Dallas landmark Crescent is polished after nearly $700 million sale

A year after purchasing the Uptown Dallas property, owners of The Crescent are spending millions of dollars upgrading the iconic buildings.

Opened in 1986 just north of downtown, the five-building Crescent complex anchors Uptown and sets the bar for the projects that followed.

Last year, the mixed-use development was purchased by a fund organized by Fort Worth-based Crescent Real Estate in a deal valued at nearly $700 million. It was North Texas’ most expensive real estate purchase of 2021.

Crescent Real Estate has now increased its investment in property with a $12 million renovation of the three office towers that line Pearl Street between McKinney Avenue and Cedar Springs Road. The owner wanted building improvements ready as The Crescent employees returned to the office after working from home during the pandemic.

“Everyone is so concerned about their employees now, so it’s important,” said John Zogg, managing director of Crescent Real Estate. “The office halls needed to be refreshed, it was time.

“All surfaces other than marble we have redone,” he said.

Public areas on the ground floor of all three buildings received new lighting, ceilings and signage.

“Lighting was super important – it was dark in here,” Zogg said. “Every piece of furniture is new, but not everything is there yet – some are still on a boat somewhere.”

The design firm DLR Group took care of the design of the interior redos of the offices with Andre and Jo Staffelbach of J/a Kreativ. Scott + Reid is the general contractor.

Neoclassical artwork in the buildings’ lobbies – a holdover from the 1980s – has been replaced with more modern pieces by prominent artists, including Brooklyn sculptor Brie Ruais, New York painter Landon Metz, Fort Worth painter Matt Kleberg and Saif Azzuz, a Libyan-Yurok artist.

“Even though we are an older building, we keep it fresh,said Zogg.

The Crescent added art spaces and lobbies seating to the newly purchased building in Dallas.(Allison Slomowitz / Special Contributor)

Most of the previous renovations have made the property more pedestrian-friendly, with outdoor gathering areas, additional restaurants, and more connections to the surrounding neighborhood.

The buildings’ postmodern design by famed architect Philip Johnson has remained intact.

The current office building renovations are the latest in a series of renovations to the Crescent.

“Overall, over the last seven years, probably $90 million has been spent on this property,” Zogg said.

In 2016, former owner JP Morgan Asset Management completed a nearly $33 million renovation of the office towers and retail building.

And in 2018, Crescent Real Estate completed more than $35 million in upgrades to the 226-room Crescent Court Hotel.

The exclusive Crescent Club above the project got a $3 million makeover in 2019.

With 1.3 million square feet of office space, the Crescent Buildings house as many workers as a downtown skyscraper.

“There are 132 customers in this building,” Zogg said. “We want this building to continue to be the best on the market, and to do that, we need to keep investing in things like this renovation.”

The Crescent has added new art and seating spaces.
The Crescent has added new art and seating spaces.(Allison Slomowitz / Special Contributor)

One of the most significant additions is the construction of a 12,000 square foot fitness center to be located in the adjoining retail atrium. Entos Design is taking care of the fitness center, which will open this summer and will offer trainers, fitness classes and a take-out cafe for healthy food and drinks.

The Crescent commands some of the highest office rents in Texas and is over 96% leased. Some of the largest office tenants in the buildings include Westwood Management, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, UBS Financial, RBC Wealth Management, JP Morgan Chase, Stephens Inc., Nexpoint Advisors, Raymond James & Associates, PNC Bank and Merrill Lynch.

“The buildings are 80% to 85% leased to financial companies, including family offices and wealth managers,” Zogg said.

Crescent Real Estate officials say the property has seen a large influx of people returning to the office. “Especially in the middle of the week, we see a big spike,” said Crescent general manager Julie Young. “We had people coming back much earlier than other buildings.”

With several new office projects underway in the area north of downtown Dallas, owners of The Crescent see continued improvements as a defensive measure.

“In two or three years, there will be a lot of new products,” Zogg said. “We want to move this building forward so it’s competitive not just today, but tomorrow.”

One of the biggest changes at The Crescent is the construction of a new fitness center which...
One of the biggest changes at The Crescent is the construction of a new fitness center which will open later this summer.(Steve Brown)
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