Exclusive: Rastegar and SCB Preview Fab Lower McKinney Ave. High-Rise

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Can Dallas have nice things? If this proposed project goes through, the answer is absolutely yes.

I get it, you’re immediately wondering what those green-walled balconies are running up the building. It’s a sneak peek at a proposed residential tower at 1899 McKinney designed by Chicago-based SCB Architecture for investor/developer Ari Rastegar of Rastegar Property Company – his first new-build in Dallas. Like the man, it’s ambitious architecture for Dallas. When I spoke with Rastegar and SCB principal Clara Wineberg, I imagined a conversation a resident might have explaining where they lived:

“Where do you live?”

“The building you’re on the waiting list for.”

But let’s unpack this picture.  In front of the white car, you can see the tops of umbrellas, which form the patio space for a proposed café. They’re so low because the plot is similarly sloped. This natural contour enables the café to create a more private feel while keeping the cohesion of the extensively landscaped pedestrian areas.

Slightly above the “ground” level, the green begins. Those “balconies” are in fact 17-foot deep amenity platforms spaced every three floors with lush green growing up their back walls. Expect them to be gathering places with seating and perhaps outdoor kitchens (my suggestion). That depth means you’re actually standing a considerable distance cantilevered out from the building’s skin – the views will be stunning. The uneven surfaces of the greenery should also tamp down some city noise in addition to being beautiful – were they simply glass-walled, they’d be an echo chamber.

What you can also see is the curved bump-out on the corner that will face down Akard to the Klyde Warren Park addition.  For those with Mayfair memories, I specifically asked about the radius of those curves. I find the tight turrets at the Mayfair condos result in largely useless spaces. The curve here is looser, allowing for easy furniture placement while delivering the drama of a curved glass wall.

So here’s the whole thing. The green balconies are clearly a signature element of the design, as is the rounded tip of an “arrow” pointing towards downtown and Klyde Warren Park. The decorative vertical “stripes” pull the eye upwards to the unseen.

When I first saw this rendering, I thought the roof of the building would be there the HVAC chillers and elevator housings would be (and they will). But, remember, all the parking is underground. There is no multi-story podium “skirt” where most buildings drop an amenity deck (I’m looking at you Gables Park 17 where an enormous parking podium connects two towers across the street). Here, the pool is on the roof (where God intended). There’s a resident lounge up there, too (shades of Mayfair’s Sky Club – best-in-town resident lounge).

The driving force behind such a not-Dallas-cookie-cutter building is the lot. It’s 19,456 square feet (0.45 acres), it slopes, and it’s triangular. In my book, the triangular lot works for something unique because it harnesses views up and down streets differently because of the angles. I noted that the other triangular lot on the southern opposing edge would make a great bookend at some point – an hourglass of sorts.

Of course, being able to take advantage of the Klyde Warren Park extension is another driver – as it should be at Fair Park. Seen above, the road running left to right is Akard, and the proposed property would be just out of shot on the left. Pretty amazing front yard – and noise damper from Woodall Rodgers’ traffic.

But extend a few blocks and residents will be walking distance to the Arts District, Victory Park, and the American Airlines Center. Those working in Uptown or downtown can also walk.

Back at the building, you have that ground-level café offering a green doorstep to the building that pulls Klyde Warren north. While the other neighboring parcels are mostly built-out, hopefully the park and this stunning building goad them into rethinking their streetscapes to continue the green – property owners’ version of paying it forward.

Again, when I spoke with SCB’s Wineberg, I told her I’d always felt there was a drama when a high-rise goes straight to the ground – where the high-rise isn’t swallowed by a large parking podium. It increases interaction with the pedestrian by creating a more “permeable” experience that the blank wall of a masked parking simply cannot garage can’t.  She agreed. After hearing developers lament for years about the cost of underground parking, I was pleasantly surprised when she added the cost differential wasn’t that big. Developer Rastegar said the same thing, noting that some cookie-cutter developers look to squeeze every penny out of a deal to increase margins for investors at the expense of good architecture.

I’m guessing Rastegar and Wineberg won’t be invited to the annual developers’ Podium Parking Party and Barn Dance this year. But it’s put me on high-alert when I see above ground parking garages and massive podiums. An investment in underground parking pays handsome dividends.

I’m definitely a fan of what I’ve seen so far. But there are details as yet unshared like specifics on garage entrances, loading and what zoning changes they need to get this project moving. All that will come out when this proposal hits the Oak Lawn Committee on July 9.

But looking back on this lot’s history as 2012’s Glass Lounge nightclub, where Foursquare (yes, Foursquare) reviewers called out the venue as “TERRIBLE PLACE!!!” and “Booorrriiiinnnggg” – it’s obvious this project will be anything but.

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.

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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is CandysDirt.com's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on SecondShelters.com. An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

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