Most developers are hard-living, hard-drinking, stress-filled time bombs of roller-coaster energy, over-indulgence, extreme risk-taking, and compulsion.

Not Ari Rastegar.

Remember when Jon Anderson told you all about the Austin-based investor/developer of Rastegar Property Company – and his first new-build in Dallas, which has been 100% leased by the short-term stay company Sonder? (Condos are hard to get financing for, and because of the prevalence of construction defect litigation, many developers shy away from building condos: one reason why so many apartments are going up. But because of the lease with Sonder, Rastegar was able to get financing and de-risk the transaction: brilliant. Rastegar says he’ll lease his Uptown building to Sonder for 10 years, then convert the building to residential condominiums.)

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cedars

The Cedars Collection’s Park Plaza project, located at 2000 Park Ave., will offer 13 units at a $399,000 price point.

In the beginning, the Cedars was a bustling community that was also a Dallas hot-spot — and it remained so from its beginning in the 1870s until the 1920s, as the more wealthy denizens of the neighborhood moved on. By the 1960s, the neighborhood took a hit from progress, as homes saw the wrecking ball to make way for highway projects. 

But the area is having a bit of a renaissance. The artists, musicians and longtime residents of the Cedars will tell you that it’s always been percolating. But once again, new development is beginning to sprout, and the area is attracting new businesses, too.

Some of that burgeoning development comes courtesy of the Cedars Collection, which is working to take its substantial land holdings in the neighborhood and turn it into walkable development with townhomes, condos, apartments, live/work spaces, and retail space.

We wrote last week (in our CandysDirt.com Open Houses of the Week feature) about the group’s first project — Hickory Vista, where there is one townhome remaining.

The view of the city skyline from the rooftop deck at the Hickory Vista project.

But Coldwell Banker Realtor Courtney Michalek told us that she’s also  now pre-selling their upcoming 13-unit project at 2000 Park Ave., where the homes will sell for $399,000.

The Park Plaza Project

She’s also holding a broker’s open house at the Park Plaza project Tuesday, Dec. 11, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., where brokers can come hear about the Cedars Collection plans for the neighborhood, as well as get the skinny on the pre-sale, and even have some breakfast (they’ll have donuts, coffee, and mimosas).

But before then, we got a little bit of the scoop, courtesy Brian Jennings of Charter Investments, who is one of the developers for the Cedars Collection. (more…)

A building no longer relevant to its neighborhood

As part of my research into Copenhagen’s BIG architects, I watched a recent interview with founder Bjarke Ingels titled Different Angles.  A story he told dovetailed with something I’ve been thinking.  He talked about visiting an abandoned 2,750-year-old Synagogue in northern Iraq. He found out that it had only become derelict in the past 50 years when cultural hostility saw the congregation move to Israel. In the space of 50 years, a nearly three-millennia-old building fell to ruin because it was no longer relevant to the community.

Architects, he said, could build structures that physically endure, but they can only last as long as they are relevant.  Sometimes relevance equates to their ability to be repurposed.

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Photo courtesy Texas Tribune/Stan Cook

This is a must-read for anyone with a little real estate in their blood, and it is very interesting as a reference to anyone living near the Golf Club of Dallas (formerly the Oak Cliff Country Club).

Basic story: 200 acre golf course in a coastal community 30 miles southeast of Houston saved about 150 homes from flooding in during Harvey. Why? The Clear Lake City Water Authority had embarked on a $28 million project to retrofit a shuttered golf course with five detention ponds that will be able to hold half a billion gallons of stormwater. At the time Harvey hit, the project was only 80% complete. But still, it worked.

When you are an advocate for dense, urban living, you have to consider water. Houston is in the thick of this lesson, and though we in Dallas are about 300 miles from the ocean, we can find a few nuggets of truth here:

As a post-Harvey Houston figures out how to protect itself from the next big storm, he and other local officials say they hope the project will serve as an example of how communities can take matters into their own hands as they await the completion of large-scale flood control projects. 

Branch said the nearly 200-acre golf course was coveted real estate in a flood-prone area that likely would have been turned into condos. But he said developing the land would have worsened flooding in the coastal community about 30 miles southeast of downtown Houston — home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center. 

The water authority wanted to reduce area flooding and keep the area “green,” he said. It purchased the land in 2011 for about $6 million. 

A nonprofit group, the Exploration Green Conservancy, formed to partner with the water authority to reimagine the space as a community park situated around the detention ponds. Some residents have pushed back against the project, but Branch said support has remained strong to keep the project moving forward.

Recent developments surrounding the Golf Club of Dallas, formerly the Oak Cliff Golf Club, bring to mind a panel discussion at June’s National Association of Real Estate Editors confab.  Seems golf clubs are not as popular with the young as they are with their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.  There are several reasons for this, including shifting socialization patterns, negative perceptions of the game’s culture, and cost.

It seems that as society has picked the pockets of young people for everything from student debt to over-priced apartments, there’s simply less in the kitty for expensive pastimes like golf.  And golf is an expensive activity.  Aside from the stereotypically garish ensembles, it’s not difficult to drop a grand on a set of clubs, a couple of hundred on shoes, and upwards of $50 for every dozen balls. And that’s before you hit the links.

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Last night’s community meeting with Huffines Communities at the Golf Club of Dallas on Redbird Lane felt like a bad setup. The room was at capacity with literally hundreds more still standing in line, out to the middle of the parking lot, when the presentation began.

“I hope all these people are against the project” said one woman in front of me. Everyone seemed to be talking about how the proposed small lots and low price point were a bad fit for the neighborhood. It was a very diverse crowd – a cross-section of the diversity that people love about Oak Cliff, from very young to very old and all types and kinds of ethnicities of people. Even Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price was there.

When Donald Huffines — who is also a Texas state senator — got to the mic. he began by showing images of developments he’s built in his 30 years of experience. Water parks, waterfalls into lakes, Cape Cod-inspired town homes, and ‘no brick facades’ – so homeowners are able to paint their exteriors … Demonstrating in pictures what their website says about another project they planned, “This community will offer residents the signature Huffines Communities lifestyle along with traditional resort-style amenities, several highly regarded builders, and year-round resident activities.”

The neighbors didn’t want slick pictures of other places — they wanted to hear what was planned for their neighborhood. The presentation was cut short and the crowd got rowdy. Dallas City Council Member Casey Thomas did his best to calm the crowd. Eventually we heard, “There is no plan yet. We’re here tonight to hear what the neighborhood wants.” With over 500 people in a jam-packed audience that was a tall order. (more…)

The Dallas Builders Association would like to address the dire shortage of skilled workers by a potential innovative partnership with Dallas ISD.

The Dallas Builders Association would like to address the dire shortage of skilled workers by a potential innovative partnership with Dallas ISD.

If you’re building a new home, or are a builder, this will come as no shock to you: It’s taking longer to get the job done, and it’s more expensive.

In fact, at a recent annual meeting, National Association of Home Builders economist Robert Dietz said this shortage was actually holding home construction growth back.

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Midtown 1

Much has been written about Valley View Mall’s demise and rebirth as Midtown Dallas.  It’s as though all the ink will somehow grease the wheels and return Valley View to productivity.  On Tuesday, the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce hosted an event that included a keynote and panel discussion.

The panel consisted of Scott Beck (owner of the property and chief developer), Edwin Flores from DISD, and Dallas  City Council member Lee Kleinman. In a nutshell, everyone just wants the show to get on the road for this enormous, multi-billion dollar redevelopment.

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