DART parking: Can they top it?
Mockingbird station may sell air rights for apartments, retail
12:00 AM CST on Saturday, February 4, 2006
By STEVE BROWN / The Dallas Morning News
Developers are trying to strike a deal with DART to build apartments and retail on parking lots at the Mockingbird rail station.
At least two firms – FirstWorthing Corp. and Prescott Realty Group – are vying for the chance to develop on top of the transit station parking lots, real estate brokers familiar with the deal say.
The mixed-use projects and parking garages would replace more than six acres of surface parking between Mockingbird Lane and Yale Boulevard, just east of North Central Expressway.
While a deal is expected to move forward soon, DART officials aren't talking about their plans.
"We have nothing new to report or confirm at this time," spokesman Jeff Hampton said.
And the developers involved in talks with the transit agency are also keeping mum.
"We have no comment on the DART parking lots at this time," FirstWorthing executive vice president John Allums said Friday. "It is still in DART's court."
Likewise, officials with Prescott Realty Group declined to talk about the pending project.
Both developers have recently submitted proposals to the North Central Texas Council of Governments for building projects and improving pedestrian access to the area around the DART station.
DART has had discussions with various developers for almost a decade about building on top of its Mockingbird station lots.
Such projects are common in other cities with rail transit systems.
Last year, the company formally asked for proposals from developers interested in building at the Mockingbird site.
Developing such projects in Dallas is harder because apartment rents here are lower than in many major cities, said real estate analyst Ron Witten with Witten Advisors.
"The economics of these deals aren't easy," he said. "Developers of these types of projects will find a challenge with the high construction costs in today's market."
Usually developers are required to replace all of the parking spaces in a new garage and then sign a long-term lease for the air rights to build over the public parking.
There are 708 parking spaces at the Mockingbird lots.
Developers have already hitched a ride on DART with apartment projects adjacent to the stations in Plano, near Uptown's Cityplace station and – most recently – with two apartment communities planned in Richardson.
The Mockingbird Station apartment and retail complex constructed in the 1990s just east of North Central Expressway was a ground breaker for such developments in North Texas.
Mockingbird Station's developer, Ken Hughes – who looked at building on the DART lots back in the 1990s – hopes the project moves forward. "It would be fabulous if we could get more density at that station," he said.