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Homes, Dallas Neighborhoods, Dallas Real Estate and the Aesthetics of the City.

Popular Greenway Parks Surges Again

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Why Greenway Parks Has Become Even More Popular

Residence designed in 1955 by architects Marion Fooshee and James Cheek.

Residence designed in 1955 by architects Marion Fooshee and James Cheek.

For many years I have identified Greenway Parks as the most popular and attractive Dallas neighborhood with young partners of venture capital and hedge fund firms and financially successful vibrant residents.  What has caused this already expensive neighborhood to have another surge in its desirability and demand for its homes?

The Neighborhood West of Inwood Road Has Been Transformed

The demand for Greenway Parks continues as a result of the success of the Greenway Park Conservation District and the thoughtful renovation taking place in the neighborhood. However, the rapid escalation in demand is based in great part on the dramatic change in Shannon Estates, the neighborhood west of Inwood.  Several years ago the area was feared and now it has new and renovated homes selling for more than some of the homes in Greenway Parks.  Once a buyer understands the neighborhood west of Inwood is surging, Greenway Parks seems undervalued. This is the reason many of the home purchases in Greenway Parks are made by Greenway Parks residents who already live in the neighborhood. History has shown that once one has lived in Greenway Parks, it is hard to leave the neighborhood.

Why Douglas Newby Realtors Have Sold the Most Greenway Park Homes Over the Last Six Months

Mediterranean modern home designed by architect Robert Meckfessel

One of the reasons I have sold the most homes in Greenway Parks recently is because I have introduced and explained the aesthetic and economic benefits of Greenway Parks to an audience greater than those who already live in the neighborhood or who have friends in Greenway Parks. In the last six months I represented the owners of the architecturally significant Hidell and Decker-designed midcentury modern home that was beautifully renovated by Mil Bodron and Svend Fruit.  During this same period I also represented three buyers who purchased architect designed homes in Greenway Parks.

Clients Understood Greenway Parks is a Great Value and Interested is Stronger Than Ever

My clients quickly agreed with my assessment that Greenway Park is an incredible value for the many attributes of the neighborhood, location, and individual sites of the homes. Over the years I have sold some of the great properties in Greenway Parks, including the home designed by Fooshee and Cheek on the largest lot in Greenway Parks, and the best home designed by prominent architect Robert Meckfessel.  However, I have never seen the interest in Greenway Parks as intense as it is now.

The Real Estate Market is Strong Across Dallas

The real estate market is strong across Dallas and will remain strong for some time.  Greenway Parks has the potential to appreciate even more than many of the other finest neighborhoods of Dallas.

As a Real Estate Agent I Enjoy Providing Insights on Neighborhoods

Renovation design of midcentury modern home by Bodron+Fruit Architects

One of the things I enjoy most as a real estate broker is providing insights on the small, desirable neighborhoods that help buyers understand and feel confident in their purchase of a home in a delightful neighborhood like Greenway Parks. I also understand that it is difficult for a Greenway Parks homeowner to find another neighborhood that embodies the characteristics of Greenway Parks.  How I do this is worthy of a whole other post.  While I am most associated with architecturally significant homes, my passion has always been neighborhoods and thus my affection for Greenway Parks.

Categories: Dallas Neighborhoods, Real Estate Insights

Trinity River Toll Road is So 20th Century

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Eliminating Crosstown Expressway Boosted Revitalization and Dallas Development

Thirty-five years ago, Dallas’ city leadership proposed a cross-town expressway that would connect R.L. Thornton Freeway to Central Expressway.  However, the new road would have eliminated parks and devastated neighborhoods. Residents of Old East Dallas fought it, and stopped it.  Instead of the cross-town expressway, Fitzhugh and Collette one-way couplets were returned to two-way residential streets and two lanes of traffic on Munger Boulevard were removed and replaced with a grass and tree-filled median and a boulevard park was created. The expressway was abandoned on a long shot hope that the inner city neighborhoods in Old East Dallas would be revitalized.

Now we know the rest of the story. Since then these Old East Dallas neighborhoods have attracted billions of dollars of investment and FNMA has called this one of the nation’s most successful revitalization projects.

