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‘European village’ at Hwy. 114, subdivision drawing opposition
Plans for a new subdivision in Westlake and a $500 million development along Hwy. 114 that could include water taxis, town hall, an amphitheater, an assisted living center and more have residents flocking to meetings in an effort to stop them — or at least slow them down.
Vocal and sustained opposition from residents who said they chose the town of about 1,000 for its rural atmosphere and upscale homes dampened both proposals and prompted leaders to step back and look at Westlake’s comprehensive plan.
One opponent, former Mayor Scott Bradley, said the town originally was planned to accommodate mostly large office campuses like Deloitte University and Solana, which are in the town now.
“If you can attract a corporate campus, they generally agree to buy a large tract and leave the perimeter undeveloped,” said Bradley, who was mayor of the town for more than a decade. “It leaves the impression of a rural atmosphere.”
Plans for the mixed-use development Vallecito, at FM 1938 and Solana Boulevard extending to Hwy. 114, surfaced in December along with a request to change zoning and add an $89 million housing development called Granada at FM 1938 and Dove Road. Both are from developer Mehrdad Moayedi of Centurion American, who has developed much of nearby Trophy Club.
Growth is coming
Situated as it is along Hwy. 114 between the DFW and Alliance airports, Westlake is going to have to deal with development one way or another, town officials said.
“There are two things you can say about change,” Mayor Laura Wheat said at a Jan. 28 council meeting. “One, change is difficult and two, change is inevitable.”
Besides Solana Corporate Campus and Deliotte, Fidelity Investments also has an office park in Westlake.
The community also is known for Vaquero, a guard-gated golf course community where luxurious homes rest on manicured, treed lots of well over an acre. The Jonas Brothers and several elite athletes live there.
Eddie Edwards, town planning and development director, said at a joint Town Council-Planning and Zoning commission workshop Feb. 4, that the property proposed for Granada could be used as a corporate campus under current zoning, but it also could be used for a shopping center with a grocery store and large retailers such as furniture stores.
Moayedi is asking to have the zoning changed to residential, so he can put in the 84-lot subdivision with lot sizes averaging 30,000 square feet. Home prices would be $1 million and over.
He has made many changes to the plans after meeting with residents and staff, including reducing the number of lots, agreeing to different roof levels and prohibiting the use of composition roofing material.
A major resident concern was whether a so-called production builder would be constructing the homes rather than a custom homebuilder. Moayedi told those at the Feb. 4 workshop that the new restrictions likely would rule out production builders.
The rezoning request likely will come to the Planning and Zoning Commission again later this month and, if approved, goes to the Town Council.
A primary objection frequently voiced by residents about Vallecito was the plans included 137 upscale apartments. The apartments were eliminated by early February.
Neither Westlake nor nearby Southlake has apartments within city limits.
“What I’ve taken from all the meetings is that most of the residents of Westlake are OK with the concept; however, multifamily was a four-letter word,” Moayedi said. “We’ve done away with rental product, period. We’re trying to take the units from 559 to about 300-350 owned town home villas and condos.”
Moayedi said he and developer Jeff Blackard are looking for ways to attract exclusive businesses, such as offering incentives to chefs or restaurateurs to be owners/operators of restaurants there. He said a similar strategy in Dallas drew 125 applicants including a sous chef from the Rosewood Mansion at Turtle Creek.
At the end of the Feb. 4 session after the Granada discussion, Blackard said he is willing to sit down with residents and town leaders with pencil and paper.
“I just saw what Mehrdad went through on something that’s relatively simple,” he said. “I wouldn’t be interested unless everybody here is part of the process. This could be the greatest project in Texas, but I can’t be fighting the world.”
Blackard developed Adriatica, a similar project in McKinney. Council member Rick Rennhack said he drove through it and didn’t like what he saw.
“You lose me on this village concept because it seems manufactured,” Rennhack said. “All the great cities I’ve been to evolved over time.”
Moayedi and Blackard plan to withdraw the proposal from Planning and Zoning and then resubmit it after conducting a design charrette. Everyone involved in a project, including residents, will study and discuss every aspect.
