The record rainfall that deluged Dallas in spring 2015 happened just as Stoneleigh Companies was digging a hole for its six-level parking garage in Uptown, and forced a five-month delay in the early days of construction for the new One Uptown tower at the corner of McKinney Avenue and Routh Street.
Now, it’s a blessing in disguise, said Rick Cavenaugh, president of Stoneleigh Cos.
All around Uptown Dallas, new apartments were being built, occupancy rates were rising, demand was soaring and so were the rents.
Uptown Dallas Inc. estimates there are 10,000 apartments in Uptown with an occupancy rate of 96 percent. Another 1,700 units are under construction now that will add another 2,500 residents by 2018.
The population in Uptown has grown 55 percent in six years. And 45 percent of those residents are ages 25 to 34.
With that picture in mind, Cavenaugh saw an opportunity to do an even more luxurious finish to in the 198-unit, 20-story tower. More wood floors, better cabinets and the latest closet organizers.
“That helped us catch up to the market, so we started upgrading the building,” he said as he gave Crain’s Dallas a tour of the site.
He’s watched the Uptown rental market evolve over the last few years from five to-seven-story apartment units to luxury towers that offer exclusive views of the city.
“The crowds here on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays are crazy. This is ground zero for all of that,” Cavenaugh said, referring to the bars and nightlife on McKinney Avenue. “All of the sudden, it showed that there was a demand for rental units and high-rise living.”
As a result, One Uptown can now charge higher rents when it opens in early 2017. Residents will pay between $3 a square foot for the smallest studio units to $5 a square foot for the penthouse units that look southwest toward the downtown Dallas skyline.
With the new Whole Foods on McKinney Avenue, tons of restaurants and sleek new offices, Uptown Dallas has become its own self-contained community, said Katy Slade, who chairs the Uptown Dallas Inc. board.
The ability to live, work and play in a walkable area appeals to the younger demographic and empty nesters, she said.
“With all the job growth that’s happening in this market, a lot of people who are moving to Dallas area realizing that they want to live in Uptown,” Slade said. “Now it has a very dynamic set of housing opportunities and also office opportunities that are here so that people really want to be in this location.”
One Uptown will also feature a Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse and a Tuscan-inspired restaurant called Circo.
Circo, expected to open this spring, will be a two-story restaurant with a glass-bottom swimming pool. Drivers who use the valet service on Routh Street will be able to look up and see the swimmers through the glass above. The restaurant will have a locker room where diners can change into their swimsuit. A spiral staircase will connect the first and second floors.
Fogo de Chao will have outside dining and a circular skylight above the salad bar.
The northwest corner of the building will feature LED lights that change colors, synced with the lighting at the Circo pool and the resident-only swimming pool and cabana on the 20th floor.
The luxury finishes are just now being installed at One Uptown while other complexes, like the nearby Gables Park 17, already have residents in place. Instead of restaurants, the Gables has the Whole Foods grocery store on its ground floor.
Competition between these complexes and a host of others will be fierce and will only increase as more are built. But Cavenaugh said he’s encouraged by the absorption rates in Uptown, Victory Park and the Knox-Henderson area.
“That’s going to create additional supply in the marketplace,” he said. “Yes, it will affect us—because there are only so many people as the market grows and continues to thrive—but this is the best of the best compared to everybody else’s finishes.”
Nolan Marshall just moved his wife and one-year-old from New Orleans to Dallas a few weeks ago to take over as president and executive director of Uptown Dallas Inc.
While people think of Uptown as being a millennial magnet full of young professionals, Marshall said he’s noticing more parents with young children like himself.
“As young professionals age, we’ve seen a real ability for Uptown to retain that demographic once they start having children,” he said.
That means planners need to change the way they look at Uptown Dallas infrastructure, including roads, schools and parks, he said.
Uptown Dallas Inc. is leading an effort to transform all of McKinney and Cole avenues into two-way streets to slow down traffic. Currently, the eastern portions of McKinney Avenue are one way.
“When you have increased density, you have to make sure pedestrians are safe to walk along the street,” Marshall said. “Making sure traffic isn’t speeding through the area is one of the priorities.”
They also want to keep the nearby urban oasis, Griggs Park, as a family-friendly park.