Today we need to apply that lesson to stop the current proposal to build a Trinity River toll road, because the toll road is founded on faulty 20th century ideas. Building this road will foster a segregated, weaker, less vibrant 21st century city dependent on the suburbs to provide people to work downtown.

Trinity Toll Road Fosters Segregated Neighborhoods

Members of Dallas City Council have continued to support a 20th century pattern of concentrating voters in geographic areas and segregating neighborhoods to consolidate their power base. The council did this with redistricting in 1991 and they’re looking to do so now with the toll road, by encouraging segregated neighborhoods to keep their power concentrated instead of dispersed.

Currently, the most vocal city council proponent of the Trinity River toll road is a South Dallas councilperson who indicates she wants to enable her South Dallas constituents to commute to North Dallas for their jobs, rather than have them move to North Dallas — which would dilute her minority power base.

Conversely, a prominent Lake Highlands city council candidate supports the Trinity River toll road because it would make it easier for South Dallas residents to commute to jobs in his district.  When I asked him why he would not want South Dallas residents to move to Lake Highlands, which has an abundance of low- and high-income housing, he explained he did not want to uproot the residents from their South Dallas neighborhood.  In other words, he wants to keep the neighborhoods segregated, too. This sort of thinking is out of touch with the 21st century citizen, who thinks more inclusively.

Geographical Boundaries and Prejudices are Dissolving

The 21st century Dallas citizen is helping the time honored geographical boundaries and prejudices naturally dissolve, making Dallas a more vibrant and healthier city.  For instance, people who grew up in North Dallas are moving to South Dallas, Park Cities residents are moving to Lakewood, East Dallas residents are moving to North Dallas, and many people across the city are moving downtown.

The 21st century concept of Dallas calls for a more fluid city where people can live and play close to where they work, which reduces congestion and traffic bottlenecks.

Driverless Cars Will Allow Existing Roads to be Used Much More Efficiently

If there is any lingering concern that Dallas needs more lanes of roads, we should take comfort in how little of the roads are utilized now.  If you look at how much concrete is occupied by a car when the roads are performing at peak efficiency, it’s very little –92% of the road is empty.

However, roads will not always be so inefficient. Recently at the TED conference in Vancouver, I co-hosted a dinner with Chris Urmson, director of Google driverless car project. Google driverless cars are only five years away from mass production. We talked about the inefficiency of current expressways and how driverless cars will be spaced much more closely, eliminating the need for so many lanes.  They will also disperse traffic more efficiently using the existing roads and eliminating driver errors that compress traffic and cause congestion.  Driverless cars will totally change how cities will be planned, developed, and lived in. In other words, we don’t need to lay more concrete to solve a problem that technology will handle in the near future.

In the 1950s the Car Was King and Roads Revered

It might seem surprising that the Trinity River toll road had come so close to actually becoming a reality.  Then again it is not so surprising when one stops and realizes that the Dallas mayor, the executive director of the Trinity River Commons Foundation, the former city manager, the transportation director of the North Texas Council of Governments, and the president of the Citizens Council were all raised in the 1950s, when the car was king.  They were all educated and trained in the 1970s where more big roads and expressways were considered essential to a city’s economic prosperity.  In the 20th century the only thing Dallas loved more than their cars were roads.  Dallas might be the only city that once had a serious proposal for a road museum.

The Thinking of Many City Administrators and Transportation Directors Has Not Changed in 40 Years

I experienced first-hand how city managers and regional directors think about downtown Dallas and roads while earning my master’s degree in Public Administration at SMU.  My classmates included a future Dallas city manager, a South Dallas congresswoman, assistant city managers, and regional directors, many of whom at the time were interning at city hall or at the Council of Governments.  Our class was assigned a semester project to develop a plan to revitalize downtown Dallas.  It is remarkable how little the thinking of city administrators and politicians has changed since 1976.  This public administration class enthusiastically proposed more toll roads and expressways as the silver bullet to revitalize downtown Dallas and to make it easier for people to live in the suburbs and commute to downtown for jobs.

