Centrum Exterior 3

You haven’t been in The Centrum in years (or ever), right?  Well, you should, and you can.  On May 5, CandysDirt.com will be hosting a double open house “Staff Meeting” event at The Centrum we’re calling Centrum de Mayo – with Mattito’s on the ground floor, how could we not? Watch your inbox for your invitation.

History Lesson:  The Centrum certainly has a history stretching back to the days of 1980s grey melamine cabinetry.  The Centrum was developed as a mixed-use building with floors below 12 being office and those above 12 being residential.  From the exterior, the boxy part is offices, the stair-steps residential.

The Centrum started life in 1985 on the eve of Texas’ banking crisis which would push nearly every bank in the state to insolvency by the end of the decade. As Judy Pittman told me months ago, at that time you couldn’t give a condo away.  Mirroring our recent recession, units in The Centrum were pushed into service as rental units.

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Bleu Ciel 1 SM

In April 2015, just a few months after I started this gig, I noticed that Bleu Ciel’s prices had jumped. Well, it’s done happened again! Today saw a further 2 to 4.5 percent increase on top of the 15-ish percent they’d jumped since pricing was announced.

For the “teaser” units on the MLS that translates to …

Unit 1701 is a four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom whopper with 5,835 square feet. Before yesterday, it was $4.723 million; now it’s $4.951 million. A jump of $228,000. From a square foot perspective, what was $809 is now $848 per square foot, or a bump of $39.07 a square foot.

Unit 2803 is a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath unit with a sizeable 2,973 square feet. It’s jumped from $3,163,000 to $3,218,000 — a shade less than a 3 percent bump — a new $18.49 per square foot. However, by cost-per-square-foot, it’s the priciest of this group at $1,082 per square foot.

Unit 2606 is also a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home crammed into a more modest 2,231 square feet. It’s hardly worth mentioning its measly 2 percent rise from $2,064,000 to $2,099,000 — a mere $35,000. Almost tip money in this realm.

Unit 1804 is a three-bedroom, three-bath unit with a “my size” 1,903 square feet of space. What was $1,292,000 grew $59,000 to $1,351,000, or 4.5 percent.

Unit 2505 is a 1,537-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath “shoebox” that added $54,000 and is now listed at $1,252,000.

If you’re on a financial diet, there’s still unit 702. It’s a bit closer to the ground (well, 18 stories closer) than unit 2505, but the floorplan is nearly identical (just 10 square feet smaller). Literally across the floorplan “hallway” it’s a steal at $906,000 or one-third ($346,000) less. That $346,000 is all view, baby.

For all the doom and gloom some feel is skittering towards the Dallas real estate market, the Ciel is sure Bleu down on Harwood. Looks like Harwood has a winner as Dallas continues to concentrate sprawl upwards.

Remember: Do you have an HOA story to tell? A little high-rise history? Realtors, want to feature a listing in need of renovation or one that’s complete with flying colors? How about hosting a Candy’s Dirt Staff Meeting? Shoot Jon an email. Marriage proposals accepted (they’re legal)! sharewithjon@candysdirt.com

The Abandoned Vida

The Abandoned Vida

In December, I spent a month writing about Hawaii real estate. Several of the articles showcased new and planned high-rises in the Kaka’ako area of Honolulu that were almost exclusively targeting foreign investment and wealthy local buyers wanting to trade their nest for a high-rise perch. You may also recall that many of these buildings were selling out in days.

The big Kahuna in the area is Howard Hughes’ 10-plus-year development called Ward Village covering 60 acres. They are not alone. One high-rise that hadn’t broken ground is called Vida … well, “was” would be the more accurate term as of last Friday. Developers cancelled the project after “only” selling approximately 40 percent of the 262 units (priced from $1 million) despite being on sale for 18 months. In Hawaii real estate if you’re scrabbling for sales after 18 months, something’s wrong.

In Dallas, a 40 percent pre-sale before the first shovel of dirt was moved would be occasion to rejoice, but markets are different.

Vida's High-End Finishes

Vida’s High-End Finishes

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I don't know why shells scare so many buyers. Jump right in, I say!

I don’t know why shells scare so many buyers. Jump right in, I say!

Recently I was invited back to The W Residences to see a special transformation … unit number 2404 to be exact. The home was purchased by the current owner as a shell from the developer. It was the second shell purchased after the owner realized the views weren’t quite right.  And kiddos, it’s all about the views. You see, the owner wanted guests (and himself) to see the Dallas skyline perfectly framed by the windows while seated. That first unit decapitated some of the city’s best architecture, so it had to go.

