SamsCityplace

Interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal (sub req.) on Sunday raised a sacreligious question: are the billions we are spending on light rail really worth it, especially real-estate wise? Los Angeles and other auto-heavy Sunbelt cities such as Phoenix, Denver and Charlotte, N.C., are building out expensive light rail systems costing billions of dollars, funded by sales taxes and federal dollars. Urban experts tell us light rail encourages dense development, helps unclog traffic arteries, and boosts real estate values and development at station points. And of course, it’s so green.

In fact,

A 2014 study of the Phoenix area’s light-rail system co-written by Arizona State University professor Michael Kuby showed an increase in residential and commercial property values after the system was introduced, extending more than a mile from stations.

But not so in Charlotte, where a 2012 study of property values near the light-rail system stations there produced a “mixed bag of results.” Apparently a few high end developers put up some fancy digs near the stations that would have been built anyhow. As for creating a real estate boom, light rail may be like robbing Peter to pay Paul: just pilfers real estate values from another part of the city:

Randal O’Toole, a transportation and land use expert for the conservative Cato Institute, said he believes local governments are investing in light rail only “because the federal government is offering money for it.” If proximity to transit lines does boost property values, “it does so at the expense of values somewhere else in the same city or urban area,” he said.

Of course, we have a DART station on Central Expressway at CityPlace. And what do we have across from it? A big box Sam’s Club. Yeah, don’t get me started. Haskell is becoming a whole new world. But no, we couldn’t have some mixed-use something with housing, developer went for the quick buck. (more…)

GetMedia-2.ashx

Photos: Shoot2Sell

When I saw this charming 1938 Hollywood Santa Monica Tudor, I didn’t even recognize it as the same adorable cottage, at 6804 Vivian Avenue, that I’d written about three years ago. I couldn’t put my finger on why I failed to remember it, as the prominent leaded window with stained glass accents is such a standout it’s hard to forget. Then there’s the unique domed living room ceiling with a diamond center — equally memorable — and it was on the Hollywood Heights Home Tour in 2007.

What was the subtle, yet major change that had been made to make this home completely different?

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plano arts district

An artist’s rendering of the soon-to-be-renovated Saigling House, which will be the new permanent home of ArtCentre Plano. This will be part of the new Plano arts district in the historic downtown area. Photo: Suzy Sloan Jones

Downtown Plano has gone from sleepy suburb center to bustling business and cultural area over the past decade. Now the city is looking to create an official arts district in its historic 80-acre downtown.

The downtown area has already seen over 50,000 square feet of private development, including more than 1,100 urban apartments built or approved, and the restoration of historic commercial and civic buildings. Multiple art galleries, shopping spots, and restaurants draw people of all ages to the area. An official arts district will is the next step to encourage business and job development, create a tourist and resident destination, and foster local cultural development.

“It’s the right move, especially with all the growth in Plano,” said Suzy Sloan Jones, executive director of the ArtCentre of Plano. “With Toyota, Liberty Mutual, and FedEx headquarters moving to this community, those people will be looking for things to do with the arts.”

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boulder front

Southlake is such a fabulous town, with great schools, incredible shopping, and beautiful neighborhoods. I just love this area, which is perfect for families with school-aged kids. But what if your nest is empty and you’re not expecting a boomerang kid? Downsizing has probably crossed your mind.

That’s what Merlene Ingraham and her husband are doing. They’re selling their barely-lived-in Southlake home and heading closer to Dallas, like many Baby Boomers, so they can be close to the arts.

Boulder staircases

This house is just magnificent, with four bedrooms, four full bathrooms and one half bath, more than 5,800 square feet and the most amazing finish-out you can imagine. Really, I am in awe of 517 Boulder Drive, which is marketed by Dave Perry-Miller agent Christine McKenny for $865,000. Plus, it’s hardly been lived in at all. This home has so much visual impact, from the pristine, white exterior to the twin staircases in the foyer, your eyes will just pop.

