New Northeast Dallas Neighborhood

And so it begins. Already people are embracing the affordable architect-designed homes with houses facing one of 10 pocket parks. It’s the dream of developer Diane Cheatham: to bring the essence of Urban Reserve to people who desire low investment property.

Read the article written by Steve Brown, Real Estate Editor for the Dallas Morning News here, or below.

A new northeast Dallas home development will be aimed at buyers hunting a new generation of urban-style housing.

Builder Diane Cheatham has already built one unique Dallas neighborhood: the Urban Reserve project off Forest Lane. Cheatham’s Urban Edge Development has sold sites for more than 40 homes in the custom home community, which she started about a decade ago. “We will be close to finished by the end of the year,” she said.

So Cheatham is ready for her next neighborhood, on Abrams Road in northeast Dallas. She’s bought 10 acres, which will be divided into up to 80 high-density home sites, a small park and walking trails. It will be called Urban Commons.

“We will have 10 pocket parks,” Cheatham said. “Each one of these houses will face on a park.” There’s also a pond, a creek and green space on land that was once part of the Beck family farm.

Cheatham jumped at the chance to purchase the property, just north of LBJ Freeway, when a broker pitched it to her. The tract previously was zoned for commercial development. “I had been looking for another tract and came close a few times,” she said. “These kind of sites are very hard to find. They need to be places that are pretty much ignored. You can’t buy the corner of Main and Main and do single-family houses.”

The homes in Urban Commons will be much smaller and less pricey than houses in the Urban Reserve neighborhood. “We hope our houses start at around $200,000,” she said. “Some of them will go up to $650,000. We are going to do some micro houses at 600 or 700 square feet, and they will go right up to 2,800 square feet. We want this to be a mixed-income development.”

Custom homes in the Urban Reserve started near $500,000 and went to more than $2 million. They were as large as 4,500 square feet. “I wanted more affordability,” Cheatham said. “I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years, and I want to do architect-designed houses that didn’t cost $1 million.”

The detached houses will be built in rows stretching between a creek and a greenbelt and an internal street. Garages will be along the street. “We look at the creek as an amenity,” Cheatham said. “And we want to create a nice little pond. The houses will have zero front yards because they are on a park. This will be great for retired people that are over having a big yard.” Cheatham said about half the sites have been reserved by builders.

“Most of the houses will be two stories, and some will be three,” she said. “We are also going to have four or five exterior materials. The houses will all be designed by architects, so they will be very different.” All of the builders in Urban Commons will be small firms.

“I’ve tried to meld the good parts of tract homes with the good parts of custom homes,” Cheatham said. “I hope that we can get the infrastructure done and start building houses in the fall.”

Architect Robert Meckfessel and DSGN Architects designed Urban Commons’ neighborhood, and Kevin Sloan Studio is the landscape architect.

Cheatham’s 12-acre Urban Reserve, on White Rock Creek, was one of the first modern-architecture developments in the Dallas area. Homes there use a combination of modern and natural building materials.