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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When choosing high-rise real estate, what level provides your preferred views? Some people don’t want to get too high, opting for a tree-top skimming view that offers some privacy and shorter elevator rides. Others like that mid-building feel, that gives you a great feel for the horizon and keeps vertigo at bay. Others want a lofty perch from which to look down on their domain. 

Me? I’m a middle-of-the-building gal, which is why I find this gorgeous unit inside The House so appealing. It’s our High Caliber Home of the Week presented by Lisa Peters of Caliber Home Loans.

This listing, unit 1704 inside The House by Starck, is marketed by the queen of Dallas high-rise real estate, Nancy Martinez. Martinez just found her new brokerage home at David Griffin & Company Realtors after Virginia Cook Realtors folded last week.

 “It has been a seamless transition so far to David Griffin,” Martinez shared. “David and colleagues have been incredibly welcoming and supportive. The company protocols are familiar because of  David Griffin & Company’s affiliation with Virginia Cook for so many years.  It has made changing brokerages a lot less painful.” 

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The Centrum hit the auction skids during the Recession

That’s right, thank them.  Buy them some chocolates and champagne … maybe a spa day. Why?

Because without the over-rotation on apartments that’s happening during this building cycle, your condo would be worth less.  Now, this doesn’t hold in the over-saturated, million-dollar end — in fact that part of the market has so much product, the Limited Edition was cancelled from a lack of interest and the Stoneleigh and Museum Tower are still far from full.  But in the price points most of us play in? Definitely.

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View From Park Plaza Penthouse

Welcome to Part Seven of CandysDirt.com’s Dallas High-Rise Buyer’s Guide.  We’ve covered a lot of turf so far. Thirty-Three high-rises in fact. We began with two columns discussing the merits of buildings that include utilities in their HOA dues (here, here). We moved on to the house porn of Dallas’ most expensive high-rises (here, here) before continuing again to what passes for a high-rise mid-market (here, here).  These final two columns will focus on the gateway drugs of high-rise living … those most affordable for those with less stratospheric budgets.  It’s worth noting that many of the high-rises that include utilities in their HOA dues also fall within this more budget-friendly category. If you’re in this group (with me), it may be worth a peek back at those columns as you shop around.

The most glaring thing about this grouping is that fact that Dallas hasn’t built a new non-millionaire high-rise since 2002’s Travis at Knox and 2007’s Beat Lofts.  It’s equally been a decade since The Metropolitan was converted to mid-budget condos (covered in next week’s final installment).

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect new developments.

When Andrew Foster bought his 15th floor penthouse at 511 N. Akard, he began the 7 month process of completely gutting the former commercial space. The building, which is the one of the few affordable apartment buildings in downtown Dallas,  includes permanent supportive housing for the formerly homeless. It was built in 1958 to house the headquarters of the Relief and Annuity Board of the Baptist General Convention, but today it has been transformed into something much more vibrant and useful.

“I love the space and I love downtown,” Foster said. “Downtown is a really exciting place to be right now.”

Though much of the original lobby remains — as does the brick, marble, and metal exterior — 511 N. Akard now has an entirely different purpose as CityWalk@Akard. Purchased and transformed by Larry James’ CitySquare, the building has become an experiment: Can a residential high-rise bring self-sufficiency and pride to the formerly homeless and still work as a mixed-income development?

Foster says yes, it can work, and it does.

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Turtle Creek v2

Where there’s smoke, there’s gonna be fire.  As Candy recently wrote, 2505 Turtle Creek is finally set to become the Limited Edition, the über-luxury high-rise by first-time (in Dallas) high-risers from Toronto Great Gulf.

But with 10-acres of smoldering land ready to ignite, the Limited Edition may be just the beginning for this tail-end of Turtle Creek.

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