Even during the recession, a few high-rise projects are under construction in Texas and Oklahoma, but those either started before the economic meltdown or are funded with the help of public dollars.
“High-rise construction in the Texas region, for the most part, has come to a standstill,” says Cameron C. Curtis, manager for business development at Turner Construction Co. in Dallas. “Developers are planning, but wanting to see what happens.”
Scott Ziegler, founding principal of Ziegler Cooper Architects in Houston, does not anticipate a quick return to high-rise construction, although he is aware of developers with projects in planning.
Three Ziegler Cooper-designed high-rise condominium towers recently wrapped up construction, including the Austonian in Austin, The Broadway in San Antonio and Highland Tower in Houston.
“I don’t see that kind of project materializing for a while,” Ziegler says. “But on the encouraging front, we are facing a housing shortage in Texas, where we have job growth.”
He adds that cities with job creation, such as Houston, are burning through existing inventory and rental rates are rising. Meanwhile, home buyers are having difficulty qualifying for mortgages, and that’s leading to more renters.
At the same time, construction costs are down.
“There are investment dollars waiting to jump in,” Ziegler says. “Everything is in alignment. I think we will see a flurry of activity between now and yearend. Multifamily is the first out of the woods, predicated on job growth.”
Several projects remain under construction throughout the state.
The City of Dallas is proceeding with a new $546-million, 23-story hotel adjacent to the convention center. The city formed the Dallas Convention Center Hotel Development Corp., a Texas nonprofit local government corporation, to finance the hotel revenue bonds and build the 1.1-million-sq-ft, 1,000-room facility. Matthews Holdings Southwest of Dallas serves as the developer.
“Dallas sorely needed a hotel in conjunction with [its] convention center because [it was] losing business to other cities where a convention center hotel was available to organizers of conferences,” says Donald R. Powell Jr., a principal with BOKA Powell of Dallas, architect of record.
Not everyone supported the project due to concerns that private hotels would be at a disadvantage competing with a city-owned lodging. But a May 2009 vote by residents approved the bond sale, and the project moved forward, with design and construction kicking off at the same time.
Balfour/Russell/Pegasus, a joint venture consisting of Balfour Beatty Construction of Dallas, H.J. Russell & Co. of Atlanta and Pegasus Texas Construction of Dallas, received the $325-million, 28-month design-build contract for the Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel in August 2009. 5G Studio Collaborative of Dallas designed the facility.
The concrete-frame building sits on a drilled-pier foundation. Steel beams allow for clear spans in the 100,000-sq-ft convention spaces. The hotel also features restaurants and a 720-space, belowground parking deck. There are four podium levels.
The interior will reflect the ambiance and diversity of Dallas.
“That gets literally translated into mirrors of highly reflective surfaces, because it’s the people that make Dallas unique,” Powell says. “Dallas has a reputation for glitz and glamour, but it also is a city with blue jeans and a counterculture.”