Official announcement of the Merryvale in the West End
GlobeSt.com EXCLUSIVE: Developer Blazes West End Trail
By Connie Gore
Last updated: Thursday, September 2, 2004 08:52pm
DALLAS-The Toronto-based FRAM Building Group expects to break ground by year's end on a second phase to the $30-million-plus 1001 Ross, which opened doors two days ago with 204 apartments to rent and 80% pre-leased in a 30,000-sf retail component. With one nearly done and one on the way, the developer says he's already eyeing more land in the city.
The sister project, the Merryvale Residences at the West End, will be the first multifamily product to rise from the ground inside the designated bounds of the West End historic district. "For most developers, it's a pretty gutsy move without proving yourself in the first phase," Luciano Bettin, FRAM's regional manager tells GlobeSt.com. The project, with an estimated, all-in $15-million cost, will replace a 1.2-acre parking lot at 407 N. Lamar St., bought in April, and go up caddy corner from 1001 Ross, billed as the first brand-new product in 20 years in the CBD. Bettin will hold focus group meetings on the newest project: 104 units and 14,000 sf of retail. He says the October meetings are aimed at finding out what the market really wants. There's a chance the Merryvale will end up with "for sale" units, he says.
"They keep saying if you build new, people will come to the downtown," Bettin says. "We'll see how it goes." He's expecting to lease 30 apartments per month at 1001 Ross, where rents start at $1,134 per month and the concession is one month free for a one-year lease. "It's cheaper to build outside the West End than it is in the West End," Bettin says of the city's top tourist destination with the Texas School Book Depository and a retail mix set in 1880s-era warehouses. "But, it's sexier to be in the West End. Our trick is to make it look like it was built 100 years ago."
FRAM's crew is finishing up the third and fourth floors of 1001 Ross so the plan is to wrap up and immediately head across the street to start the Merryvale. If Bettin's plan stays on track, the Merryvale will open by fall 2006. Like its big sister, the Merryvale has been designed by Dallas-based Humphreys & Partners and set to have the same retail leasing team, Brandon Harris and Darrell Hernandez from United Commercial Realty in Dallas, who scored a coup for the downtown by hooking the Woonsocket, RI-based CVS Corp. for 11,500 sf of 1001 Ross' street-level retail. CVS/Pharmacy is being joined by Coldstone Creamery, Subway, Porta di Roma restaurant and bar, Orex Printing and Downtown Wine & Spirits. Three more deals, totaling 2,500 sf, are under negotiation.
Bettin says the average lease is 10 years and rents hover $25 per sf. Subway's finishing out its space now. The bulk of the roster, including CVS, opens Dec. 1. The four-story 1001 Ross, positioned on 1.7 acres, has two levels of parking, a spot for each resident and 60 free parking spaces for retail customers.
Bettin says he's already looking for another tract in the CBD. The projects are the first to rise under the FRAM banner since it made its mark a decade ago with the 24-story condo tower, the Mayfair on Turtle Creek. The projects are rising in partnerships made up of FRAM, Slokker Investments of the Netherlands and the Schlatter family, owner of the Merryvale Vineyards in St. Helena, CA.
The article doesn't mention it, but this is adjacent to the West End light rail station.