Oak Lawn Committee Finally Sees Architecture Dallas Needs More Of

It’s difficult to be in two places at once.  That’s what a reporter’s contacts are for. In addition to last night’s Pink Wall towers’ meeting at the Athena, the Oak Lawn Committee held their monthly clambake (their first since the Lincoln Katy Trail ordeal).

As if to bookend that contention, Prescott arrived with their proposal to redevelop 5.5 acres on Turtle Creek sandwiched between The Mansion on Turtle Creek and the Turtle Creek Gardens condos.  The site at 2727 Turtle Creek is the former home of Republic Insurance.

It’s an odd-shaped parcel with connections in back of The Mansion to Gillespie and bordering the Cantabria apartments on Brown Streets, plus their Turtle Creek frontage.  This gives the development more options to funnel traffic, although truthfully, it’ll be the neighborhood expert who deviates from the Turtle Creek entrance and exit.

2727 Turtle Creek’s proposal. The Mansion Residences and The Plaza are visible on right.

The buildings’ design demonstrate that Dallas doesn’t always have to be ugly and bland. It also shows that we’ve (thankfully) moved past the Spani-terranean era of The Mansion Hotel and Residences and Plaza I and II condominiums.

Breaking the project down, the left building will house a new 230-room, five-star hotel with approximately 40 luxury condos ranging from 3,000-3,500 square feet on top (the “fat” separator is the amenity deck for the condos above). On the right is a super-deluxe apartment tower that will house 250 units each sized over 1,100 square feet and renting for above $4 per square foot.  What’s not visible is a 250,000-square-foot office building at the rear that will sit opposite The Mansion Hotel and near the Cantabria apartments on Hood and Brown.

Hotel entry and restaurant(?) space looking east on Turtle Creek

When I sat with Prescott, I of course asked who the hotel was going to be, quipping that narrowing the field of five-star hotels who also manage residential components left me with Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, or maybe St. Regis.  The response was a slightly flustered, “no comment.”  My money is on one of the first two.  Four Seasons has been looking for a project nearer downtown for many years and Mandarin Oriental had planned to crown Hillwood’s 43-story Victory Tower (unbuilt) in Victory Park pre-Recession. If it’s Mandarin Oriental, I’ll be camped out in the MO Bar.

The condos will be large with combinations expected resulting in two to four units per floor.  All will have direct elevator access with a shared service hall.  The rendering shows significant balcony spaces (sign me up) and an amenity deck that smacks of the W Residences, which also separated its condos and hotel with an amenity level. Certainly being up off the ground will offer great views of the city.

Being an armchair architect, I understand the power of the continuous face on Turtle Creek, but I wondered if pushing the condos back and leaving the open amenity deck on the front would offer stunning poolside views of the city skyline. Speaking with the architect, he explained that the pool would be on the front and western edges to take advantage of the afternoon sun and city views.  There will also be an extensive use of glass to protect the area from high winds. Makes sense.

Western view from Turtle Creek in front of apartment tower

The apartment tower is equally appealing with its patchwork flourish of balconies adding to the visual strength. It does appear that every apartment won’t have a balcony, but I know a lot of people who don’t use theirs, so I guess it serves those who would rather have the indoor space. The apartments’ amenity deck is on the hotel side rather than The Mansion Residences.  I suspect that’s a win-win for Mansion residents not wanting that view and what would have resulted in a perpetually-shaded pool.

Yes, it’s another set of luxury apartments and condos, but given the pricing, it’s not pretending to be remotely affordable.  Also, as a commercial space, it’s not displacing residents, it’s a residential net-add.

The office tower definitely needs more meat on the bone as I’ve seen little more than a placeholder on their site map.

Prescott’s well-heeled neighbors may be a tough crowd, but it is all moot given what may be “next”?

Of course Prescott is in front of the OLC because they want support to amend a few parameters.  The biggest ask is for an increase in height from their O-2 zoning of 240 to 299 feet. It goes without saying that The Mansion and Plaza will be unexcited by this project.  The Mansion will have a newer, more chic hotel competitor next door. The Mansion Residences will feel blockaded even though the existing rooftop views over the Prescott parcel are hardly ideal.  The Plaza will still be raw from the Toll Brothers high-rise approval to the north.  Across Turtle Creek sits the enclave of Park Bridge Court’s single-family homes who are also unlikely to be thrilled.

The most support will likely come from Turtle Creek Gardens which was first sold nearly two years ago and is rumored to have been resold to Lennar very recently. Great Gulf will also be watching closely in hopes success will give new life to their pair of stalled/cancelled developments (the Limited Edition property at 2505 Turtle Creek and neighboring Fairmount apartment site).

But given the large parcel bounded by Cedar Springs, Routh, and the Katy Trail (above), is all this consternation about skyline views ultimately moot for The Mansion and Plaza residents?  Personally, it’s a given that CubeSmart and Asel Art Center’s owners will eventually sell. The only real question is whether to time their sale with a stopwatch or a calendar.  Toss in Texas de Brazil’s lot hugging the Katy Trail and city approval to connect the properties by closing Woodrow Avenue and suddenly you have a super attractive plot probably wanting to look a lot like the neighboring 17-story Brady high-rise apartment building.

Another ask is for some setback relief so the apartment and office buildings can be aligned.  The final ask is almost comical.  Southern states and their liquor laws (eye roll).  Seems this parcel remains in a “dry” area and needs city approval to moisten it.  As you can imagine, as antiquated and giggly as this is, no one’s going to sign up to operate the first Twelve-Step Hotel and Spa.

There were few questions about the project, I’m sure partly because both the architect and developer had spent years on the Oak Lawn Committee and so knew what would fly and what would flop.

Tom Thumb

The only other presentation was from The Union development at Cedar Springs and Akard wanting a modification to the signage requirements for the incoming Tom Thumb grocery store.  Squarely in no-brainer territory. But big or small, that’s what the OLC is there for.

 

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 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com.

 

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