Boulder Kitchen

My favorite part of this home, which will surprise absolutely no one, is this bright and beautiful kitchen with cottage-style white cabinets and stainless steel appliances. There’s an ample island, too, for preparing feasts for all occasions or perhaps just being a gathering space for girlfriends as you gab over glasses of Pinot. It’s open to the living area, too, which has high ceilings and huge windows.

Boulder pool:backyard

The master bath is amazing, too, with a soaking tub and luxurious tile, but the place I can see myself relaxing is the backyard. I just love the garden, which has a great English feel with short, wandering hedges. The pool is just beautiful, too. But it’s pretty large for just two people, right? I’m sure Merlene and her husband will find a gorgeous condo near the Dallas Arts District that will give them everything they need.

Nasher roofGreg Greene, one of the developers of Museum Tower, has told Candace Carlisle at the Dallas Business Journal that “ownership wants to financially step up to fix the tower’s glare inside the galleries at the Nasher Sculpture Center.” But then he added, agreeing on a solution could take more time. And it looks as though that solution is the $5 million we told you last week that MT has offered to completely change out the Nasher’s roof. And also, note that Greene used the term “air space”:

“It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances, but those oculi are pointed right at our air space,” Greg Greene, a development partner at Dallas-based Turtle Creek Holdings Inc. told the Dallas Business Journal Tuesday during an exclusive tour of the property. “They were here first, but they don’t have the right to take someone’s air space,” Greene told me (Candace Carlisle). “Why isn’t theDallas Museum of Art complaining or anyone else complaining? Because they have a solid roof and they don’t have oculi pointed at our air space. That’s the problem and that’s what needs to be fixed.”

Recall Museum Tower officials presented a solution to foot the bill to reconfigure the oculi on the Nasher roof to point away from the new high-rise, which would essentially return the lighting in the Nasher to pre-Museum Tower conditions.Nasher rooftop

I caught up with Dallas agent Scott Deakins, who has sold a lot of Arts District condos, for his take on Museum Tower’s generous proposal, a proposal Greene told the DBJ would reduce profitability of the project somewhat.

CD: So Scott, you’ve been out of town, and you come back in and hear the news about Museum Tower’s offer to re-do essentially the Nasher’s roof. Were you surprised?

SD: It’s good to be back.  Paris says hi, btw!  No, I’m not surprised, this situation gets dumb and dumber. All you can do is roll your eyes.  Last year they asked the Nasher to grow taller trees ( to offset the glare) and now they want to replace the roof, which in itself is a significant architectural detail.  Give me a break.

CD: I’m particularly interested in your views since you have sold so many homes in the Arts District, and you live there (right?) This doesn’t seem reasonable to you? Why not?

SD: Yes, I live in the Arts District and no, it is not reasonable for a variety of reasons; why punish the victim in all of this?  The Nasher didn’t ask for this.

Also, this is not just hurting the museum part of the Nasher-what about the loss of the landscape in the sculpture garden?  What about the loss of the James Turrell Skyspace installation (see below).  This problem also affects Klyde Warren Park, drivers on Woodall Freeway. I have calls all the time from clients at One Arts complaining about the glare from the building from the morning (eastern) sun.  This is a 360 degree problem.

CD: You told me that a recent article in the New York Times by Wil Hylton almost mourned for Skyspace – and that everyone who wants to understand the function of light should read this: “One of my favorite Turrell pieces is the Skyspace “Tending (Blue),” which is inside a small stone building behind the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. To reach the piece, you pass through a Renzo Piano-designed building filled with northern light, then you cross the clean, clear lines of a landscape by Peter Walker. By the time you enter the Skyspace, the city of Dallas is long forgotten. I once lost the better part of a day inside, staring up as clouds lofted and flattened against the ceiling. But last year, a mirrored skyscraper went up nearby, reflecting glare into the building, killing plants in the garden and looming into view of the Skyspace. The museum had to close it.

