DALLAS — Luxurious. Hip. Trendy. And right by the rail.
Yet the newest apartment development generating buzz isn't in Uptown, West Village, Plano, or Frisco. It's in South Dallas.
"When they walk in, it appears they're somewhere else," described Pam Yeargin, property manager of the brand new Lancaster Urban Village.
It is the largest transit-oriented development to be built in South Dallas, and it is considered a "catalyst" project, because it is aimed at bringing about more change in a neighborhood that's ripe for it.
"What used to be here was two old motels and some mechanic shops," said Sherman Roberts, President and CEO of City Wide Community Development Corporation, the non profit organization which developed the complex.
Those motels were havens for crime. They were torn down, and what's been built up is impressive. Lancaster Urban Village is unlike anything the area has ever seen, offering resort-like living in a place where nothing similar has ever been seen.
"Every time someone walks in the door, we all feel their excitement," Roberts said.
"To have a private pool in an apartment complex such as this? Unbelievable," Yeargin said. "To have washers and dryers in every unit; a state-of-the-art fitness center; a dog park; granite countertops; hardwood floors... there's nothing like it."
Lancaster Urban Village boasts 193 upscale apartments on top of 14,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space. A Subway will open in about 60 days, with a pizza restaurant expected soon after.
It was a $30 million investment, $3.8 million of which came from the city.
"I'd like to point out we are a non-profit developer, but we pay taxes," Roberts said. "This is not a tax-exempt project."
The development is on Lancaster Road, just across the street from the VA Hospital. Roberts hopes to begin working with the VA to offer long-term housing for families or patients.
It's called "luxury living at an affordable price," but the first tenant didn't need the affordable part.
"Her income averages like $70,000 a year," Yeargin said. "The point is, she can live anywhere in Dallas that she chooses to live, but the idea was because of the luxury, yet across the street from the VA hospital -- her job -- it just worked!"
There are 19 tenants so far. The property has 23 floor plans. It offers efficiencies, as well as one, two, and three bedroom units. Rent starts at $564 for an efficiency; $693 for a one-bedroom; $943 for a two bedroom; and $1,223 for a three bedroom unit. Some of the largest apartments offer private backyards.
A DART train station is just steps away.
Yeargin said they are carefully screening residents, and have a stack of applications to go through. Managers are willing to work with people of any of income level.
She said they are seeing renters who are coming back to their roots, after having left the neighborhood for more opportunity in North Dallas or the suburbs.
"I have about five residents with the same testimony: They're moving back because of grandma or mom is still in the neighborhood, and they need and want to be closer," Yeargin said. "My mom owned a beauty shop on this street for over 30 years. This is personal. To me this is the greatest thing -- to be a property manager, here? Where you grew up from? Never imagined this in my life. I'm going to give it everything I have and then some."
Roberts is also working on the redevelopment of the old Rudy's Chicken site, as well as two other housing and retail developments along Lancaster Road.
"We're showing what can be done with the help of everybody pulling in and making the city a whole," he said. "It's the vision of a lot of people."
And he's hoping the vision is shared even more.
"I have extra land, so I like to partner up!" he said with a laugh. "You know, we invite everybody to come in and join this excitment we have going on."