By contrast, my minority report called instead for a plan to revitalize downtown residential neighborhoods.  It became the foundation of my master’s thesis, a blueprint for the ongoing successful revitalization of Old East Dallas neighborhoods.

Dallas Cannot Concrete Its Way Out of Congestion

Most people know, at least intuitively –and the studies all confirm this — that if you build a road the cars will come.  Dallas cannot concrete its way out of congestion.  Despite old ideas dying hard, Mayor Rawlings should be applauded for recently instigating a new Trinity River road plan in which a group of planners and engineers treated the Trinity River Park as the client.  They proposed a meandering road, giving access to the park, which is a much different concept than a toll road through the park for commuters.  However, until future plans for a toll road are abandoned, the full development of the park with an integrated park road will never happen.

With Trinity Toll Road Gone Trinity Park Will Be Energized

The original call for a Trinity River toll road was not a malicious idea, just a 20th century idea.  Creating the nation’s largest urban park in the center of the city is a 21st century idea.  It embraces the current excitement for a vibrant downtown and a city filled with sunlight and nature. The Trinity River Park and the surrounding area will be much easier to energize and revitalize because it is a blank canvas begging for the creativity and vision of nature lovers and developers.

For a hint of the future one can look at the popularity of the Trinity River Calatrava-designed bridges and the throngs of people flocking to Trinity Groves, which the bridges inspired.

Trinity Toll Road is Out of Date and Out of Fashion

Proponents of the toll road have argued that they do not have sinister intentions and the voters already approved the toll road 13 years ago.  These well-intentioned motives became out of date.  Taste, design, lifestyle, technology and circumstances have created a whole new dynamic in the 21st century.

Now is the time for the mayor and city leaders to embrace a 21st century vision for the city and put a nail in the coffin of the Trinity toll road.  The city council is a smart, generally collegial group that wants what is best for Dallas.  The threat of a toll road undermines the Trinity River Park, divides the city council and disappoints Dallas.

The politicians can always resubmit what they need to the federal and regional entities.  Dallas lobbyists can expedite approval.  In the meantime, Dallas should have the comfort and clarity of knowing the plans for any future toll road in the Trinity River Park have been abandoned.

A City Designed for Success in the 20th Century is Doomed to Failure in the 21st Century

So now we need to ask: Do we want a successful 20th century city or a thriving 21st century city?  As David S. Rose, a successful serial angel investor famously said, “Any company designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to failure in this 21st century.” I think this is also true for cities.  The Trinity toll road is a 20th century idea that will undermine the success of Dallas in the 21st century.

Now the mayor and city council has the opportunity to unite Dallas, eliminate the threat of a Trinity River toll road, embrace technology and nature, and allow Dallas to become a 21st century city.


Categories: Dallas Insights

How Does One Architect Renovate Another Architect’s Design?

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Modern Home

Steps from rear of modern home to pool and garden.

Norman Ward 2013 Restoration Approach to Bill Booziotis 1978 Designed Home

How an accomplished architect approaches another acclaimed architect’s work has always fascinated me.  Will the current architect encourage their client to tear down the home?  Will they recommend meticulous restoration, remodeling, or even recommend taking an adaptive use approach?

 The Overton Crest House in Fort Worth is Particularly Interesting

Contemporary House

Contemporary house pool and terrace.

Dallas architect Bill Booziotis, an AIA Fellow, designed the Overton Crest architecturally significant home in Overton Park in Forth Worth in 1978.  I first met Bill Booziotis when he was president of the Dallas AIA Chapter and I had founded and chaired the Dallas Restoration House of the Year Award of which Bill Booziotis was a member of the selection committee, representing AIA.  This was a time when preservation and the restoration of homes was just getting started in a big way, with very little precedent or direction on how to approach a period home.  The Restoration Home of the Year selection committee included the president of ASID, a bank president, a magazine editor, the president of Preservation Dallas, and a neighborhood representative.  Every person had a very different definition of restoration, emphasis and approach in mind to fulfill our goal to annually find a home that best represented restoration to live in.

