1122 Jackson a

Downtown urban living is affordable and flexible at 1122 Jackson St. Apt. 609 in the Soco Urban Loft Condos. You can own a piece of the Dallas skyline here without feeling cramped. Your wallet won’t either: it’s priced under $200K.

This is a one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit with 954 square feet. The owners have built in a Murphy bed in the living area, making the smart choice to have this light-filled room as the main recreation and sleeping area. When it’s up, the room looks and functions like a stylish living space. When it’s down, the room becomes a large bedroom. In the hallway, there’s a loft bed above the walk-in closet, accessible by ladder. Lots of sleeping options.

Prices in Soco generally range from $175 to $220 per square foot, and this one is priced at $209.

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The House ExteriorI spent some time recently at The House, the newest of the sleek contemporary high rises in Victory Park. Every time I leave I am more impressed than ever with the 28-story high rise and the values it offers for downtown living. The House is one of the best values in town if you are looking for a high rise, and probably the only place where you could get some serious square footage with views for under a half million dollars. I think the location is better than the W, and the common/public spaces are nice, too. The House is your best bang for the buck in the Uptown Victory Park area.

But it won’t be for long: buyers are figuring this out, and the sky homes are selling. Of 133 units, 97 have sold and closed and 6 are pending. Which means that more than 75% of the House units have sold. (more…)

The exterior of the Kirby Building on main. This converted Gothic building has fantastic apartments with great views.

The Kirby Building on Main is a converted Gothic historic property full of apartments with great views. Photo: Kirby Residences on Main

Ashley D. Stanley has positioned herself to be the go-to expert locator for downtown Dallas apartment rentals. She’s a real estate broker and owner of Ashley’s Apartments, an apartment locator service specializing in downtown and nearby areas.

Stanley lives, works, and plays in downtown, and considers herself one of its biggest fans.

“I live at 1900 Elm historical lofts next to Main Street Garden and have an office space out of the Pacific Place building next door, where my commute is through the skywalk, but with the birth of my son this past year I moved everything to my home office,” she said. “I moved my office from Park Cities in July 2013 right after I found out I was pregnant. I knew the downtown market was on the rise.”

Stanley was right: apartments in downtown can hardly get built fast enough to satisfy demand.

“The market is hot, hot, super hot,” she said. “New buildings are popping up and units are being pre-leased, meaning you might go to a showroom, see a spread of photos for their unique finish out, cabinetry, kitchen appliances, flooring, etc. and you are offered a great move in rate with maybe a few free weeks if you sign within 24 to 48 hours.”

But with high demand comes higher rents, and many people feel challenged by the task of finding affordable lease in downtown. So we sat down with Stanley and got her recommendations for the top five least expensive studio apartment rentals in downtown Dallas. Jump to read about these five fantastic places and her tips for snagging a lease!

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Photo courtesy Patrick McDonnell/Downtown Dallas Inc.

Photo courtesy Patrick McDonnell/Downtown Dallas Inc.

If the last year is any indication, 2015 is shaping up to be another banner year for real estate development in Downtown Dallas.

This is according to downtown advocates, urban planners, and real estate and development experts, who gathered Friday to talk about city living in downtown at a panel, sponsored by the Dallas Business Journal.

Moderated by John Crawford, President and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc., an advocacy group for Downtown Dallas, the panel shared candid insights into past successes, lessons learned, and where the area is headed in the future.

“There’s a pretty distinct spirit and energy in Downtown Dallas and we’ve reached a point of permanency, as far as what downtown has become,” said Crawford. “Residentially, we continue to be about 94 percent occupancy in all the buildings that have been converted and the new construction and depending on who you talk to, we have between 6,000 and 8,000 units under construction from 2015 to 2017. There’s an urban lifestyle that is continuing to catch on down here.”

Panelists included Theresa O’Donnell, Chief Planning Officer for the city of Dallas; Yogi Patil, an Associate at HKS Architects Inc.; Steve Shepherd of the Downtown Residents Council; and Michael Tregoning, President of Headington Company. Jump to read more!

