Crain’s Cleveland | Michelle Jarboe | July 17, 2020
Developers forge ahead on apartment plans on Cleveland’s near West Side
Developers are pushing forward on plans for two noteworthy
apartment projects on Cleveland’s near West Side, despite the pandemic and a
recession that has left other real estate deals on rocky footing.
On Friday, July 17, the Cleveland City Planning Commission
gave an initial thumbs-up to Waterford Bluffs, a five-story apartment building
slated for vacant land at West 20th Street and Lorain Avenue, near the western
end of the Hope Memorial Bridge. And on Thursday, July 16, a city design review
committee got its first glimpse of the Viaduct, a 27-story tower that could
rise on the west bank of the Flats.
Developer Stoneleigh Cos. hopes to break ground in September
for Waterford Bluffs, a 241-unit building at the confluence of the Ohio City,
Tremont and Duck Island neighborhoods. The project, with a roughly $60 million
price tag, could be complete in mid-2022.
Plans drawn up by Cleveland-based architecture firm Vocon
show that 99% of the units will be studios and one-bedroom apartments, with an
average size of 583 square feet.
During a phone conversation, Stoneleigh president Rick
Cavenaugh said the small footprints will allow for lower monthly rents. At a
projected average rate of $2.40 per square foot, a midsize apartment might rent
for about $1,400 a month.
“We certainly don’t want to get to $4,000 rents,”
he said, adding that the Illinois-based company expects to attract tenants who
want to live within walking distance of the West Side Market, a Greater
Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Rapid station and downtown.
Friday’s planning approval followed a Thursday vote from a
design review committee that vets projects in downtown Cleveland and close-lying
areas. That committee also gave Waterford Bluffs a nod, though members asked
Stoneleigh and Vocon to keep studying landscaping, materials and site-access
Stoneleigh purchased the 4-acre site, which had been
assembled and cleared by local developers, in late March for $7.6 million,
according to public records.
“This site is a long time coming,” Freddy Collier,
the city’s planning director, said during Friday’s meeting. “I was very
pleased with the fact that this was a mid-rise structure rather than a tower,
that was originally proposed for this particular site.”
Crain’s Chicago | Alby Gallun | July 9, 2020
Suburban hotel-turned-apartments for sale
The developer expects to sell One Arlington for about $75 million.
About six years after converting a Sheraton hotel
in Arlington Heights
into apartments, local developer Rick Cavenaugh has put the property up for sale.
Cavenaugh, president of Barrington-based Stoneleigh, has hired the Chicago office of CBRE to sell One Arlington, a 214-unit building at 3400 W. Stonegate Blvd., just down the street from the Arlington International Racecourse. He expects the property to fetch about $75 million, or about $350,000 per unit.
The once-strong local apartment investment market stalled out several months ago, after the
coronavirus spread to Chicago. Wary of making
a major acquisition during a time of extreme
uncertainty—not to mention traveling to and touring properties during a
pandemic—many investors put big deals on hold.
Cavenaugh had decided
to put One Arlington on the market
in early March,
but that plan “came to a screeching halt” because
of the pandemic, he said.
Four months later, big institutional investors are scouting for deals again,
and they don’t have many options, Cavenaugh said. So CBRE recommended that he put One Arlington
up for sale now. A recent
$54 million sale of a new multifamily complex in Lake Forest and another
property in Highland Park suggest
improved investor demand
for apartments, he said.
at CBRE “were very encouraged by the activity on those,” he said.
Yet One Arlington has lost tenants because of the pandemic. The building is about 93 percent leased today, down from 97 percent in early March, as some tenants lost jobs and others moved away, Cavenaugh said. Traffic at the building’s leasing office is about one-third of normal levels for this time of year.
But rents are still about 8 to 10 percent higher than they were a year ago, he said. The average apartment in the building rents for $1,992, or $2.17 per square foot, according to a CBRE brochure. A higher proportion of tenants also are renewing their leases. “Renewals are off the charts,” Cavenaugh said.
The Sheraton fell victim to the last recession,
closing for good at the end of 2009. Cavenaugh
converted the hotel
into apartments in 2014, part of a larger redevelopment of the property expected to include a 102-room hotel,
rock-climbing gym and 263-unit apartment building developed by Chicago-based CA Ventures, the CBRE brochure says.
The pandemic and recession hasn’t stopped Cavenaugh, who has one multifamily development underway in St. Paul, Minn., and expects to break ground soon on another in Cleveland. He also plans a project in Glenwood Springs, Colo., near Aspen.
Crain’s Cleveland | Stan Bullard | April 19, 2020
Chicago developer Stoneleigh buys site in Ohio City, plans apartment project
Stoneleigh Cos., a Chicago-based apartment and office
builder, is preparing plans for a $60 million, 241-suite project at the west
edge of Hope Memorial Bridge between Ohio City and downtown.
Rick Cavenaugh, senior principal and Stoneleigh founder,
said it’s the kind of site his company seeks because it’s central to people
going to or from downtown, but also near restaurants and amenities where people
like to live.
“It’s not an internal site in the neighborhood that’s
near where people want to go; it’s on the way to where people are going,”
Cavenaugh said. “It will have views of downtown Cleveland and be within
walking distance from the West Side Market and West 25th Street.”
Stoneleigh on March 30 shelled out $7.6 million for the
four-acre parcel to Brickhaus Integrity Ohio LLC, according to Cuyahoga County
online property records.
The seller in 2013 had proposed One West Twenty, a much
larger apartment complex of 500 suites that later was revised to a 300-suite
first phase and a 200- suite later phase. But nothing went forward. Brickhaus
Integrity parted with the larger of two parcels at the site, but kept a
two-acre portion for its future use.
An unseen factor also sold Stoneleigh on the location: It’s
part of a federally designated Opportunity Zone. The zones are designed to aid
growth of companies or projects in designated economically distressed areas by
allowing investors in them to shelter capital gains from other investments.
“We were interested in the project initially because it
is in an Opportunity Zone,” Cavenaugh said. “A number of the family
offices that we typically work with had interest in participating in the
program. We’re finishing up one in St. Paul, (Minn.), on one of the last sites
overlooking the Mississippi River. We are not merchant builders. We see our
projects as 10-year holds. They have to be for the Opportunity Zone
Cavenaugh is having designers from the Cleveland-based Vocon
architecture firm fine-tune drawings for a structure with two floors of parking
and four floors of apartments. It will look like a five-story building on its
The company is using Vocon because the firm’s designers
already were familiar with the site’s challenges, a location atop the bluff on
the south side of Columbus Road.
“We’re working feverishly to design a really slick
building,” Cavenaugh said — one that responds to current architectural
philosophies and trends in the apartment business to build for efficient
operations and not just “construct space.”
