‘Mixed-use developments’ bring a little of bit everything, just outside your front door
There’s an allure to living in a small neighborhood where everything you need is within walking distance. Ramp that concept up a notch and you have what are affectionately called "mixed-use developments" — although "lifestyle centers" might be a more appropriate term. Dallas is definitely a car-centric city, but a mixed-use property can at least eliminate the necessity to drive for a portion of each day.
The goal of a mixed-use development is not to breed a generation of homebodies, but to create a greater sense of community. After all, when living in a large apartment complex, it helps to know just which neighbors have the most plentiful cups of sugar to borrow.
From resident-only amenities to public spaces that include retail and restaurants, "mixed-use" can equal "sought-after destination." West Village is a prime example of a very successful development that’s as popular with the Uptown crowd as it is with its residents, though retail there has a more prominent focus.
For the last couple of years, anticipation has been high over what would become of the city block on Cedar Springs where the old "Mary Thumb" grocery store used to stand. Now, ilume (yes, that’s a lower-case "I") has finally opened the doors to its first residents and the retailers are on their way.
Among the businesses taking up residency: Dish, described as a "modern-day supper club;" the crazy-popular frozen yogurt chain Red Mango, which will list Cedar Springs as its first Texas location; and Beyond the Box, which provides prepared take-out meals, fresh produce and grocery products. There’s also gallery space open to showcase local artists and other special exhibitions will add an extra dose of culture.
But what really makes ilume special is the residential experience. It feels less like an apartment building and more like a swank boutique hotel.
"We are different in many different facets in regards to being mixed-use. The key thing is that we are first and foremost a residential development with the retail component as a secondary piece that complements both our suites and the neighborhood," says Ryan Baldwin, ilume’s property manager.
Taking residence smack in the middle of the gay neighborhood, the property is focused on being a good neighbor to surrounding businesses and families, as well as a significant part of the gay community. Not only have they donated office space to the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, they’ve also trademarked a new tagline: "a PROUD community."
Ilume residents (called "members") are showered with amenities. The fitness center looks more like a miniature Equinox than the random weights and outdated treadmills that occupy many apartment gyms. A room dedicated for spinning classes and yoga and a self-service tanning booth add to the appeal for the workout crowd.
Just off the lobby, there’s a luxe game room with a wet bar, a game table for poker and board games, and comfortable furniture to Wii the night away. The true showstoppers, at least until the South Beach-worthy courtyard pool area opens in a few months, are the Great Room and adjoining Champagne Room.
The Great Room is like a luxurious cocktail lounge with its cozy banquettes and sofas, except there’s no bar. It’s just a nice place for residents to gather, whether it’s unwinding after work or grabbing breakfast on the way out the door on days when the property puts out a delectable spread.
The Champagne Room is available for residents to throw immaculate dinner parties at the sexy illuminated table for 14. Complete with a refrigerator and warming oven, the room can be home to a professionally catered event or simply an extension of a member’s dinner party from upstairs.
There’s more to ilume than a mere laundry list of amenities, and that’s largely to the credit of designer Travis Terry, an artist who proudly claims that "space just happens to be my medium."
"I try to take my elegance and sophistication and a lot of amazing features that are in the multi-million dollar houses and downsize that and make it a part of everybody’s life, every day," Terry says of the work he’s done at ilume.
Every space in the building has been touched by Terry, who has a mission to bring back glam, whether in the public areas or the residential suites (don’t dare use the "A" word here to describe the units). He developed a sophisticated color palette from which residents can choose to have accent walls painted in their living areas, and each ties in to one of the striking hues seen throughout the building. He applies a specific set of fundamentals in designing the ilume interiors, or any space.
"I believe that rhythm, balance, scale and symmetry are the four keys to making things look extremely sophisticated and elegant. Put three mirrors and frame something or place three columns in a row. It takes us back to our architectural past, the Greeks, the Egyptians."
Where he’s trying to make his mark is changing the way people think about "green." It doesn’t have to be all granola and bio-diesel.
"My whole goal in life is to make eco-friendly glamorous," he says.
"We tried to be as eco-friendly as possible. Everything is Energy-Star rated, we’re classified as Green Built Texas," he says. "We wanted to be earth friendly, and neighborhood conscious, but put our own spin on glamour in these times when things are kind of hard. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be sophisticated."
Though nothing at ilume looks cheap, it is surprisingly affordable for the location and square footage with one-bedroom units starting around $1,200.
If you’re looking for a new place to rent, a mixed-use property might be the ideal place to call home. Terry recommends looking for "convenience, a sense of excitement, fabulous amenities and a solid sense of community."
Fortunately, that’s no longer an impossible dream.
This article appeared in the Defining Homes magazine presented by Dallas Voice on October 9, 2009.