You Know That Empty Lot in Front of Downtown Farmers Market? Town Homes!

Dallas Farmer's Market Square1a.jpg
Click to embiggen plans for the town homes on the lot across from Dallas Farmers Market
On and off in recent years there have been several attempts to fill that vacant lot across Marilla from the Dallas Farmers Market, and each plan has gone nowhere. Which is why I got interested when I saw this: This morning the Farmers Market TIF District Board of Directors met to discuss something called the Farmers Market Square project. I called the Office of Economic Development for more info, and Karl Stundins, area redevelopment manager, confirmed: Yup, this is supposed to go in that lot, fingers crossed.

Stundins says it's a 110-unit, 236,900-square-foot town-home project spearheaded by Houston developer Frank Liu of InTown Homes, who hopes to plant "moderately priced" for-sale properties on the lot -- which is more or less one of the centerpieces of the Downtown Dallas 360 plan.

"We worked with Brent Brown at the CityDesign Studio to look at the site plan and street elevations, and they did a lot of modifications to get to this point," says Stundins, who sent the conceptual renderings you see above and after the jump. "We also looked at Downtown Dallas 360 and looked at that site as more moderately priced. The land's expensive, which makes it harder to do for-sale at really, really inexpensive [prices]. But the units will be priced at the lower end of what's for sale downtown."

Dallas Farmer's Market Square1b.jpg
The reason it's on the Farmers Market TIF board agenda: Liu, who expects the development to run around $33 million, is seeking $3 million in TIF incentives, which the board suggests the city council approve after it returns from summer vacation. (It'll go in front of the Economic Development Committee before the whole council espies the project.) Stundins says of all the projects proposed for the cite, this one "seems like it's going to happen, and they're looking to the city for support from the TIF district. It's contingent upon that."

If Liu gets the TIF incentive, he would expect to begin building by the end of December, with completion date set for September 30, 2013.

But Stundins knows there will be objections; he's already heard from folks who want to know why the project doesn't contain a retail component, or at least a live-work piece on the ground floor. That was part of a previously planned project set to go on the site, but Stundins says it's much more difficult to demand that with a town-home development.

"The city overall has a larger concern with Farmers Market," he says. "The city wants to privatize it, but we only got one bid, and retail's difficult down there. You don't want to put in retail if nobody shops there. Marilla, because of City Hall Plaza, doesn't really go anywhere. Eventually we'll have to look at: Is there a better way to use our resources with Farmers Market and what's the appropriate amount of retail space. There's more work we have to do.

"And it's difficult, because if you look at the space, 20 percent is allocated to shopping and 80 percent to storage and trucks. The question is: For downtown land, is that the most efficient use?"
Dallas Farmer's Market Square1c.jpg
Dallas Farmer's Market Square1.jpg
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39 comments
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abuckley1970
abuckley1970

I think this is a spectacular project for the Farmers Market area.  Nice to see them get their TIF funding.  :)  From what I hear it took MONTHS to finally reach this stage and to finally get in front of the board. 

(and there are 108 units, not 110 :D)

Andrew Corey Howard
Andrew Corey Howard

Almost got it right. Remove the five foot setback from sidewalk, add front porches and awnings for shade and remove the grass. Its hot! We need shade between the street trees and front of building. One watering hole in the area would do wonders too. Instead of cash we could offer removing three lanes from South Central Expressway and converting to real estate. This would improve return on investment to developer and mixed income housing choices downtown. The "expressway" only has 12,000 cars a day at that location. Most of the time it is vacant and acts as a barrier. That amount of traffic can be carried on two lanes. Heck we might even get a square if we incentivized with free land. 

BoPeep
BoPeep

Given the lack of development that has occurred in Downtown Dallas since 2006 (that's right, it's been five long years of inactivity), the City and TIF District should not be too picky. Personally, the thought of $400k townhomes that close to "The Bridge" doesn't make any sense to me.

abuckley1970
abuckley1970

Base price is $275k for units with the exception of the larger corner units.

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

Both the Mosaic and Third Rail Lofts opened in 2007. Joule Hotel opened in 2008. The Merc and Aloft Hotel in 2009. Canton Townhomes last year and this year. 400 Ervay (old post office) opening this year.

Where have you been? 

BoPeep
BoPeep

Construction starts are what counts.......Who cares when they finish? For example, this project says it will start by end of this year (2011), but will not be complete until 2013.