Cavenaugh declined to release a copy of the proposed design
because the company has not shared its most current version with the Duck
Island neighborhood block club. It hopes to do so next month.
Brickhaus Integrity Ohio City was formed by developers
Andrew Brickman, who has built multiple for-sale townhouses from Beachwood to
Rocky River, and attorney Dan Siegel, who owns a substantial apartment
Siegel said in a phone interview, “I believe in the
site and the downtown market, but I no longer liked the risk. Construction
costs have gone up, and a lot of projects are adding apartments in Ohio City
and downtown. It would not produce the kind of yields we normally seek.”
The business partners are finishing the conversion of Mt.
Zion Church in Tremont to apartments and are looking at constructing for-sale
condominiums or townhouses on the remaining One West Twenty site.
Brickman, who originally launched One West Twenty alone,
added, “That’s a nearly untapped (for-sale) market there.”
Cleveland city councilman Kerry McCormack, whose Ward 3
includes downtown and Ohio City, said the new project does not have the
economic impact promised by the former one.
“But having a dynamic project there will add to the
market,” McCormack said. “It’s a site that’s hot even though Opportunity
Zones are not.”
Nationally, the Opportunity Zone program has been criticized
for aiding real estate projects in areas with strong development potential
rather than improving conditions for low-income residents.
In Cavenaugh’s view, the problem with Opportunity Zones
stems from a flaw in the concept.
“The intent is excellent,” he said. “It’s
just that Opportunity Zones are in the wrong place. All the money in the world
will not fix the wrong neighborhood for a real estate deal.”
Cavenaugh said Stoneleigh also wouldn’t have considered a
Cleveland project without the city’s 15-year property tax abatement program for
new residential structures. He said rents have climbed here, but not by enough
to cover high construction costs similar to those in cities with higher rent
Funding for the project is nearly in place thanks to the
Opportunity Zone’s equity investment requirements and a likely loan commitment
from KeyBank, a lender to the company’s projects in other areas.
Stoneleigh, which was launched in 2008, owns 1,452 units.
It’s building two projects now and pursuing three projects in Texas, in
addition to the one in Cleveland. A sister company, Waterford Residential,
operates six multifamily communities.
Cavenaugh said he is not intimidated by the more than 1,000
units under construction in and near downtown, nor the quick onset of economic
woes from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Design and location matter, and I’d rather be starting
to build going into a difficult economic environment than finishing at the tail
end of a good one,” he said. “The last four weeks have upset the
world’s apple cart. There will suddenly be fewer construction projects in the
Fabulous Frisco apartments boast bonus of a new coworking space
CultureMap | January 15, 2020
Frisco has been booming lately, making it no surprise that people are clamoring to live and work in Dallas’ neighbor to the north. At Waterford Market, they can do both.
The stylish apartment community not only offer spacious floorplans and awesome amenities, but also a coworking space on the first floor called 25N Coworking. Add in its incredibly central location to all that Frisco has to offer, and you’ve got an ideal combination of live, work, and play.
Here’s a look at what you’ll find at Waterford Market:
Room for everyone
There are apartment homes designed to suit every type of tenant, from studios to one-, two-, and three-bedroom layouts. The professionally designed interiors have all the luxe perks, from hardwood-inspired vinyl floors to in-unit washers and dryers to USB outlets to Salto’s Keyless Fob Access System for extra convenience. The high-end kitchens come complete with Whirlpool stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops, undermount stainless steel sinks, and built-in wine racks, while custom elfa closets in the bedrooms make getting ready in the morning a breeze. Oh, and Waterford Market is pet-friendly, too.
More than 30,000 square feet of amenities
Imagine working out in a state-of-the-art fitness studio outfitted with Peloton bikes, that has rolling overhead doors that open to the resort-style pool and courtyard. Or lounging by the fire pit while cooking on the barbecue grills and watching TV, or playing billiards, shuffleboard, and Golden Tee in the game room. How about taking advantage of the on-demand dry cleaning service, WiFi cafes with java bar, tech lounge with private work pods, self-service dog wash, bike storage and repair area, valet trash service, package lockers, and electric-hybrid car charging stations? Waterford Market has all this and more.
All about the location
As Frisco keeps growing, so do its options for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Just steps from your front door are Frisco Fresh Market for groceries; Toyota Stadium, home of FC Dallas; and Frisco Square, where you’ll find Frisco Heritage Village and Museum, the Sci-Tech Discovery Center, and Frisco Library in addition to plenty of boutiques and restaurants, all in a pedestrian-friendly layout.
Get down to (co)work
25N offers professionally designed shared workspace, private offices, and meeting rooms, with flexible pricing discounts (up to 50 percent) for Waterford Market residents. You don’t have to be a resident of Waterford Market to join 25N, but who wouldn’t want to be just a short jaunt from work? 25N member resources include programming and networking events, communication platforms, and business development support, along with event space, a community cafe, private phone booths, and complimentary coffee and tea.
Ready to take a tour? Visit the Waterford Market website or call 469-789-2136 to make an appointment.
Housing makes a splash in ’19
Finance & Commerce | William Morris | January 2, 2020
Some multifamily housing projects are part of a larger mixed-use development that will define neighborhoods or entire communities for decades to come. Some take advantage of challenging properties and their surrounding environment, natural and manmade, in creative and intriguing ways. Some are just really, really big.
The decade closed out with another busy year for Twin Cities apartment (and occasionally condominium) developers. The following 10 projects, each for its own reasons, are among the most interesting or significant developments we learned about in 2019. Some remain on the drawing board, while others are well into entitlements or have even begun construction. Each has the potential to reshape the housing market and future direction of its corner of the metro.
Name: Waterford Bay
Developer: Stoneleigh Cos.
Address: 380 Randolph Ave., St. Paul
Unit count: 242
Cost: $60 million
Description: Waterford Bay is the first Minnesota project for Chicago-based Stoneleigh Cos., and the company picked a challenging site: the former Island Station power plant on north bank of the Mississippi River. Plans call for 242 mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments as well as trail connections and even a possible kayak landing to take advantage of the riverfront. Construction began in November, with Golden Valley-based Benson-Orth as contractor, and Stoneleigh hopes to have foundation work done by March and finish construction in late 2021.
Berkadia Arranges $46.5M Sale of Waterford Landings Apartment Complex in Clarksville, Tennessee
REBusiness Online | John Nelson | November 19, 2019
CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — Berkadia has brokered the sale of Waterford Landings, a 364-unit multifamily property in Clarksville, approximately 50 miles northwest of Nashville. Texas-based apartment management company WAK Management Co. purchased the asset for $46.5 million. Berkadia represented the Illinois-based developer and seller, Stoneleigh Cos., in the deal. Located at 135 Westfield Court, the property features studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans. Amenities include two swimming pools, laundry facilities and a barbecue area. The property is near Interstate 24 and Route 79, as well as the recently opened LG plant and Google data center. Patrick Jordan of Berkadia’s Memphis office, along with Alex Blagojevich of the firm’s Chicago office, completed the sale.