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I want a second home in a city where I can have a love affair — a love affair with that city! Though I have no doubt there are some people who do buy second homes to indulge actual romance — a love nest pied a terre — I am talking a love affair with the actual city the home is in. The inspiration for this thinking came from an article I just read in The New Geography by Larry Beasley, retired Director of Planning for the City of Vancouver in Canada. He is now the ‚ÄúDistinguished Practice Professor of Planning‚Äù at the University of British Columbia and the founding principal of Beasley and Associates, an international planning consultancy. He chairs the ‚ÄòNational Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Realty‚Äô of Ottawa‚Äôs National Capital Commission; he is the Chief Advisor on Urban Design for our fair City of Dallas, Texas; he is on the International Economic Development Advisory Board of Rotterdam in The Netherlands; and he is the Special Advisor on City Planning to the Government of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. His point: people tend to fear cities. Cities are crowded, noisy, dirty, dysfunctional. But that is changing, he says: because of the dynamics of urban growth and competition changing so much in the last quarter century, our world has become “footloose, with people and capital moving at will: business can be done anywhere.”

Other aspects of life are more important than one’s livelihood and where people choose to settle is not tied down the way it used to be. We can do and be almost anything anywhere.

Amen, brother Beasley. One of the many reasons why I started this blog was my belief that in the future we will live much differently in our cities and in our homes, and we will have multiple homes. Despite the efforts of the current administration to re-distribute the wealth, our middle class is shrinking. The unprecedented expansion of wealth that is focused in this country on the mid-upper to upper classes will see many of the gentry owning multiple homes for pleasure as well as investment. (Just wait as the great transfer of wealth occurs as Boomers became the grannies.) Look at Aspen: 60% of the town’s homes remain empty while their owners jet set to their other homes. I know people whose marriages are sustained because they can live in their various homes — the cost of the second or third home is far cheaper than a divorce, better for the children, and has at least some appreciation potential.

The multiple home ownership phenomenon will apply to Generation X and Y as well, in lower cost housing units. Gen Y has been hot-housed and nurtured ad nausea by us, and the world truly is their oyster. We sent them abroad as soon as they could fly and enrolled them in various programs across the globe in the name of education — honestly, in the hope of snagging a prime college spot, hopefully at an Ivy institution. Whereas the Boomers had friends in multiple states, Gen Y has friends in multiple countries. They will not hesitate to purchase a small unit in Paris or Barcelona and will, in fact, prefer having two smaller homes rather than one behemoth McMansion.

But I digress from Larry’s thesis, just so thrilled when I run across someone with similar thoughts.¬† He says:

Let’s be blunt: most people hate density because most of it has been so bad; they think of mixed use as probably hitting them negatively and transit is not even in most people’s vocabulary. The ideal of most people is some sort of rural “garden of Eden” that they want to escape to from the city – even if that ends up being an illusory goal.

I sympathize. The cities we have been building since the War have very seldom offered anything very appealing at almost any density. Who can really fall in love with brutal concrete canyons or anonymous strip malls or wind-swept roads?

If cities want to offer an alternative, they must change and bring back the human touch – we have to bring placemaking to the very heart of the civic agenda. We have to stop trading away the urban qualities we care about for the urgencies of the moment of modern life.

I love this. I am trying to fall in love with urban living, but truth is, I find it a pain. When I worked downtown at D Magazine, I loved our beautiful offices. But it took me 30 minutes to walk to the office from the parking lot, which ate up an extra hour per day I could have been blogging or reading. (I know, I may have forgotten this fact of urban life. When I worked in Chicago, I commuted by train to utilize the commute time productively.) I also felt isolated from the real estate market; you cannot easily discern the “for-sale” signs on condos — you must connect with an agent individually, in each building.

On Thanksgiving, my daughter and I ran in the “Turkey Trot”, and we remarked at how different the city looks when you are on foot, not in your car figuring out all the one-way streets, dodging other cars. We noted several restaurants to try, and saw much commercial space for lease.¬† But this was happening on a day of leisure, not in the busy-ness of the deadline-laden work week.

Perhaps I am too “suburbanized”, but no. I spent a week in New York City this summer and spent nearly every day on foot and in the subway. I think we tend to do whatever is easier, faster, more convenient and productive. In New York, that’s mass transit. In Dallas, it still takes a car to be truly efficient.

If you want to have a love affair with your city, she has to be expedient, efficient, dependable and the kind of place where you can connect and feel like you are a part of what’s happening. And you’ve got to be able to get things done. We are getting way too mobile and independent. If she’s not satisfying our needs, trust me: there’s a home in another city that will.