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.

(more…)

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).

(more…)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

1550 N State

Chicago’s 1550 N. State Parkway; $12,000 and a time machine.

I recently returned from a trip to Chicago where I walked around burning off calories and looking at the high-rises of my childhood dreams. Chicago had a golden age of residential high- and mid-rise construction from the 1880s to the crash of 1929. Some were co-ops but most were apartments billed as mansions in the air. Units were enormous— 5,000-plus square feet was not unusual, many were multi-floor, and most had tremendous views of Lake Michigan. Their exteriors are an array of styles from Tudor to Beaux Arts to Deco.

Unfortunately, the interiors are generally not conducive to today’s living. Servants’ quarters, miniscule bathrooms and closets, and kitchens at opposite ends from the living area do not fit today’s lifestyles or open-plan living – and reconfiguring is difficult. My fantasy building is at 1550 N. State Parkway built in 1911. Each of its 11 8,000-square-foot floors was a single apartment. The living area is 100 linear feet with fireplaces at each end. It’s the Nebraska Furniture Mart of apartments and had a rent in the 1920s of $12,000 a year – four times the salary of the average citizen.

But enough Chicago trivia, let’s move forward a century to Dallas of the 1980s, the era of round edges and inappropriate use of mirrors.   Inexplicably, of the nine residential high-rises built during the decade, the only building name that didn’t begin with “The” was Park Plaza. You may be thinking I’m forgetting Latour, but “La tour” is French for “The Tower.” Ha!

I have no idea why residential high-rise construction was on hiatus for almost a decade and a half – I didn’t live here then, so it’s not my fault!  But come back it did, and when it did, it seemed a touch cautionary. Of the nine, three had under 50 units and only four had more than 100 units – just one with over 150.

Also noticeably missing from this era are the centralized utilities found in Dallas’ older high-rises. Billing was now based solely on individual unit usage with system maintenance also transferred from building to unit owner. HOA dues per square foot can be lower in these buildings, but not seemingly enough to make up for the utility shift.

Fear not, acres of popcorn ceilings remain!

(more…)

View Main

One of the main drivers for purchasing in a high-rise is the view. A buyer walks in “Oooo-ing and cooo-ing” as they’re transfixed by panoramic views. Other minor problems sometimes fall away, subsumed by the cliché “million-dollar” view.

Buyers must remember that while they’re sold on the view, their purchase actually stopped at the glass. The view, like that tiny free bottle of water from the sales office, doesn’t last forever. Even back in 535 BCE, Heraclitus knew, “No man ever steps in the same river twice.”

Dallas’ building boom is only speeding up the process of high-rises springing up to block (and themselves only borrow) those million-dollar views. If a permanent view is important to you, careful evaluation and broken rose-colored glasses are required.

(more…)