Smaller Apartments Are Doing Big Things For Developers
Bisnow | September 4, 2019
In cities across the U.S., multifamily developers are finding that building less is doing more.
As rents have increased and urbanization has intensified, developers have responded with smaller apartments, and new analysis shows those efforts are paying dividends.
After lagging behind bigger units earlier this decade, the vacancy rates for the smallest 25% of one-bedroom units have dipped below those for medium and larger units, according to CoStar. This is a reversal from earlier in the decade, when the largest 25% of units posted the lowest vacancy rates and the smallest 25% saw rates above 7%, CoStar consultant Robin Trantham told Bisnow. The average unit completed last year measured 941 SF, according to RENTCafé. That is 5% less than the average of 10 years prior.
“Smaller units have been gathering an outsized share of demand, especially in urban submarkets in major metros, which is simply due to the fact that rents are far above where they were at pre-recession highs, and these major metros have become really expensive,” Trantham said. “Renters choosing to live in the city have had to sacrifice square footage in order to do so.”
Exactly how the size of floor plates has correlated with the level of occupancy is a topic less explored. As a result, CoStar looked at how various sizes have performed and released its findings in August.
“I decided to take it a step further and look at vacancy rate by size to get an idea at least partially as to why developers are building smaller units today,” Trantham said.
Building smaller units is a clear extension of the myriad reasons renters are wanting to live in them. Urbanization has pushed rents up, and developers and residents alike have found smaller units satisfy each of their respective needs, Panoramic Interests owner Patrick Kennedy said. Based in the expensive San Francisco Bay Area, Panoramic specializes in small studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms. Its average two-bedroom is about 440 SF, or “smaller than a lot of studios,” as Kennedy put it.
“Any place that has high rental costs can always benefit from the construction of smaller units because of the lower rents,” he said.
For that reason, the performance of smaller floor plates in what CoStar defines as core markets — Boston, New York, Chicago, LA, S.F., Washington, D.C., and Seattle — is where the trend is most pronounced. That has buoyed Panoramic, which just received approval for Oakland’s largest multifamily project ever, located in West Oakland, just a BART stop away from downtown San Francisco.
The vacancy rate of the smallest quartile of one-bedroom apartments in those eight core markets has nearly dipped to below 3%, compared to above 3.5% for the largest quarter of one-bedrooms, according to CoStar.
The trend has also spawned the sudden rise of niche multifamily property types. In Seattle, for instance, an influx of micro-units has aligned with the city besting New York City in having the smallest average apartment size (711 SF), according to RENTCafé. To live and work in Seattle, residents are sacrificing square footage for cost, and doing so fairly happily, Spectrum Development Solutions principal Jake McKinstry said.
“We’ve seen a shift not just in Seattle, but regionally, of people from baby boomers to millennials looking for value in the marketplace where they can live in an apartment that’s reasonably sized,” he said. “Really they use the front door of their apartment as their amenity.”
Spectrum itself has capitalized on the movement to smaller apartments, offering mostly studios and one-bedrooms. That had led to projects like Reverb, an 85-unit apartment complex in Seattle, that taps into the middle class’ need for housing in the Pacific Northwest.
Along with micro-units, Seattle is also joining New York City (and possibly San Jose) at the forefront of co-living development, which Simon Baron Development President Matthew Baron said he believes to be another manifestation of the success of smaller units. The We Company plans to put the third location of its co-living spinoff, WeLive, in Seattle.
Based in New York, Baron and fellow Simon Baron Development co-founder Jonathan Simon helped launch Ollie, the operator of the country’s largest co-living property. Dubbed ALTA LIC, it has brought co-living and smaller units to Long Island City in the borough of Queens.
Recently completed, ALTA LIC consists of 466 units, 169 of which are split into about 422 SF co-living bedrooms.
To Baron, the site’s success is a sign that smaller units are more than a flash-in-the-pan trend — in part because of what Simon Baron Development has found to be a surprisingly broad customer base.
“We sort of envisioned a market that would skew younger, around 22 to early 30s, maybe single, and don’t need as much space and [are] cost-conscious,” he said. “There is a large subset, almost 30%, of people that fall way outside that demographic: empty nesters, older professionals, divorcees and a bunch of other types. This is another way that the residential market is reinventing itself and catering to a need that is out there.”
There is need on the supply side as well. Soaring construction costs, especially in the Bay Area and New York, are keeping more and more projects from penciling. The more appealing unit economics of micro-units, co-living or just smaller floor plates are becoming clearer by the project, Newmark Knight Frank Executive Managing Director David Behin said.
“Developers doing ground-up have taken note of the higher value per SF of densified apartments,” Behin said. “Land and construction costs have gotten more expensive, so developers building with efficient floor plates [have] only helped the bottom line.”
“People in an apartment don’t think about what it costs per SF,” Kennedy said. “They think about what it costs to solve the problem [of housing].”
That point and the rising costs lead Kennedy and others to predict smaller apartments will continue to do well for the foreseeable future.
“It’s always the best idea to build the smallest apartment that fulfills the needs of the tenant, and thus provides the lowest possible rental costs,” Kennedy said. “That’s a truism that I think is true in good times and bad, in any city.”
Stoneleigh Companies Opens 234-Unit Switchyard Apartments in Downtown Carrollton, Texas
MultifamilyBiz | September 3, 2019
CARROLLTON, TX – Switchyard Apartments are now open and leasing in downtown Carrollton, TX. Managed by real estate experts, Lincoln Property Company, the 234 apartment homes are conveniently situated off I-35 and W Belt Line Road, a five-minute walk to historic downtown Carrollton. Adjacent to the downtown Carrollton DART station, the location offers easy access to downtown Dallas, Love Field and DFW airport.
Standing four stories tall, Switchyard offers studio, one, and two-bedroom floorplans ranging from 525 to 1,262 square feet. Amenities encourage a more active lifestyle, including an indoor bike storage and repair studio, pet salon, a healthy vending juice bar, state-of-the-art fitness center, interactive fitness studio with FitnessOnDemand™ and Peloton® bikes and easy access to the regional trail system.
When residents aren’t commuting to work on the DART, working from home is made easy with tech and club lounges with complimentary Wi-Fi, java bar and 24 hour “Parcel Pending” package lockers. When it’s time to unwind after a long day, residents can enjoy the 4th floor club room and terrace deck with wet bar, resort-style pool with clubhouse and outdoor TV lounge and fireplace.
