News Article | 4/10/2009

Uptown Dallas high-rises offer high design

Pedestrians who venture through yellow revolving doors into the new House condominium tower to ask directions are likely to be even more befuddled when they leave.

With white marble floors, billowy curtains covering all the walls and silver-clad furnishings, the lobby of Uptown’s newest residential high-rise looks like an elaborate stage set.

French designer Philippe Starck did many of the interiors for the 28-story House building that’s about to open in the Victory complex.

“The design aesthetic is one of a kind,” said Andrew Gallina, chief marketing officer for developer Hillwood. “One of the things Victory was supposed to do is be a new face of Dallas.

“We didn’t want to do the same old thing.”

One look at the huge cadmium yellow glass chandelier in the House lobby or the giant marble fireplace on the pool deck, and it’s easy to see how this condo tower could be a standout.

With hundreds of new luxury high-rise units on the market in Dallas, two of the newest buildings – the House and 1900 McKinney – are luring residents with deluxe features and eye-catching design.

That’s important when there are fewer customers in the market. And it’s even more critical at the top levels of the Uptown housing market.

“The consumer is very sophisticated on what tricks will work,” said Dallas housing analyst Mike Puls. “At a half-million bucks, that’s very important.”

Puls estimates that while there are more than 1,000 new high-rise units on the market in Dallas, only about half are spoken for.

“The high-rise market is probably the most overdeveloped market,” he said.


At the House, at Houston Street and Continental Avenue, units range from just under $400,000 for a small one-bedroom condo to almost $2 million for a penthouse. On top of that, there’s a 47-cents-a-foot monthly homeowners’ association fee.

Residents get a fully equipped fitness center, guest accommodations for visitors and a posh “owners’ lounge” full of Starck-designed furnishings and accessories, Outside on the fifth floor, there’s an elaborate entertainment area with a dog park, poolside cabanas and other eye-catching features.

“Starck even designed the hot tub,” Gallina said. “And we have the longest elevated pool in Texas – 130 feet.”

The 28-story building designed by Starck and Elkus Manfredi Architects of Boston has just over 130 units and a front-row view of the downtown skyline.

Hillwood said it has contracted to sell about 40 percent of the units.

“We should be closing the first sales in the first part of this quarter,” said Gallina, who declined to disclose the names of any buyers or arrange interviews with them.


A few blocks away, at 1900 McKinney Ave., a steady parade of potential renters was checking out developer Hanover Co.’s new rental high-rise.

“I think it’s wonderful, wonderful,” said prospective renter Ruth Girod, who previously lived in Switzerland.

Houston-based Hanover has built three apartment towers in Uptown, and its newest, a 27-story building at McKinney and St. Paul Street, may be the most elaborate. Gromatzky Dupree & Associates designed the building.

The tower just north of the Dallas Museum of Art has 230 units that rent from about $2,100 a month to more than $6,000.

“But we have some great deals going on right now,” building operations manager Dina Riley is quick to add without going into details. “Those can help out with the bad economy.”

Since opening late last year, 1900 McKinney has leased about 33 percent of the units, Riley said. “We are averaging six or seven leases a week.

“We have a lot of people who walk to work downtown every morning,” she said. “We are attracting a lot of renters who already live in the area.

“And we are also getting people transferring to downtown Dallas for jobs.”

The building’s sixth floor pool deck offers postcard views of downtown Dallas and the Arts District. Across the motor court from the ground-floor entrance, there’s an elaborate lounge with multimedia displays and a showcase kitchen.

“We have two or three events here a week,” Riley said. “It may be a cooking class or a movie night.”

While many Uptown apartment buildings cater to a young crowd, 1900 McKinney has attracted a broader group of residents.

“It’s a little bit more low-key over here than in our Cirque building” next to American Airlines Center, Riley said. “We have some more families, too.”

Andrea Hutchinson, her husband and their two children are new residents at the building.

“Since I have kids, I was at first against living in this type of building,” she said. “We were looking at townhouses.”

But the family, which moved to Dallas from Michigan, picked the apartment high-rise because of its specialized services.

“The insides of the units are amazing, but what put it over the edge is how great everyone who works here is,” she said