Mosaic started construction in 2005, Third Rail Lofts started even before that, and so did the Joule Hotel project. All of these were multi-year projects.

Fact is, aside from Aloft Hotel, nothing has started construction since Fall of 2006 (that is when Mercantile Project "broke ground").

Now, I guess I should ask........."Where have you been?"

abuckley1970
abuckley1970

there's a portion of the units that have to be built by 2013 because the TIF expires 12/2013.  All of the public improvements in the ROW have to be complete along with 40 of the 108 townhomes to get the money.  There's no way they would finish all 108 of them by then.

LaceyB
LaceyB

It's OK. You can choose between the full garden tub, or the stand alone shower and full linen closet in the master bath.

jmeyer
jmeyer

Most efficient use?  The city would rather use farmers market for homeless and supportive housing.  That is why nobody is there. Keep the crime rate high so nobody will move there. The city does not care about tax paying citizens or property owners.  There were other interested bidders for farmers market, but the city was not cooperative in giving bidders the information they needed (financials, operating, management control) to bid.

Lakewoodhobo
Lakewoodhobo

This will be walking distance to the Atmos Lofts, Statler Hilton and old library, which are all supposed to have a retail component in the future. Does everyone really need to live above their own Starbucks and wine bar?

cityrunamuk
cityrunamuk

Mr. Stundins-  "The city overall has a larger concern with Farmers Market," he says. "The city wants to privatize it, but we only got one bid, and retail's difficult down there. You don't want to put in retail if nobody shops there. Marilla, because of City Hall Plaza, doesn't really go anywhere. Eventually we'll have to look at: Is there a better way to use our resources with Farmers Market and what's the appropriate amount of retail space. There's more work we have to do

Karl, you are partly correct, you only recd one bid from an unqualified bidder - is not because of the lack of surrounding development - at least not totally, the City recd only one bid from an unqualified bidder because the city's expectations for financial results are not achieveable nor are they realistic and  you relied on the Cobb connection to be the savior. 

Development is part of the answer but the larger issue is getting read of all of the vendors at DFM save the producers..........And closing the Bridge or moving it from the area. 

I am guessing the developers for this residential project see DFM as the buffer between them and the Bridge. 

Ellum08
Ellum08

Wait, a city department (one who is historically known as not playing nice with others) is actually working with another city department and following a plan that Council approved? Crazy.

William M
William M

I have long felt that the city hall building should be turned over to private investors to convert into a convention center hotel.  That would make two world class convention center hotels!  It is time that the city government was moved over next to the levees of the Trinity River so that they will be the first ones to drown when they break. 

Tony
Tony

There are already several successfull townhome projects in the Farmers Market area.  Intown Homes' project across from this one is practically sold out. And that's after they bought it from the developer whose half completed project in that location didn't sell at all.  A few years ago, the Perry Homes townhouse project south of the Farmers Market apartments, was incredibly successful as well.  My point is, this area seems to do well for townhomes and judging by how quickly the current project sold, Intown knows what they're doing. If enough bodies are in the area. retail will follow, but why force it?  Right now, the Farmers Market eateries all close early anyway, and after the market closes the area is pretty dead....minues the homeless making their way to The Bridge.

MattL1
MattL1

It looks like they ran the Back Bay through the Disney Machine. Still, I suppose it's better than a vacant lot...

Adam from East Dallas
Adam from East Dallas

I'll be waiting for Schutze's rant because it is just one more development that is not homeless or poverty friendly.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

Looks like there will be plenty of stoops for bums to pee on.

Milkman Dan
Milkman Dan

So if they get the TIF funds, hard/soft costs (including developers fee, interest carry, etc - which in actuality is probably NOT all included in the number) comes to $30MM. Assuming the units are priced at cost + 10%, + 6% in sales commissions = roughly $35MM all-in. Divided by 110 units = $320M-ish each. From your article, each unit averages 2,154 SF, so total asking price = ~$150/SF. This seems pretty reasonable I suppose, although I have no idea how much someone will pay for a townhome in that area. Anyone have any ideas?

Biglar
Biglar

Cost + 10%?  If that's all they are going to get, nobody would take the trouble to do it.  I'm thinking they're going to be aiming much closer to the $200sf level.  Not that they're going to get it, or will even admit it now while they talk about moderate prices for the units, but that seems a lot closer to what they will be aiming for.