Interior amenities include quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, subway tile backsplashes, built-in wine racks, Salto keyless fob access systems, LED dimmable lighting packages, Custom Elfa closet systems, USB outlets, walk-In closets, in-unit washer/dryers, hardwood-inspired luxury vinyl floors, designer carpet and available private tuck under garages.
“Switchyard apartments are a great example that high-end apartment living is not limited to downtown Dallas,” said Ryan Swingruber, Vice President of Development for Stoneleigh Companies, LLC, one of the developers of the community. “Switchyard is an ideal balance of high-end amenities and apartment finishes you would find in the heart of Dallas but is a community designed for renters who are looking for something outside of downtown living. The property offers efficient unit types for those who desire walkability to quaint shops and restaurants in Downtown Carrollton and an easy access to I-35 and DART making your commute and day-to-day lifestyle that much easier.”
Riverfront Apartments Will Rise in St. Paul O-Zone
ConnectCRE | July 25, 2019
Stoneleigh Companies LLC has acquired 10.71 acres of land for the construction of the 242-unit Waterford Bay Apartments in a St. Paul, MN Qualified Opportunity Zone. Waterford Bay reportedly will be one of the first QOZ projects in the Minnesota capital, and among the first to break ground in the Midwest.
“With passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in late 2017 and the creation of Opportunity Zones, great sites that have additional challenges are now being developed if they fall within a designated Opportunity Zone,” said Stoneleigh SVP Josh Wohlreich. “With the continued support of the City of St. Paul and the community, we are excited to bring this project to fruition.”
With groundbreaking slated for this fall, the project will include micro-units, studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments. A portion of the land will be dedicated to the city for park space along the Mississippi River.
Stoneleigh Companies to Develop Multifamily OZ Project in St. Paul
GlobeSt | John Jordan | July 24, 2019
ST. PAUL, MN—Stoneleigh Companies LLC of Barrington, IL reports it has acquired a 10-acre development parcel along the Mississippi River here where it will build the 242-unit Waterford Bay Apartments community.
The property is located in the Saint Paul Opportunity Zone segment and when completed Waterford Bay will be one of the first Opportunity Zone projects in St. Paul. No financial terms of the land purchase were disclosed.
“The City of St. Paul has been tremendous to work with throughout the entire approval process,” says Josh Wohlreich, SVP – development, Stoneleigh Companies. “Projects of this scale and complexity typically take far longer to be reviewed and approved. The city and those in the community with a vested interest in this site have provided meaningful feedback that has resulted in a superior project. The city has embraced the vision we have for this site. Clearly, Saint Paul is open for business.”
Construction on Waterford Bay is scheduled to begin this fall, making it one of the first Opportunity Zone projects to break ground in the Midwest.
The four-story podium building will consist of micro-units, studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom homes. Residences will nine-foot ceilings, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, USB outlets with LED lighting throughout, high-efficiency HVAC, SALTO keyless access system, high-speed internet connectivity, private balconies, shaker-style cabinets and hardwood-inspired luxury floors.
The development is planning public access to the river with the addition of a kayak/small boat launch and expanding the regional bike/walking path trail system through the site. A portion of the land will be dedicated to the city for park space along the riverfront, accessible to the public by the extension of the bike/walking path.
Community amenities will include views of the Mississippi River with access to the rowing basin, an outdoor heated pool and landscaped amenity deck with four-seasons porch, outdoor grilling stations and fire pit lounges. Indoor amenities include an expansive fitness center and yoga studio, resident lounge, leasing and business center with beverage center, package concierge and a rooftop clubroom with demonstration kitchen. Other features call for a secured bicycle storage, dog wash station and indoor parking garage with electric car charging stations, a loading dock and direct-access large elevators to both the garage and the outdoor public spaces.
Stoneleigh Companies is a private real estate investment company focused on acquisition and development of multifamily properties, with a track record of more than 40,000 multifamily units in 35 cities and 18 states over the last 36 years.
Earlier this month, Stoneleigh Companies announced the sale of two apartment communities located in Midland, TX—Waterford Lakes and Waterford at North Park.
Stoneleigh acquired Waterford Lakes and Waterford at North Park in December of 2012. Waterford Lakes, a 278-unit community, sold on June 28, 2019 with 97% occupancy. Waterford at North Park, a 200-unit community, also sold on June 28th with 95% occupancy. Stoneleigh was represented by Bart Wickard of Newmark Knight Frank in the sale.
The sale of Waterford Lakes and Waterford at North Park follow the January sale of Waterford Ranch Apartments. The 300-unit community also located in Midland was sold with 97% occupancy. Stoneleigh was represented by Newmark Knight Frank in that sale.
Stoneleigh Companies Announces the Acquisition of Land in an Opportunity Zone for Waterford Bay Apartments – St. Paul, MN
BARRINGTON, IL – July 23, 2019 – Stoneleigh Companies, LLC announces the acquisition of 10.71 acres of land planned for the construction of the 242-unit Waterford Bay Apartments located in the Saint Paul Opportunity Zone segment. Waterford Bay is one of the first Opportunity Zone projects in St. Paul.
Waterford Bay will offer luxury apartments in a prime location on the Mississippi River. The development aims to leverage the natural aesthetics of the Mississippi River Valley and nearby downtown Saint Paul into an attractive housing community through connectivity and integration of public/private spaces. The development is planning public access to the river with the addition of a kayak/small boat launch and expanding the regional bike/walking path trail system thru the site. A portion of the land will be dedicated to the city for park space along the riverfront, accessible to the public by the extension of the bike/walking path.
The 4-story podium building will consist of micro units, studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom homes. Residences will offer top quality finishes including 9 foot ceilings, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, USB outlets with LED lighting throughout, high efficiency HVAC, SALTO keyless access system, high speed internet connectivity, private balconies, shaker-style cabinets, and hardwood-inspired luxury floors. Community amenities will include spectacular views of the Mississippi River with access to the rowing basin, an outdoor heated pool and landscaped amenity deck with 4-seasons porch, outdoor grilling stations, and fire pit lounges. Indoor amenities include an expansive fitness center and yoga studio, resident lounge, leasing and business center with beverage center, package concierge and a rooftop clubroom with demonstration kitchen, secured bicycle storage, dog wash station, and indoor parking garage with electric car charging stations, a loading dock and direct access large elevators to both the garage and the outdoor public spaces.
“The City of St. Paul has been tremendous to work with throughout the entire approval process”, said Josh Wohlreich, Sr. Vice President – Development, Stoneleigh Companies. “Projects of this scale and complexity typically take far longer to be reviewed and approved. The city and those in the community with a vested interest in this site have provided meaningful feedback that has resulted in a superior project. The City has embraced the vision we have for this site. Clearly, Saint Paul is open for business.”
