News Article | 8/5/2005

Victory Surge

You’d need a scorecard to keep up with the stream of recent announcements about buildings that will make up Victory Park.

Previously known as the Victory development, Victory Park surrounds Dallas’ American Airlines Center and links the central downtown Dallas area to the trendy Uptown area to the north.

Owned by Hillwood and Hicks Holdings L.L.C., Victory Park is a $3 billion-plus urban district that, at full build-out, will include more than 4,000 residential units and 4 million square feet of office and retail space, including unique food, drink and entertainment destinations.

The 75-acre project will welcome its first residents in 2006.

In the first half of this year, announcements came fast and furious with specifics about components that will make up Phase II of the massive undertaking. The American Airlines Center represented the development’s first phase.

One project that has generated buzz as it rises to 31 stories is the W Dallas Victory Hotel and Residences. During recent construction phases, the taller of the two towers was growing by one floor every four to five days.

Over the summer, the project will move into an operating mode, with a team being assembled to staff the facility, said Marty Collins, president of Dallas-based Gatehouse Capital, which is developing the hotel and residences with Fort Worth-based Hillwood and Dallas-based Hicks Holdings, owned by Tom Hicks.

The Dallas property is the first W hotel to offer a residential component.

“People aren’t making a real estate decision as much as they are embracing a lifestyle,” Collins said. That includes lush interiors, sweeping views, a fitness center and other amenities as well as an upscale restaurant, nightclubs and spa in the building.

Strong interest The property includes a 31-story north tower with 61 residences located on the 18th to 31st floor and 250 hotel rooms below.

The strength of initial interest in the residential component prompted the addition to the project of more condos in a south tower. Residential units sport price tags from $400,000 up.

Among other Victory Park components:

The Vista, a 125-unit apartment complex with street-level retail scheduled to be ready in 2006. The Terrace, a 95-unit condominium project with specialty retail and patio dining space located on a walkway overlooking a park, due to be ready in 2006. Victory Plaza, a two-building, 180,000-square-foot office project that Hillwood plans just south of the American Airlines Center. The buildings are scheduled to be complete in summer 2006. One building will include a television studio and offices for WFAA-TV (Channel 8), which will bring live television shows and celebrities to the venue. One Victory Park, the first phase of two 18-story office towers totaling about 800,000 square feet of space, including 350,000 square feet of office space and 20,000 square feet of ground-floor restaurant and shop space. Hillwood, the real estate company owned by Ross Perot Jr., has entered a joint venture with Houston-based developer Hines for the project. Dallas-based BOKA Powell has designed One Victory Park, which is slated for late 2007 occupancy. Cirque, a 260-unit multifamily project by Houston-based The Hanover Corp., planned to open in mid-2007. The House by Starck and Yoo, a 26-story condominium project with 10 penthouse units on the top four floors and 140 standard units of one to three bedrooms. The ground level of the building will have more than 30,000 square feet of retail space and include an upscale grocery store, shops and restaurants. Renowned designer Phillippe Starck and his associates will design the $80 million building, which is due for completion in 2008. The third phase of the development, which includes The House by Starck and Yoo, will feature other components such as the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science, likely opening in 2008 or 2009, and a 1 acre park. Additional office and retail is also planned for the project.

At full build-out, there will be 33 blocks of development at Victory Park. No final completion date has been set.

By summer 2006, people will see five buildings open, marking the beginning of a “great neighborhood,” said Hillwood president Jonas Wood.

It will be a neighborhood “unparalleled in this part of the country,” offering a dozen top restaurants and 35 stores, he said.

“It will be a vibrant urban experience with many things to do in a pedestrian-oriented environment,” he said.

The scope of the project has evolved. Initial plans called for about $500 million worth of real estate development around American Airlines Center, Wood said.

The economic downturn, the aftermath of 9/11 and the tech-bust delayed the project, but also helped produce a dramatically bigger and more dense development than the one envisioned earlier, he added.

“We started over in the fourth quarter of 2002 and threw everything out,” he said. “It’s remarkable that two and a half years later we have five buildings under construction.”

Victory Park is adding a vibrant and energetic component to the downtown Dallas and Uptown areas, said Phil Puckett, managing director-corporate advisory services for Trammell Crow Co.

“It will be good for downtown and bring more life into and around the central business district,” Puckett said.