Bishop Arts Station, easily the largest mixed-use real estate project to come to Bishop Arts District in decades, appears to remain on track for an August groundbreaking.
Since the developer, Alamo Manhattan, obtained approval from Dallas City Council in March for $11.75 million in tax increment financing, this $57 million multifamily and retail development has been back to the Urban Design Peer Review Panel.
The UDPRP saw an updated and more detailed version of designs at a May 22 session, with particular focus on the plaza portion and how it interacts with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail station to be placed there.
Bishop Arts Station is to include 209 apartment units and 25,200 square feet of restaurant and retail space. It is located at the northwest and southeast corners of Zang Boulevard and West Davis Street. Conditions for the TIF money include a mixed income housing policy, with at least 20 percent of units at affordable rates for 15 years. Alamo Manhattan must obtain the building permit by June 30, 2017 and a certificate of occupancy by Dec. 31, 2019.
Meanwhile, there is a sense in the community that the project has come a long way from the concept that received so much criticism last year. Alamo Manhattan made significant changes in response to concerns that Bishop Arts Station was just a clone of Uptown style of development, without regard to the unique nature of Bishop Arts.
David Spence of Good Space, an attorney and long-time developer and champion of Bishop Arts, likened the most recent designs to downtown Fort Worth: “They went from using red brick to buff-colored (yellow) brick.
Spence was also optimistic about the marketability of the project.
“There are tons of people, especially young educated people, who want to come back to the city to live. My tenants who moved here typically grew up in the suburbs, now have a degree and don’t want to go back to the suburbs,” Spence said.
Uptown is a much more expensive option and has a different vibe, Spence added. Potential renters are coming because they’re attracted to the racial and economic diversity that North Oak Cliff has. Five years ago, rents were going for around $1 per square foot. By the time of the project’s estimated completion in April 2018, Bishop Arts Station will probably command $2 per square foot.
Demand for retail is strong as well, he added. There have been concerns in the community on whether local merchants will be able to participate, or will the usual mix of national chains dominate?
“I don’t know. That’s what we’re going to find out. It’s an experiment. I know (Alamo Manhattan president) Matt Segrest is fascinated with this urban landscape. He is wanting to take it to the next level and not homogenize it. The problem is all these people are borrowing money, and the lenders are comfortable with lending to J.Crew and that ilk,” Spence said.
Another major element of the project is its density and the tie-in to the streetcar extension DART is laying in that direction.
“We spent close to $60 million bringing the streetcar downtown to that point, and it’s $1 million a year per mile to operate. The only way that works is if you bring in density. The city has made a very expensive investment at that corner and anybody in transit-oriented development will tell you that you’ve got to build density all along that route if you want to get any return on investment,” Spence said.
Alamo Manhattan was the first in this decade to gamble on this area of North Oak Cliff, but several other projects of even higher density are on the drawing boards.