Restoration to Live In

Architecture as Evolution, Not as a Museum

Modern Residence

Library in modern residence

While every member of the committee reflected different design disciplines and interests, the entire committee embraced the concept that a historic, architect-designed home needed to reflect the current needs of the owners. The Restoration House selection committee also understood that design, materials, and taste evolve, but the integrity of the original home should be preserved.  Norman Ward, AIA, embraced these same concepts many years later as he approached his contribution to the Bill Booziotis-designed home.

Architect Norman Ward, With Respect and Reverence, Renovates 1978 Bill Booziotis, FAIA, Modern Home

Renovated Modern Architecture

Renovated modern architecture by Norman Ward, AIA

Norman Ward understands the brilliance of Bill Booziotis, an architect who has designed and continues to design architecturally significant modern homes, museums, art galleries and commercial buildings.  As an architect, Norman Ward understood the impact the entire body of architectural work of Bill Booziotis has had on modern architecture and the community.  Norman Ward also recognized the importance of this iconic modern Overton Crest home in Fort Worth and Overton Park, a neighborhood bounded by the water of the Fort Worth branch and adjoining greenbelt and trail to Fort Worth.  Further, Norman Ward recognized the specific genius of Bill Booziotis as it related to this site and the home he designed on Overton Crest.

Norman Ward Received the Fort Worth Chapter Charles R. Adams Award for Excellence in Design

Contemporary House

Contemporary kitchen opens to modern home.

In 2013 Norman Ward was only the eighth architect in 40 years to receive the Charles Adams Award for Excellence.  His acclaimed body of work and architectural virtuosity made him a wonderful choice to make meaningful modifications to the home designed by Bill Booziotis.

The Site Propelled the Design of Booziotis; The Site Propelled the Renovation Design of Norman Ward

Modern Residence

Texas Modern residence site plan.

This site is on a five-cornered lot with a narrow base that fans out and descends in three directions.  The modern rectangular elements Bill Booziotis designed are arranged as if centrifugal force moved them into position to engage the home and its views overlooking the land.

Modern Home

Stairs from rear terrace leading to Texas Modern home.

Curved porches, terraces and steps reinforce this theme. Exterior and interior oversized soft Mexican brick quickly emphasizes the home’s Texas Modern lineage

Norman Word Preserves the Envelope and Exterior of Modern Home

Norman Ward, as an architect, recognized how well the footprint of the home and its exterior related to the home and should remain.  As a Fort Worth architect, he recognized this was an iconic and much loved home in the Overton Park neighborhood that created context and provided memories in the neighborhood and Fort Worth.

Renovated Modern Residence

Library catwalk in renovated modern residence.

Harder Edged Rectangular Volumes With Softer Surfaces Replace Vaulted Volumes and Harder Spaces

Norman Ward was able to create a 2,500-book library, stair and catwalk where a two-story barrel vaulted volume previously existed.

Modern residence bedroom detail

Modern master bedroom.

While the lines of the interior become more severe, the surfaces become softer.  Cherry wood, sourced from Costa Rica, is used for the floors through much of the home, replacing the original Saltillo tile floors
Arched openings and a curved bay window were replaced with rectangular openings and windows.  While the windows and glazed openings remain, the advancements in technology and glass allow these glassed openings to be pushed further to their edges.  Slotted skylights bring in more natural light.  Norman Ward’s lighting design further illuminates this modern home.

Modern Home

Two story library in renovated modern home.

Modern house

Large windows and skylights fill the modern home with natural light.

Contemporary House

A wall of glass accentuate views of modern home.

 Smooth porcelain creates a sleeker finish for the floors in the bathroom and the kitchen that have white oak cabinetry and Bulthaup appliances.
Modern home interior

Porcelain floor and Bulthaup cabinetry in contemporary kitchen.

Contemporary Home

Modern bathroom in contemporary home.

Architect Creates and Preserves Graceful Tension of Curves and Rectangles

The curvilinear design of the interior was straightened, but several curved elements remain.
Modern Residence

Living area of modern residence.

Architect Norman Ward continued to emphasize the curved elements of this modern home.  You see this in the curved end wall of the living room and continuing to the curved terrace outside the living room.  Curved stairs lead to the swimming pool, and the curved radial theme of the home continues within the master bedroom study, the water feature and outdoor fireplace and entrance terrace.