Construction on Waterford Bay is slated to begin in fall 2019, making it one of the first opportunity zone projects to break ground in the Midwest.
“With passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in late 2017, and the creation of Opportunity Zones, great sites that have additional challenges are now being developed if they fall within a designated Opportunity Zone. With the continued support of the City of St. Paul and the community, we are excited to bring this project to fruition.”
About Stoneleigh Companies, LLC
Based in Chicago, Stoneleigh Companies is a private real estate investment company focused on acquisition and development of multifamily properties, with a track record of over 40,000 multi-family units in 35 cities and 18 states over the last 35 years. The principals and officers of Stoneleigh are experienced in all aspects of commercial real estate development, investment, finance, and operations. For more information, visit www.waterfordresidential.com.
Stoneleigh Companies Announces the Sale of Waterford Lakes Apartments and Waterford at North Park Apartments
BARRINGTON, IL – July 10, 2019 – Stoneleigh Companies, LLC in Barrington, IL announces the sale of two apartment communities located in Midland, Texas: Waterford Lakes and Waterford at North Park.
Stoneleigh acquired Waterford Lakes and Waterford at North Park in December of 2012. Waterford Lakes, a 278-unit community, sold on June 28th, 2019 with 97% occupancy. Waterford at North Park, a 200-unit community, also sold on June 28th, 2019 with 95% occupancy. Stoneleigh was represented by Bart Wickard of Newmark Knight Frank in the sale.
The sale of Waterford Lakes and Waterford at North Park follow closely behind the sale of Waterford Ranch Apartments. The 300-unit community also located in Midland, Texas, recently sold on January 10th, 2019 with 97% occupancy. Stoneleigh was represented by Newmark Knight Frank in the sale.
About Stoneleigh Companies, LLC
Based in Chicago, Stoneleigh Companies is a private real estate investment company focused on acquisition and development of multifamily properties, with a track record of over 40,000 multi-family units in 35 cities and 18 states over the last 35 years. The principals and officers of Stoneleigh are experienced in all aspects of commercial real estate development, investment, finance, and operations. For more information, visit www.waterfordresidential.com.
‘We’re not giving up’: Next phase of Arlington Downs project about to begin
Daily Herald | Christopher Placek | June 29, 2019
Shovels should be in the ground soon on the next phase of the stalled Arlington Downs project — the massive $320 million mixed-use redevelopment west of Arlington International Racecourse.
Plans for a five-story, 263-unit apartment building on the southeast corner of the 27-acre site on Euclid Avenue are in for final permit review with the village. There’s still one technical issue to be resolved before the permit can be issued and construction begins, said Charles Witherington-Perkins, the village’s director of planning and community development.
It would take an estimated 20 months to finish building the apartments, and perhaps some five years for the entire redevelopment to come to fruition, including a proposed hotel, additional residential units, and retail outlots.
“Once they get the apartments started, hopefully then other things will fall into place,” Witherington-Perkins said Friday.
The village board approved original plans in 2012, but the developer made revisions as the market changed. The initial proposal called for reopening a shuttered indoor water park, building a six-story hotel and having up to 71,000 square feet of commercial space.
The latest plans call for a climbing wall recreation facility inside the old water park, a scaled-down four-story hotel, and some 40,000 square feet of retail.
The project revisions received approval from the village board last September, and trustees signed off on a final plat of subdivision last week, paving the way for construction to begin.
“This has taken way longer than anybody wanted,” said David Trandel, chairman/CEO of Springbank Real Estate Group, which is leading the redevelopment. “But we’re going to see it through. We’re not giving up.”
“The good news is we didn’t do something that might not have worked,” he said. “We had some ideas early and the world changed on us. Now we got to make it more relevant for the next 20 years than what we might have wanted early.”
Trandel said Springbank sold 2 acres of land to Indianapolis-based General Hotels Corp., which will build a four-story, 116-room hotel near the Euclid Avenue/Rohlwing Road intersection. The hotelier is still planning to operate the hotel flag Vib, the urban boutique hotel concept of Best Western.
As for the former CoCo Key water park, the project team a year ago announced plans to turn half the space into First Ascent, which would offer courses for climbers of varying skill along with exercise classes and gym equipment, and the other half into Funtopia, a family entertainment center.
But Witherington-Perkins said Friday that First Ascent now plans to take up the entire 46,000-square-foot building.
The old water park is attached to the One Arlington residential tower, formerly a Sheraton hotel, which was renovated and became the first piece of the development to open in 2015.
Future phases call for a 55-and-older residential building on the southeast corner of the site, and a 360-unit residential development on the northwest corner.
Apartment proposal at former Island Station power plant promises Mississippi River access
Twin Cities Pioneer Press | Frederick Melo | May 26, 2019
Ryan Swingruber said he has big plans for the former Island Station site in St. Paul, but not too big.
The 10-acre parcel of land bordering the Mississippi River near Shepard Road and Randolph Avenue has sat vacant since 2014, and previously was home to a coal-fired power plant decommissioned in the 1970s.
By September, he hopes to break ground on three and four stories of rental housing — a mix of micro, studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.
Working with a series of environmental consultants and architects, the Chicago-area developer drew up plans for 250 market-rate apartments, stepped back from the river.
Swingruber’s vision, set within a federal “Opportunity Zone,” calls for a multi-family housing complex that he said will increase rather than block river access.
Those plans include paved walking and biking paths to an inlet, a proposed public kayak launch and connections from the regional trail system along Randolph Avenue.
“From there, they’ll be able to traverse the peninsula,” said Swingruber, who has been meeting with Xcel Energy, which owns land on either side of the future development. “We want to make it public, with defined access and signage.”
The West 7th/Fort Road Federation voted to support the project’s conditional-use permit in March, but also included a letter to the city’s zoning committee raising two concerns. The federation sought deeper assurances the project would include improved public access to the river, and raised questions about the lack of affordable units.
“The Federation Board is being asked, once again, to support a market-rate housing project in our district,” said the letter, signed by board president Dana DeMaster. “We have a need for affordable housing, especially for families and for elderly persons, and this project proposal will not meet that need.”
She noted that the West Seventh neighborhood has among the highest average rents in St. Paul, and experienced a 17 percent increase in rental costs since 2010.
Swingruber said he’s also met with the Friends of the Mississippi River and, in response to their concerns, the building height will drop from four to three stories nearest the riverfront.
“We’ve seen some past development proposals that haven’t gone anywhere,” said Colleen O’Connor Toberman, river corridor program director with Friends of the Mississippi River. “From what we’ve seen of the developer’s plans, there are some nice components of community access to the riverfront, and we do appreciate that aspect of the plan.”
