Developers have despoiled many neighborhoods of Dallas with dull, "Soviet bloc" apartment buildings, but one newly renovated apartment building on Gaston Avenue offers a refreshing, one might say heroic, example of how to do things another way.
The building is The Royal Palms, an apartment community in East Dallas at 5520 Gaston Ave., that's been transformed by Indio Partners and Welker Properties.
The company invested $1.4 million into the two-story, 14,200-square-foot Class C community, including new top-of-the-line features like quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, gated parking, outdoor lounge area with kitchen, and pet stations.
Welker Properties is a residential real estate development company located in Dallas that has begun to specialize in acquiring multifamily properties and renovating them into boutique properties, but with rents that are not through the roof.
"We want to provide affordable, upgraded apartments to increase the Class B real estate market in Dallas," says Andrew Welker, founder and CEO. "We strive to add value and build a sense of community in these neighborhoods."
Units range from 610 to 840 square feet. One bedrooms start at $1,300 and two bedrooms start at $1,450. The property is managed and leased by Indio Management.
Welker, who is 38, began his real estate career in his 20s, and earned his stripes in the world of single-family homes. His prior company, New Western Acquisitions, was one of the largest home buyers in the country, purchasing more than 12,000 distressed residential properties all over the United States.
"We got involved when the market crashed in 2008, and we started buying foreclosures," Welker says. "But I wanted to take on the challenge of multifamily properties like this building on Gaston."
When they took over the property, it was in serious decline, with dilapidated interiors and a rotting pool in the courtyard. (Before-and-after photos are posted on the company website.) He could have razed the building and started over, but wanted to make it a renovation, both for aesthetic reasons and financial.
"We've had a great economy, but I feel like we're going to have a downturn and I believe that all these 'luxury' buildings are going to have a harder time than something like this," he says. "I like to restore a building like this for the community. I think it adds so much more to the area when you can keep that character."
And not everyone can afford luxury apartment rent.
"Everybody's getting priced out right now," he says. "The Royal Palms offers a mid-rent option, and with the renovation we did, it's basically a brand new building inside."
The interior had to be gutted, but they kept the footprint of the building as well as the walkways, trees, and general landscaping.
"We had to replace all the plumbing and wiring, so we changed the floor plans to modernize it and make it more convenient," Welker says. "The pool in the center had collapsed, so we replaced it with a fun fireplace setting, to have a spot for the tenants to hang out."
In addition to real estate, Welker also dabbles in other ventures such as Deep Ellum Distillery, the vodka company, in which he's a partner with Deep Ellum Brewing Co. founder John Reardon.
"I'm a Deep Ellum guy — for me, that kind of energy is what's important," he says.