Redeveloping a Village Square
DDC Journal | November 19, 2015
In 2012, the Village of Arlington Heights Board of Trustees approved the Arlington Downs mixed-use development, a $250 million project that includes a 161-room hotel, 214 luxury rental apartments, an expanded water park and two new residential rental towers with a total of 443 luxury apartments.
In addition, the development includes retail and entertainment space. Public officials hope the expansion will provide a boost to surrounding businesses and attendance at local events, as well as better serve the village’s needs.
“It was a case study in reinventing distressed properties,” says Charles Witherington-Perkins, Director of Planning and Community Development for the Village of Arlington Heights. “It was the site of the former Sheraton CoCo Key Water Resort and hotel development that was shuttered at the depth of the recent recession. The hotel closed in late December 2009, and this was a key site for the municipality. We embarked on a strategy to find investor groups and developers to bring it back on the marketplace and make it an economically viable property again, contributing to the community.”
A NEW APPROACH
The location of the property makes the development particularly important to the village. Mixed-use development is what the site is best suited for, but public officials wanted to take a fresh approach.
“It’s important because it’s a large piece of property in a very visible location immediately West of Arlington Park Racetrack,”‘ Witherington-Perkins says. “The site was previously significant from an economic engine perspective, generating not just significant property taxes, but also hotel, motel and sales tax revenue for the community. This is a major gateway into the community, so the last thing we wanted to see was a sheltered hotel for any length of time. We wanted to see the site redeveloped. It has a lot of potential.”
The Village of Arlington Heights was intentional as it designed the redevelopment. The board and village officials wanted to provide residents with something new and exciting, yet useful and welcoming for visitors to the area.
“One of the things that we are most excited about is the holistic approach of the development.” Witherington-Perkins says. “It’s a mixed-use development about a quarter-mile away from the Arlington Park Train Station, so it does have the ability for some public transportation for those who want to commute into (Chicago) or some of our western neighbors.”
According to Witherington-Perkins, the mixed-use development provides something for nearly everyone to enjoy.
“It’s not just a residential development, it’s not just a typical retail development and it’s not just a typical hotel development,” he says. “It has been put together in a sort-of theme, with both residential and retail centered around a common gathering place, almost like your old-fashioned village green. There’s the ability for people together and enjoy the setting. It’s certainly a unique approach to redevelopment in the suburbs.”
SUCCESS IN PARTNERSHIPS
Faced with a struggling economy and a failing property, the village has overcome some formidable obstacles throughout the redevelopment effort. The municipal government needed to find people who were committed to a long-term solution.
“The first challenge was finding an investor group interested in acquiring the property and developing a plan that met the goals and desires of the community. That was particularly challenging during the recession,” Witherington-Perkins says. ‘”Initially, when the former hotel closed, we identified about 30 different investor groups that were buying up distressed property, and we developed a marketing flier, reached out to them and had numerous meetings with them.”
The village was then interested in finding a developer that would create a strong long-term plan, rather than just a short-term fix. Arlington Downs Residential, a joint venture between Stoneleigh Companies and Ust Adspo JV is developing the residential component.
“A project like this cannot happen without both public and private entities working together with a common goal in mind,” Witherington-Perkins says. ‘”That is really key and has been critical in this development.”‘
Large-scale developments like Arlington Downs often require revising plans along the way, something the village has done at multiple points since approving its master plan in 2012.
“There have been some amendments to (the master plan), and actually we may continue to make changes as we go along. We anticipated that.” Witherington-Perkins says. “(Argent Group) purchased some additional property north of the site that they included, and the market has dictated a few other changes to that.”
At this time, the project is well underway and has clear direction moving forward.
“Phase I is now open and there are 214 very beautiful luxury apartments on the property,” Witherington-Perkins says. “The next phase will be the construction of a 151-room limited service hotel and a 10,000 square-foot expansion of the former water park.”
More than two dozen residential towers on the way for Dallas
The Dallas Morning News | Steve Brown | November 5, 2015
Canadian developer Great Gulf Homes’ planned Turtle Creek apartment tower isn’t trying to compete with other new rental projects in central Dallas.
With only 50 units, the 13-story building at Fairmount Street and Turtle Creek Boulevard is chasing a small niche of North Texas luxury housing market.
“This will be a boutique building aimed at professionals and executives who are interested in downsizing to a rental or who have just moved to Dallas,” said Great Gulf president Christopher Wein.
