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DALLAS-A Dallas developer, playing to a niche condo market, is readying a site to go vertical on a “for sale” development on the Uptown-Highland Park border. The $25-million Drexel Highlander is moving ahead just as one project wraps up and plans start flying for a first quarter 2005 groundbreaking for a third condo development on yet another infill tract.

Robert Dale, principal of Drexel Development Co., says the Highlander’s walls will start going up in 30 days. Pre-sales begin in January 2005, with delivery penciled for the fourth quarter on a nine-story, 48-unit building positioned on about three-fourths of an acre at the hard corner of Prescott Drive and Oak Lawn Avenue. “There have been a lot of inquiries because it’s a premier location,” Dale says.

Designed by Smith & Ekblad of Dallas, the Highlander is 18 units larger than the developer’s first “for sale” product, the Drexel Montane at 2885 Woodside St. in Uptown, but will be the middle child when ground breaks on the first phase to an estimated $50-million development with 100 condos at build-out. Dale says the land’s under control, but it’s not closed so he’s not ready to say if it’s Downtown or North Dallas, both locations on the developer’s “to do” list.

Meanwhile, work is wrapping up on the $12-million Montane, where keys will be ready to turn within 30 days. The Montane’s units, of which 11 have been sold, range from 1,400 sf to 2,550 sf and are tagged for sale at $350,000 to $725,000. In comparison, the Highlander’s units range from 2,000 sf to 3,500 sf, with prices of $550,000 to $1.4 million.

“We think the market is very strong for ‘for sale’ product,” says Dale, whose firm has built two rental properties in Uptown. “Our intent is to take this product type and continue to develop it.” And, he says, that means going beyond the Dallas city limits. Dale and principal Robert Edelman are eyeing “three or four” sites in Mid-Cities and Fort Worth. They’ve also looked at Houston, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, OK. Dale says it could be “a year or two” before the show goes on the road, but it will happen.

The Drexel team believes the design’s success is mortared by an electronic access, quarter-size device that ensures privacy and security from private parking areas to direct-entry elevators–incorporated into rental and condo product alike. The devices can be programmed for certain hours to allow access for services like housekeepers, but block the locks when the time’s up. Should an employee or service be tendered, the device is rendered useless. “No one else in Dallas has anything like this,” Dale says.

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