Articles by

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.

11/12/19 9:30am

Hilton proposed at Hall Street, Oak Grove and Noble

No, you’re not reading tomorrow’s newspaper. District 14 council member David Blewett is holding a meeting at the same time as tonight’s Oak Lawn Committee meeting.  Blewett’s meeting is the first community meeting that’s part of an authorized hearing involving the zoning surrounding the Arts District. I figured you’d want me to be there (story tomorrow), so here we are.

There are four projects on tonight’s agenda – two new and two repeats. Let’s begin with the new. Above is a proposed Hilton Hotel on the end of the block bounded by Hall Street, Noble, and Oak Grove (a couple of blocks towards Central from Breadwinners). No, you’re not dreaming, its around the corner from the never-built Dream Hotel approved back in 2015. But it’s not just a Hilton, it’s two of Hilton’s 17 branded property types – Motto and Spark – both operating in the building. While “spark” might conjure up images of pacemakers at work, both Spark and Motto will target the same Millennials the Dream envisioned (as single-word “app style” names do).

What’s the difference between Spark and Motto?  About $20 a night.

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11/08/19 9:15am

In 2013, when I secured the building permits required to renovate my Athena condo, I was on the permitting office’s doorstep New Year’s morning and within a couple of hours, I left, permits in hand. When I returned a year later to get new permits to renovate the master bathroom, a similar timeline played out.

In the ensuing years since that simple, efficient timeline for simple renovation projects, the permitting office has vanished into bureaucracy, poor staffing and civil servitude. Instead of hours or even days, my permit took a full two-months to be issued – and it wasn’t because of me.

For those just joining the Penthouse Plunge series, on September 3, I purchased a 5,311-square-foot double penthouse at The Claridge on Turtle Creek. It had been on the market for four years with over $1 million in price reductions – and hadn’t been touched in 25 years. The combined floor plan didn’t work and so the only solution is to separate the units back into their original, as-built sizes and original-ish configurations.  And that’s just what I’m doing, with an endgame of selling the 2,770-square-foot corner A-unit (two bedrooms with study) and living in the B-unit forevermore. Penthouse Plunge follows the ups and downs of the renovation process and eventual sale.

Back to permitting (and its interminable waiting) which is part of the city department of Sustainable Development and Construction.

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11/05/19 9:00am

2020-2021 PHSNA Board posted October 27, 2019

Members of CARD (Citizens Advocating Responsible Development), the group that was against changes to PD-15, has taken over the Preston Hollow South Neighborhood Association. The stacked deck appears to be an attempt to gain leverage with a city government that’s moved on.

At the end of the City Council vote on PD-15 redevelopment, University Park resident and Pink Wall eight-plex apartment owner, Steve Dawson, told council they hadn’t seen the last of the protesters. After the unanimous passage of the zoning changes, Dawson told the Dallas Morning News that “they would take the next week or two to consider their legal options,” and that they could “request a legal injunction to stop development from proceeding while the lawsuit was pending.”

According to an excruciatingly detailed email circulating through the neighborhood by Claire Stanard, a former PHSNA board member, Dawson also threatened Council Member Jennifer Gates: “he intended to sue her personally for ethics violations using the power of the three attorneys in his family and planned to get Northwest Parkway blockaded in order to prevent construction equipment from entering, and intended to sue the City over abandoning the Area Plan.”

Stanards’ email continues, “I was also sent a text by Steve Dawson saying that he was upset by the fact that Jennifer Gates had finally done something positive for the neighborhood in agreeing to the opening of Tulane Road to Northwest Highway on Sept. 5 and honoring her commitment to the RPS.” [Note: RPS is Residential Proximity Slope, a city ordinance that controls height near certain residential neighborhoods.)

City Hall sources tell me that Dawson’s years of unending opposition to any form of development have left him little political capital. And yet, at this pivotal time for the Pink Wall, when moving smoothly forward with a functioning conduit to City Hall is crucial, the PHSNA appoints Dawson as its president.

Usually, I’d have said he was elected, but sources say that’s not what happened.

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When I visit the grocery store, I purchase 10, 20, or maybe 50 things – in a single roundtrip. When I order those same things online, how many trips are generated? Assuming the number of trips remains the same to get a product either to a supermarket or a warehouse, how many trips are needed to deliver those 10, 20, or 50 things? How many more when some type of expedited delivery is selected? (Hint: it’s a lot more than one.)

And when those multiple packages are delivered, what about the packaging? While cardboard boxes do grow on trees, isn’t that superfluous packaging a cause for concern?  What about the tape and packing materials?