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More Americans Believe Economy Headed in Right Direction
Despite continued uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff, Americans are showing increased confidence in the housing market and the direction of the economy. According to results from Fannie Mae’s November 2012 National Housing Survey, such improvement bodes especially well for continued strengthening in the housing sector, which in turn is likely to support overall economic growth.
“Consumer attitudes toward both the economy and the housing market continue to gather momentum, with many of our 11 key National Housing Survey indicators at or near their two-and-a-half-year highs,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist of Fannie Mae. “On the housing front, attitudes about the current selling environment continue to improve, with a significant increase in those saying it would be a good time to sell. This growing confidence in a housing recovery, in addition to other factors, may reinforce growing consumer optimism regarding the improving direction of the general economy. Those indicating that the economy is on the right track has risen to 44 percent while those saying it’s on the wrong track has fallen to 50 percent, the smallest gap since the survey’s inception.”
The November survey results show significant movement across many of the indicators. The share of respondents who say now is a good time to sell a home jumped 5 percentage points in November to 23 percent – the highest level since the survey began in June 2010 – narrowing the gap with those who say it is a good time to buy. The percentage of respondents who expect mortgage rates to go up increased by 4 percentage points to 41 percent. Those expecting home prices to go down within the next year also rose by 4 percentage points to 14 percent over last month, a rebound from the survey’s record low in the prior month, while the share who believe home prices will go up in the next 12 months edged up to 37 percent, tying the survey high. Of note, 51 percent of respondents now say it would be easy to get a mortgage, marking the highest rate since the survey’s inception (this survey finding is in addition to the 11 National Housing Survey indictors).
When asked about the economy, those who say it is on the wrong track dipped 6 percentage points since October and a total of 25 percentage points in the past year. Respondents expressed some improvement in the status of their current finances; however, due potentially to the looming fiscal cliff, the share who expect their personal financial situation to get worse over the next 12 months rose 5 percentage points to 18 percent – the highest level since December 2011.
Homeownership and Renting
• Average home price change expectation held steady at 1.7 percent.
• Fourteen percent of those surveyed say that home prices will go down in the next 12 months, a 4 percentage point increase over last month.
• The percentage who think mortgage rates will go up continued to rise, increasing 4 percentage points in November to 41 percent.
• Twenty-three percent of respondents say it is a good time to sell, a 5 percentage point increase over last month, and the highest level since the survey’s inception.
• The average rental price expectation hit 4 percent in November, a 0.9 percent rise over the past two months.
• Forty-eight percent of those surveyed say home rental prices will go up in the next 12 months, a slight decrease from last month.
• The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move held relatively steady at 67 percent.
• Fifty-one percent of respondents now say it would be easy to get a mortgage, marking the highest rate since the survey’s inception.
The Economy and Household Finances
• Hitting 50 percent for the first time since the survey’s inception, the percentage who think the economy is on the wrong track has declined by 25 percentage points over the past year, and by 6 percentage points from last month.
• The percentage who expect their personal financial situation to get worse over the next 12 months rose 5 percentage points to 18 percent, the highest level since December 2011.
• Meanwhile, 21 percent of respondents say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago.
• Household expenses remained stable over the past month, with 56 percent responding that their household expenses stayed the same compared to 12 months ago.
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Euless development moves forward with Lennar land purchase.
Lennar Homes has purchased 49 acres of land in Euless with plans for a new 200-home residential community.
The land, designated Riverwalk, is located at the northwest corner of Highway 183 and Highway 360, adjacent to DFW International Airport, and is zoned for single family residential, multi-family and commercial use. The property was part of a larger tract purchased two years ago by investor Stratford Land.
In Riverwalk, Miami-based Lennar will debut a new line of homes that feature higher quality details and amenities in addition to a more upmarket architectural design. The homes will be priced starting in the low $300,000's.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to capitalize on the improving home buying market in DFW by initiating the residential community in Riverwalk,” said Greg Urech, director of land operations for Lennar. “The homes Lennar plans to build in Riverwalk demonstrate our plan to enhance the value of our brand and become one of the top builders in North Texas.”
