Office Space Taking off Around Dallas' Love Field

Jun. 9--A row of 1940s warehouses on Mockingbird Lane is sporting a 21st-century look.

The brick buildings near Denton Drive have been remodeled into business showrooms and offices just yards from the entrance to Love Field.

"We've had good reception from tenants and aren't having any problem with the rentals," said John Pearcy, whose Carlisle Property Co. just completed the project. "I hope we see more improvements in the area."

Carlisle's Mockingbird Depot is a recent redevelopment in the Love Field area. And with changes coming at the Dallas airport, more real estate deals are likely.

Construction of DART's light-rail line along Denton Drive and the potential for increased national flights at Love Field may boost the surrounding property market, real estate executives say.

The steady rise in property values around Love Field and further construction will take place regardless of what happens at the airport, property owners say.

"The key is the area's location in relation to downtown and North Dallas," said Robert Todd of City Realty Group, a longtime broker in the neighborhood.

"And the DART line is going to be phenomenal."

Expansion of automobile dealerships and retailers has already caused real estate costs to jump along Lemmon Avenue.

Now with the transit line coming and redevelopments like Carlisle's warehouse project, Mockingbird Lane is getting a fresh look from investors.

"Mockingbird Depot has become a signature for the area," Mr. Todd said.

Mr. Pearcy, who has been developing retail and commercial buildings in Dallas for more than 20 years, said the Love Field district was long overlooked by some builders and investors.

"I started buying there six years ago, and we have about 10 buildings," he said.

"It looked to me like that was a coming area."

Although he's bullish on the market, Mr. Pearcy said he "doesn't have a feel" about what expanded air passenger service at Love Field would mean to development.

"I think the future is bright, regardless of what happens with the Wright amendment," he said.

Carl Sewell, whose automobile dealerships are among the largest property owners in the Love Field neighborhood, doesn't expect a boom if operations are expanded at Love.

"I'm not sure it will make much difference," Mr. Sewell said. "There might be room for another hotel.

"But it may not require a lot of other development," he said.

Even so, Mr. Sewell expects the neighborhood to see continued redevelopment.

"When we came over here in 1979, it certainly looked a lot different," he said.

"The values have certainly gone up."

Mr. Sewell recently purchased a former warehouse and factory at Cedar Springs Road and Manor Way, south of the entrance to Love Field.

He's converting the building into an auto service center and storage.

The Dallas businessman has five automobile dealerships along Lemmon Avenue, including his newest, Sewell Hummer at Lovers Lane.

Other former industrial properties along Lemmon are being sold for development.

The Lowe's home improvement chain recently purchased the Coca-Cola bottling plant on Lemmon just north of Inwood.

And the adjoining automobile sales building on the northwest corner is being rebuilt for a bank and other uses, real estate brokers say.

An investment group put together by broker Newt Walker recently purchased the Syms retail property on Mockingbird near Lemmon with plans for redevelopment.

Mr. Todd said land prices for choice properties along Lemmon and Mockingbird have topped $40 per square foot.

Other commercial real estate in the area is trading for $20 to $30 per square foot, he said.

Prices along Denton Drive, which is being upgraded by the city of Dallas, are likely to increase when the DART line opens in 2010.

One rail station will be constructed at Denton Drive and Inwood.

But no DART station will be built at busy Mockingbird Lane, near the entrance to Love Field.

Instead, the closest station will be near the northwest corner of the airport at Burbank Drive and Denton.

That's just fine with Steve Rogers, whose Viceroy Investments recently purchased a sprawling office building on Burbank west of the airport.

"I'm negotiating to lease the building to a government agency," Mr. Rogers said.

Viceroy also owns the Holiday Inn Select south of the airport and other property nearby.

"The area is really hot," he said. "The Love Field market was one of the worst in Dallas for years, but people want to own property there now."

Viceroy is remodeling the Holiday Inn, which it purchased in the late 1990s.

"Our hotel numbers are almost the highest ever -- since I redeveloped it in 1997," with average occupancy running about 80 percent, Mr. Rogers said.

"The hotel market is significantly better, and I don't know what to attribute it to."

With growth of the nearby University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, demand for housing in the area is also rising.

Several townhouse projects are in the works southwest of Love Field.

And Colorado-based developer Archstone-Smith plans to rebuild the Plaza at Bachman Creek shopping center at Lemmon and Northwest Highway into a combination of apartments and retail.

The developer plans to build about 181 residential units and a parking garage.

One of the biggest residential projects in the Love Field neighborhood will open late this year.

Provident Realty Advisors is converting the former Radisson Hotel on Mockingbird at Harry Hines Boulevard into a seniors housing facility. The redevelopment includes the 8-story, 305-room hotel plus construction of additional buildings.

Mr. Todd predicts more residential projects in the area.

"Developers are continuing to look at this area, with Uptown prices the way they are," he said.

(Dallas Morning News, The (KRT) -- 06/12/06)