fort worthWe talk a lot about the downtown Dallas skyline and the amazing views you can get from high-rise life there, but in today’s look at available rentals, we’re trekking over to downtown Fort Worth, and the Neil P.

We’ve talked about the Neil P. before — our Eric Prokesh took a look at the building’s history when he wrote about a ninth-floor unit that was for sale. The historic building had it’s beginning as the Neil P. Anderson Cotton Exchange, designed and constructed by the leading Fort Worth architectural firm Sanguinet and Staats in 1921. (more…)

Sundance Plaza is a magical setting for sure

Sundance Plaza in Downtown Fort Worth is just one area that comprises Sundance Square (photos with permission from Sundance Square)

What do you know about Sundance Square?

Beyond the obvious answers of, “It’s located in Downtown Fort Worth,” and “I see it a lot on TV when ESPN comes to the Metroplex'” what else do you know?

Did you know that Sundance Square comprises 35 city blocks in the downtown area?  That there are over 4,000,000 square feet of retail, residential, and office space combined.  That in November 2017, over 760,000 people visited the area?  Did you know that the Dallas Morning News called it “the No. 1 place in Dallas to get engaged!” (Do you think they know it’s not in Dallas?)

If you haven’t visited this magical locale lately, you are missing out.

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205 Pecan Street Town Homes – live, work and play (photos: Shoot2Sell)

You always hear the phrase “live, work, and play…” but what does that really mean when it comes to residential real estate?  For many it means a place where they can walk from their home or apartment to their place of business as well as walk to shops, restaurants, bars and other forms of entertainment.  Most often this scenario takes place in a downtown location or a place of urban renewal.

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Could you get used to this view?

But what about a place where you can actually live, work and play?  Wouldn’t that be cool?  I seem to recall that in the Broadway production of Sweeny Todd that he had a residence above his sinister barber shop … but I digress.

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Omni FW Penthouse TerraceWe’ve always adored the Omni Residences at 1301 Throckmorton in downtown Fort Worth, and now that Facebook is considering a large data center in North Fort Worth, perhaps the company’s executives should consider a modest crash pad inside one of the most luxurious high-rise buildings the town can call its own.

Lucky for them, they can put a bid on this beautiful penthouse unit offered by Williams Trew Realtor Maggie Moore. It boasts stunning views and top-of-the line finishes throughout. Jump to see more!

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205 Pecan front

There’s a special place in my heart for 1990s contemporary architecture. Fun lines and colors, interesting shapes, it’s all really whimsical like this townhome at 205 Pecan Street near downtown Fort Worth’s Sundance Square. You might think that, inside, you’ll see a lot of black laquer furniture and Mondrian look-alike paintings, sleek stainless steel and exposed concrete and brick.

Boy are you in for a trip!

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2600 W 7th ST #2738 Montgomery Plaza building

That’s right, Fort Worth isn’t all huge houses, hilly neighborhoods, and epic estates. There are some great high rise and loft homes, too, and this unit inside the Montgomery Plaza building is a perfect example. Neon-topped and a visual beacon not unlike Dallas’ own South Side building, this cool conversion was once an industrial property. Now it’s full of sexy, luxurious lofts just like Unit No. 2738.

Jump to see inside!

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Fort Worth Sundance SquareMeet Russ Sikes. The Plano resident –yes, Plano! — is a founding member of the North Texas chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism, or CNU, which advocates principles of good “place-making” as a key to improving our quality of life. Good “place-making” makes for a better environment. Actually, over drinks Russ told me he and his wife used to live off Greenville Avenue in Dallas. He moved to Plano like so many do, for reasonable housing and decent schools.

