Kyle Crews and the Allie Beth Urban Team with Allie Beth Allman right in the middle

Dear Diary,

Today I drove a Rolls Royce. Not only was it OMG big (like 20 feet long), but it rode so very unexpectedly smooth (I expected smooth, but it’s shockingly smooth). The new Phantom VIII was on display, and quite at home, at the Stoneleigh Residences in concert with the Allie Beth Urban team who’re taking over shell space sales. And you know me, I love to redesign a shell.

After my recent journeys through Southern Dallas, the city’s Market Value Analysis for affordable housing, and Housing First programs for the homeless, firing up the Phantom’s 563 horsepower, V-12 engine provided for some serious mental whiplash (the Phantom is far too polite to have caused physical whiplash).

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Here’s something you don’t see every day.  A Goldilocks trio of quite different units in the same stack at the Stoneleigh.  You’ll recall, the Stoneleigh began life as a DIY building of unfinished shells. Some buyers gravitated to the complete freedom of designing their own interior without the added strife of actually designing a full home from the foundation to the roof.  Turns out that a lot of folks just aren’t interested in doing that, so the Stoneleigh announced last year that they would be finishing out some of the remaining shells to give move-in buyers something to buy.

Now, if you’re not skint of a $3.6 million budget to buy Rick Carlisle’s unit, move along, nothing for you to see here. If you’re a couple of mil short, read on …

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Ritz residences receptionDon Carter sure got 2014 off to a great start by buying the last available penthouse space at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, Tower I. That would be unit 1802.

After selling his stately Georgian mansion at 4000 University in the Park Cities last July, 2013, I was told he was building out a huge unit at The Stoneleigh.

His home at 4000 University had a huge lap pool and putting green! There are six living areas, a bar room, wine cellar, two story formal foyer with split staircase, and full theater. In fact, Don unloaded a lot of his Dallas real estate portfolio last year: the man who basically birthed and nurtured the Dallas Mavericks into the sixth most valuable basketball team in the U.S. sold off his to-die-for North West Tower W condo of many levels in early October. The W was a giant custom unit, just shy of 4,000 square feet with two bedrooms, three full baths and one half as powder room on the 27th floor.

Well, on January 31 of this year, Carter snapped up the last unfinished shell space available in Tower 1. The possibilities are endless: the vast space ( 4258 square feet) could become a four bedroom mansion in the sky, with a bath for every bedroom and then some, a media room, separate den and of course all those 5-star hotel amenities including concierge, valet, room service, full service spa, fitness center, pet park, and the greatest people right at your fingertips.

Also, looking in DCAD, I see Mr. Carter is now down to owning just two residential properties here in Dallas, a unit at the W and this Ritz penthouse.

Wonder what happened at The Stoneleigh, why Carters didn’t buy there? I have heard they plan ten designer units for show at The Stoneleigh Residences, with top name designers decking out each of the models. Heard Sherry Hayslip will be one, heard designer Emily Summers (mother of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s agent Caroline Summers) will NOT. Except for the model units, the Stoneleigh will be left as a shell for buyers to create their own world, kind of just like what Mr. Carter is doing now in 1802 North Pearl Street. Other high profile Ritz I owners include Dr. Jeff Adelglass, Kevin Twomey, Denny Alberts, Tim Headington, Ron Haddock, William Solomon, Ronald Disney, and Charles and Moll Anderson who bought Tim Headington’s penthouse on the 21st floor.

Ebby-Halliday-Mehrdad-Moayedi-Mickey-Munir

Ebby Halliday, Mehrdad Moayedi, and builder extraordinaire Mickey Munir

Smart Steve Brown. That clever guy went and focused on the new Stoneleigh Residences while we were all going ga ga over Museum Tower. And what a great interview with the man I christened Saint Stoneleigh, Merhdad Moayedi, because he saved the Stoneleigh, bought it out of bankruptcy from those Prescott/Apollo peeps in 2009 as I told you when I wrote DallasDirt.  If you haven’t read Steve’s tome, get to it as soon as possible.

(There is more news coming down the pike about the Stoneleigh, too.)

Steve also does a nice backgrounder on Mehrdad, who Ted Wilson calls the biggest lot developer in North Texas or, er, TEXAS –Good Lord the man says he will develop 3000 lots this year:

“Mehrdad is the biggest lot developer in D-FW and probably in Texas,” said Ted Wilson, principal with Dallas-based housing analysts Residential Strategies.

Mehrdad, age 51, is an Iranian immigrant who went to school in Bedford and stayed in the U.S after the Iranian revolution of 1979. He got his start as a developer working with Fort Worth home builder Herman J. Smith. When Smith died in the early 90’s, Moayedi teamed up with Ross Calhoun, another former Smith exec, and the two formed Centurion American. The company is headquartered on I-35 in Lewisville.

Moayedi also has a custom homebuilding firm, Crescent Estates, that is a subsidiary of Centurion. Crescent has built homes all over Preston Hollow, including the Moayedi’s..

His family is delightful — and his wife told me she finds some of his best real estate deals. The Moayedis live in The Creeks of Preston Hollow.

Brown’s piece also puts some perspective into the Dallas condo market, which is picking up pace: Condo sales were up 17 percent last year in North Texas, he says, meaning all over the place NOT just Uptown, and even better: median condo sales prices rose 12 percent from 2011 in the MLS.

I think Mehrdad timed this perfectly. He has that touch, hallmark of a great developer: he knows when to time the market. Last spring we were treated to a preview party held at the Dorothy Draper designed penthouse at the Stoneleigh hotel, which has just been acquired by Le Meridien Hotels and will be managed by Starwood. Teresa Gubbins over on Culturemap broke the news January 9:

The Stoneleigh Hotel changed hands yet again over the weekend, and it will become a Le Méridien on January 31, to be owned by private equity hotelier HEI and managed by Starwood. According to Starwood’s website, the hotel will be called “Le Méridien Dallas, The Stoneleigh.”

