it’s in the thick of hot Knox Henderson and it’s not an overpriced apartment.  Looking at the resales, you see a wonderful delta from low to high, hinting that major renovations are economically viable. And after 15 years, a spruce-up might be in order. Units run between 1,500 to 2,000 square feet with a smattering of 910-square-foot and combined units.

The views are pretty great in all directions. The interior amenities are fine, but the biggest amenity is the location.  Like Uptown, it’s walkable with tons of restaurants and shops. It’s almost next to the Katy Trail. And it’s quite handy to Central Expressway … at best a double-edged sword at rush hours.

Speaking of odd, the Crestpark straddles the line between Dallas and Highland Park (and across the street from the Park Plaza).  Want your kids to go to HPISD?  Make sure you’re living on the Highland Park side of the building.  Interestingly enough, you might assume that the low $221-per-square-foot sale would have been on the Dallas side. Nope. Similarly, you’d have thought the $305-per-foot sale was on the Highland Park side. Nope again. If you’re looking for Highland Park, focus on units beginning with an “N” designation. For those looking for Dallas that’ll be “S” and “E” units.

Units sizes range from about, 1,000-square-foot one-bedrooms all the way to three bedrooms pushing around 2,600 square feet.  One note: Like LaTour, the windows do not go to the ceiling, making taller people stoop to see out the windows.  And if you’re super tall, the eight-foot ceilings may not work, period.  The public areas are very well maintained with both fitness centers having been recently renovated.

Ahh, the Renaissance.  I know several CandysDirt.com readers have been waiting for this (buckle-up).  Not to disappoint, I better explain the photo I chose to use.  For the uninitiated, the Renaissance is essentially a C-shaped complex that points towards Lee Park, Turtle Creek and, as seen here, the Claridge condos.  The problem is the lot in the center of that opening.  It’s in permitting for a high-rise.  Obviously it will have a detrimental effect on many of the units on the interior of the “C” that face this direction.

Speaking of views, there’s currently another empty lot at the corner of Cedar Springs and Turtle Creek on the other side of the Renaissance.  It’s slated to be a 16-story office building with a pair of assumedly nifty restaurants. But as nice as the design is (and it is), it will still impact some units’ views.  That’s the thing, you can be pretty sure that if there’s an empty lot near any high-rise, it’s going to be built on.

The complex is enormous at 603 units, and comprises several sections.  The “A” building fronts Turtle Creek and has the best views (in my opinion).  Size-wise, units range from about 800 square feet to a more spacious 1,700-ish square feet.  There are several penthouses that jump that even further.

I have a reputation for not liking the Renaissance, but in truth there is only one thing I don’t like. For me, the bedrooms are too small. They’re 11 feet wide and I want at least 12.  Twelve inches is a lot … when you have a king-size bed.

Because there are several sections, there are multiples of most amenities, including three lobbies.  Renaissance is also a social building, with regular events and even invited speakers.  With so many neighbors, newbies in town will quickly be made to feel welcome.

Renaissance is in a great location, a comfortable distance from the commotion of Uptown, West Village, and the Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs vortex of restaurants and nightlife.  Of course one of the bennies of being on Turtle Creek is proximity to the Katy Trail.

See? That wasn’t so bad … and I didn’t even mention the parking garage. (Oops, my bad.)

I know, at four stories, it’s far from a high-rise.  But I figured I’d pretty much covered every other building in the area, so why not?  First and foremost, the building borders Lemmon Avenue and those units suffer from unending road noise. You’ll want to look for units inside the courtyard and as far west as possible.

Wyndemere is a dense complex with 29 units-per-floor ranging from 758 to roughly 1,400 square feet. The interior and amenities are well maintained with a lobby full of stone and a focal point chandelier. Décor could be spiffed up in the lobby areas, which today look more like a fancy dentist’s office.

Inside the units, kitchens and baths are of the era, with swathes of light maple cabinetry and Baltic Brown granite counters.

An owner reports that the recent $2 million special assessment was used to cover replacement of windows and doors due to leaking.

You may have noticed a common theme in this week’s installment … renovation.  While not all lower-priced buildings are 50 years old, even 20 years is a time when the first renovations begin.  Because of this, many will want to renovate or have their unit already renovated.  That’s a cost that often needs to be factored into the equation of a lower cost per square foot building.

Next week is the final installment in the series.  (I’ll be popping a cork!)

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

  • I think the condo market is over built and during the next downturn will suffer like the condo market historically has. The main thing to consider when buying Dallas luxury condos like the Ritz, Vendome, Mansion etc is what you get for that fee. For example many Realtors fail to market the hotel components of the Ritz and Mansion. Additionally several downtown condos once had panoramaic skyline view that are now blocked or partially blocked causing liss in value and marketability. In once case a new parking garage allowed headlights to shine directly into the living areas of the building across the street. Highrise Condos are a special market. Buyers need experienceed help

    • The luxury market has been overbuilt (Limited Edition’s demise as evidence) but the non-millionaire stratus isn’t.

  • 1. Granted it has been a while since I have looked at The Travis but last I checked they did not have valet, porters and even their front desk was staffed part-time with actually very limited hours. Maybe that has changed but it would surprise me.

    2. Similar comment on Wyndemere, I looked at it recently and it did not have porters. I believe the front desk was staffed 24/7 but by one person.

  • Don’t think the market is overbuilt. Just no interest in 1300sf , $1m condos. Plus , well heeled repositioning with new product announced.