The Plaza at Preston Center wins Public/Private Deal of the Year

Apr 27, 2012

Dallas Business Journal - April 27, 2012 - by Karen Nielsen

University Park residents used to worry about finding a permanent location for their library, but that all changed when the city and Venture Commercial found common ground in talks over a new office building.

University Park is a landlocked city that has to tear down a house or office building to construct a new one.

Caruth/Preston Road Association Ltd. owns the 61-year-old Plaza at Preston Center, at the southeast corner of Northwest Highway and Preston Road, and hoped to add a $40 million, five-story office building and 450-spot underground parking facility to ease traffic concerns at the popular shopping center.

Venture Commercial's Mike Geisler, who represented Caruth/Preston as its broker, approached the city to see what could be done since the city owned certain streets, sidewalks and alleys around the upscale center.

In the end, Geisler agreed to donate 17,500 square feet for a new library and 2,000 square feet of meeting space. In return, the City of University Park transferred ownership of the streets and right-of-ways to build the 71,456-square-foot office building.

"The library was something the city was always interested in having, and we felt it would be nice to offer to the community," said Geisler, partner and co-founder of Dallas-based Venture. "They are good compatible uses, and we have a garage big enough to meet the needs of the center while helping the neighborhood and reducing congestion."

Most of the construction work is taking place at night, using a sound wall so as not to wake the neighbors.

One of the biggest challenges during construction is maintaining customer access to the stores and replacing 130 lost parking spots when the site was closed off to dig the hole. They solved that problem by adding extra valet stands and asking more than 200 employees to park off site. Those employees are now shuttled to the plaza, which has actually created more parking, Geisler said.

The mixed-use office building is set for completion in December and will have one floor of retail, one floor for the library and three for offices.

University Park City Manager Bob Livingston said that since there is no way to add public space for things like parks and a library, it was time to think outside the box on how to acquire a site.

"It's a great thing to be able to get a nice-size library in a good location that is accessible to the community and with virtually no outlay of tax dollars," Livingston said.

Key Players:
Mike Geisler, Venture Commercial; Jeffrey Good, Good Fulton & Farrell; Bob Livingston, City of University Park; Leon Davis and Will Pender, Rogers-O’Brien Construction; Pamela A. Spadaro, U.S. Trust Bank of America Private Wealth Management; Jon Herrin, L.A. Fuess Partners Inc.; Jason Williamson, Dunaway Associates; Bonnie McInnish, McInnish Engineering; Paul Comeaux, Thompson & Knight LLP; Todd McCoy, Centergy Retail LLC; Bill Skelton, Friends of the University Park Public Library.