A Triumph for “Restoration to Live In”

It is a great compliment to architect Bill Booziotis that a nearly 40 year old home remains as relevant to day as when it was designed in the 1970s.  It is a testament that good design survives.  Norman Ward demonstrated that an architect can preserve a period home and make it as dynamic, contemporary and current as a modern home designed today.  To this home Norman Ward added geo-thermal wells, radiant floor heating, a sophisticated lighting control system, high performance windows, and other 21st century appliances and technologies to the existing architecture.

Thank You Norman Ward, AIA

It is always easier for an architect to start with a blank sheet of paper when designing a home than to start with another architect’s work.  Often the best homes are those where the architect has a three-way conversation with his client and the existing structure on the site.  Now in this lovely Fort Worth neighborhood site we have a modern home designed by Bill Booziotis, based in Dallas, and a Norman Ward-designed home.  The combination of these two significant architects makes a profound contribution to architecture.

Contemporary Home

Modern house staircase detail.

See this home on Dallas Modern Homes.
See original photographs of this modern home on Architecturally Significant Homes.

Categories: Architects and Architecture

Dallas AIA Tour of Homes Premiere Party Home October 30 Designed by Oglesby Greene

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This modern home was designed by Oglesby Greene Architects and architect Graham Greene.

The Dallas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects makes a brilliant decision by selecting the modern home at 40 Braewood Place as the site of the Premiere Party for the 2014 AIA Dallas Tour of Homes. The Premiere Party will take place on the evening of October 30, preceding the AIA Dallas Tour of Homes that will take place on November 1st and November 2nd from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A very limited number of $100 Premiere tickets are available for purchase to see the Graham Greene architect-designed contemporary home, an amazing home high on a bluff, wrapped in two-story glass that allows nature to become the central design element.

The AIA Premiere Party is Rare Opportunity to See This Oglesby•Greene Designed Home

You will want to see this exquisitely designed, crafted and engineered modern home that Graham Greene and his colleagues at Oglesby·Greene designed. The house will provoke the imagination and admiration of every architecture aficionado and modern home lover. Since this modern residence is in the gated community of Glen Abbey, access to even the outside of the home is very limited. The AIA Premiere ticket will allow you to see the exterior, interior and gardens of this architecturally significant home.

Modern Home Recedes From Street and Then When One Enters the Home It Presents Itself in a Breathtaking Way


Image copyright©Douglas Newby. All Rights Reserved.

As you approach the front door you will immediately feel like you are in the rear garden. Gardens, streams, bluffs, and White Rock Creek appear through the glass doors, windows and glazed openings. In addition, there are views over the negative edge pool to a backdrop of endless nature.

Water running over copper sheathing of negative edge pool.

Image copyright©Douglas Newby.  All Rights Reserved.  Water running over copper sheathing of negative edge pool.

Many patrons of modern home tours often see white walls filled with art and spaces filled with fashionable designer furniture, but at this home on Braewood nature becomes the central design element. There is a transparency to the home that lets nature permeate every space.

Dining room of Oglesby-Greene-designed home.

Image copyright©Douglas Newby. All Rights Reserved. Dining room of Oglesby·Greene-designed home.

Interior Designer Robyn Menter Participates in Selecting Materials, Appliances, Finishes and Fixtures

Robyn Menter, interior designer and president of Robyn Menter Design Associates (RMDA), adeptly put to work her design skills that accentuated the design accomplishment of Oglesy-Greene. The Buxy Beige Limestone for the stone walls and for the running band pattern of the honed stone floor was sourced and selected by Robyn Menter to complement the Douglas Fir.

Robyn Menter design talent seen in kitchen.

Image copyright©Douglas Newby. All Rights Reserved.   Robyn Menter design talent seen in kitchen.

The kitchen is the heart of the home and you will admire the sleekness and warmth of the kitchen with the larch wood cabinets, Sahara Gold granite and stainless steel countertops, and RMDA custom design vent hood, and appliances from Sub Zero to Gaggenau. The interior nuance of this home, from the bathrooms and the kitchens, can be seen in the selection of materials, finishes and fixtures that further propels the architect’s vision of a home that reflects and embraces nature.

