Rain Camp Dallas 2011 took place in The Tower at City Place. The Tower at City Place is the building that Southland Corporation built in the 1980s to be their corporate headquarters. Southland is the parent company for the 7-11 stores . Southland got its start in an icehouse in Oak Cliff in the 1920s. They aren't in the Tower at City Place building any more, but the building has a very interesting history, especially for people who care about real estate.
What makes the building interesting is what isn't there. The plan was to build two towers, one on each side of Central Expressway. Southland got permission to have a skybridge, going over the highway, something that is practically impossible to get done. For a really interesting article on the building, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_at_Cityplace
The interior finishout of The Tower at City Place is very luxe. It has the look of Biedermeier firmiture, a look at was coming into vogue in the 1980s. And, of course, the DART rail runs through the basement of the building, giving it that urban feel associated with New York or Chicago. The Tower at City Place is a very upscale and sophisticated property!
The process of assembling the land necessary to build those buildings is the stuff of real estate legends. It is also a textbook example of what a developer needs to do if they want to buy up a big chunk of urban property. I know people who worked at some of the companies who did the deals, putting together the titles of condo complexes, single family residences and small commercial blocks. Negotiating to buy entire condo complexes isn't an easy thing to do. Without the power of Eminent Domain, the right that governmental entities have to condemn private property, there isn't anything that can be done to FORCE the owner to sell. The most reliable way to get it done is to find the owner's Greed Button and push it until they say "YES".
The developer Rule of Thumb is that it is going to cost something in the neighborhood of one and a half times market value to buy something someone doesn't want to sell. 150% of Market usually gets it done. I am told that is what it took to buy up the tracts necessary to build the Tower at City Place.
The land that was going to be the western portion of this urban redevelopment never got built. The land sat vacant for over a decade. The land has become West Village.
Part of the folklore about condos is that "some developer is going to come along and buy up the entire complex and redevelop it..." That almost never happens. It has to be a really unusual set of circumstances for it to happen. Ugly things can happen. Just ask anyone who was involved in the situation where SMU wanted the land under the condo complex called University Gardens. http://www.flickr.com/photos/sdorn/sets/72157594459914173/
If you are reading this and you were around when the deal was being done, I would love to hear from you.