Christmas is right around the corner, and you can certainly tell here in North Texas. The trees are decorated, holiday music is playing on the radio, and eggnog lattes are back at your favorite coffee shop. With Santa’s visit just a few short weeks away, we are highlighting our favorite Dallas-area apartments with fireplaces and chimneys for Santa to use. Don’t worry — all these chimneys are big enough for Santa to fit without feeling claustrophobic. Some even have rooftop pools and balconies for Santa’s reindeer to play in while they are waiting for the jolly old elf to finish delivering presents.

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plano arts district

An artist’s rendering of the soon-to-be-renovated Saigling House, which will be the new permanent home of ArtCentre Plano. This will be part of the new Plano arts district in the historic downtown area. Photo: Suzy Sloan Jones

Downtown Plano has gone from sleepy suburb center to bustling business and cultural area over the past decade. Now the city is looking to create an official arts district in its historic 80-acre downtown.

The downtown area has already seen over 50,000 square feet of private development, including more than 1,100 urban apartments built or approved, and the restoration of historic commercial and civic buildings. Multiple art galleries, shopping spots, and restaurants draw people of all ages to the area. An official arts district will is the next step to encourage business and job development, create a tourist and resident destination, and foster local cultural development.

“It’s the right move, especially with all the growth in Plano,” said Suzy Sloan Jones, executive director of the ArtCentre of Plano. “With Toyota, Liberty Mutual, and FedEx headquarters moving to this community, those people will be looking for things to do with the arts.”

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Plaza Retail Looking East Along State Street

Less than a decade ago, “transit-oriented development” was a buzzword you couldn’t escape. It was heralded by DART Rail boosters as a way to make mass transit and greater urban density more palatable and accessible. Since then we haven’t seen much in the way of successful transit-oriented development, as even Mockingbird Station — the project that was touted as a model for such building concepts — has had ups and downs.

But with more people moving to Dallas, and many of them coming from areas where mass transit is a way of life, not just a talking point, transit-oriented development is resurfacing, too.

In fact, a completely new development slated for a 186-acre tract adjacent to the Bush Turnpike DART Rail station and straddling Plano Road. Developer KDC has dubbed the project “CityLine” as it sits between both Richardson and Plano.

State Farm has already signed on to lease 1.5 million square feet inside its three office towers, which will total 2.3 million square feet in the project’s initial phase. There will be 92,000 square feet of retail as well as 3,925 multi-family housing units.

According to Walkable DFW’s Patrick Kennedy, the success of this development is as yet unclear, especially considering that this project “has changed hands several times already,” he said via Twitter. The big winner, according to him, will be downtown Plano.

You can read the buzzword-laden press release in full below. Do you think that this project is the kind of “new urbanism” that will make suburbs more sustainable?

KDC ANNOUNCES PROJECT NAME AND PLANS FOR INITIAL PHASE OF 186- ACRE TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT IN RICHARDSON, TEXAS 

Newly named “CityLine” development to feature hotel, retail, multi-family, fitness,

medical and office space 

RICHARDSON, Texas – (October 24, 2013)  – Developer KDC today announced plans for the initial phase of its transit-oriented development located on 186 acres in Richardson, Texas.  The company also announced the name of the development: CityLine. 

“The name CityLine was a natural choice as the development is on the border of two great cities: Richardson and Plano,” said KDC’s Walt Mountford.  “It’s adjacent to DART’s existing light rail station and is also surrounded by key highways and two major thoroughfares.  CityLine will be an instant city with a true urban environment.”

The $600 million, 2.3 million-square-foot initial phase of CityLine is slated for completion in early 2015.  It includes KDC’s property west of Plano Road and adjacent to the DART light rail station.  Project specifics include dense urban restaurant, retail and entertainment space; a contemporary 150-room select service hotel; 520 new urbanism multi-family residential units; an 18,000-square-foot wellness and fitness facility; a 41,000-square-foot medical office building; and a 3.5-acre park with trails, all woven within the recently announced 1.5 million square feet of office towers leased by State Farm. 

“CityLine has been a team sport, and KDC has been fortunate to work with great designers and development partners to create an outstanding place for the community,” said Steve Van Amburgh, KDC’s CEO.  “I can’t think of another development that, upon opening, will completely integrate over 1.5 million square feet of office with retail, restaurant, entertainment, multi-family, medical, fitness, and hospitality uses into an exciting experience for all who live in DFW.”

The focal point of the initial phase will be CityLine Plaza, a centrally located urban plaza designed by Office of James Burnett (OJB), the landscape architect of Dallas’ signature Klyde Warren Park.  Framing CityLine Plaza, fronting Plano Road, and located along State Street will be more than 92,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space.  KDC has selected Dallas-based Retail Street Advisors to start pre-leasing and marketing.

“KDC and its design team have created a truly compelling urban environment that will attract a dynamic mix of dining and entertainment options,” said Aaron Stephenson of Retail Street Advisors.  “State Street and CityLine Plaza are oriented and scaled specifically for pedestrians to encourage sidewalk and patio activity and to promote community interaction and gathering throughout the day.”

Buildings that incorporate several uses are central to the CityLine master plan. Restaurant, retail and entertainment spaces are integrated into the base of the office towers, the multi-family residential, and the hotel, allowing CityLine Plaza and both sides of State Street to be surrounded by activity.  The master plan also focuses on creating a walkable, pedestrian-friendly environment, while providing easy access for vehicles and ample parking in the 7,700 spaces within CityLine parking garages.

In July, KDC broke ground on the project and announced State Farm will lease 1.5 million square feet in three office towers. The Class A office buildings consist of a 13-story tower, 15-story tower and 21-story tower.  Each tower is situated on a five-level parking structure along with ground floor retail space.

KDC acquired the land for the Richardson master-planned project in December 2012.  The project, adjacent to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s (DART) Bush Turnpike Station on its Red Line, will be a transit-oriented development on the east and west sides of Plano Road. The east side includes the 147.5 acres of land on the north side of Renner Road, between Plano Road and Wyndham Lane.  The west side includes 38.5 acres of land south of President George Bush Turnpike between Plano Road and the DART light rail tracks.  

At full build-out, the $1.5 billion CityLine project will contain approximately six million square feet of office space, two hotels, 3,925 multi-family residential units, 300,000 square feet of grocery, restaurant, entertainment and retail space, and three parks.

Corgan is the State Farm office architect and Omniplan is the CityLine retail architect and master planner.  Kimley-Horn is the civil engineer and OJB is the landscape architect.

Lexington park

I always dreamed of moving into downtown Dallas, but there just doesn’t seem to be much in the way of family-friendly properties with the amenities I want in the price point our family can appreciate. Still, I love the idea of urban living, being close to shops and restaurants, and having quick access to mass transit.

Normally you won’t find things like this if you have an address in the suburbs, so color me surprised when we stumbled across the townhomes of Lexington Park at Rice Field.

Priced in the $200,000 range, these townhomes have excellent finish-out and tons of great features. There are five different floorplans available ranging from 2,126 to 2,351 square feet, including both 3/2/2 and 3/3/2 units.

I love the master bath in the model unit, which you can see in the very neat video above. Seriously, the Branch Team did an excellent job marketing this new development!

What do you think?