With this mirror, you'll always look hot
Builders' show features dizzying array of ... well, a lot of stuff
Steve Brown - DMN
10:07 PM CST on Thursday, January 20, 2005
I was straightening my collar in the mirror the other day, and my reflection was engulfed in flames. No, I hadn't gone to hell. At the National Association of Home Builders show, I stumbled upon the "Looking Glass Fireplace." It's a gas fireplace that doubles as a mirror when not in use. Push a button, and your image dissolves in real fire. It's just the thing to put sinners back on the straight path. I can't imagine why else you'd want one. But that's the way I felt about a lot of the products at the show. More than 100,000 housing industry members traveled to Orlando last week to tour almost 2 million square feet of exhibits. They could see the latest in everything from attic insulation to bathtubs. The dizzying array was often a bit pointless.
Two manufacturers touted remote controls that allow you to run your washing machine and turn on the dishwasher while lying in bed or lounging in the den. Some of the latest microwaves in bright colors were so fresh from the design shop that the control knobs were marked in Japanese. Stainless steel remains king of the hill in kitchen appliances. But wood-fronted dishwashers and refrigerators are gaining ground. (My granny had one of those you put ice blocks in.) A high-end manufacturer was even selling industrial-looking refrigerators with clear glass front doors. Boy, that would make you keep your fridge clean. Bathroom fixtures are multiplying at a frantic rate. They have faucet handles that look like everything from Flash Gordon's pistol to a pig's tail.
And the synthetic materials for floors and countertops are so good you can't tell them from the finest wood and stone. I found that out when I asked a sales rep if a sink was one of the modern composites. "That's Italian marble," she sniffed with disdain. Wine coolers and closets are the hottest items this year. One manufacturer was pushing a wine vault large enough to house a VW Beetle. "It's not just an appliance; it's a room," the salesman said. I didn't ask how much it was, let alone how much the wine would cost to fill it up.
Westmount heads out
Westmount Realty Capital a major investor in downtown Dallas is making a play in the suburbs. The real estate investor has bought part of the former Alcatel USA campus in Plano and plans to market it to business tenants. The two buildings at 1000 Coit Road were remodeled in 1998 and have about 420,000 square feet. Along with 180,000 square feet of office space, the complex includes a warehouse and full-service cafeteria. "This property is an exciting addition to Westmount's value-added portfolio and perfectly aligns with the company's acquisition criteria," said Westmount president Clifford Booth. The project comes with office cubicles for 700 workers and enough high-tech gear to accommodate almost any tenant. Westmount hired Capstar Commercial Real Estate Services and Binswanger Cos. to market the property.
CityHomes building sale
An investment partnership put together by Dallas real estate broker Newt Walker has bought the CityHomes building at Cole and Fitzhugh Avenues. Mr. Walker said the group bought it as an investment, and CityHomes owner Centex will move out. The group will try to find a retail tenant or make it available for a bank. CityHomes uses the building formerly an art supply store as a marketing center for its Uptown townhomes. The sale was arranged by Staubach Co. and Worth Ross & Associates.
Stemmons offices sold
New Jersey-based Diversified Capital has purchased the 7610 Stemmons Freeway office building in Dallas. The previous owners defaulted on the mortgage on the six-story, 128,000-square-foot building. Regions Bank provided financing for the purchase, which was negotiated by broker Garrett Sherman. "The purchase of 7610 Stemmons marks Diversified's third major acquisition in the Dallas area," said Bruce Stern, vice president. "This reflects our strong belief in the underlying fundamentals of the market."
Ah, the good ol' days
I'm stuck in the past. My house is 85 years old. I drive a car made during the Eisenhower administration. And most days I wear a wristwatch from the 1920s. So you can understand why I didn't see a problem with letting mass transit riders have access to one of Dallas' biggest office buildings the 42-story Cityplace tower. Last week I whined about the project blocking right of way from the building to DART's subway station. Doors from the tower's lower lobby to the rail station are barred to the public. Real estate management professionals were quick to tell me my thinking is hopelessly naοve. In today's super-security-conscious environment, commercial real estate operators are increasingly cutting off access to the public.
The ubiquitous corporate security pass is workaday fashion. When the Cityplace tower was planned in the early 1980s, no one envisioned a day when such workplaces would be tightly restricted. Of course, I can remember when tall office buildings in downtown Dallas had public observation areas where you could go up and look out over the town. There wasn't a lot to do in Dallas back then. We used to go to the airport just to watch planes take off. I guess that's out of the question now, too. I'll just go home and watch The Waltons. Good night, John Boy.