ISLAND STATION BLOWN APART
The site was once home to the Island Station coal-based power plant, an unofficial St. Paul landmark that drew its share of cheers and jeers before it was blown to smithereens.
At St. Paul City Hall, efforts to declare the decommissioned 1920s-era power plant a local historic site deadlocked with a tie vote before the city council in 2013, sealing its fate. Developers literally exploded the iconic but decrepit structure the following March.
As the 280-feet-tall metal smokestack collapsed into debris, hopes for new residences, retailers and other fresh real estate gained some ground.
Fast forward five years, and no one has built anything. After nearly 45 years in limbo, however, the Island Station property has once again caught the eye of a prospective buyer.
Swingruber, a vice president with the Stoneleigh Cos. of Barrington, Ill., hopes to add housing to the site under the title Waterford Bay. This will be the first Twin Cities development for the company, which has apartment properties throughout Texas.
On Thursday, the St. Paul Planning Commission’s zoning committee reviewed a request from the Stoneleigh Cos. to construct the 45-feet-tall apartment complex. Anything above 35 feet triggers the need for a conditional-use permit.
In addition, the main entrance would be situated facing the river on the east side of the property, rather than in the third of the building closest to Randolph Avenue, as currently required.
The developer has also proposed a fire access road and storm sewers in the floodway plain, as well as variances for a front yard setback.
Swingruber said the building will be set back 100 feet from the river, rather than 50, as presently required, in respect for the proposed river setbacks in the city’s draft 2040 Comprehensive Plan. It will be three stories tall closest to the river, and four stories closer to Randolph Avenue, creating a stepped-back approach from the waterfront.
The “Traditional Neighborhood” or “T2” zoning would allow a maximum of 375 housing units, but Swingruber plans to build two-thirds as many units so as not to overwhelm the site.
Given the site’s history as a coal-fired plant, the project will require carefully addressing contaminated soils. Swingruber said he’s worked closely with environmental consultants Braun Intertec, design engineering consultants Kimley-Horn and architects with the BKV Group.
The site sits within a federally designated “Opportunity Zone,” which allows certain tax benefits for investors who hold onto properties for at least 10 years.
In an interview, city council member Rebecca Noecker said she looked forward to a briefing from St. Paul Planning and Economic Development.
A previous developer, T.J. Hammerstrom, once planned 240 units of townhomes and condominiums on the site and in an adjoining eight-story building, which were never constructed.
In late 2014, after the power plant was demolished, Breckner River Development of Burnsville sold the site to Riverwalk of Scottsdale, Ariz., for $4.5 million.
The plot of land at 380 Randolph Ave. generates about $70,000 to $75,000 in property tax and special assessments annually. The listed property owner, St. Paul Riverwalk LLC, owes $343,000 in back taxes, according to Ramsey County property records.
According to the county, the land has an estimated market value of roughly $2 million.
St. Paul riverfront site has long vexed developers, but there’s a new plan
Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal | Nick Halter | May 17, 2019
A 10-acre piece of land along St. Paul’s Mississippi River riverfront, once the site of Xcel Energy’s Island Station power plant, could be home to as many as 250 apartments.
Several developers have taken a run at the site over the past two decades, most recently in 2014 when local developer Jim LaValle floated an office and residential project that never materialized. In 2004, Rich Pakonen and Dennis Doyle tried to do condos.
Now Stoneleigh Cos. of Barrington, Ill., has plans to use the site for 240 to 250 apartments in a building that steps from three to four stories. Those plans go before the city’s Zoning and Planning Committee on May 23 with a potential May 30 Planning Commission vote.
Ryan Swingruber, vice president of development at Stoneleigh, first visited the site last August, when he rented a Nice Ride bike near his downtown hotel and pedaled down to the river and took the trails southwest to the site, which is near the corner of Shepard Road and Randolph Avenue.
The site’s proximity to those bike trails and the river are influencing the design of Swingruber’s project. He’s working with Xcel Energy, which owns land around the project, to get easements that would bring the trails into the site and lead down to a peninsula, where he’d like to build a small launch for kayaks and canoes.
The project, called Waterford Bay at St. Paul, will have some of the amenities you’d expect, like an outdoor pool atop a parking podium, dog run, fitness center and wi-fi cafe.
But it also has some features geared toward the area, like storage for tenants to keep their kayaks, tents, hiking gear, cross country skis as well as a bike room.
The site is subject to flooding, so Stoneleigh is adding three feet of dirt to raise the building. It’s also going to use most of the first floor for parking — around 250 or 260 spaces — in case the water does creep up like it did this spring.
Swingruber said the apartments mix will skew heavily toward studios and smaller one-bedroom units, with a goal of keeping average rents in the low $1,500s, which would be $125 or $150 a month below the going rate of new Class A buildings in St. Paul.
While 10 acres seems like a lot for just 250 units, Swingruber said only around six ares are buildable due to utilities, easements and a river setback of 100 feet. Stoneleigh could have built 50 feet closer to the river but Swingruber said the city’s 2040 plan will change the setback to 100 feet and he wanted to respect that.
The current owner of the land, St. Paul River Walk LLC, is behind on his taxes by $342,000. Swingruber said Swingruber’s acquisition of the property will include an allocation to pay that debt off, avoiding a forfeiture of the land.
Pending approvals, Swingruber hopes to close on the land in mid July and break ground by Oct. 1. Construction should take 18 to 20 months, which would put an opening in the first quarter of 2021.
This will be Stoneleigh’s first Minnesota project. The company manages 11 apartment communities and has three more under construction, plus five in development. Those apartment projects operate under the company’s property management brand, Waterford Residential.
BKV Group is the architect on the project
Apartments pitched for Island Station site
Finance and Commerce | William Morris | May 14, 2019
The onetime coal-burning plant at 380 Randolph Ave. was built in the 1920s but closed down in 1973. St. Paul River Walk LLC, an ownership group tied to Arizona businessman
Robert Graham, bought the 10-acre riverfront property in 2014 and tore down the power plant, with plans by local developer Jim Lavalle to build apartments, offices and some public
space on the site. By 2017, though, that project had fizzled.
Now a Chicago-area developer thinks it has the right plan for the site. Barrington, Illinoisbased Stoneleigh Cos. and its affiliate Waterford Residential have approached the city with
plans to build 240 to 250 market-rate apartments on the site. The $58 million Waterford Bay project goes before the city’s zoning committee May 23 to obtain a conditional use permit
for height, setbacks and other requests.
Key to Stoneleigh’s vision for the project is the location, vice president of development Ryan Swingruber said in an interview. The property is on the north bank of the Mississippi River,
just east of Shepard Road. The land to either side, including a peninsula creating a small river inlet to the east, is owned by Xcel Energy.