Which is why I really like Russ: he’s real. Never mind the fact that a couple hours with the Harvard-MBA, who is VP at Regal Research and Manufacturing Co. in Plano, flashed me back to the richness of social discourse in Harvard Yard. Russ was refreshingly not one of those “new urbanists” who wants us all to dump our cars in a landfill and scrunch into the city, live on top of 1500 others like cockroaches in two rooms. “New Urbanist” sometimes has made me think of the post-war scene in Dr. Zhivago, when Yuri returns to Moscow.  Through Russ and Andres Duany I am learning the the Congress for the New Urbanism wants to make our lives more WORKABLE, not necessarily all WALKABLE. Good neighborhoods require planning to create complete, compact, efficient and connected spaces, a variety of housing types, and integrate other building uses. The traditional town pattern was created by humans centuries before the automobile; cars, God love them, have changed a lot of the natural place-making.

When I told Russ that though I love our fair city, I just don’t think downtown Dallas is very walkable (especially in heels!), but downtown Fort Worth IS, he explained why. Herewith is Russ Sikes’ first great guest post:

A Tale of Two Cities

One vast metropolitan region anchored by two downtowns is certain to provoke constant comparison between them.

How often have you heard, “Downtown Fort Worth is improving, but I ADORE downtown Dallas!”  Never? Me neither.

Considering how thoroughly subjective aesthetic preferences are, this is interesting in itself, for it suggests an underlying consensus in our preferences concerning “place”.

What those shared preferences are, and why they exist, is central to understanding how we can make all of our urban places more appealing.

Several principles underpin this consistent response.Fort Worth bike trail

 SpatialDefinition

We humans are hard-wired to feel most comfortable in places with identifiable centers and edges.  Throughout all of human history prior to the recent rise of mechanized transport, centers have offered safety and security, while edges presented danger and uncertainty.   Be it a neighborhood, town center, complete village, or simply a distinct district, our inclination is to seek orientation by locating the centermost spot in any environment, and to look outward for its boundaries.  Identifiable centers and edges create psychological comfort.  The compact size, palpable center and tight contours of downtown Fort Worth create a tighter identity of place than Dallas’ diffused, distended collection of downtown places.

Visibility, Access and Egressdowntown fort worth at sunset, texas

Humans are also above all visual creatures.  We are most comfortable where we can actually see our surroundings, and routes of approach and escape.  (Who wants to venture down dark, enclosed alleys?)

Downtown Dallas is comprised of many buildings that are much taller than those of its smaller neighbor.  For all their virtues of impressive scale, skyscrapers tend to block light, or, in some rare cases, reflect it. They darken the streets below, as they form wind canyons that make Dallas colder and draftier than it would be with shorter buildings.  Cold and drafty versus warm and light explains the difference in feel, and one is clearly more appealing than the other.

This dimensional contrast extends horizontally as well.  Downtown Dallas tends to have very long blocks, especially along its east-west axis.  Its “superblocks” emphasize the canyon-like quality of the street.  In contrast, the short blocks and frequent intersections of downtown Fort Worth create a visual porosity that bathes the city in light, enabling people to see multiple pathways nearby.

 HumanScale and OrientationFort Worth court house

Openable windows suggest human activity and control.  Brick streets slow cars, calming traffic, and embrace us with warm color.  Frequent Intersections activate the street by providing corners, visibility, porosity, options, actively embracing pedestrians and thwarting the speed of vehicles.  In short, places scaled to our own physical size and approach are much more appealing than those that clearly aren’t.

The material composition of human places matters too.  Bricks, stone and other materials of natural color are warm and accommodating to humans.  Cool tinted glass, over-sized blocks of concrete or gray rock, and unnatural colors are less inviting.

Dallas has grander scale, bigger projects, a longer list of attractions.  But viewing the two downtowns through these lenses explains the uniformity of people’s emotional responses to each.  And it all adds up to a cohesive, welcoming, human Place in Fort Worth, versus a distended, diffused collection of adjacent spaces, colder in comfort, color and accommodation in Dallas.

Fort Worth Sundance SquareMeet Russ Sikes. The Plano resident –yes, Plano! — is a founding member of the North Texas chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism, or CNU, which advocates principles of good “place-making” as a key to improving our quality of life. Good “place-making” makes for a better environment. Actually, over drinks Russ told me he and his wife used to live off Greenville Avenue in Dallas. He moved to Plano like so many do, for reasonable housing and decent schools.