SD: Yes! I wanted your followers, real estate developers and consumers, to see the New York Times piece because of the significant loss of the much loved James Turrell Skyspace thanks to the intrusion of Museum Tower.  The loss is permanent! Also, what are readers of the Times all over the world going to take away from this article about Dallas – that selling condos is more important than our culture and love of the arts? My point is MT is hurting ALL aspects of the Nasher, not just the building.

CD: But the building is there, and it was approved by the City, and those homes need to be sold.

SD: You’re right, the condos do need to be sold for the good of the Arts District and the city.  It has been my experience that people choose to live in the Arts District because of their love of surroundings.  Right now Museum Tower does not love its surroundings.  Five sales in three years is hardly something to beat your chest about.  Museum Tower is a fine building and there is a huge market for the condos, from  local as well as international buyers.  Sales are not going to increase until MT does something pro-actively about this. The problem has always been the skin of the building.

When Graham Greene sold the land to the original MT developers it was with the understanding that any structure built on the site would have height restrictions and would not use reflective glass.  Graham is an architect and as such thinks about things like light and the surroundings.  I can’t imagine the powers that be at MT didn’t know this was going to be a problem

CD: So what is a solution ?

SD: The solutions are expensive for sure.  But as it stands this 200+ million dollar building is completed and sitting mostly empty.  For a moment Museum Tower need to not think about commerce and commissions but instead think about what is good for the city it occupies. It is something that we try and teach our children at a very young age-do the right thing! Throwing in the golden rule wouldn’t hurt either.

Nasher roofGreg Greene, one of the developers of Museum Tower, has told Candace Carlisle at the Dallas Business Journal that “ownership wants to financially step up to fix the tower’s glare inside the galleries at the Nasher Sculpture Center.” But then he added, agreeing on a solution could take more time. And it looks as though that solution is the $5 million we told you last week that MT has offered to completely change out the Nasher’s roof. And also, note that Greene used the term “air space”:

“It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances, but those oculi are pointed right at our air space,” Greg Greene, a development partner at Dallas-based Turtle Creek Holdings Inc. told the Dallas Business Journal Tuesday during an exclusive tour of the property. “They were here first, but they don’t have the right to take someone’s air space,” Greene told me (Candace Carlisle). “Why isn’t theDallas Museum of Art complaining or anyone else complaining? Because they have a solid roof and they don’t have oculi pointed at our air space. That’s the problem and that’s what needs to be fixed.”

Recall Museum Tower officials presented a solution to foot the bill to reconfigure the oculi on the Nasher roof to point away from the new high-rise, which would essentially return the lighting in the Nasher to pre-Museum Tower conditions.Nasher rooftop

I caught up with Dallas agent Scott Deakins, who has sold a lot of Arts District condos, for his take on Museum Tower’s generous proposal, a proposal Greene told the DBJ would reduce profitability of the project somewhat.

CD: So Scott, you’ve been out of town, and you come back in and hear the news about Museum Tower’s offer to re-do essentially the Nasher’s roof. Were you surprised?

SD: It’s good to be back.  Paris says hi, btw!  No, I’m not surprised, this situation gets dumb and dumber. All you can do is roll your eyes.  Last year they asked the Nasher to grow taller trees ( to offset the glare) and now they want to replace the roof, which in itself is a significant architectural detail.  Give me a break.

CD: I’m particularly interested in your views since you have sold so many homes in the Arts District, and you live there (right?) This doesn’t seem reasonable to you? Why not?

SD: Yes, I live in the Arts District and no, it is not reasonable for a variety of reasons; why punish the victim in all of this?  The Nasher didn’t ask for this.

Also, this is not just hurting the museum part of the Nasher-what about the loss of the landscape in the sculpture garden?  What about the loss of the James Turrell Skyspace installation (see below).  This problem also affects Klyde Warren Park, drivers on Woodall Freeway. I have calls all the time from clients at One Arts complaining about the glare from the building from the morning (eastern) sun.  This is a 360 degree problem.

