The Winners: D CEO’s Residential Real Estate Awards

In its October issue, D CEO honored six projects and developers in its inaugural Residential Real Estate Awards program. Here’s more information on the winners:

Outstanding Multifamily Development: Gables McKinney Avenue

A Whole Foods store anchors Gables Residential's new Uptown development.
A Whole Foods store anchors Gables Residential’s new Uptown development.

Fifteen years ago, Gables Residential revamped its development strategy, deciding it would build only in high-job-growth markets where there’s economic diversity. Within those markets, says President and CEO Sue Ansel, it would focus on “established premium neighborhoods, like Uptown, where there’s a live-work-play environment … places where people are renters by choice.” That strategy is exemplified in Gables McKinney Ave., an eight-story, 222-unit residential tower built atop a 38,000-square-foot Whole Foods—the first project of its kind in North Texas. Opening this fall, the development also features 17 town-homes, built to “ease the transition” from the State Thomas historic district to the high-density tower on McKinney Avenue. “It has required a lot of effort, but we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” Ansel says.

Outstanding Multifamily Developer—Trammell Crow Residential

Alexan Medical District
Alexan Medical District

Although it has existed in different iterations, Trammell Crow Residential has a rich, nearly 40-year history of developing multifamily space. It kicked off a new round of development in 2012, with most projects carrying the “Alexan” name, a brand first established in the 1990s. TCR customizes floorplans, finishes, and amenities for each property, including perks like a blow-dry bar at Alexan Arts. One of its latest projects, The Alexan, is nearing completion on “Goat Hill” north of Victory Park. Bancroft says the company works closely with cities and neighborhoods to develop projects where everyone is happy with the outcome. “Our business plan has been to develop in and around the urban core and leave the neighborhood better than we found it,” he says. “We feel confident in saying we’ve achieved that.”

Outstanding Multifamily Developer—High-Rise: StreetLights Residential

The McKenzie
The McKenzie

When industry veterans Doug Chesnut and Tom Bakewell formed Dallas-based StreetLights Residential in 2011, they did so for two main reasons. The first was the opportunity to tap into massive demographic shifts favoring apartments. The second was to be “a design-driven development company that pushes the envelope on creating great architecture,” Chesnut says. StreetLights helps ensure this by keeping design, development, and construction services in-house. Its stunning local projects include The Taylor (17 stories) and The Jordan (23 stories) in Uptown, and The McKenzie (23 stories) in the Knox-Henderson neighborhood. StreetLights also has partnered with other developers on vertical mixed-use projects, such as One Dallas Center downtown and The Union in Uptown. Historically, Chesnut says, apartment developers have done a bad job of city-building. “They’ve bastardized cities,” he says. “When we look at urban development, we think in terms of creating great long-term neighborhoods.”

Outstanding Single-Family Developer: Hillwood Communities

One of HIllwood's North Texas communities.
One of HIllwood’s North Texas communities.

Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood is well known for its commercial development prowess, having built about 50 million square feet of industrial and office space. But its residential arm, Hillwood Communities, is a force, too. During the recent downturn, the company bulked up on land and developed its LiveSmart platform. It debuted that brand with Harvest, a $1 billion, 1,150-acre development in Northlake and Argyle. Amenities at the “new urban agrarianism” project include garden plots and an on-staff farmer. Hillwood recently kicked off three new LiveSmart communities in Texas, including the 787-acre Union Park in Little Elm. A driving factor behind the company’s remarkable growth is Fred Balda, president, who has been with Hillwood since 1992. “Our big challenge right now is getting lots on the ground while the market continues to be robust,” he says. “There’s just so much pent-up demand.”

Outstanding Single-Family Development: Windsong Ranch

Windsong Ranch
Windsong Ranch

Windsong Ranch, Terra Verde Group’s 2,030-acre masterplanned community in Prosper, has been recognized with a number of top industry awards. For good reason. One of the largest projects in North Texas, it has created new development standards, with 600 acres of green space (including up to 30 miles of hiking trails), resort-style amenities (like a waterside amphitheater with a stage that also serves as a fishing dock), and a welcome center with a restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch. All are designed to encourage interaction among residents and enhance their quality of life, says Craig Martin, who founded Terra Verde Group in 2010. Homebuilders and buyers have enthusiastically responded. “What we thought would be a 12- to 15-year buildout will probably be eight or 10 or 12 years,” Martin says.

Read about D CEO’s Residential Real Estate Executive of the Year Robbie Briggs here. Read our spotlight report on DFW’s single-family and multifamily markets here. And click here to see a photo gallery from the awards event.

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