Townhome builders are reshaping Old East Dallas with new housing

A two-block stretch in East Dallas that’s been empty since for almost a decade will soon be one of the neighborhood’s largest new home communities.

Builder Larkspur Capital Partners plans to turn the empty lots at Live Oak Avenue and Bennett Street into a complex of 54 townhouses and more than 30 apartments.

The planned development is among dozens of urban-style residential projects being built in one of the oldest areas of Dallas.

“This will probably be the biggest townhouse project in East Dallas,” said Carl Anderson, who founded Larkspur with his brother Chris in 2013.

Since then, the brothers have completed or started about 100 townhouses and have another 200 units in the pipeline.

“We’ve been focused on East Dallas,” Anderson said. “We also have one in the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff.”

Larkspur is doing other townhouse projects in Oak Lawn and Deep Ellum near downtown.

“We are working nonstop to keep up with demand,” he said. “We are seeing a lot of people from Uptown in their 30s and paying $2,500 a month for an apartment.”

“They want to buy something, and they want it to be close in,” Anderson said.

Larkspur started shopping East Dallas for building sites a few years ago.

“Our model was to go into transitional neighborhoods and buy land at good values,” Anderson said. “We had no competition when we first started buying.”

He said it was still a “sleepy area” when Larkspur acquired its first building sites along Fitzhugh Avenue. “We wanted to build an Uptown quality project along Fitzhugh and other corridors neglected for a long time,” Anderson said.

Larkspur has done five townhouse projects on Fitzhugh and Bennett east of North Central Expressway.

“A lot of our buyers are renters,” Chris Anderson said. “We offer them a better value, given where rents have gone in the last few years.”

Anderson said Larkspur’s development at Fuqua Street and Bennett will open next summer with 22 townhouses. The builder has an 18-unit project it’s doing a few blocks away near Capitol Avenue, too.

The townhouses start in price at more than $350,000 with the smallest units near 1,450 square feet.

“Each one of them is a little different,” Anderson said.

Scott Jones moved into one of the builder’s townhouses off Fitzhugh earlier this year.

“We were in a high-rise on Turtle Creek,” said Jones, a Dallas restaurateur who’s planning a new eatery in East Dallas. “We had lived there for about 10 years and came out of 4,000 square feet.”

Jones’ new digs on Fuqua Street are about 1,800 square feet on three levels with a rooftop deck.

“I love the area — it’s exploding with activity,” he said.

The surge in close-in townhouse construction is filling a need for new housing in Dallas at a time when there is a shortage of existing homes for sale.

Ted Wilson, a principal of Dallas-based housing analyst Residential Strategies, said there is demand for new homes near downtown.

“People want to live closer in to jobs and entertainment,” Wilson said. “The commute times are so protracted now that people are willing to give up the yard to be closer in.

“There are a lot of people paying huge rents right now, too,” he said. “They can afford to buy.”

1474491905-LARKSPUR_0923BUS_7_53087633.JPGAlong with Larkspur, builders including David Weekley Homes, Centre Living Homes and In-Town Homes are constructing multiple townhouse developments in East Dallas, Oak Lawn and Oak Cliff.

Townhouse buyers are following luxury apartment renters to East Dallas neighborhoods.

“A few years ago, I would bring prospects to this neighborhood and they weren’t sure about the area,” said sales agent Nadine Meyer, who is marketing Larkspur’s properties in the Fitzhugh area. “Now buyers want to be over here.”

Larkspur’s new project on Live Oak Street will be built on sites that previously held old apartment buildings.

“Live Oak is a straight shot to downtown, so we think it will do well,” Carl Anderson said.

The Live Oak townhouses will be larger than some of the builder’s previous projects.

“These will range from 2,000 to 2,400 square feet — pretty good size for a townhouse,” Anderson said. “Construction will start in the first quarter, and we hope to deliver the first townhouses in early 2018.

“This is really the last large development site in East Dallas ready to be built on.”

1474491379-LARKSPUR_0923BUS_3_53087591.JPG1474491488-LARKSPUR_0923BUS_9_53087791.JPG1474491542-LARKSPUR_0923BUS_15_53087745.JPG1474628452-liveoak.jpg

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