Kyle Rovinsky with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate has listed 11322 E. Ricks Circle for $4,567,890 – soon to be $3,750,000.

Looking for a contemporary estate in Preston Hollow? This one’s pretty, and it’s about to get even more attractive. There’s a price drop in the air, and listing agent Kyle Rovinsky is dangling it like a carrot. The Coldwell Banker agent originally listed Dallas Council Member Lee Kleinman’s home for $4,567,890 but just alerted us to a price reduction worth over $800,000 for the two-acre creek-side perch on coveted Ricks Circle in Preston Hollow.

“One-acre properties in the area are currently trading for around $1.5 million. This home affords a prime two-acre lot,” Rovinsky said. “So you are paying $3 million for the dirt and $750,000 for the commercial construction,” he explains.


Great article in Thursday’s Dallas Morning News by Michael Granberry about an ensuing battle between Museum Tower and the Nasher Sculpture Center that we can only hope won’t lead to the l-word: lawsuit. Of course, the story is behind the paywall, and I highly recommend you read it. If not, here’s a synopsis:

Sometimes it’s tough to get along with your neighbors, especially if they encroach on your property. With homes, it can be noise or the neighbor’s dog who defecates in your yard without clean up, or something else obnoxious that disrupts your quality and peace of life.

Well, the Nasher Sculpture Center says it’s the newly installed glass at Museum Tower that’s frying up their gardens and art. The glass is sleek and curved and reflects the sun just so efficiently — too efficiently — that the Nasher folks claim the building’s oval shape actually “directs the glare from its exterior into the Nasher galleries.”

 Further, they contend that the effects of the tower’s glass appear to violate a city code and contradict a 1998 covenant covering the tower site that was drafted before the death of museum founder Raymond Nasher in 2007. (The covenant expired in 2008.) “It all comes down to a very basic principle,” said Jeremy Strick, director of the Nasher Sculpture Center. “You don’t do harm to your neighbors. And if you find yourself doing harm, you fix it. You stop and you fix it. In this case, Museum Tower is causing harm to the Nasher and to the Arts District as a whole.”

Oh boy, we have five months to go before August and already the fun has begun. Museum Tower has firmly said they will be good neighbors. Crisis PR expert Merrie Spaeth who apparently represents the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System, is on the job and wasted no time reassuring:

“We are completely committed to studying this issue and offering expert-based resolutions. This is a complex issue and we are confident that we are close to identifying a mutually beneficial solution. We have come to the table to partner with the Nasher and will continue to do so.”

So what’s the deal? It’s not as if the Nasher and half the country has NOT known about Museum Tower going up for what, four years now, and that is made entirely of glass? This is not a surprise structure that just showed up. The issue, according to Granberry’s fine reporting, first cropped up in September when the glass was installed. “Weird reflections “started to occur. At first, just a few, but then they became more pronounced.”  Nasher director Jeremy Strick says  “measurements taken in the garden in January found pools of light caused by Museum Tower to be 10 degrees hotter than surrounding areas. Measurements taken in March, he said, recorded the same pools as 25 degrees hotter.” August might fry the thermometer.

Such sharp increases “can damage or kill the plants,” Strick said. “We are looking at the potential effect of our garden being destroyed.” Dr. Robert E. Moon, the Nasher’s horticulturist, agreed in a report dated March 14.

On the other hand, I am seeing a way to perhaps create some cheap energy here… hmm.

Granberry reports that when Italian architect Renzo Piano designed the Nasher,  he was operating under a 1998 covenant, which limited the height of the tower and reduced the glare. Originally, MT was supposed to be 21 stories tall but was stretched to 42 stories, the highest high rise in Dallas. The news touched MT’s original architect, Renzo Piano, who said he was “deeply disturbed by the damage being caused” to the Nasher.

“No building in an urban environment exists in a vacuum,” says Piano, adding the Museum Tower has “given us an example of how things can go wrong when the context of the city is ignored.”

Nasher officials complained to the city of Dallas,  and Mary Suhm is concerned. Very concerned about this pickle:

“They’ve spoken to us. They told us about the pickle they’re in. It’s something I’m concerned about. I’ve been assured by both sides they’re going to work it out. It’s not something we have jurisdiction over.”

Jeremy Strick says it all started in 2008, months after Nasher’s death. MT’s four developers brought in a new architect,  Scott Johnson. Strick says the new team unilaterally increased the “degree of allowable reflectivity to 35%”, which was not discussed with MT’s neighbor, and which Strict only learned about through a public filing.

The good news is they are communicating: four meetings since September, but Strick says thus far “solutions they recommend so far are changes to our building.”

That’s probably because MT  commissioned their own engineering study which says the solution lies with Nasher. Nasher’s study, meantime,  suggested a mesh fabric or louvers or something that would “span all 42 stories of Museum Tower and nullify the glare.”


The 15-page report by the owners of Museum Tower concedes the reflectivity of the glass, but says there’s really nothing you can do about it.  Correction: THEY can do about it.

