If you have been east of Central on Knox-Henderson lately, you might just think you are in the wrong city.
I took a quick spin last week Friday shortly before five and oh. my. God: street after street of brand new, sleek-smooth two and three story condo/townhomes, young people out walking dogs on leashes, hopping onto bikes, scooters, motorcycles. It was like Generation Z suddenly moved out of mom and dad’s and exploded into Dallas.
Plus I had been at the hairdresser’s on Blackburn, at Salon Lure, and realized I was so close I could have walked.
Thus is born a new neighborhood in Dallas, East Village, the spillover of West Village across Central. (And some experts say highways irreparably divide.) Development not only hopped the concrete fence, but it also created an almost exclusive enclave of residential steps away from a 1.1-mile street with pockets of successful restaurants, bars, and shops. This is Henderson Avenue, where developer Mark Masinter, the man who talked Steve Jobs into retail Apple stores, is creating a Dallas version of Abbot Kinney in Venice, Calif., or Elizabeth Street in Manhattan’s Soho district; 23rd Avenue in Portland, Ore. As Masinter told the Dallas Morning News: “I’m trying to do something tasteful and lasting — as it gets older, it looks better,” he said.
We now have to dig back in our brains to still see the old single family, 19th and 20th-century house memories of how this area once looked.
In the midst of a sea of new construction so fresh, you can still smell the hay in the concrete, is a five unit number that looks more like the Architectural Digest home of an art collector.
“We are building the nicest townhomes in East Dallas. It’s good for the neighborhood to have these higher quality products within it,” says Cobalt Home’s Managing Principal Greg McGowan. “There is a real renaissance happening in the area, as we build a symbiotic relationship with the expanding businesses.”
Crestfield Place is the second phase of CoastOak Group’s Cobalt Homes.
Three bedrooms, three and a half bath luxe townhomes with two car garages, Brazilian Ipe wooden rooftop decks and so much more: 2000-ish square feet ringing up at $582,000. You may remember Cobalt from last year: a Dallas-based urban builder headquartered at Harlan Crow’s Old Parkland, no less, disrupting the urban townhome concept with not just aesthetics and quality construction, but a genuine thoughtfulness to provide buyers with comfort and true home livability in a market sorely lacking for it.
In a competitive housing market, condo builders have been engaged in what is almost an arms race for new amenities. Cobalt Homes took it several steps further. Theirs is a real estate product made of a different mousetrap, and buyers are buying. Camdale Court, their first East Dallas venture, had more buyers than homes. The trio, Gregory McGowan, Joshua Nichols, and Don Carroll, came from private equity backgrounds on Wall Street that gave them a totally different perspective on development: instead of building it quick and cheap, let’s build it the best we can. Let’s give consumers true comfort and livability in smaller scale spaces in great, walkable neighborhoods.
And let’s do the opposite of most developers when it comes to architectural integrity: make the design Job One.
“We’re not simply investors who hire a contractor,” says Joshua, Principal and the Gen Xer in the group.
Which is, quite frankly, most real estate investors living at bottom line central.
“We are the builder and developer,” he says. “We have thought the whole process through, custom designing each specific project for each specific site, utilizing only the best architects and then maintaining control of the entire process, from start to finish.”
The CoastOak Group’s real estate antennae figured out that East Dallas was a blank slate for an entirely new kind of product: luxury urban townhomes no Dallas developer had ever built. These would be half million dollar townhomes Cobalt would create literally from the dirt up with quality in every square foot, from the enhanced foundation up to the wood decks, with limitless views of Dallas.
“We wanted to do much more than create in-town spaces for people to live,” says Don Carroll, Managing Principal. “We wanted to go that extra mile to actually build products that live better for our buyers.”
Their first venture was Camdale Court, a modern, 12-unit townhome community in the heart of East Village offering three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom units ranging from 2,096 to 2,380 air-conditioned square feet. Custom designed by TKTR Architects, materials and fixtures selected by interior designer Roz Murphy, living areas include the connect the third floor and rooftop decks. The proforma was to marry solid construction, sleek design, with extra, thoughtful touches that would be custom to each home (such as central vacuum systems), additions that buyers are not used to getting in Dallas.
Looming closer to all the retail action happening on Henderson Avenue, they next built Crestfield Place. Five stunning connected modern townhomes went vertical, located off Moser Avenue just south of Henderson, between Fuqua Street and Capitol Avenue. The three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom homes have 1,959 to 1,989 air-conditioned square feet in addition to 175-square-foot private grand balconies, 400-plus-square- foot private rooftop decks, and spacious first level two-car garages. The main attraction: all were designed by AIA award-winning architect Josh Nimmo, which is evident from the moment you turn onto Moser Avenue.