Stoneleigh hopes to tap into the existing bike and walking trails along Randolph and connect them to the river, and is in talks with Xcel to extend those connections onto the utility’s land, possibly even including a new kayak landing on the river inlet.
“Obviously we are building apartments, but we are cognizant of the surrounding area,” Swingruber said. “We’re hoping to create a public and private connection through our property to allow public access to the river and extending the biking and walking paths.”
Stoneleigh has had the land under contract since November, Swingruber said, and hopes to get the needed city approvals to close on the site in July. The timing is important because the property is slated for forfeiture to the state in August due to unpaid taxes of more than $342,000, according to Ramsey County records. Stoneleigh plans to remedy that during closing and hopes to begin remediating coal ash and other contaminants on the site before winter.
Golden Valley-based Benson-Orth is on deck as the contractor. Plans prepared by Minneapolis-based BKV Group depict a four-story building facing Randolph, stepped down to three stories facing the river. Parking and other amenity space would occupy a first-floor podium. Floors two, three and four would offer a unit mix heavily weighted toward studio, micro and smaller one-bedroom apartments, Swingruber said, with the goal to offer rents in the high $1,400s or low $1,500s.
In addition to the natural amenities and central location between downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the project has several big attractions, Swingruber said. One is the site’s location in an opportunity zone, a designation created in the 2017 federal tax law that offers investment incentives for development projects in low income communities. The second is a generally hot housing market with considerable unmet demand in St. Paul and the surrounding cities.
A third bonus is that St. Paul’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan update, which has yet to be ratified, is expected to impose new restrictions on development for at least a portion of the city’s riverfront, Swingruber said.
“We like the site due to the fact there’s going to be a limited amount of sites along the river. The  plan is going to be revised to limit building along the river,” he said. “I look at the site as an opportunity to be one of the last to build something that’ll be increasingly more difficult.”
Swingruber noted, however, that Stoneleigh has worked with other stakeholders to respect the spirit of the proposed 2040 Plan changes. After conversations with the Friends of the Mississippi River, Stoneleigh agreed to a 100-foot waterfront setback rather than the 50-foot setback required under current code.
“We haven’t been greedy either in the number of units we want to do,” he said. “Current zoning affords us the opportunity to build up to 375.”
In March, the district council, West 7th/Fort Road Federation, voted to support the project at its proposed height, although board members noted in their letter to the city Planning Commission their concern about the district’s need for affordable housing. Still, the council wasn’t about to turn away a large market-rate project, federation Board President Dana DeMaster said in an interview.
“For us, a lot of the discussion in terms of the positives was increasing the number of housing units. There’s a shortage city- and metro-wide of housing units, and especially rental apartments,” she said. “Also right now, there’s no public access to that part of the river, so this will increase accessibility for people.”
Swingruber said Stoneleigh has spent more than eight months working with the district council and other stakeholders to ensure the project, the company’s first in Minnesota, will be a success.
“We’ve spent an incredible amount of time making sure we’re cognizant of everyone’s concerns and wants,” he said.
Breathing new life
Multihousing Pro | Peggy Shaw | April 1, 2019
The 196-unit One Uptown, which took home the award for the best high rise, features the first glass bottom pool to grace an apartment community in Dallas, Texas.
The glass bottom pool, one of two pools at the mixed-use community that includes nearly 20,000 sq. ft. of restaurant space and a 480-car underground parking structure is integrated into a two-story Circo restaurant and sits directly over the building’s main entry porte-cochere and valet parking entrance. Open to both residents and retail patrons, the pool includes an outdoor club deck and a full-service bar dubbed Circo Beach.
A residents-only pool sits on the rooftop and boasts panoramic views of the Dallas city skyline, a 9,000 sq. ft. sky deck and lounge, private cabanas, a recreation room, a catering kitchen, a firepit and an outdoor bar.
A second restaurant in the first-floor dining area, Fogo De Chao, features the churrasco tradition of open fire grilling and includes Bar Fogo, which specializes in craft cocktails and Brazilian style small plates.
The 20-story curvaceous glass and concrete tower that was designed by Dallas architect Phil Shepard and architect of record Dallas-based Humphreys & Partners and developed by Barrington, Ill.-based Stoneleigh Companies LLC, was built above a six-level, subterranean parking garage on less than an acre of land that was once home to the old church that housed the original Hard Rock Café.
In-unit amenities at the apartment community that offers studio, one- and two-bedroom units and 28 penthouses include floor-to-ceiling glass, a variable refrigerant flow HVAC system, LED lighting, hardwood floors, extra storage, washers and dryers and walk-in closets.
NAHB Best in American Living | December 1, 2018
2018 Award Winner
COMMUNITY – MIXED-USE, MULTIFAMILY
Architect/Designer | Humphreys & Partners
Builder | Hunt Construction Group
Developer | Stoneleigh Companies, LLC
Interior Merchandiser | Faulkner Design Group
Land Planner | TH Prichett & Associates
Landscape Architect/Designer | TH Prichett & Associates
Interior Designer | Faulkner Design Group
One Uptown represents the highest and best use for the Dallas Uptown neighborhood in terms of density, walkability, mixed-use, and response to the ever-changing demographics and resident demands of the market. One Uptown has the highest walkability score in Dallas, making it the perfect location for residents seeking a safe and active downtown lifestyle.
This project engaged a high level of risk-taking, being built on less than one acre in a fully developed environment, further complicated by excavating 62 feet below ground surface, a first for a multifamily high-rise in Dallas. The project truly maximizes the site’s potential with a high floor area ratio represented in its density, while still respecting the natural symmetry of the site, streetscape, and surrounding neighborhood through modern and elegant architecture.
One Uptown is not only mixed use in itself, but is also situated between three major roadways for a quick commute to other parts of the metroplex. Residents can walk across the street to Whole Food’s flagship store, run or bike the Katy Trail, or shop and eat on McKinney Avenue, a prominent Dallas destination for entertainment.
FROM THE JUDGES
“Overall, this project is very nicely done, from the floor-to-ceiling windows and the folding doors to the indoor/outdoor connections. Judges also commented on decks being used to create interesting and successful massing on the façades. “
Frisco Council to vote on PGA deal that would bring hotel, courses and majors to North Texas
Dallas News | Karen Robinson-Jacobs Brad Townsend | November 30, 2018
The PGA plans to move from its longtime home in Florida to a newly built campus at the northern edge of Frisco in a deal that could cost more than $500 million, three sources familiar with the project told The Dallas Morning News Friday.
The project would include a new 500-room resort by Dallas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts, the new 100,000-square-foot headquarters building, two championship-level golf courses and a 9-hole practice course.
