From McKinney Avenue in Uptown Dallas to Lake Carolyn in Las Colinas, some of the region’s most upscale mixed-use projects all have one common denominator: Katy Slade.
The area vice president of investments for Gables Residential, Slade, has a background in urban planning, and it shows in the apartment communities she develops. They’re walkable, vibrant, and have access to mass transit.
Most famously, she got Whole Foods to anchor the Gables McKinney Ave. project at 2500 McKinney Ave., bringing much-needed grocery space to that fast-growing area.
“Whole Foods is continuing to attract a high number of pedestrian customers,” Slade said. “It’s really changed the community and the way people operate there.”
The tower has 222 upscale apartments and a rooftop buzzing with activities, including an infinity pool, a dog park, grills, and cabanas.
Slade is wrapping up construction on the Gables Water Street project on O’Connor Boulevard in Las Colinas.
The first residents are moving into the 316-unit apartment complex this month and another 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space will open in the first half of 2018. Several restaurants will have patios overlooking Lake Carolyn — something few developments in North Texas can offer.
Confirmed restaurants include The Londoner Pub, Grabbagreen, Go Fish Poke, State Fare Kitchen & Bar, Cafe Herrera, Olivella’s Pizzeria, Main Street Bistro & Bakery, El Famoso, and Cork & Pig Harbor. Retail shops include Castle Nails, GQ Tailor, and Waxing the City.
“They’re very unique, and there’s such a range of them that it will be a great offering for the growing residential population in the area there,” Slade said.
The center is 70 percent leased.
With that project wrapping up, Slade has turned her attention to the Gables Turtle Creek project in Uptown Dallas. The 232-unit complex built in the 1990s will be redeveloped into high-rise apartment towers with up to 750 units, Slade said.
The existing buildings will be torn down in phases at the intersection of Cole and Lemmon avenues. Zoning is approved for the three new residential towers.
Evolution of renting
The new wave of apartments have high-end finish outs with wood floors, quartz countertops, built-in speakers, and amenities aplenty.
Today’s apartment complexes have swimming pools that resemble resorts with cabanas, barbecue grills, and flat-screen televisions — perfect for entertaining. The clubhouses are loaded with common area space with games, free Wi-Fi, and concierge services.
“It’s about building something that’s comfortable for people to use in their down time,” she said.
Dog parks are almost essential for today’s renter, even if they’re on the roof.
“We have dog parks in almost all our communities,” Slade said. “Pet amenities are a very significant component of where people choose to live.”
Mass transit is another major component of these projects and something today’s market really wants.
The Gables McKinney Avenue project connects right to the M-Line Trolley, a free service that links Uptown to downtown Dallas and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
The Turtle Creek project will also connect to the M-Line Trolley.
“The trolley has become an important part of the transportation infrastructure in the downtown and Uptown areas,” said Slade, who sits on the M-Line board. “It’s shifting people’s patterns on where they choose to live.”
In Las Colinas, the Gables Water Street project is right next to the Las Colinas Urban Center Station for DART’s Orange Line and the APT (Area Personal Transit System).
While all these perks do appeal to the young professional demographic, Slade said the surprising trend they’ve seen in Uptown Dallas has been the rise of young families and empty nesters. The fastest-growing renter’s group includes families with children 5 years old and under.
“It is becoming more and more diverse in terms of age and population,” Slade said. “Uptown is changing significantly.”
Working in her community
Slade’s fingerprints are all over the community as she volunteers for several city boards and groups. She’s the CEO and chair of Uptown Dallas and a board member for the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority, Preservation Dallas and the Real Estate Council Foundation. She’s also the executive board member, chair and CEO for the Uptown Public Improvement District.
Recently, she participated in the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Leadership Dallas class, a 10-month program that teaches leadership skills and takes on a community project.
The 2017 class raised money to design and build a community garden at the Austin Street Center shelter.
Several area contractors and construction companies donated time, labor and materials to make the garden happen.
Earlier this year, the homeless shelter dedicated the New Hope Garden, a fruit and vegetable oasis that provides nutritious food to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents. It’s more than a source of food — the garden is educational and therapeutic as the residents learn to till the soil and grow their own food.
Daniel Roby, executive director of the Austin Street Center, was also in the class and brought awareness to what the shelter does for the city’s homeless.
“It was an incredible experience to learn from him about the needs of the facility,” Slade said. “Our class was exposed to so many elements about what happens in Dallas. Being able to build that garden and help his facility so significantly was very meaningful. We all gained a lot from each other.”
Slade’s lifework is shaping the very fabric of North Texas, contributing to a new generation of live, work, and play mixed-use developments. But this Dallas native valued her time in the Leadership Dallas class because it was her chance to give back.
“We had a great year. We learned about the different facets of Dallas and the metro region, from education to transportation and health care and everything in between,” Slade said. “It was a great opportunity for me. I learned more from my classmates.”