Thin-skinned Dallas banned plastic bags in January 2015 only to rescind it six months later. Not to be out-dumbed, the Texas Supreme Court unanimously banned plastic bag bans statewide in 2018. They cited the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act that bars municipalities from restricting packaging as a way to reduce overall waste (huh?). While many justices commented that their hands were tied and called for legislative action to enable bans, Attorney General Ken Paxton commended the court’s decision. “Drill baby, drill” has been replaced by “waste baby, waste.”

Returning to the grocery store, when I drive to the store, I am one person in one car making one trip. Were I using a ride-sharing service, how many drivers are nearby cruising around (polluting) waiting for a passenger? (Hint: it’s more than one.)

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10/25/19 9:30am

The Royal Institute of British Architects awards the Stirling Prize to the best building of any type built in the UK during that year. First awarded in 1996, the Stirling Prize has been awarded to everything from the media gallery of the Lord’s cricket pitch in 1999 to the rebirth of a 12th century fortified manor ravaged by fire in 1978 reborn into the 20th century. Zaha Hadid has won twice, as has Foster + Partners. It’s a big deal.

This year, the award went to a public housing project that’s built to Passivhaus energy efficiency standards designed by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley.  In total, the Goldsmith Street project by the Norwich City Council has racked up six RIBA awards. Called council housing in the UK, in the US we’d equate it with public housing, built by local governments to house a lower-income working class.

That this type of cost-conscious housing could win a design award is telling. That it could also be so energy efficient, tells more. In addition to being affordable to construct, tenants’ energy bills are estimated to be 70 percent lower than normal – bringing running costs down further.

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10/23/19 9:30am

Rooftop terrace at Ritz-Carlton Residences Townhouse 4

Minutes before I left town for a spell, I was able to squeeze in a viewing of the final Ritz-Carlton Residences shell townhouse all duded-up and immaculately finished by CandysDirt.com Approved Builder Mark Molthan of Platinum Series Homes. Since I’d rather hobnob than shutterbug at these events (I happened meet someone with more shirts than me), I returned to the MLS to grab some pictures to show – and I learned something.

I typed in “pearl” figuring if I started with the most expensive, I had to catch 2555 Pearl Street, right?  I mean it’s a 6,079-square-foot Ritz Residence comprising three bedrooms with four full and one-half bathroom listed with Kyle Crews from Allie Beth Allman for $6.7 million. How could there be a pricier pearl?

There was.

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10/17/19 9:00am

Back in 2016, I recognized 3525 Turtle Creek for having the best high-rise floor plans. I said they were pretty fine as-is, but also were very malleable for owners to change with the times. Most of you know this building was built in 1957 as Dallas’ first residential high-rise. Since that column, I’ve often wondered why older buildings generally have better floor plans. I mean, you’d think they’d get better – learn from the past and all that. But they don’t. I’ve quizzed a few architects and come up with a theory.

Too many cooks.  Back in the early days, the architect who designed the exterior also designed the interior – typically at the same time. Working this way enabled one mind to be at work at one point in time. As it is today, the municipal and neighborhood approval processes are so long and cumbersome (and expensive) that all too often the designer of the skin is far removed from whomever eventually completes the interior floor plans after whatever concessions are (or aren’t) made. So while in the olden days the same architect would meld exterior look with interior reality, today’s agreed-upon building envelope constraints (or the unavailability of the original architect) produce sometimes bad interiors – or a few wonky floor plans.

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10/15/19 9:30am

Harim Group Headquarters, Beck Architecture, Seoul South Korea

Last week, The Dallas branch of the American Institute of Architects awarded winners in their annual Built Design competition (versus June’s Unbuilt awards). There were 72 nominations, which consisted of eight private residences, 10 medical facilities, and nine educational projects – and one scrappy Tyler, Texas, bank who had three entries.

Above is my favorite (a high-rise, naturally). Harim Group is a Korean agriculture business whose headquarters is more than a pretty face. The S-curve is based on wind currents whose indention maximizes airflow. In fact, the building is meant to create airflow with operable windows (!) on one side and exhausts on the other (not a lot of buildings these days seem to care about airflow outside HVAC considerations). And while certainly a little glitzy, I’m liking the perforated, polished stainless steel lining of the S-curve backed with LED lights. I also enjoy the semi-transparent top that creates a more elegant form while masking a killer conference room surrounded by a rooftop garden (you can also see foliage poking out of the roofline of its neighbor to the right).

In all, there were eight winners in various categories. Here are a few.

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