Steve did not say in his story whether the Stoneleigh condos will continue their relationship with the hotel, but we will find out shortly. Carlton Varney of Dorothy Draper & Associates designed the 7,200 square foot penthouse which was once the biggest in Dallas.

cn_image.size.carleton_varneyI recall the opening of the Stoneleigh Hotel, back in 2008 when Jeff Trigger personally met guests at the door, martinis flowed in the sales center, wine and champagne flowed at the bar. Food par excellente. The rooms were lovely — a near-flawless re-do. The bathrooms are spacious and the bedrooms have walk-in closets with Baronessa Cali bath products. Jud Pankey told me Prescott/Apollo was looking forward to completion of the Heritage at the Stoneleigh, the high-rise next door as it was called, connected by underground tunnel.

Sigh.

The project went into bankruptcy in 2009 with only about 12 floors of the condo structure finished.  There was even worse news to come: a  construction worker was killed when a hook snapped off a crane at a construction project behind the Stoneleigh in June, 2008.

Steve says Moayedi paid $4.55 million to buy the development out of Chapter 11, then took out a $25.3 million construction loan to finish the project. Which at that time, think 2009 folks, was effing amazing. I imagine he had some very, very good collateral.

Mehrdad also told Steve that Centurion Development’s investment in the project is much lower than the original developers — he has a loan to value ratio of about 25%, which keeps him from jumping through hoops, as he said. He also says he’s pre-sold six units, with another six buyers circling.

Mehrdad House

Moayedi Residence Creeks of Preston Hollow

As for the condos, like he told me back in the spring, he plans to finish a few as models and then let people buy shells and finish out their own units, using Shariff-Munir or Crescent. Note: Museum Tower even has a few shell floors like this. It’s smart — many times buyers in this price range are picky and totally want to customize their own units as far as layout and design. It is also less risky for the developer — less skin in the game, but may take longer to sell, says Dallas housing analyst Mike Puls, who thinks Mehrdad is smart to focus on large units. The original Stoneleigh Heritage was more than the 75 units in 22 stories now planned — I am recalling 95? The units will be pricey: one million per shell.

Good question for my next meeting with Mickey Munir: how much to finish out one of those puppies? Could these be pricier than Museum Tower?

 

 

 

I had to laugh when Steve Brown wrote about the Stoneleigh last week right before Christmas. “More than three years after work stopped on the project,” he said, “the owners of the partly built Stoneleigh condominium tower in Uptown are planning to restart construction soon.”

Really? See this photo? I took it last September. When construction was supposed to start.

Well, maybe I was premature. Mehrdad Moayedi, or Saint Stoneleigh as I call him, bought the unfinished project out of bankruptcy in early 2010 for $4.55 million. Recall how he beat Jonas Woods’, formerly of Victory development eons ago — who bid $4 million for the bankrupt Stoneleigh Heritage Residences. Moayedi’s Centurion American (CTMGT) offered/paid $4.55 million for the shell.  He hopes to begin construction in January, or so he told Steve, who says, and I agree, that this will erase the only Dallas condo eyesore leftover from those financially gloomy days.

In case I need to remind you, which I probably do not, construction on the original Stoneleigh project on Wolf Street near Maple Avenue began in 2007 as a 22-story, brand spankin’ new high-rise companion to the historic Stoneleigh Hotel next door.

In November 2008, the gloomiest month of the Greatest Recession Since the Great Depression, construction halted when financing froze. The project under Prescott/Appollo went into bankruptcy in May 2009.

Moayedi, the head of Carrollton-based property developer and investor Centurion American Development Group, paid $4.55 million for the project. Centurion is also developing an amazing townhome development on Normandy in Highland Park I will tell you about sometime, The Courtyards at Normandy.

About 10 stories of the high rise structure were completed, none of the exterior.

When I interviewed Moayedi about a year ago, he told me the units would be a lot bigger. He said 80 units, now says a maximum of 75 units. That’s fewer than the original 118 residences planned.

When I asked if he would be hiring an interior designer to market the residences and the marketing center and bring a unifying flow to the building, he looked at me like I was nuts. No, he said, everyone gets to finish out their own unit exactly the way they want. You go to New York City and find a great brownstone or condo, there is not one decorator doing it all one way. Everyone decorates it their way, he said.

I think his drift was this: we are not going to waste money on BS.

He also told me he had wanted to get in on the condo biz: four years ago, Centurion bought land at Akard and McKinney, did some studies, found it too risky, sold the land to another developer. He also almost developed in California — almost! One time his company bought land for a development in San Francisco, a state notorious for giving developers Redwood-tree sized hurdles when it comes to entitlements. Centurion somehow got the entitlements done in one year — in CA!! — and ended up selling the property for a big profit before one nail was hammered.

Centurion’s own building company, Crescent Estates, and Shariff Munir will be the two builders finishing out the units once Gerald Hines completes the shell. Crescent has also built a homes in The Creeks of Preston Hollow

Prescott, says Mehrdad, had a great plan but got caught up in the bad timing of the economy. We had great savings, he says; we stepped in and unfortunately took advantage of someone else’s misfortune, but we will now pass that savings along to the buyers. The smallest Stoneleigh home at 2200 square feet will start at about $750,000 before the interior is finished. The largest will be an 11,000 square feet for the 22nd-floor penthouse with a private pool.

I thought this was a weird quote given the fact this sign was up last September:

“We didn’t try and get out and sell anything because it’s a failed project,” Moayedi said. “But once we get the crane up and going, we are going to have a grand reopening.”