CD: You told me that a recent article in the New York Times by Wil Hylton almost mourned for Skyspace – and that everyone who wants to understand the function of light should read this: “One of my favorite Turrell pieces is the Skyspace “Tending (Blue),” which is inside a small stone building behind the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. To reach the piece, you pass through a Renzo Piano-designed building filled with northern light, then you cross the clean, clear lines of a landscape by Peter Walker. By the time you enter the Skyspace, the city of Dallas is long forgotten. I once lost the better part of a day inside, staring up as clouds lofted and flattened against the ceiling. But last year, a mirrored skyscraper went up nearby, reflecting glare into the building, killing plants in the garden and looming into view of the Skyspace. The museum had to close it.

SD: Yes! I wanted your followers, real estate developers and consumers, to see the New York Times piece because of the significant loss of the much loved James Turrell Skyspace thanks to the intrusion of Museum Tower.  The loss is permanent! Also, what are readers of the Times all over the world going to take away from this article about Dallas – that selling condos is more important than our culture and love of the arts? My point is MT is hurting ALL aspects of the Nasher, not just the building.

CD: But the building is there, and it was approved by the City, and those homes need to be sold.

SD: You’re right, the condos do need to be sold for the good of the Arts District and the city.  It has been my experience that people choose to live in the Arts District because of their love of surroundings.  Right now Museum Tower does not love its surroundings.  Five sales in three years is hardly something to beat your chest about.  Museum Tower is a fine building and there is a huge market for the condos, from  local as well as international buyers.  Sales are not going to increase until MT does something pro-actively about this. The problem has always been the skin of the building.

When Graham Greene sold the land to the original MT developers it was with the understanding that any structure built on the site would have height restrictions and would not use reflective glass.  Graham is an architect and as such thinks about things like light and the surroundings.  I can’t imagine the powers that be at MT didn’t know this was going to be a problem

CD: So what is a solution ?

SD: The solutions are expensive for sure.  But as it stands this 200+ million dollar building is completed and sitting mostly empty.  For a moment Museum Tower need to not think about commerce and commissions but instead think about what is good for the city it occupies. It is something that we try and teach our children at a very young age-do the right thing! Throwing in the golden rule wouldn’t hurt either.

Museum Tower’s ears must be burning, no pun intended. Last week a subtle article in the Dallas Morning News revealed that the Dallas Police & Fire Pension System has been investing in real estate assets for oh, about 30 years. Among those: Museum Tower, the Beat Lofts near Southside on Lamar, south of downtown Dallas, and even a bridge loan for the expansion of NorthPark Center. The Beat versus Museum Tower, now that’s diversification! DP&FPS bought The Beat Lofts from developer Jack Mathews, who also brought us the Convention Center Hotel. Remind me to check on sales over there. This weekend the Dallas Morning News ran a screaming editorial that calls the Tower “a rude surprise from a building developer that should have known better.” Next thing you know, we’ll see the ordeal on an episode of Dallas! 

Meantime, is anyone worried as I am that no matter whose fight it is, or whose fault it is, we still need to sell these units or risk bringing down the whole District? It’s in everybody’s best interest to settle this and maybe even show the world how civilized people resolve differences. I reached out to my Arts District Sales guru, Scott Deakins, for the on-the-street low-down:

CD: Scott — you know real estate in the Arts District better than almost anyone in this town, you’ve sold the lion’s share down there. Let’s talk straight about this deal with Museum Tower. There is so much, honestly, B.S. out there, a leak here that turns out not to be a leak. What gives?

SD:  Well, the Police and Fire guys are learning the high end high rise market the hard way.

CD: It’s not unusual for funds like this to invest in real estate, is it, especially when the stock market is so sucky?

SD: The Police and Fire Pension Fund has over 3 billion dollars invested in all kinds of venues, many of which are commercial and residential developments. None of which are as high profile as Museum Tower.

