Find a back issue

Fact Checking Museum Tower’s Bold Sales Claim

MuseumTowerOn Friday, I received a marketing email from Museum Tower. The subject: “High Rise on the Rise in Dallas.” The body of the note included the rather handsome image you see here. The message read as follows:

In 2013, growth in Dallas’ high-rise neighborhoods was truly remarkable. According to MLS there was a 36.4 percent increase in the number of units sold, and a 49.6 percent increase in volume.

Increasing demand for luxury high-rise homes generated a 9.7 percent rise in prices during the same time period. Nearly 25 percent of Museum Tower’s square footage has been claimed by residents with an appreciation for the unconventional and uncompromising.

It then offered a link to more information about the tower and an offer to schedule a private showing. I’m not in the market for a high-rise condo. I just bought some new sneakers, so cash is a little tight right now. But something about the wording of that message interested me. What does it mean that “square footage has been claimed by residents”? Have they not actually purchased the space? Is the building so empty that the handful of residents who live there are going around, saying, “I call dibs on the 32 floor!”

I went through the Appraisal District’s records to see what I could find. DCAD lists 119 residential units in Museum Tower. All but 14 of them are owned by Museum Tower. That means about 12 percent of the units have sold. DCAD puts the total value of the 14 sold units at $24,148,610 and the total value of all 119 units at $157,192,430, giving us 15 percent of the appraised value owned by residents. Finally, I added up the square footage of the 14 sold units and arrived at 57,806 square feet. From what Google tells me, Museum Tower has a total of 442,000 square feet of residential space. Percentage of square footage sold: 13.

None of those percentages comes close to the 25 percent referenced in the marketing email. Again, though, I do no know what’s going on over at Museum Tower, with residents running around, “claiming” square footage. Too, it could just be that it takes awhile for DCAD to catch up with the Museum Tower sales force. I’ve asked the tower’s PR representative for an explanation and will pass it along once I get it.

UPDATE (3/5/14): Barbara Buzzell handles PR for Museum Tower. I asked her yesterday for clarification on the whole “claiming” thing. Her response:

Not every home at Museum Tower is the same size. As you may know, we have nine different published floor plans. Because of the many variable home sizes sold, we have released the aggregate amount of saleable square footage sold. That number is nearly 25 percent of the building’s total saleable square footage.

I replied with a link to this blog post and asked whether I’d gotten any of my numbers wrong. I haven’t yet heard back from her.

24 comments on “Fact Checking Museum Tower’s Bold Sales Claim

  1. The Museum Tower’s numbers may include (i) signed contracts that have not closed, (ii) escrow deposits on units, etc.

  2. I’ve been waiting for a media outlet to fact check those liars. I watch the residential real estate sales in the DBJ and rarely see anything from the Museum Tower. No one wants to touch it.

  3. The owner is also leasing (“claimed”) to anyone with a heartbeat. Those are counted too.

  4. Maybe Mike Snyder — or whatever name he’s going by these days — could straighten you out on what’s going on over there.

  5. I’d be interested to know what percentage of owners list it as their primary residence.

  6. Meanwhile, down at the Beat (another condo development that was funded by Dallas Police & Fire and finished SEVEN YEARS AGO), a review of DCAD reveals:

    1) 23 of 76 units appear to remain unsold.

    2) Delia Jasso took title to a unit there during her time as a trustee on the Dallas Police & Fire Pension System Board…. she deserves some props for showing her support of the Fund (and she didn’t even bother to publicly take credit for it)!

    3) Some “interesting” people hold title to some of the other units, including the penthouse. It’s nice when those with close ties to the City show their support of Dallas Police & Fire real estate projects.

  7. It’s not unusual for luxury high-rise condo buildings to take awhile to sell out, so why all the hand-wringing? In Los Angeles, for example, the 42-story, Robert A.M. Stern-designed Century luxury tower had only sold 30 percent of its roughly 140 units three years after the tower was completed.

  8. The Rumors are are that any buyer is guaranteed an 100% buy back after two years.

  9. Because the funding for this one came from the Police and Firemen’s Pension Fund.

    To quote my at the time 13 year old sister, DUH.

  10. I just told you there’s nothing alarming or out-of-the-ordinary about this sales pace when you’re dealing with top-end condos, Brett. So “DUH” back at you.