YouTube Video of Modern Home was Created to Give AIA Dallas Tour of Homes Patrons a Partial Preview

Whether you are inside the home or on the third floor terrace, you will enjoy the 180° views of nature. At the Premiere Party have a glass of wine and explore the paths through the gardens, by the koi ponds or waterfalls or the overlook above White Rock Creek or along the waterfalls by the negative edge pool. Be sure to go up to the third floor terrace to see a view you did not know existed in Dallas.

Looking back at engineer’s feat of architecture at Oglesby-Greene.

Image copyright©Douglas Newby.  All Rights Reserved.  Looking back at engineer’s feat of architecture at Oglesby·Greene.

Tickets to 2014 AIA Dallas Tour of Homes and AIA Premiere Party

Visit the Dallas Chapter AIA website to purchase an AIA Dallas Tour of Homes Premiere Party ticket that will give you the only opportunity to see the Oglesby·Greene-designed modern home in Glen Abbey.

You may also visit the Dallas Chapter AIA website to purchase the 2014 AIA Dallas Tour of Homes ticket that will allow you to see nine other modern homes that are recently designed and built or extensively renovated by very talented Dallas architects, including Mark Hoesterey, AIA, of Stocker Hoesterey Montenegro Architects; Cliff Welch, AIA; Dan Shipley, FAIA, Todd Hamilton, AIA; Mark Domiteaux, AIA; Susan Appleton, AIA; Maestri Architects.

I look forward to seeing you at the Premiere Party and the 2014 AIA Dallas Tour of Homes, my favorite home tour of the year.

Twilight shot of back of Oglesby Greene-designed home.

Image copyright©Douglas Newby.  All Rights Reserved. Twilight shot of back of Oglesby Greene-designed home.

Categories: Home Tours and Events

New Cities Summit Convenes – Will Explore Fragility of Cities and Reimagine the 21st Century City

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Former home of artist James Surls

Former Munger Place home of artist James Surls

Participants from around the world will be reimagining the 21st century city in Dallas on June 17, 18, 19.

To reimagine a city one must first explore how a city is in a constant flux of decline, rejuvenation, transformation, and rebirth. The best Dallas examples of the fragility, flux and reimagining of a city can be seen in three successful projects that turned desolate areas into strong areas in the Arts District, Trinity River and Trinity Groves, and the Munger Place Historic District and restoration area.

The Fragility of a City

At the New Cities Summit the attending CEOs, urban planners, writers, museum directors, artists, architects, and thought leaders should never underestimate the fragility of cities. In 2014, Dallas is arguably the city with the brightest future in America aesthetically, economically, and civically. Detroit had this mantel in the 1950s. Planners can be more destructive than helpful. An inventory or a rendering of buildings and people sitting on park benches and projected vibrancy on a map does not provide a recipe that guarantees that people, homeowners, and property owners will invest in the concept of the neighborhood or district.

City and thought leaders should focus on what will create confidence in the direction of a neighborhood. Only then will people invest their time and money or engage in a neighborhood or district. For example, a city can build a downtown arena as an attraction, but that gives no guarantee that the restaurants around the area will be successful. On the other hand, a collection of restaurants can be put in the middle of a desolate area and people flock to them as is the case with Trinity Groves.

For a plan to come to fruition, it must contain more than the planner’s plan on where and how they want people to live. A plan must contain more than an inventory of desired uses codified on a map. Compelling reasons why the direction of an area is positive is far more important than a map that is being drawn and planners declaring the renderings on the map will happen.

Vibrancy or Stability

People look at neighborhoods and cities as a glass being half-empty or half-full. Some will see a neighborhood or city as vibrant while others will see it as noisy, dirty, and congested. Some will see a neighborhood in decline that others see as improving. Some will take pride in compact density and diversity while others will long for a front yard or a second home in the country. There is a very tenuous relationship between vibrancy and stability.

