The ongoing design and financing effort to create the Trinity River park has given a new meaning to the notion, “If you build it, they will come.” For nearly 20 years, the concept of a major urban park south of downtown was held up by an inability among policymakers to reach consensus on its purpose. Transit-oriented planners kept wresting control of its designs to insert some version of a riverside boulevard, even perhaps a toll road.
That battle finally came to an end after an anti-road majority was elected in 2017 to City Council that killed the Trinity Parkway alternative last August once and for all. The council followed that vote with the creation of a Local Government Corporation to oversee the park’s design and construction. This LGC is to collaborate with the Trinity Park Conservancy to raise funds and develop designs, with landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. (MVVA) retained for the preliminaries.
Projected costs for the park are estimated at between $150-250 million. TPC received a $50 million donation from the estate of late billionaire Harold Simmons — guess who the park will be named after? The city also has about $47 million from a 1998 bond election.
The park’s boundaries are located in a floodway and extend from the Ron Kirk Pedestrian Bridge north of Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge to the Margaret McDermott Bridge carrying Interstate 30. Its vulnerability to flooding will require costly new infrastructure and the involvement of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
What the park will actually look like is still a bit of an unknown, but there’s at least a general consensus that whatever is delivered will be more of a nature preserve with trails, than a quilt of athletic facilities and parking lots.
The park, and the fact that there is finally viable momentum toward its realization, raises the prospect of what might sprout around its edges — there was always an assumption that such an amenity would attract development. There are three real estate hotspots now on the park’s periphery, all of which are at a very preliminary stage — and at least one has nothing to do with the park.
505 N. Riverfront Boulevard
Fort Worth-based developers Trademark Property and Forest City Realty Trust of Cleveland, Ohio, have put under contract a 42-acre tract on the north bank of the Trinity . The property is split and straddles both sides of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge carrying Singleton Boulevard. The developers have teamed up to build a mixed-use community with multifamily residential, hotel, office and retail components.
If this description gives you a feeling of déjà vu, that’s probably because there were news reports of an investment group, 505 Riverfront Partners, that bought more than 40 acres to try something along these lines back in 2013 — some kind of uber-mixed use concept that would also tie in to the Trinity Park development.
The 2013 group was headed by Dale Foster of Next Play Companies LLC, and their project wasn’t even the first effort. Another developer owned much of the site in 2008 and was making plans that were reportedly crushed by the recession.
But there are several reasons to believe this time will be different. For one, there’s more certainty about what will happen with the park and when — not to mention that high-density multifamily development already crossed the river in a big way several years ago. Cypress at Trinity Groves, a luxury apartment on Singleton Boulevard, is just one of many examples.
Developers Trademark and Forest City make an impressive team. Both are national real estate firms, and both have prior experience in Dallas. Trademark built Victory Plaza in Victory Park, and Forest City was behind the 3700M luxury apartments in Uptown.
Slate Properties on West Commerce
Last September, Slate Properties LLC obtained approval for a preliminary plat from the City Plan Commission for a 4.75-acre tract cobbled together from about a dozen lots. Located between North Beckley Avenue and Langford Street, with frontage on West Commerce Street, this property is nearest to the Trinity River and the West Commerce Street bridge heading into West Dallas.
Slate Properties named its plat Slate City Lights Addition. City Lights is a brand name used by Charleston, South Carolina-based multifamily developer Greystar, but there’s been no announcement that the two companies are working together at this time — however, Greystar has been active in the Metroplex and is currently building a project in the Bryan Place neighborhood.
The location is perfect for another mid-rise multifamily community priced at market rates, with a half-dozen apartment communities already built along the West Commerce Street – Fort Worth Avenue strip since the recession, with Alliance Residential’s Broadstone just two blocks west of the Slate Properties’ site being the most recent of the bunch.
Slate Properties’ principal is Reid Beucler and he is also a principal with Beucler Properties LP, a more established company that develops all manner of real estate properties in Texas. Beucler’s strength is in multifamily projects — according to his company bio, he has “orchestrated the development of over 30 projects with a market capitalization in excess of $750 million. The largest portion of this includes approximately 5,000 multifamily units with an approximate market capitalization of $400 million.”
Dawson State Jail
Directly across the West Commerce Street bridge from the Slate Properties tract, a prominent downtown developer is looking towards the future of the Dawson State Jail. Merdad Moayedi of Centurion American Development Group — the company that restored The Statler and is currently building a luxury multifamily apartment building next to the hotel — has now added a philanthropic project to his list of downtown plans.
The 10-story jail building, built in 1995, has been closed for about five years, and is the property of the state’s Department of Criminal Justice. It’s been on the market for some time, but the 255,840-square-foot building is on a lot of less than one acre and has virtually no parking to offer.
For that reason, it’s been a hard sell — there’s no practical way to convert it to office or residential use. Moayedi is in negotiations with the state to purchase the facility, with a standing offer on the table for $3 million that the state has yet to take. He wants to convert the building into a center for homeless housing and social services.
In a recent television interview, Moayedi noted that the building already has many of the basic amenities for a homeless shelter — a commercial kitchen, workout facilities, a basketball court, and so on. The jail had the capacity to house up to 2,000 inmates when it was active, but Moayedi wants to retrofit the building to accommodate 1,000 residents.He estimates the remodel will require about $10 million and roughly 14 months, once construction begins, and is willing to invest up to $6 million himself — but also expects non-profit organizations and other private developers to contribute.
“This is not a money deal,” Moayedi told the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate. “This is something to give back to downtown and the real estate market that we benefit from.”
Editors Note: This article was updated March 6 to correct an error in the exact location of the Trademark Property’s proposed development.