Can there ever be a second chance to make a first impression?
In the case of four formerly down-and-out apartment communities in central Dallas, the answer is yes. They’ve been taken from ugly duckling to (nearly) swan by a very unique real estate development company.
And physical transformation was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to bringing them back to life.
“Distressed” was a nice of way of describing the state of the City Central, City Scape, La Vita and Serendipity complexes before they were acquired by Dallas-based Nessel Development. Low occupancy, issues with the city or the bank and general disrepair were just some of the challenges facing the 1970’s-era apartments.
“Most builders would want to steer clear of them,” said David Danish, Vice President of Operations at Nessel. This company, on the other hand, specializes in diamonds in the rough. “Our goal,” he explains, “is to find communities that ... have life left in them.”
Take City Scape on Melody Lane, for instance, a property that Danish recalls was a “nightmare” at the time of purchase. Fast forward to the present day, and it rivals any new construction in the area. City Scape units now feature stone tile floors and stainless steel appliances; its community building houses a state-of-the-art fitness center and internet coffee bar.
All this, starting at just $499 a month. But affordable, comfortable living is only half the story.
In the words of Ariel Nessel, company president, “For a while, I struggled as I tried to reconcile my desire to bring more compassion and consciousness to this often sad world with my efforts to create personal wealth as a real estate developer … In time, I have come to realize that my business efforts can in fact be used to further the values I wish to manifest in society.”
Heavy stuff. What it boils down to is the fact that Nessel takes care to operate in an environmentally-friendly fashion and promotes various personal practices that they believe go along with that philosophy. (We’ll get to that second part later.)
Let’s start with the fact that Nessel works with existing structures. “By rehabbing a community, rather than building new, you’ve already conserved tons of resources,” Danish asserts. That means prices stay low – and so does environmental impact. The company goes over each property with a fine tooth comb, keeping features that have remained in good condition and making adjustments to improve energy efficiency. Utility usage is also evaluated on a continuing basis.
In addition, communities are landscaped to require minimal water, using native plants, rock gardens and the like. Creating an environment which encourages outdoor activities is one of Nessel’s key goals. Hammocks, fountains and dog runs play up the properties’ existing small parks and green spaces – something rarely found in new urban construction.
As any HGTV fan could tell you, however, investing in a fixer-upper has its downsides.
Danish points out that working with older structures means sacrificing many of the “perks” that apartment renters have come to expect in recent years – namely fancy closets and larger bathrooms. Sometimes, exteriors are also a little rough around the edges. Instead, Nessel focuses on playing up small details which were more charming in the past and updating complex amenities (like the aforementioned community rooms).
And speaking of stuff you wouldn’t have seen three decades ago, Nessel is also breaking new ground in its promotion of a meat-free lifestyle. Omnivores are most certainly welcome, and you’ll find no “vegevangelists” in the leasing office, but all property functions feature only vegan fare and all new residents are provided with information on the health and environmental advantages of a vegetarian diet.
Nessel, Inc. also makes regular contributions to PETA, among other non-profit organizations. To be clear, however, Danish states, “I would regret it if [these efforts] imposed some level of guilt on somebody.” In fact, if you wanted to grill a steak by the pool, we’ve been assured that nobody will mind.
They probably just won’t ask for a bite.
For more information on Nessel’s environmental practices, philosophy, locations and pricing visit www.nesselinc.com.