Amid a sea of clean white contemporary neatness are wood balconies and corrugated perforated metal screens (allowing incredible privacy but filtered light) looming above solid white-bricked construction that evokes a NorthPark brick sensibility.
“We love our relationship with Josh, he is incredibly progressive on design,” said Greg. “Every time we sit down with him on a new project he has an amazing new thought. His ethos is a balance between building something in an efficient manner yet features memorable architectural features. His goal, like our’s, is to completely improve the liveability of townhomes.”
Josh, says Greg, is dialed in on finding spaces within the home where you are going to spend meaningful time and then enhancing those. It’s like he knows the magic spots. And he can connect spaces efficiently within the house footprint.
“He uses outdoor more effectively than anyone I have ever seen,” says Greg. “The grand balcony off the living areas is a great example of that. It is visually and physically inviting to use these spaces, yet still affords privacy.”
Largely because of those concrete and southern pine balconies, the homes stand out from the crowd on the exterior. Go inside, you will be blown away. Walk into the first floor of polished concrete, on a suspended post tension concrete slab ten inches above the dirt. This floor houses the entryway, garage, one bedroom and full bath with an exterior door to the small green space. Locating the third bedroom here makes for a convenient and private guest suite, an office or exercise space. All walls are baby-butt smooth museum finish. The dumbwaiters, which were optional in Camdale Court, are installed on this first level right in the garage for convenient handling of groceries, Amazon deliveries, handbags or luggage. The central vacuum and tankless water heaters, also standard, are in the garage.
The staircase introduces the next floor treatment: wide-planked white oak floors. The second level holds two bedrooms: the master and a secondary. In the hall is a large closet for a full-sized washer and dryer and hanging space. The master is large and designed to pull in the morning sun at the perfect angle. Thoughtful features include placing the master closet, a large walk-in with generous storage space, in-between the master bedroom and the bath, providing a buffer zone for noise if one person rises early while the other sleeps in. The master bath features a huge shower with both wall and waterfall spout, seating, and storage. There is a huge glass window in the shower, frosted for privacy, that will guarantee fresh sunlight with every cleansing.
“What people really want in a master bath is the shower, a great shower,” says Greg. “We made this one over-sized, and included a tub in the secondary second-floor bedroom.”
Oh and this floor is visually enlarged by massive floor-to-ceiling glass windows across the hall and master, opening up at least another five feet of visual space.
The third floor is where you find the action spaces, connecting to the rooftop deck that is unlike any other residential in Dallas. Here is a totally unique elevated indoor-outdoor living environment with a seamless connection to a rooftop deck — spectacular views, arguably the best townhome entertaining space in Dallas.
Get this: you are on the third floor, where the sleek, white kitchen loaded with quartz waterfall counters, a freaking touch-sensitive kitchen faucet, Bosch appliances, laminated cabinets, and wine fridge, is open to the dining room. A back Butler’s pantry connects the kitchen to the living room and also provides a hidden spot for serious food prep (since the kitchen is so open). The half-bath is located on this floor. Though the light fixtures are high-end modern, natural light is incredible because, flanking the entire eastern side is a glass-walled balcony large enough for table, chairs, lounges. The sturdy metal staircase leading up to the rooftop deck is located here, outside, marrying the spaces together: you will want to enjoy the deep patio, and once outside, you will not be able to resist going upstairs to the deck.
The entire three-story stairwell area is also bathed in more natural light from a vertical skylight over the staircase.
“We told Josh we couldn’t see anyone changing light bulbs up that high,” says Don Carroll, “so find a solution.”
He did, and since it’s a vertical panel, it’s far less likely to get hail or rain damage.
The rooftop deck is covered in Brazilian Ipe wood and features a storage closet for HVAC that could also easily house cushions or a couple of chairs. There are electrical outlets for phone charging and laptops. The views are amazing, can never be obscured, and provide the perfect getaway within your home for relaxing.
“With the Nest doorbells and August door locks, if someone comes to the door you can remain upstairs on the deck and even open the door, watch them deliver, and lock it again,” says Don.”In fact, you can be in France and still accept Amazon deliveries at your door, open up and lock her up, all from your phone.”
A true lock and leave. And that is what the Real Estate arms race is all about: using your head and creativity, tapping into professionals who know their stuff, to give consumers a better quality product for their hard earned dollars. After all, he wins who has the most toys.
Take a look at Dallas from the rooftop of Crestfield Place on Thursday, Jan., 10, from 4:40 to 7:30 p.m. at 2204 Moser Street.