“The majority of rentals being built in Dallas are in large buildings aimed at a broad demographic.”
Great Gulf’s Oak Lawn tower is one of more than two dozen high-rise residential buildings already under construction or planned to start in the Dallas area.
More high-rise residential buildings are in the works than at any other time in North Texas.
Altogether, they will have more than 6,000 luxury housing units in products ranging from redeveloped downtown office towers to posh new Uptown condominium high-rises.
“We are adding 30 or 35 high-rise towers in the Dallas urban core,” said Greg Willett, vice president of apartment analyst MPF Research. “We’ve never seen as much construction as this.
“Over the next couple of years as we start bringing in this product to market, I think it could be a little bit more challenging” to rent them all, Willett said.
Dallas and Houston now have more apartment towers in the pipeline than any other U.S. cities, he said.
“This is new for us,” Willett said. “What really makes it stand out is we had a small base of these types of buildings to start with.”
So far, developers haven’t had any trouble finding enough affluent renters to fill these luxe Big D towers — even at rents starting around $2,500 a month for the smallest units.
Dallas attorney Meredith Elkins recently settled into the new Gables McKinney apartments on McKinney Avenue in Uptown.
The almost-finished development, which has seven floors of apartments perched on top of a Whole Foods Market grocery store and a parking garage, is her first experience living in an urban rental project.
“l have an easy walk to my office at the Crescent and an even easier trip downstairs to grab groceries from the Whole Foods,” Elkins said. “I think the Uptown area has finally reached a point where there are enough amenities within walking distance to justify my move to Uptown.”
She initially had concerns about renting in the multistory building.
“I moved from a duplex where I had a backyard for the dogs,” Elkins said. “It was not what I was necessarily looking for at first, but it’s been great.
“When the building is finished, there will be a dog park on the roof,” she said. “There are a ton of new high-rises going up along McKinney.”
One tower is under construction just across the street.
The 20-story One Uptown building at McKinney and Routh Street will have 198 “ultra high-end” apartments with retail on the lower two floors. The retail space is already leased to two restaurants.
The building is scheduled to open at the end of next year. It’s being built with a curvacious exterior of concrete and glass.
“The building will be unlike all the other plain brick apartment high-rises with punched windows that are going up all over town,” said developer Rick Cavenaugh. “The level of detail, finishes and amenities will set a new bar for apartments, even by Dallas standards.”
Another high-rise is opening a couple of blocks away in early 2016.
The 23-story Jordan apartment tower on Routh Street near McKinney will have more than 200 apartments starting at about $2,500 a month.
“We’ve opened a preview center where people can look at floor plans,” said Tom Bakewell, a top officer with Jordan developer StreetLights Residential. “We’ve signed five or six leases and have people who are anxious to get into the building and see it firsthand.”
StreetLights’ building will open ahead of the biggest wave of new apartment towers on the way for Dallas.
The developer just started another rental tower in Deep Ellum called the Case Building — a 17-story high-rise with 337 apartments.
StreetLights also plans to begin work before the end of the year on a 183-unit tower on McKinney Avenue near Knox Street.
The next two buildings won’t be ready until 2017.
“The construction lead times on projects like these are longer,” Bakewell said.
The biggest concentration of apartment towers is under construction or about to start in the Victory Park project near downtown.
Three towers with more than 1,100 luxury apartments have recently broken ground.
The first to start was the 302-unit Ascent building on Houston Street across from the American Airlines Center area. The 23-story tower is being built by Greystar Real Estate Partners LLC.
“We are scheduled to deliver first units in first quarter 2017,” said Greystar’s Laird Sparks.
Three other Victory Park apartment towers are being developed by Novare Group, Genesis Real Estate and Lennar Corp.
These towers will be the largest additions to Victory Park since the original construction of the project almost a decade ago.
Pushing to Plano
The push to build residential towers in North Texas has expanded to include sites in Plano.
Builders plan to break ground next year on a 30-story, 312-apartment tower in the $2 billion Legacy West development on the Dallas North Tollway in West Plano.
The rental high-rise will be right next door to a proposed 24-story condominium tower that is already half sold.
“It’s a lifestyle choice that appeals to a lot of people,” Willett said. “As it turns out, many of the renters in these high-rises aren’t the millennials everyone talks about but older residents including baby boomers.
“The ones that are making this choice can afford it,” he said. “It’s just a question of how deep is that pool of residents.”