DART’s Downtown Rail Decision

By Steve Brown, Dallas Morning News


Last week I stood in the terminal at Love Field and watched a DART train zip by.  It didn’t stop — can’t stop. There’s no station.

That has to be one of the biggest urban transit blunders ever.  Why would a big-city commuter rail line omit the airport from service?

Does that make sense?

Hopefully transit planners won’t bungle again as they decide what to do about adding a second rail line through downtown Dallas.

The expansion of DART’s rail system with a new downtown line could be an economic boost to the center city. Or it could chop up downtown with rails that divide the area and reduce property values.  DART and Dallas already made the wrong decision about Love Field.

More than a decade ago, when plans were in flux for the commuter rail line running along the west side of Dallas’ airport, the transit agency and the city said they couldn’t afford the $160 million needed to build a DART station at Love Field.  And federal transit officials would not approve a plan that included Love Field.

So instead of stopping at the airport, DART’s yellow and white trains roll by next to the runway along Denton Drive.  There’s been talk of building some kind of a underground people mover to connect the airport to the DART line, but those are still just plans.

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Dallas heads list of cities with greatest office rent growth

By Steve Brown, Dallas Morning News

Uptown Office

You don’t have to tell North Texas businesses that office rents are on the move.

Huge employment gains in the area and corporate moves are fueling the strongest demand for office space in decades.  So it’s no wonder that tenants have to pay a lot more for their business space.


Average quoted rents in the Dallas area were up 8 percent at midyear from the first quarter.

Office rents in North Texas now top $25 per square foot on average — a record high, according to JLL.

The only other North American markets with big rent gains on the list were Montreal (6.3 percent) and San Francisco (5.8 percent).

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Modern Magic: How Data is Changing Site Selection

By Jeff Bounds, Dallas Inovates

Big Data

Companies across North Texas are using cutting-edge data wizardry to peer into the future as part of the site selection process for their operations. And few are better at it than The Container Store. Experts say the 38-year-old Coppell retailer is a leader in employing what’s known as “predictive analytics” to tease out optimal locations for its stores, which sell high-end storage and organization products such as shoe racks, canisters, and baskets.

With number-crunching and visualization help from South Carolina-based eSite Analytics, The Container Store brass know how much income residents in a given neighborhood have, but also how long customers may sit in traffic when they’re likely to visit a prospective store. Valerie Richardson, the chain’s vice president of real estate, can factor in information that correlates with The Container Store (NYSE: TCS) customers, such as how many people in a geographic area give to charity or enjoy drinking wine.

“Depending on the size of the investment, one bad store could cost you five good stores,” she said. “If you make the wrong decision, you live with the costs for five to 15 years. An unsuccessful store is a huge contingency on the balance sheet.”

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Google Fiber takes first step into Dallas

By Anna Butler, Dallas Business Journal

Fiber Optic

Google Fiber will begin exploring what it would take to bring its super-fast Internet system to residents and small businesses in Dallas.

“This is a first-step in discussions, but a big step for us,” Jill Szuchmacher, Google Fiber’s director of expansion, told me in an interview.

To get started, Mountain View, California-based Google plans to meet with Mayor Mike Rawlings and other city officials to discuss what it looks like to roll out Fiber smoothly in Dallas. This ease is measured by how non-disruptive it would be to add fiber-optic network lines and how painlessly the City can enact necessary changes.

Using its Fiber checklist, Google will weigh in-place logistics and infrastructure – like whether the thousands of miles of wiring required can partially utilize existing utility poles, rather than digging up streets – and will help prepare officials for the onslaught of permit submissions (about 100 times more than what most cities are used to according to Szuchmacher).

Outside of Los Angeles and Chicago, Dallas is one of the biggest metro areas that Google Fiber has attempted to enter. Szuchmacher said that Dallas was a natural choice for both its accelerated job growth and maturing tech sector.

“We want to see how we can help catalyze this activity,” she said.

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Hines Exploring Potential Sale of Nearly $5 Billion in Holdings

By Mark Heschmeyer – CoStar

Ross Avenue Tower

Global real estate investment firm Hines is joining the ranks of major institutional investors seeking to cash in some of their longer-held investments and lock-in returns at today’s high property valuations.

The Houston-based developer disclosed it is exploring strategic alternatives for two of its sponsored non-traded REITs: Hines Real Estate Investment Trust and Hines Global REIT. Hines said it is considering the usual list of alternatives for such investment vehicles, including selling individual or packages of properties, a sale or merger, or even listing the REITs’ shares on a national exchange.

Combined, the two REITs have raised and invested more than $5.6 billion from stock offerings, which Hines REIT has been doing since 2003 and Hines Global since 2008. Both completed their acquisition phases a little more than a year ago.

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The Birth of Uptown

By Steve Brown, Dallas Morning News


From the top of the Rosewood Crescent complex you get a stunning view of Dallas’ downtown.

But it’s the forest of towers that surround the Uptown landmark that really catch the eye.

New residential high-rises, office towers and luxury hotels line the streets surrounding the Crescent. And $1 billion in new projects are on the way.

The view was much different 30 years ago when the Crescent opened its door.

In the spring of 1986 when the Crescent held its grand opening party, the area now called Uptown was a hodge-podge of car lots, Mexican restaurants and run-down housing.

Today, it’s the most expensive patch of real estate in North Texas.

The Crescent gets a lot of credit for making Uptown into the current boomtown.

The landmark office, hotel and retail complex impacted the north side of downtown Dallas the way Rockefeller Center helped shape Midtown Manhattan.

The Crescent focused new attention on an area folks once just drove through in a hurry on their way to someplace else — the Park Cities or the entry to the Dallas North Tollway.

It started the migration of major downtown office tenants north of Woodall Rogers Freeway.

And the Crescent set the quality bar for other Uptown developments that would follow in the coming decades.

The Crescent has turned out of be one of Dallas’ best big ideas.

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Workplace Survey Shows Wide Gap in Office Preferences between Tech, Finance Companies

By Robert Carr, National Real Estate Investor

Office Space preferences

Growth in the office sector is forcing corporate executives to try to move in two directions at once—finding efficiency to cut costs, while also expanding and upgrading the office environment to attract new talent.

Concerns about creating attractive workplaces have increased as hiring has improved in recent months. Employers added 242,000 positions in February, including 29,000 positions in professional and business services, a steady pace of growth. The amount of underused workspaces continues to dwindle as occupancies and rents increase, according to a recent report from brokerage firm Marcus & Millichap.

“Further staff expansions may necessitate a reconsideration of tenants’ space requirements, providing a lift to space demand as leases for larger layouts are executed and move-ins take place,” according to the report.

A new survey by commercial real estate services firm CBRE delineates the workplace challenges, including the wide differences seen in space considerations by the traditional office users such as financial firms and the new office designs sought by technology companies to attract and retain workers.

In this expansion cycle, most respondents to CBRE’s Americas Occupier Survey listed talent availability as the most important consideration in their real estate decisions. However, efficiency and cutting real estate costs were also top concerns.

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