Christmas is right around the corner, and you can certainly tell here in North Texas. The trees are decorated, holiday music is playing on the radio, and eggnog lattes are back at your favorite coffee shop. With Santa’s visit just a few short weeks away, we are highlighting our favorite Dallas-area apartments with fireplaces and chimneys for Santa to use. Don’t worry — all these chimneys are big enough for Santa to fit without feeling claustrophobic. Some even have rooftop pools and balconies for Santa’s reindeer to play in while they are waiting for the jolly old elf to finish delivering presents.

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Brickyard water tower

Photo: Jonah Gilmore, Studio Rocket Science

Urban art has a new home in Farmers Branch with a stained glass water tower at The Brickyard.

Local artist Joseph Shortell of Shortell Design was commissioned by Dallas-based Billingsley Company to create this iconic structure at New York-style apartment community. Lauren Stout, an independent artist working with Shortell, laid out the color schemes with direction and approval from property developer Lucy Billingsley.

“We could not be more thrilled with how the water tower has turned out,” said Sumner Billingsley, managing partner on The Brickyard project. “I think it fully encompasses the thoughtfulness and unique attention to detail that went into this development – inspired by elements of the past, but infused with the creativity and energy of our community today.”

Among the features of The Brickyard water tower:

  • Internally lit with 24 LED flood lights
  • Agricultural silo-style metal roof
  • 24 three-foot-by-six-foot curved panels, each with individual colored acrylic panes in varying shades of yellow, orange, red, blue, and green
  • Panel and pane frames made of powder-coated metal to withstand harsh Texas weather

We’ve written about The Brickyard before: they have a unique vision for their property Farmers Branch, an inner-ring Dallas suburb about 14 miles north of downtown Dallas: bring New York-inspired living to DFW, but without the price tag.

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The exterior of the Kirby Building on main. This converted Gothic building has fantastic apartments with great views.

The Kirby Building on Main is a converted Gothic historic property full of apartments with great views. Photo: Kirby Residences on Main

Ashley D. Stanley has positioned herself to be the go-to expert locator for downtown Dallas apartment rentals. She’s a real estate broker and owner of Ashley’s Apartments, an apartment locator service specializing in downtown and nearby areas.

Stanley lives, works, and plays in downtown, and considers herself one of its biggest fans.

“I live at 1900 Elm historical lofts next to Main Street Garden and have an office space out of the Pacific Place building next door, where my commute is through the skywalk, but with the birth of my son this past year I moved everything to my home office,” she said. “I moved my office from Park Cities in July 2013 right after I found out I was pregnant. I knew the downtown market was on the rise.”

Stanley was right: apartments in downtown can hardly get built fast enough to satisfy demand.

“The market is hot, hot, super hot,” she said. “New buildings are popping up and units are being pre-leased, meaning you might go to a showroom, see a spread of photos for their unique finish out, cabinetry, kitchen appliances, flooring, etc. and you are offered a great move in rate with maybe a few free weeks if you sign within 24 to 48 hours.”

But with high demand comes higher rents, and many people feel challenged by the task of finding affordable lease in downtown. So we sat down with Stanley and got her recommendations for the top five least expensive studio apartment rentals in downtown Dallas. Jump to read about these five fantastic places and her tips for snagging a lease!

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Photo courtesy Wood Partners

Another residential development is underway near West Dallas’ super hot Trinity Groves neighborhood with the construction of Alta Yorktown by Wood Partners LLC.

The development will include 226 luxury apartments in three, four-story buildings on six acres. The property, located at 660 Yorktown St., is just one mile west of downtown Dallas, and sits near the Trinity Groves restaurant, retail, and entertainment area.

Rents at Alta Yorktown will average just over $1,300 a month for apartment homes that average 827 square feet (available as studio, one, two, and three bedrooms). Leasing will begin toward the end of 2015, and construction is slated for completion toward the middle of 2016.

Interior finishes in the apartments will include granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, tile backsplashes, Shaker wood cabinets, upgraded fixtures, and wireless technology packages. Community amenities will include an outdoor swimming pool and courtyard, grilling stations, and fire pits. The property will also have a small amount of retail space.

Alta Yorktown is just one of multiple new developments in and around Trinity Groves, where Wood Partners has a big stake in the neighborhood. It sits next to the Sylvan Thirty mixed-use project, in where Wood Partners built the 200 apartments, and the Alta West Commerce apartments, which will have 252 units. Jump to read more!

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The Trinity Village development in West Dallas will begin in 2015. Photo courtesy of Dallas Morning News.

Work will begin on the Trinity Village development in West Dallas in 2015. Rendering courtesy of StreetLights Residential.

More good news for development in West Dallas with word Thursday that Dallas-based Stonelake Capital Partners has closed on a 25-acre tract of industrial property on Singleton Boulevard, west of Sylvan Avenue.

Along with developer StreetLights Residential, Stonelake is planning a $200 million mixed-use development at 1000 Singleton Boulevard, on the southwest corner of Singleton and Sylvan.

This is 2014’s largest single redevelopment property in West Dallas, and it will bring about 1,500 new residential units to the area west of Downtown Dallas. (more…)

Meet Logan Waller. Whenever I want to know something about foreclosures in Dallas, he’s my Ghostbuster on speed dial. Let’s face it: everyone loves a foreclosure. I swear I hear the word and my heart beats faster. Logan will be giving foreclosure updates regularly now on CandysDirt.com. Here’s his overview of the foreclosure market in Big D — and yeah, we missed a great op at The W but here’s one in Preston Hollow:

There’s a lot of opportunity in today’s market for cash buyers and buyers who can put at least 20-30% down. Urban apartment communities are increasing rents and lowering incentives, which makes cash flowing a condo more likely than in the past. Significant leading indicators tell us the long term economic outlook for urban Dallas will fare well. The short term housing market, on a less positive note, won’t be so rosy. (Sorry, got to be honest.) The tax friendly environment for corporations and individuals will continue to spur more corporate re locations from the west coast. Investor activity is increasing now on properties over $100,000 due to the long term urban outlook. We’re seeing an influx in cash buyers taking advantage of the pricing of potential rental condos, and many properties under $200,000 can now cash flow. Considering the economic conditions and outlook for urban Dallas, investors should be considering multifamily and single family properties since rents are finally increasing in urban Dallas. Interest rates are likely to remain stable and inflation is highly likely over the next several years.

We’re currently working with an international hedge fund that acquires residential properties. They could invest anywhere in the world, but they have chosen Dallas, TX for their first round of acquisitions. This is becoming more and more common with international and out of state investors.

Some examples of opportunities we’re seeing are similar to this unit at the W: 2323 N Houston unit 1034. We contracted for less than $225,000 AND the property was in move-in condition. Downtown view, over 1,100 square feet on the 10thfloor of the W.  Like many of the high-end luxury high rises in Dallas, the W has taken a hit. Prices have declined as much as 50% since the peak of the luxury high rise market. But you have to move fast when these opportunities come up. We usually recommend to our condo inventory to keep values as stable as possible throughout uptown.