Milkman Dan
Milkman Dan

"Cost + 10%?  If that's all they are going to get, nobody would take the trouble to do it."As I stated, I am assuming that the development fee is already included in the development cost estimate provided in the article. My 10% estimate is pricing wiggle-room. You are suggesting they will ask ~$430M per unit. How does that compare to the others that have sold around Farmer's Market? I know I can get a 5-7 year old townhome in State-Thomas for that price.

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

~150/SF is about what I'd want to pay for something in the 2000-2300 square foot neighborhood if I can convince the wifey to move there instead of bolting for a town home in Uptown.

Juan Valdez
Juan Valdez

Retail "can effectively be activated"???!!!!. I hope NOT. Retail MUST be included in this project. Otherwise, we are office parking this project. We might as well call is "Frisco am Downtown" or "The Plano Glens". We must stop segregating people, transportation and businesses. We can all cohabitate. Its worked in most of the world for hundredths of years.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Too funny!! "Its worked in most of the world for hundredths of years." For a whole 3.65 days huh???

Just kidding, but it did strike me as terribly funny.

WalkableDFW
WalkableDFW

Retail follows rooftops. Gotta get the rooftops before the retail, unless we feel like subsidizing empty retail spaces/boring chains and that becomes self-defeating. One of the keys is creating flexible/adaptable ground floor spaces where the use can evolve as the market does while still engaging the street. From the renderings it is difficult to tell if this has been taken into account.

Ellum08
Ellum08

Seems to me there is plenty of rooftops with the new Intown development across the street, the existing townhomes and big ass apartment complex across Cesar Chavez. Maybe not.  

Too bad the model of State/Thomas couldn't have been followed. Residental with a few retail spots mixed at the street corners. Seems to work pretty good there.

md
md

Calm down. There are businesses across the street.

Crispin Lawson
Crispin Lawson

Not every single parcel has to be mixed-use for a neighborhood to be mixed-use, and that's what the real key is - neighborhood diversity. There are other places within walking distance for the residents of the neighborhood where retail can be located, i.e. the Farmers Market itself. The Farmers Market Neighborhood Association is supportive of this project and we look forward to seeing that vacant land finally filled.

- Crispin Lawson  Farmers Market Neighborhood Association

William M
William M

If the people need to shop, they can just get in their cars and drive as it is going to be a long while before a commercial shopping district takes shape in the central Dallas area.  That district seems to be developing along a sliver to the east of the Arts District, Uptown, and CityPlace areas.  In the meantime, to convert that downtown city hall building into another convention center hotel, move the city government over west of downtown next to the Trinity River Levee.  That should keep them occupied and their noses out of the business of what retail is needed in the Farmers Market area and how to create it.    

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Kourtny Garrett, senior vice president of Downtown Dallas Inc., would like to add this comment:

"We here at the Downtown Dallas, Inc. world headquarters are thrilled to see this project moving forward. As you said, Robert, it fulfills many of the 360 goals for the area.  In terms of the concern over the lack of retail - I'd just like to point out that ground floors can be effectively activated with residential as well - picture Boston-style stoops and such.  The developers have been very amenable to working with the Design Studio to ensure this happens, and with the amount of retail absorption we need in the Farmers Market itself (ala Shed 2), a pure residential land use is the most feasible at this day and time.  We hope to see families, playgrounds and pocket parks fill the area to complement the market."

Downtown Resident
Downtown Resident

Allow to me interject a little (good natured) snark. "Downtown Dallas Inc. world headquarters", is the world part really necessary, is there a branch office in Poughkeepsie or something?

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

So, we put millions into the Farmers' Market and operate it at a loss, and we put millions and millions into the Bridge, and are committed to doing so for the foreseeable future, and now we have to offer public money to get anyone to do "private" development across the street. 

Hey buddy can you spare a dime
Hey buddy can you spare a dime

Hopefully Dallas Farmers Market will get turned over to this group as well.............let the private sector have total control over the Dallas Farmers Market to partner with their development.  This way, the developer can ensure their project is not degraded by what the City of Dallas in not able to do, namely complete the vision for DFM and stop letting the inmate vendors at the DFM run the asylum. 

Justin Julian
Justin Julian

I'm with you on this.  Maybe then Dallas would stop doing their best to stop other markets from potentially competing with theirs, as it won't be 'theirs' any longer.

guest
guest

CO-sign on the inmate DFM vendors.  Going there is offputting....and I used to live across the street.

Gus MIT
Gus MIT

Hopefully the city will allow this to move on.

How many Gap stores are really viable in a given area anyway?

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