Lennar’s acquisition includes approximately 200 home sites in its first phase, with the option to double the number of homes in the near future. Groundbreaking on the first homes is scheduled to begin by summer 2013 with a model home projected to open in the first quarter of 2014.
“Stratford is excited to have Lennar, one of the most recognized builders in the nation for both size and financial strength, building a flagship community in Riverwalk,” said Steve Sanders, Stratford Land’s senior investment manager for Texas. “Lennar’s residential construction plans are beneficial for the city of Euless, providing an appealing selection of home styles for local buyers, and we are proud to have them as Riverwalk’s builder.”
Dallas-based Stratford Land officials say they are also in talks with potential buyers for Riverwalk’s multifamily tracts, which include about 500 units. Stratford expects the commercial aspects of Riverwalk will follow residential as is common in mixed use communities.
“When Stratford acquired the property in 2011, we knew the location was exceptional,” said Sanders. “Lennar’s decision to build at this location affirms our investment, and we are excited to see the residential area of Riverwalk come to life.”
Stratford Land is a private, Dallas-based investment company that has been in business for 25 years. The company has properties in Texas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Tennessee and along the eastern seaboard from Virginia to Florida.
Real estate broker Andrew Prine negotiated Stratford Land’s property sale to Lennar.
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New 175-room hotel proposed in Southlake
SOUTHLAKE - A five-story hotel with 175 rooms, a conference center, ballroom and indoor race track is proposed on 15 acres at the northwest corner of Kimball Avenue and Texas 114.
The race-themed development would be 90,370-square feet and would cater to corporations who could use the conference space for meetings and the indoor track for team building exercises, said Jeff Medici of C.H.O.C. Development, the developer of the project.
Just like the professionals, racing teams would compete in electric cars while their crew chief watches from above and gives instructions. A pit crew challenge would allow them to change tires and make other quick changes to a stock car while being timed.
It's all part of the team building experience, Medici said.
"That is the one thing that separates us and makes us unique from any other hotel development in the country," he said. "It's going to be the first of its kind but not the last of its kind."
The race track area would be called Turn 4, a reference to the final turn just before the finish line. Official race cars also will be on display.
Medici said he's in negotiations with a number of hotel companies to operate the facility, which will include a restaurant with a full bar.
"We've gotten a lot of really good feedback," Medici said. "Everyone wants to be a part of the second hotel in Southlake."
The hotel would provide shuttle service to Southlake Town Square and DFW Airport.
The ballroom would have enough room for 450 people and could be used for seminars, weddings and other events. The development would have two entrances, the primary one on Texas 114 and a second on Kimball Avenue.
Plans also include a high-end restaurant along the westbound Texas 114 frontage road just west of Chicken Express.
For decades, the site had a 200,000-square-foot warehouse where Mesco Metal Buildings was located. The building, which had been vandalized in recent years, was demolished to make way for this project.
Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/07/23/4119316/new-175-room-hotel-proposed-in.html#storylink=cpy
Posted Monday, Jul. 23, 2012 Updated Monday, Jul. 23, 2012
By Nicholas Sakelaris
New-Home Building at Highest Level in 3 Years
The home-building industry continues to dig out of its slump as the pace of construction posts big jumps for single-family and multifamily houses. Builders had a level of starts in June not seen since October 2008, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
Housing starts in June soared 6.9 percent, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000 units. Broken down, single-family home construction, which makes up the largest segment of those new housing starts, increased 4.7 percent in June. Multifamily housing starts, considered a volatile segment of the market, jumped 12.8 percent last month.
Housing starts were nearly 24 percent higher in June compared to last year at that time.
“Housing continues to be the one sector of the U.S. economy that is outperforming expectations,” Michael Gapen, an economist at Barclays, told Reuters.
Still, while housing starts posted a big leap in June, new housing permits — a gauge of future building — dropped 3.7 percent in June.
Source: “Housing Starts Are Up, but Building Permits Decline,” Reuters (July 18, 2012) - Daily Real Estate News | Thursday, July 19, 2012