Whenever Arlington real estate developer Georgie Zang drove by a two-acre tract near Cooper and Main streets in downtown Arlington she’d involuntarily slow down, a vision slowly evolving.
That vision: An upscale townhome project – it’s now called Main 7 – in the midst of a resurging downtown.
In July work will begin on clearing the area for a gated, 53-unit, luxury condo development with the 1,500-to-2,600-square-foot units selling in the mid $300s to high $400s. The first unit should go on the market next spring.
Getting to this point hasn’t come easy.
True enough, thousands of apartments have been constructed – and continue to be built – in the area surrounding downtown and the booming University of Texas at Arlington campus. But not everyone wants to be a renter.
“I knew that when I move downtown, I’m not renting,” said Zang, 51, who is also president of The Zang Group Real Estate. “I’m buying. And I figure I’m not alone in that sentiment. The trouble is that there’s no new product to buy.”
She’s correct about that. It’s been more than two decades since any owner-owned new housing was built in the downtown area, a single exception being a long-since-sold-out smallish, less upscale condo project on First Street.
But there were obstacles. What Zang visualized would be costly and would require a superior architectural vision and an equally visionary builder. And some deeper pockets for what would clearly be a multimillion-dollar project. In short, she’d need partners.
One of the entrepreneurial Zang’s skill sets is finding and putting together the people and companies needed for complex projects. And the patience to keep at it.
“One of the things that’s helped me in my career is when I take on a project, I really focus on it,” Zang said.
And that she did, expanding the idea, eventually including Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams and city Real Estate Manager Stuart Young in the discussion.
It helped that the city had already accumulated two of the three needed land tracts in the area but had canceled previous development plans. She also met with Arlington architect Mojy Haddad, who is a principal in the Oakhollow Group, which focuses on development.
That still left the need for a construction company that would also be an investor.
That connection evolved through a circuitous someone-knows-someone-who-knows-someone route that began at Ole Miss, where one of Zang’s daughters attends college, shunted to Nashville and eventually ended up back in Dallas with Savannah Developers, a company with a history of upscale construction development in areas such as Highland Park, Uptown Dallas, the Bishop Arts District and Addison.
Long story simplified, Zang made the introductions, brought the potential players together, pitched the project, picked up the commitments and will also market the condos as they come on line, finishing up the total market-to-sales process in 18 months or less, she hopes.
“Main 7 has been a great process,” she said. “It’s really a dream project and Mojy’s vision includes green spaces, sculptures and some unique designs. It’ll be a great place to live and a project everybody can be proud about.”
Zang, who graduated from Martin High in Arlington and attended UTA as a marketing major, also wants the downtown community to feel an ownership in the project. To that end, she wants as much of the construction as possible to include Arlington and Texas companies.
She also sees downtown as the center focus of much of her future efforts with more projects on the horizon.
“I’m vested in downtown, believe in it,” she said.
O.K. Carter is a former editor and publisher of the Arlington Citizen-Journal and was also Arlington publisher and columnist for the Star-Telegram and founding editor of Arlington Today Magazine. He’s the author of the definitive book on Arlington’s colorful history, Caddos, Cotton and Cowboys: Essays on Arlington.