 “No matter what the normal reflectivity is,” their report reads, “glass becomes very reflective at high angles of incidence. Changing the glazing will not help for these circumstances.”













photo from John Sughrue’s Blackberry

Realtors are beginning to take hard hat tours of Museum Tower, so they can get a head start on selling the newest, most uber luxurious, and yes, most expensive condominiums to grace our city. And yes, they are selling. The developers tell me about 20% are spoken for, even in this tough economy. There are rumors of foreigners coming to Dallas and buying entire floors. The developers won’t confirm that but tell me yes, foreigners are seriously looking. 60% of the current buyers use Dallas as their primary home, 40% are out of state residents with portfolios of homes. Latest contract: a man in the oil business with a home in Aspen and several other homes who will be in Dallas about three days per week. Museum Tower, scheduled for completion mid 2012, will be his new Dallas home.

As you know, Museum Tower is a 42-story, glass enclosed vertical tower with a $200 million price tag smack in the honeypot of the Dallas Arts District. Designed by Los Angeles architect Scott  Johnson, it will be, in the words of it’s developers, a true international residential offering to spike Dallas into it’s most haute vertical living to date. And now, with completion of the 42nd floor, any agent wanting a preview must be brave enough to sail up to the rafters of what is now the tallest residential condominium in Dallas.

Last week, principles and the entire 1500 construction crew celebrated the topping off with a celebratory and even hoisted a Christmas tree upwards.

We started our tour down in the sales office at 2112 Flora Street; I came prepared with surgical booties. Glad I had them. As neat as the site is — and Austin Industries is pretty OCD — it’s a construction site.

We walked in the project’s main entrance, on what will be the driveway to the parking garage. Beautiful. There will be 3 levels of parking, minimum of two parking spaces per unit, both self and valet parking. We got a glimpse of the Cordoba limestone that should be on the facade by the end of this week.

Into the glass-enclosed lobby: there are two elevator banks, and with four units per floor, each unit will have it’s own private elevator entrance. John Sughrue, who along with Lyle Burgin, was on the tour, told us there is direct access to every home in the building.

Museum Tower now has fewer units than originally planned back in 2008: of the original 128 units, there are now 113 because buyers are combining units to create even bigger condos. By the time it is completed, there could only 100: some buyers are swallowing up 2/3rds of entire floors for one single home. After  2008, in fact, the developers eliminated a lot of the smaller units. Unit sizes will range from the smallest at 1,600 square feet to a whopping 9,000. That is right, no shoe-boxy 800 square foot units here. The cost remains about $800 per square foot up to the 23rd floor, then even pricier. (Figure a 3000 square foot home will set you back $2.5.) Each unit will have it’s own HVAC unit tied to the central condensor tower. Custom Miele appliances are in all units, Kalista fixtures, custom cabinetry. No corners, says Sughrue, have been cut; in fact, the word “mediocre” will never be associated with this project.

“If you find even the smallest corner cut, a skimp, tell me, ” says Sughrue.

Raymond Nasher, whose Nasher Sculture Center is MT’s neighbor to the west, would have been proud. He once told Sughrue he damn well didn’t want anything mediocre on the site. Under plastic drop cloths and construction dust, I tried to find a few examples of exquisite detailing to impress MT buyers. I found one: beautifully mitered marble around the white porcelain (yes, porcelain, not plastic) master bathtubs is cut on a curve on the two long sides of the tub — a hard cut to make. Kitchen cabinetry: laminated, adjustable shelves and Eurpoean finishes. What I believe is white Carrera marble, everywhere.

And up on the 42nd floor: the most magnificent residential views in Dallas, of Dallas. You won’t need much art on the walls up here, the cityscape is your total wall decor. I can only imagine the magic at night.

The emphasis, the developers told us, is on delivering true luxury as Dallas understands it. Museum Tower is luxury with the Dallas brand, but a new, art brand reflective of its neighborhood. Examples: huge closets. Luxurious bathrooms. (Heated floors?)  Sughrue pointed out how there are no HVAC vents for heat and air in the ceiling, but are rather recessed invisibly near the multiple-paned windows (with discreet automatic shades inside the glass). This way, not only is the ceiling kept visually clean of “wall acne” but the room temperatures are accurately constant as the temperate air flows to the outer walls, first.

Life outside of the spacious units will be equally pampering: there is a fitness center and spa, a movement studio overlooking a Zen garden for Tai Chi, Pilates and Yoga, guest suites for visitors available at a reasonable fee to owners, a ground floor gallery where owners can host events and entertain outside of their units, as well as a ground floor Owners Lounge for coffee or cocktails, plus a Terrace Lounge overlooking the lawn. Lawn? Isn’t this downtown Dallas? Here’s more signature Dallas luxury: don’t lock me in. Museum Tower will have more lawn than any other residential tower in the city, plenty of space for a boccee ball court, cooking and dining area, outdoor fireplace and firepit, a dog park and also special facilities for Fido’s personal pet groomers. There is an 82 foot long swimming pool with private cabanas.

I’m sure I’ve missed yet more wonderful amenities. Oh yes. Museum Tower has hired the darling and capable Ashley Tatum, formerly of (among other things) Gerald Peters Gallery, as an on site art and general excellent living Curator, Coordinator. Needless to say there will also be 24 hour Concierge, doormen, parking valets, and countless others at your fingertips or behind the scenes keeping the Museum Tower world flawless, seamless, perfect life Dallas, for every owner.