Tight High-Rise Inventory Means Less Choice: Luxury Living in the Sky

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As Dallas becomes more dense, high-rises should become the choice for more residents. The problem is that Dallas isn’t really building for-sale condo high-rises outside the ultra-luxury market. As noted in part one, there are currently just 133 high-rise condos on the market by my count – that’s it from $159,000 to $9.2 million. That’s not a lot of inventory.

The Stoneleigh, Ritz Residences, and Museum Tower may be where the money is, but it’s not where normal people are. As I’ve noted before, Dallas hasn’t built a big, mid-range high-rise in 20 years and it’s not because there isn’t a market. It’s because there is no financing.

And that’s different. When The Renaissance was built in 1998, it wasn’t luxury. Similarly, when 3883 Turtle Creek went up in 1963, it was planned as HUD housing. Preston Tower’s 362 units have always been affordable. All of those projects knew that cost containment came at scale. In addition to Preston Tower’s density, Renaissance has 603 units while 3883 Turtle Creek has 373. The closest in recent memory was the 75 units in The Cedars’ Beat lofts in 2007 – a relatively small project in a then transitional part of town.

I covered those condo buildings in that most-reasonable strata of high-rise living. Units ranged in price from the $150,000s to $700,000. In that range, you were almost certainly in the sub-2,000-square-foot range (perfectly fine for nearly everyone).

From here on out, it’s bonbons and champagne as we look at what you get when the sky’s the limit.

The Claridge unit 7A view

$701,000-$1 Million

Here we have 20 active listings currently with one under contract. At the “low” end there is a 2nd floor unit at the Crestpark listed at $729,900 with three bedrooms and 2,449 square feet. A little more sees the Goldcrest on Turtle Creek for a two-bedroom, 2,417-square-foot unit on the 8th floor. Today’s buyer will likely want to renovate both units. If you can stomach the HOA dues, the Goldcrest definitely has more swank.

Pinching the $1 million mark is my future home, The Claridge. Unit 7A is the only under contract unit in this bracket and has three bedrooms across 2,770 square feet. I hear the buyer is also looking at renovation.

Bleu Ciel unit 1802

$1 Million to $1.5 Million

Pushing north of $1 million nets another 17 listings before you hit $1.5 million. Buildings include The Claridge, Bleu Ciel, The House, The Mayfair, 3525 Turtle Creek, Ritz Residences and The Stoneleigh.

Nearer the $1 million mark, there’s the choice of an 18th floor, 1,547-square-foot unit at Bleu Ciel with two bedrooms listed at $1.095 million, or for $5,000 more, an 11th floor unit at The Plaza with three bedrooms and 2,662 square feet. Both are in areas of increased development – as is much of Victory and Uptown.

Nearer the $1.5 million mark is a 5,126-square-foot, three-story shell on the 17th floor of The Centrum listed at $1.45 million that has an additional 2,000 square feet of terrace space facing downtown. The Centrum is a tough sell to those who like their amenities – there’s not even a pool. The price for this unit has bounced around for years with a 2013 price of $1.65 million before ballooning to $2.6 million in May 2018 and dropping back to earth in June 2019 to its current price. (I never understand these “no one bought it because it was too cheap” price increases.)

Museum Tower unit 701 facing Klyde Warren Park

$1.5 Million to $2 Million

As one might expect, for this kind of loot, you get some seriously large space. These are typically all-luxury buildings without much of a “starter” tier below seven-figures. We’re talking Ritz Residences, Claridge, Stoneleigh, Mansion Residences, and Vendome. Of course, there are a smattering of listings in other buildings, but these tend to be the largest units on the highest floors. There are 13 active listings in this group with one under contract (MINE!)

Scraping in at $1.5 million on the dot is a 7th floor unit at Museum Tower with 2,147 square feet and two bedrooms. Toss in another $50,000 and you can get a 10th floor unit with 37 extra square feet. Both units are free from the new high-rise being built just south of the building. Height and view matter a great deal in this building. For example, a unit on the second floor is $92 per square foot less than the one listed on the 7th floor, which is, in turn, $96 less than a listing on the 29th floor.

Over at the Ritz, there’s a 13th floor, two-bedroom unit with 1,701 square feet listed at $1.995 million. For the same money,there’s an 11th-floor listing with 900 additional square feet listed. What’s the difference?  The 13th floor listing was a studs-in renovation whereas the larger unit is original Ritz spec.

Bleu Ciel penthouse view

$2 Million and Up

Twenty-one listings break the $2 million ceiling. A trip of Vendome residences start the ball rolling. Located on the 9th, 11th, and 20th floor penthouse, they range from $2.52 million to $2.895 million and between 3,863 square feet for the penthouse to 4,780 square feet for the 9th floor unit. The two non-penthouse “A” units have the same downtown views and are within $5 per square foot in pricing. Whereas the penthouse faces away from the city, its higher cost per square foot is because it’s just now being finished out after being a shell for nearly 20 years.

The most expensive high-rise condo in Dallas is a $9.2 million half-floor shell penthouse at Bleu Ciel encompassing 5,793 square feet of raw space. They claim it’s four bedrooms, but it’s a shell – if you want a gigantic studio, you can have it. Weren’t whipped over the builder’s finishes?  Pick your own!  That’s the fun of a renovation or a shell, it’s up to you.

In the non-shell world, the most expensive at the moment is a 7,500-square-foot double penthouse at The Stoneleigh listed at $7.195 million. Since Stoneleigh units were largely sold as shells, you know this combined penthouse was put together with the finest designer everything – right down to the showpiece floor-to-ceiling golden fireplace – seriously.

Finally, Those Views

I made a lot of comments and showed a lot of pictures of various units’ views – a big draw for high-rise owners. If the view matters, you need to do your homework identifying the zoning of properties around you. Dallas is growing, and property zoned for high-rise will get built on – even some non-high-rise plots will see significant redevelopment. Check.

Looking out the windows will get you started. If you see empty land, it’s likely either for sale or is already under development. If you see land being cleared, that’s the huge signal to check what’s being built. If you see other high-rises very nearby, there will probably be more. Ages ago I told people that if they wanted to live in Museum Tower, to buy a low floor or overlook Nasher/DMA. I knew it would very likely get boxed in. Don’t get trapped spending more for a view that’s temporary.

Just remember, if you’re a high-riser wanna be, there isn’t a lot of inventory to choose from. And without more condo building, that’s not going to change.

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.


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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