[ High dollar condo/townhomes mixed with rentals can work, but the concept tends to work better in cities with really high density urban
The gamble here was if there is a market for such expensive condos in FW at all. In cities like you described, of course there's a market. In a city like Fort Worth (and Dallas) it's doubtful. At the prices VDL was asking, most buyers can not only afford a condo downtown, but they can also afford a single family home in Fort Worth's best urban neighborhoods, most of which are a stone's throw from DTFW. In this part of the country, where condo's are still a niche development, unless you get the right kind of buyer, at the right sale price, single-family homes usually win out. I love downtown living, but give me a million bucks and tell me to choose DTFW or Monticello, Mistletoe Heights, Westover, Park Hill, Berkley, Arlington Heights, etc., I know which one I would choose, especially when I could easily drive to DTFW whenever I wanted to.
Also, a very good point was made by eastfwther about VDL targeting the wrong buyer. I couldn't agree more. I know 4 people living in DTFW right now, 3 rent;1 owns. None of them work downtown, yet they all wanted to live there. Those who have rented have done so for years, and the one that owns a place in T&P rented for years also. Those are the possible buyers that would make the most sense to target. The buyer of the T&P unit purchased his place for around 160K if I remember correctly. One other person I know lived downtown for years too and ended up buying a home south of downtown in Fairmount. VDL was simply too ambitious and went after the wrong buyers,and I agree that even in a good economy, those units would not have sold at that price.