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DALLAS-A development trio, relocating from Santa Barbara, CA, will hit the ground running on a $42-million residential project in East Dallas. The plan is to break ground in late October on the first phase of 130 three-story townhouses.

The newcomers, planning to arrive in five months, have assembled a 51,000-sf tract at 4908 Chambers St. near Fitzhugh Avenue and are poised to close on adjoining dirt to bump the development site to nearly two acres in a close-in redevelopment pocket near Uptown and Downtown. Construction crews are digging in to raze two existing houses and ready the dirt for the 30-unit first phase of Santa Barbara Villas. Completion is planned for second quarter 2008.

OLS Real Estate Group Inc. has bought, sold and built its inroad in Santa Barbara’s multifamily arena. Joseph C. Ortega is president; Joseph H. Sprague, CFO and Brian J. Lynch, CEO. With ties to Texas, the plan is to introduce Santa Barbara-style architecture to Dallas.

“We decided for us to be able to bring something back to Dallas, that we needed something there that we love,” Ortega tells GlobeSt.com. “People come from all over the world to see Santa Barbara architecture.” Dallas-based Beeler Guest Owens Architects Inc.’s Scott Arbuckle and Donald Sorpranzi are fine-tuning the Spanish Colonial Revival design. The grounds will be densely landscaped, with palm trees and night-blooming jasmine.

Santa Barbara Villas will be two- and three-bedroom townhouses, ranging from 1,700 sf to 2,100 sf. Units will have two-car garages and rooftop balconies. Sales begin in late summer, with entry prices nearly $400,000 and topping out at $450,000.

Ortega says the team had conducted a focus group for the development. “It’s attracting Highland Park people,” he says. “The focus group instilled in us that’s it’s going to be a success.”

David McQuaid, president of Performance Properties LLC in Dallas sold a 37,500-sf tract to the developers to jump-start the project. He says the redevelopment surge in the once-tony neighborhood is overdue, with the emphasis overwhelmingly on residential product. The newcomers will be keeping company with developers like Atlanta-based Trammell Crow Residential.

McQuaid says the per-gallon cost of gasoline and commute times, now an hour on average, have stepped up interest in close-in sites. “Living in the suburbs isn’t as much fun as it used to be,” he says.

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