The home is three-bedroom, three full and one half bathroom stretching over 3,610 square feet and listed with Wes Lewis at Coldwell Banker for $2.65 million.

As you can see, a lot has changed since its days as a shell.

Living-View Night

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museumnite

At the tip top of Museum Tower, 42 stories high in the air, is a 9,350 square foot space I was privileged to see about two years ago with a friend who was then considering a Dallas condo. The view is unlike any other in town, more special if you have lived most of your adult life in Dallas, as I have. On a clear day, it’s as if you can see forever — downtown Dallas and Love Field, of course, but also the SMU campus and places frequented over the years with family and friends, even Fort Worth! I recall thinking, at the moment I was up there — a very different time in my life — living here would be like living with a 360 degree road map of my life in Dallas surrounding me every single day.  From the hour I arrived in Dallas for the very first time via Love Field to find my first place to live, to the top-heavy car trip from Chicago through downtown en route to our apartment, to having two babies at Presbyterian Hospital. Then raising those babies, educating and watching them become adults and parents of their own. Celebrating the extreme joys and tragedies that are, I have come to understand, a steep price-tag of life.  It was like living with Vladmir Gorsky’s famous Tapestry of the Centuries, only customized to the eyes and life of the viewer.

I realized that this could well be the most valuable dirt in Dallas, not just the highest. The value was in all the dirt you could see, as far as the eye could take you.

Now Museum Tower has announced its vision and yes, the pricing, for this unique Penthouse opportunity.

Museum Tower Penthouse 2

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Museum Tower Patio “Porn”

Things are called “porn” because they’re largely unattainable, much like the lovelies featured in the original genre. House porn shows abodes to drool over that few can afford — whether it’s my fantasy 8,000 square foot Chicago penthouse or your Highland Park spread. At some point you give up on the unattainable and marry your gap-toothed sweetheart because … well … that’s reality (and, you know, the love and all).

My question to Dallas developers is, “Where are the lovable high-rises the middle-class can afford?”

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Pretty soon there will be a much larger one of these in the Harwood District, only it's going to cost you more to get inside.

Pretty soon there will be a much larger one of these in the Harwood District, only it’s going to cost you more to get inside.

This morning’s Ebby Alert contained a surprise. Prices at the Bleu Ciel (the next rich, rich, rich highrise in Dallas) are rising right along with construction. So if you’ve been fiddling and diddling about putting a deposit down, it’s gonna cost ya!

Originally the 158 units had starting prices of $700,000 for the smallest 1,373-square-foot units (or $509-per-square-foot). Today that ’07 unit (707 to be exact) on floors 7-27 lists for $805,000 (or $586-per-square-foot). This represents a 15 percent increase … for a property still under construction. No moss growing here!

Other (much, much) larger units have also taken a hike upmarket:

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The Shelton

Wow! I stumbled into Carolina Rendon’s hip pocket and neither of us felt a thing – but I saw something wonderful that stirred my renovator’s heart. But I get ahead of myself…

In 1983, The Shelton popped up in Preston Center located on Luther Lane just south of Northwest Highway and east of the Tollway. It began life as a condominium but has had an interesting life since.

It was sold to Japanese investor Takeharu Miyama in the early 1990s who leased the units. In 2005, nearly 15 years later, the building was marketed to developers. The building sold in 2006 for approximately $35 million to Dallas-based Dunhill Partners who planned to return the Shelton to condominiums and committed $12 million for the renovation of units and public areas – estimated at about $65,000 per unit. In the process of renovation, the original 129 units shrunk to 115 as some units were combined and supersized.

(After the sale, Takeharu made the prescient move to buy 1909 Woodall Rodgers months before Klyde Warren Park was approved. The park transformed freeway frontage into park-side prominence.)

We all recall how real estate turned dollars into dimes in the late 2000s as global economies crashed and residential mortgage availability evaporated. While Dallas was no Miami or Phoenix, the real estate market still faltered as banks threw another log on the fire in overtightening mortgage qualifications. An ebullient 2005 turned grim by 2007 when the newly renovated Shelton units hit the market. As citywide inventory stacked up, the unsold Shelton units were again pressed into service as rentals.

Now, just over two years as Dallas real estate turned from indolent to incandescent, Shelton units are coming off lease and selling at a fairly brisk clip. This isn’t unique to the Shelton. Nearly all established high-rises have had a lot fewer listings and fewer days on market.

And it’s here that we get a peek into Carolina’s pockets.

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