  11. Do most luxury condos proceeding at this pace also have the community backlash associated with these particular units?

    Combine those two factors, the funding and the perception, and I think you’ll find the duh is back in your court, sir.

    But fear not. I’m sure your betters have noticed your boot-licking and have prepared a tasty table scrap.

  12. It looks like Willis Johnson of SALT/”We want Equity” (and FBI interviewee?) fame owns the penthouse at The Beat. I wonder if that is his primary residence or if he is holding it for a friend?

  13. It’s actually quite unusual. A typical underwriting scenario projects a maximum three year sell out.

    What you appear to have done is to have searched through recently completed projects that have failed to perform up to expectations, then cite the exception as the rule.

  14. Soooo…… are these people who are “supporting” Dallas Police & Fire real estate projects supporting them by BUYING, or supporting them by receiving some kind of housing gift?

    Or am I just reading too much into your statements?

  15. To echo what Wylie said, yeah, Museum Tower’s sales pace is not good. I talked to an out-of-town developer friend of mine who has done similar projects (though on a smaller scale). I gave him the specs I had at hand: $200 million to build. Opened January 10, 2013. DCAD reflects about 13 percent occupancy by square foot, but the PR folks say 25 percent. “That’s catastrophically bad,” he said, even if you believe the higher number.

  16. Oh, and I wasn’t wringing my hands. I was merely fact-checking a press release.

  17. Well now I feel like an a*hole for assuming that Glenn had presented factual information.

  18. I already used sticky notes claiming floors 25-27, so hands off my claimed space.

  19. Come on, we all recognize this thread is part of the ongoing drumbeat against the building (“those liars,” questioning whether sales represent a “primary residence,” etc.) and its pension fund owners stemming from the Nasher dispute. Rooting for the Tower to fail seems to be the order of the day. Again, premium condo projects like MT take longer to sell than others, Wylie H.’s contention to the contrary. San Francisco’s super-luxury Millenium Tower sold its last units in 2013, four or five years after the building was finished. One Museum Park West in Chicago was 20% sold after 18 months. Hell, the luxury condos at One Arts Plaza down the street went nearly two years without a sale at all. (As Tim pointed out, Museum Tower’s only been completed for about a year.) But, feel free to believe whatever fits your narrative, as I’m sure you will anyway. Now if you’ll excuse me, Brett, I have to go lick some boots and pick up my table scraps. I think it’s tenderloin tonight.

  20. Like this one?

    SHAW STEVEN R (Former DPFP Police Trustee when The Beat was funded)

  21. As indicated in the 2010 Wall Street Journal article linked to below, this project was turned down by every funding source in the U.S. before Dallas Police & Fire stepped up to the plate. The article also confirms that it was the pension fund that pushed to super-size the tower.

    The reason it was turned down by every potential source of capital (even during the heights of the “bubble period”) was because it made no sense. The project is wrapped by a freeway off ramp; balconies on the west side are roughly 300 feet away from an open cut in the Woodall Rogers— walk out onto one of those balconies, the decibel levels are something to be experienced— particularly when 18-wheelers hit their “jake brakes” when encountering the frequent traffic jams that appear in both directions; few of the normal services one can access in a traditional residential neighborhood, etc, etc.

  22. As indicated in the 2010 Wall Street Journal article linked to below, this project was turned down by every funding source in the U.S. before Dallas Police & Fire stepped up to the plate. The article also confirms that it was the pension fund that pushed to super-size the tower.

    The reason it was turned down by every potential source of capital (even during the heights of the “bubble period”) was because it made no sense. The project is wrapped by a freeway off ramp; balconies on the west side are roughly 300 feet away from an open cut in the Woodall Rogers— walk out onto one of those balconies, the decibel levels are something to be experienced— particularly when 18-wheelers hit their “jake brakes” when encountering the frequent traffic jams that appear in both directions; few of the normal services one can access in a traditional residential neighborhood, etc, etc.

    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748703280004575309051329152996

  23. Museum Park West is such a success story that it’s been re-branded as The Grant, following a trend set by other disappointing mid-crisis modern luxury high-rises in Chicago. I look forward to Museum Tower’s rebranding effort, which Glenn you’ll surely hail as a turning point for a building that’s been unfairly maligned by the rabble.