Perched in the highly buzzed about Museum Tower sits this stunning condo with breathtaking, unobstructed city views. It’s just waiting to get snapped up, the only question is, who will be the lucky new owner? If you’re looking to jazz things up and find a home in the heart of Dallas, then this newly listed pristine home in the sky was made for you. 

Views, views, everywhere you look. When you walk in and see the airy, open floor plan and floor-to-ceiling walls of glass, you’ll instantly feel a zap of Dallas Arts District glamour, and your guests will have that same electrifying reaction as well. This condo, with modern and sleek style, lets Dallas truly shine. And when it’s filled with friends and family, that same simple yet captivating design allows the people inside to be the stars as well. 

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Jon Anderson donated his kitchen to Habitat for Humanity as part of his Penthouse Plunge project.

Habitat for Humanity took my kitchen. There, I said it. And I couldn’t be happier.

Hopefully, the pristine, heavily lacquered maple cabinets manufactured by Germany’s Siematic fetch a good price at one of the organizations’ ReStore shops. In turn, those monies will be used for Habitat’s main job – giving former president Jimmy Carter something to do (kidding).

I have to say that of all the former presidents of my generation, Carter certainly gave back the most to his country and the world. Democrat or Republican, you have to admit his work with Habitat, which helps the less fortunate build their own homes, is nothing less than heroic. His public support is probably the only reason I’ve heard of them.  And Habitat for Humanity has grown. It supports 1,400 communities in the U.S. as well as more than 70 countries globally.

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I’ve never used the same general contractor twice. That says something right there. So every time I do a renovation, I have to start from scratch. The usual reason I don’t repeat contractors comes down to communication. I say things that don’t happen. They do things without asking that aren’t on the blueprints. They ignore installation instructions so an item won’t install properly (so I get the right part and do it myself over the weekend only to be met with wide-eyed stares). They try to install a shower drain a foot off the ground (literally) because they don’t have the right drain – which I source and have FedEx-ed.  They cut an active water line that floods the place and send me a Jimmy John’s sandwich as a “sorry.” And once they just ghosted for a month and I had to sue to recoup my deposit.

Those who read this column know that clarity isn’t typically one of my faults nor is suffering fools.

So given my track record, how do I find a contractor?

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The high-rise buildings that line the Turtle Creek corridor typically fall into two groups: Midcentury designs by icons of architecture, and newer buildings that sport a lot of classical details. But one of my favorite buildings on Turtle Creek falls into a group all its own. It’s the George Dahl-designed Gold Crest, which has such great lines and huge terraces and lots of great floor plans. This building has aged well, and thanks to its prime location on Turtle Creek, this particular unit will have excellent views of another starchitect-designed building: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kalita Humphreys Theater.

To live in a building designed by George Dahl with excellent views of a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright? That’s part of what makes this exceptionally stylish Gold Crest studio our High Caliber Home of the Week presented by Lisa Peters of Caliber Home Loans. The other reason we’re in love with this unit is the clean design and beautifully minimalist decor.

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Boll and McKinney

Let’s begin big. The Oak Lawn Committee saw four projects last night. The one above is a nice residential high-rise at the corner of Boll St. and McKinney Ave. We also saw a proposal for a 13-story retirement home around the corner from Al Biernat’s, as well as the more mundane signage variance in Victory Park and the reopening a drive-through that’s been on Cedar Springs for decades but whose permit expired.

Mixed-Use With Parking Underground

So you’re thinking … where’s Boll Street? It’s a couple of blocks up from Whole Foods, where Jake’s Burgers is (soon to be “was”). There are many aspects of the building that I like and all of them are below the fourth floor (handy picture, eh?).

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If you’re looking for a Dallas high-rise home so you can get as far off the ground as possible, be prepared to shell out big bucks or live in close quarters. 

In parts one and two, I outlined how Dallas has relatively few high-rise listings, and because of a lack of new high-rise construction, Dallas isn’t going to have a lot more buildings anytime soon. In this final installment, I break the 133 active units and 11 units under contract and analyze them by what floors they’re on. 

The distribution under the 20th floor is fairly even between 21 and 29 units in each category. For those interested in units above the 20th floor, inventory drops off because a lot of high-rises are under that height overall. Once you’re into the 30s, you’re pretty much at Museum Tower, which might be out of your price range.

But even more than height, the most important buyer criteria revolves around the unit size and overall cost (mortgage, HOA dues, insurance, and taxes). A studio on the 20th floor doesn’t help someone looking for a two-bedroom unit.

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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.

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Dallas hasn’t been a great high-rise condo town when compared to other cities. It seems like Dallas builds a lot of high-rises that come online the day before there’s a huge recession. Many old-timers connect high-rises with recessions as financially troubled properties hit the skids when storm clouds circle. Their touchpoint is the 1980s S&L scandal-driven recession that hit Texas unmercifully hard.

And while it’s true that high-rises took a bigger hit even in the latest recession, the difference was single-digit. And when the economy came back to life, so did high-rises – often with a vengeance. One Turtle Creek high-rise is trading at triple its recession low.  Even had I not renovated my lowly Athena condo, it would have still risen by 75 percent in the six years I owned it.

This is all to say that condos are pretty much as resilient as single-family. Which is good considering Dallas, like the rest of the planet, is becoming more urban. In 2015, the US Census reported that on average, 62.7 percent of US residents lived in cities with Texas reporting 65 to 75 percent urbanization. The Census further reports that 39 percent of Texans live in its top 20 cities – in a state with 41 cities over 100,000 residents. The United Nations’ World Urbanization Prospects say 82 percent of US residents live in urban areas. While there is a 20-point disparity here, likely driven by definitions of “urban,” it’s still a lot.

We all know Texas, and specifically Dallas, is growing rapidly – Texas is one of nine states that account for half of the US population. We also know that a lot of our new arrivals come from markets that are more high-rise markets – e.g. California and New York – and their money goes further in Texas.

What do high-rise buyers have to buy?  Not a lot…

If you total up all the high-rise condos (buildings above 12 stories) for sale at this minute in downtown, Uptown, Victory Park and Turtle Creek, there are 133 by my count.  There are an additional 11 under contract. For reference, The Warrington at 3831 Turtle Creek has 132 units in total. That’s right, the sum total of high-rise buyers’ options would all fit inside one building.

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