Everyone expects it to end up in court but I’ve known Tom Luce (the mediator) for thirty years. I’ve also known John Shugrue for several years. These guys always do (or try to) the right thing.

CD: What do you think they need to do?

SD: Museum Tower needs to QUICKLY turn this PR disaster around and swallow their medicine. Its not too late to fix the problem and until they resurface the tower, sales just won’t happen.

CD: Why?

SD: For a residential development to be successful, pre sales are vital, for a variety of reasons. First, early buyers usually scoop up the prime units. These buyers aren’t particularly concerned in percentage of units sold. They are wildly successful business people used to taking risks (These guys aren’t big fish-they are whales!) They are also used to creating their own living environment. They are used to having their own designers create a custom home, which usually means combining units. In a high rise, that becomes more and more difficult as construction on the project proceeds. Your not just building at that point, your tearing down. That’s why MT needs to hurry up and resolve this.

CD: Who do you see as the Museum Tower buyer? I mean, if they are the big whale hunter risk-takers, why would this stop them?

SD: In my experience, every building has a certain demographic: The Ritz has an international brand that appeals to to a wealthy, conservative buyer — say The Mansion on Turtle Creek but 30 years later. The W, quite frankly, was geared to a single 35 year old guy driving a Ferrari. Arts District buyers want to be there because they are emotionally invested in the culture. Most are either going to live in the Arts District or stay put. Any development that puts the district in harms way will not attract these buyers. Also, a building in litigation will be a huge red flag to buyers.

If, however,  tomorrow the powers that be at Museum Tower announce they are going to voluntarily fix the problem, they are suddenly the good neighbors they need to be.

CD: At what cost?

SD: It may cost several million dollars to fix but it will put the two hundred million dollar development back on track.

CD: The negativity rabbits say there is no market for high end, high rise condos in Dallas. I know values at the W continue to plummet, and there’s the House -SIGH, but we are talking the Arts District. And I am seeing more studies indicating people are moving in to the core, they want urban like never before. One Arts is practically sold out, right?

SD: Yes. There is a strong market for very high end condos in the Arts District, but until they do the right thing and fix the problem, its the elephant in the middle of the (Pritzker award- winning) room!

CD: I’ve heard that they’ll move the Nasher — have you heard this?

SD: Anyone who thinks the Nasher should or will bear the responsibility of this fix is not living in the real world. In five years this will be forgotten, but they need to act immediately!

 

According to Hexter-Fair Title Company, total sales for the region are already surpassing 2011 numbers.

I love Dallas, y’all.

We’ve got a lot of things going for us. Take our beautiful Arts District, our growing Southern sector, and our rebounding downtown, for example. And according to Standard & Poors/Case-Schiller Home Price Indices, Dallas is maintaining its ground when it comes to residential real estate.

In the S&P/C-S report released today, nationwide, home prices are dipping by 3.5 percent over the past year ending in February. In Dallas, though, prices were flat.

Normally, when people say that something was flat, it’s more like, “Meh, things are flat. Whatever.” But y’all, I’m sure Atlanta would LOVE for their home prices to be flat. If you bought a house there in the past year, it is worth 17 percent less today than a year ago. SEVENTEEN PERCENT LESS! Crazy.

And while S&P says Dallas’ market is flat, well, Hexter-Fair Title Company is a bit more optimistic. In a presentation to Allie Beth Allman agents last week, numbers culled from NTREIS reports show that total residential sales for 2012 are already surpassing 2011 sales through February. Some agents are even saying that sales are actually up 5 percent if you follow MLS numbers.

Really, though, it’s evidence of what many agents have been telling us for weeks: It’s a seller’s market, and there’s a lot of new buyers looking for quality homes. And boy, do we have the inventory!

So far, 2012 is off to a good start, and as long as the world doesn’t end, it looks to be a great year for Dallas Dirt! Do you agree?