There Is a Difference Between Planners Being Rough With a City and Homeowners, Philanthropists and Investors Being Bold With a Vision.

Here are three examples of stakeholders implementing bold visions versus traditional zoning plans.

The Largest Contiguous Arts District in the United States

City planners could have created dozens of plans for an arts districts in Fair park, South Dallas or downtown and not one plan by itself would have created a new opera house or theater, much less a vibrant district that is becoming the new center of Dallas.

The Dallas Arts District was a bold plan developed by the business, civic, and philanthropic leaders rather than planners. The Arts District is embraced by the citizens of Dallas and visited by people from around the world. One stand alone museum would not necessarily have been engaging, or even a few museums. The Arts District is a success because Dallas created a district with expensive housing, offices, restaurants, an arts magnet school and a deck park over an expressway that connects with already vibrant and emerging parts of Dallas.

In the 1990s potential calls to revitalize downtown with federal government subsidized low income housing was overridden by a vision of a vibrant city center with expensive housing built by private developers, the finest arts magnet schools, and programming that would make the arts available to everyone. Philanthropists provided a greater portion of funding for the opera hall and museums designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects than cultural buildings in other cities. The Arts District is a perfect example of a project being envisioned during the economic downturn of the city and now is thriving along with the rest of the city.

Trinity River – Trinity Groves

For 30 years city planners have focused on Southern Dallas but struggled with task forces and economic incentives. For 100 years Dallas has struggled to come up with a plan for the Trinity River. Then-City Manager Mary Suhm suggested that if a new bridge were required over the Trinity, let’s make it architecturally special.

The civic leaders, business leaders and philanthropists grasped the vision and funded the design and much of the construction cost of the Santiago Calatrava architect-designed bridge and began the funding for Trinity Park which is larger than the entire city of San Francisco.

Investors Stuart Fitts and Phil Romano Thought in Terms of A Dallas Legacy for a New Development

The thought of the Calatrava bridge inspired two Dallas businessmen to have a vision for a Dallas legacy project. Stuart Fitts and Phil Romano are not developers, but early on they realized the potential of central business district development on the south side of the Trinity at the foot of the Calatrava-designed bridge and assembled a large amount of land. Dallas has always reacted to the large gesture. Consultants and planners and newcomers to Dallas do not understand what motivates and inspires Dallas. Often we hear that Dallas should not be so consumed with starchitecture or that Dallas always swings for the fences and should strive for more singles and doubles.

Planners have been striving for decades for singles in Southern Dallas – attract a hardware store or maybe a Starbucks or a Whole Foods, maybe a few good restaurants.

Stuart Fitts and Phil Romano are businessmen who wanted a 100-year project that would transform Dallas and South Dallas with high density, tall buildings and lower density mixed-uses that would put the central business district on both sides of the river.

Fitts and Romano are successfully incubating the development with concept restaurants that people flock to in an area that a few years ago people would not have known about or dared to go. A proposed project of this magnitude has attracted other developers to South Dallas. Years ago planners begged for some commitment to South Dallas, now investors and developers are clamoring to be a part of a vision shaped by philanthropists and businessmen. The Trinity Park is larger than the entire city of San Francisco. The developed sites surrounding Trinity Groves is several times larger than the Arts District. These are grand slam projects that inspire home runs and lots of triples, doubles and singles along the way.

Munger Place and Old East Dallas, the Most Successful Revitalization Neighborhood in the United States

How is it possible that the best neighborhood in Dallas became the worst neighborhood in Dallas?

While the New Cities Summit participants are in town, it would be interesting for them to visit Munger Place. This was the best neighborhood in Dallas 100 years ago and by the 1970s it became the worst neighborhood. Property owners reversed its decline and became what FNMA called the most successful revitalization neighborhood in the United States. The 100-block area now comprises three single-family historic districts and homeowners here have spent $500 million on renovation. Some now see this as a beautiful neighborhood while others still focus on the remnants of decay and consider it forsaken and undesirable.