It will also include a guarantee that two PGA Championships, two Women’s PGA Championships and multiple men’s Senior PGA Championships will be played in Frisco, sources said.
The cost for creating the golf courses and a clubhouse is estimated to be about $80 million, one source said.
The Frisco City Council is scheduled to vote on the deal Tuesday.
The PGA issued a statement late Friday saying that it is “pursuing an agreement for a transformational headquarters in Frisco. Until the process is complete, we will have no further comment.”
Most officials close to the project were sworn to secrecy ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
Frisco City Manager George Purefoy said the project isn’t a done deal until it is approved by the council and that the details will be released at Tuesday’s meeting.
“It certainly would be another project on the magnitude of several of the other sports-related deals that we’ve done,” Purefoy said.
Much of the project is still being designed, but one source familiar with the details said the development would include about 30,000 square feet of retail space.
The PGA project would be developed by a newly created partnership of Omni, owned by billionaire Robert Rowling, real estate company Stillwater Capital and Woods Capital. Jonas Woods was a key developer of the Trinity Forest golf course in South Dallas that is now home to the AT&T Byron Nelson.
The Frisco council’s Tuesday agenda calls for it to “consider and act upon the proposed master development agreement for facilities and related improvements by and between [the] city of Frisco, the Frisco Community Development Corporation, the Frisco Economic Development Corporation, the Frisco Independent School District, Omni Stillwater Woods Golf Resort LLC and The Professional Golfers Association of America.”
A separate item says the council will “deliberate the purchase, exchange, lease or value of real property located south of US 380, north of Panther Creek Parkway, east of Teel Parkway and west of Preston Road.”
Neither agenda item gives further details on the project.
Rumors have been swirling for months that the Florida-based golf association would join Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys in Frisco, which is home to seven professional sports teams, including FC Dallas.
The new Omni would be about a 10-minute drive from the Omni hotel at the Cowboys’ Star in Frisco.
Founded in 1916, the PGA has nearly 29,000 men and women members in 41 sections across the country. The Dallas-based Northern Texas PGA section was established in 1968.
The PGA’s stated missions include establishing and elevating the standards of golf instruction and expanding interest and participation in the sport.
Starting in 1929, the men’s professional tour in the United States was operated by the PGA, but in 1968, the professional tour players voted to operate independently from club professionals, thus creating the PGA Tour.
The PGA continues to stage one of the four men’s major tournaments, the 100-year-old PGA Championship, as well as the biennial Ryder Cup, the women’s PGA Championship, Senior PGA Championship and about 30 tournaments for its members and apprentices.
On Nov. 9, the PGA, during its 102nd annual meeting, elected its first female president, Suzy Whaley.
The PGA has been headquartered in Florida since 1956 and in Palm Beach Gardens since 1981. News of the PGA’s potential move to Frisco surfaced in a Golf.com report in March.
On the eve of this year’s PGA Championship in August, outgoing PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua acknowledged the association’s interest in Frisco.
“That’s still certainly a possibility,” he said, “but it’s also a possibility that we’ll stay in southern Florida or even look at opportunities around the rest of the country.
“And really, this is something that started two years ago, where we all came to the conclusion that those current buildings, while in a wonderful part of the country, just were not getting it done for us.
“And as we went out and started to talk to people about potential opportunities, we had a lot of interesting offers come our way.
“And certainly the opportunity in Frisco stood out from the others.”
Bevacqua’s comments came during the same week in which The News reported that Hunt Realty Investments had purchased Frisco’s 2,544-acre Headquarters Ranch from the estate of Bert Fields Jr. The land for the PGA project was once part of that ranch, a source said.
The Best Places to Live in America
Time.com | Shaina Mishkin | September 20, 2018
Gearbox Software president Randy Pitchford could have moved his video game company anywhere. But ultimately, the California native picked Frisco, Texas, a city 30 miles north of Dallas, as the site of the company’s new headquarters.
“I don’t regret it,” Pitchford says, reflecting on the 2015 move to Frisco from nearby Plano. “It’s actually been better than we expected.”
Pitchford is not the only one picking up and moving to the north Texas city. A sleepy bedroom community of 6,500 people as recently as 1990, the city today houses around 180,000 residents. Jobs are projected to grow by nearly 15% over the next four years, according to Moody’s Analytics, and companies from T-Mobile to Oracle have offices in the city.
Frisco’s growth, while impressive, is not necessarily unusual for Texas. The state has grown by 3 million people since 2010, more than any other in the U.S., while its local economies are going strong. “Job growth is expanding in Texas as fast as anywhere,” says Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “Firms are moving to provide jobs where houses are affordable, and people are moving to jobs where the cost of living is not high.”
But growth alone is not what makes Frisco the best place to live in America. Rather, it’s the way the city has translated its growth into a higher quality of life.
“The mentality here is, Let’s build the place we all want to have fun in and live in,” says Pitchford. While the company considered going as far as Quebec, “by every metric we had, Frisco came out on top,” Pitchford says.
One of those metrics: Frisco’s outstanding public schools. With more than 70 campuses, the Frisco Independent School District has the highest graduation rate of all the cities and towns MONEY evaluated this year.
“I can afford private, but the public school system here is so great,” Pitchford says, citing the district’s career training center, which offers high school students the opportunity to gain real-world experience in specialized programs from hospitality to health science.
Like many Frisco institutions, the schools have benefited from a city focus on public-private partnerships — arrangements that bring high-level sports, art and technology to the Texas town.
Take the Ford Center at The Star, an indoor athletic facility where the Dallas Cowboys have practiced since 2016. It was built as a partnership between the team, city government and the Frisco schools — so when the Cowboys aren’t using the indoor field, high school teams get it for practice and games. It’s a model that began in 2003, when the city partnered with two business groups to build Dr. Pepper Ballpark, now home to the Frisco RoughRiders baseball team.
Local officials have worked similarly with Drive.AI, a California-based self-driving car company, to bring driverless car testing to Frisco — a project the city hopes will ease transit for residents while boosting business in Frisco’s entertainment district.
For all of Frisco’s growth, there are trade-offs. Christie Smith, who moved to Frisco 10 years ago, says she is glad she bought a home when prices were lower. In the first quarter of 2018, the median home price reached $349,000. That may sound cheap to some coastal readers, but it’s well above the median U.S. home price.
“Frisco does not have the same affordable homes anymore,” Smith says. “We’re glad we got in when we did.”
Still, Smith says, the growth has done more good than bad to the community. When she moved to the area with her husband in 2008, she says, Frisco’s most notable landmark was an IKEA. Now, she adds, between concerts, games and charity runs, “you could be doing something every night of the week.” — Shaina Mishkin