Which is why I really like Russ: he’s real. Never mind the fact that a couple hours with the Harvard-MBA, who is VP at Regal Research and Manufacturing Co. in Plano, flashed me back to the richness of social discourse in Harvard Yard. Russ was refreshingly not one of those “new urbanists” who wants us all to dump our cars in a landfill and scrunch into the city, live on top of 1500 others like cockroaches in two rooms. “New Urbanist” sometimes has made me think of the post-war scene in Dr. Zhivago, when Yuri returns to Moscow.  Through Russ and Andres Duany I am learning the the Congress for the New Urbanism wants to make our lives more WORKABLE, not necessarily all WALKABLE. Good neighborhoods require planning to create complete, compact, efficient and connected spaces, a variety of housing types, and integrate other building uses. The traditional town pattern was created by humans centuries before the automobile; cars, God love them, have changed a lot of the natural place-making.

When I told Russ that though I love our fair city, I just don’t think downtown Dallas is very walkable (especially in heels!), but downtown Fort Worth IS, he explained why. Herewith is Russ Sikes’ first great guest post:

A Tale of Two Cities

One vast metropolitan region anchored by two downtowns is certain to provoke constant comparison between them.

How often have you heard, “Downtown Fort Worth is improving, but I ADORE downtown Dallas!”  Never? Me neither.

Considering how thoroughly subjective aesthetic preferences are, this is interesting in itself, for it suggests an underlying consensus in our preferences concerning “place”.

What those shared preferences are, and why they exist, is central to understanding how we can make all of our urban places more appealing.

Several principles underpin this consistent response.Fort Worth bike trail

 SpatialDefinition

We humans are hard-wired to feel most comfortable in places with identifiable centers and edges.  Throughout all of human history prior to the recent rise of mechanized transport, centers have offered safety and security, while edges presented danger and uncertainty.   Be it a neighborhood, town center, complete village, or simply a distinct district, our inclination is to seek orientation by locating the centermost spot in any environment, and to look outward for its boundaries.  Identifiable centers and edges create psychological comfort.  The compact size, palpable center and tight contours of downtown Fort Worth create a tighter identity of place than Dallas’ diffused, distended collection of downtown places.

Visibility, Access and Egressdowntown fort worth at sunset, texas

Humans are also above all visual creatures.  We are most comfortable where we can actually see our surroundings, and routes of approach and escape.  (Who wants to venture down dark, enclosed alleys?)

Downtown Dallas is comprised of many buildings that are much taller than those of its smaller neighbor.  For all their virtues of impressive scale, skyscrapers tend to block light, or, in some rare cases, reflect it. They darken the streets below, as they form wind canyons that make Dallas colder and draftier than it would be with shorter buildings.  Cold and drafty versus warm and light explains the difference in feel, and one is clearly more appealing than the other.

This dimensional contrast extends horizontally as well.  Downtown Dallas tends to have very long blocks, especially along its east-west axis.  Its “superblocks” emphasize the canyon-like quality of the street.  In contrast, the short blocks and frequent intersections of downtown Fort Worth create a visual porosity that bathes the city in light, enabling people to see multiple pathways nearby.

 HumanScale and OrientationFort Worth court house

Openable windows suggest human activity and control.  Brick streets slow cars, calming traffic, and embrace us with warm color.  Frequent Intersections activate the street by providing corners, visibility, porosity, options, actively embracing pedestrians and thwarting the speed of vehicles.  In short, places scaled to our own physical size and approach are much more appealing than those that clearly aren’t.

The material composition of human places matters too.  Bricks, stone and other materials of natural color are warm and accommodating to humans.  Cool tinted glass, over-sized blocks of concrete or gray rock, and unnatural colors are less inviting.

Dallas has grander scale, bigger projects, a longer list of attractions.  But viewing the two downtowns through these lenses explains the uniformity of people’s emotional responses to each.  And it all adds up to a cohesive, welcoming, human Place in Fort Worth, versus a distended, diffused collection of adjacent spaces, colder in comfort, color and accommodation in Dallas.