Visualize a Neighborhood of Opulence, Power and Architectural Refinement 100 Years Ago

Munger Place was the home of the finest families, from those of Margaret Milam McDermott to Governor Colquist. They enjoyed a planned deed restricted neighborhood with homes designed by the finest architects such as Lang and Witchell, C.D. Hill, and Hal Thomson. When Dallas refused to annex Highland Park, Munger Place was described as the finest residence park in the entire Southland.

It All Changed

In 1974, city councilman Pedro Aguirre’s housing report identified Munger Place as having the highest disease rate, murder rate, transience, and the most bars and slum housing. Five percent of the housing was torn down each year and there was no new construction.

D Magazine put on their cover The Meanest Bar in Dallas – it was in Munger Place, one of 100 neighborhood beer bars economically sustained by an interesting variety of vices. These low rent bars had only $50 beer licenses and were not monitored by the state. The bright spots were the half-way houses, the friendliest faces were the parade of prostitutes.

In real estate terms, 5011 Junius in Munger Place sold for $10,500 in 1907. In 1977 it only sold for $7,500. You know the neighborhood hit bottom when it started to attract young artists like James Surls, who introduced me to the neighborhood and to artists like David Bates, David McManaway, Francis Bagley and others.

You Must be Asking Yourself How Did This Elegant Neighborhood Become so Filled with Despair by the 1970s

Think gentle density. In stable, attractive neighborhoods, planners love to add gentle density or impose mixed-use zoning to add economic diversity, vibrancy, density. In the 1940s experimenting with a little gentle density seemed harmless – renting a room to a school teacher, or adding a mother-in-law apartment to a single-family home.

But adding the gentle density fed a craving for more density. Homeowners started converting their second floors to duplex apartments or renting out all of their rooms to weekly boarders.

Investors and speculators sniffed the powder. They bought homes and turned them into fourplexes or fiveplexes by just portioning off rooms and adding small kitchens and bathrooms.
Soon the city planners were hooked. With visions of density conducive for mass transit buses, vibrancy and bars, the planners blanket zoned the entire area multi- family.
Replacing turn of the century mansions, trendy apartments were built on Gaston Avenue – a hotbed for stewardesses. Ten years later flight attendants would not have considered the street for all the gunshots.

Slumlords bought up multiple properties to milk the rent before the properties were torn down.

By the 1970s, typically 10 people would share the $25 a week rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a converted fourplex that might have a hole in the floor from the dripping plumbing from above. Tenants might only have access to a second floor apartment by outdoor rotted stairs through a second floor window.

Now What Would You Have Done to Stop This Freefall Into Abject Squalor and Demolition?

The urban economics chair at SMU said maybe 25 or 50 people might be willing to move into the neighborhood and turn a fourplex back into a home, but you would never find 1,000 or 2,000 people who would.

How was it possible for anyone to imagine Munger Place becoming the first single-family historic district or that homeowners would spend $500 million on renovation by 2014?

Actually, a few early residents really did think the neighborhood might improve. There was a right-wing gay astrologer, the secretary general of the Public Employees union, a young republican accountant-type, and a few others.

The solution to turn around the neighborhood was simple: just rezone 100 blocks of 2,000 properties, mostly apartments and overgrown vacant lots, to single-family zoning.

City Planners Led Opposition to Single-Family Rezoning

Here was the conflict – no one was in favor of it. The opposition included apartment owners who were planning on renting their apartments until someone bought them to tear down and build new apartments; the mayor, Robert Folsom, a developer who campaigned against any loss of property rights; the plan department director Weiming Lu, who was receiving awards for new types of zoning and was wanting to unveil new types of mixed use zoning; the Plan Commission which was committed to a proposed citywide land use plan that called for more and different types of density in this area; and churches with parishioners who lived in expensive neighborhoods were concerned that single-family zoning would cause gentrification and the displacement of transient tenants. Even homeowners were opposed to single-family zoning for years because they believed the only potential buyers for their homes were from speculators that would buy them to eventually build apartments.

Apartment Owners and Mayor/Developer Became Champions of Single-Family Zoning

Eventually apartment owner Bob Logan, who just yelled at me when I first suggested single-family zoning was the solution, became an advocate and helped convince 800 other apartment owners of the single-family zoning. Mayor Robert Folsom became the champion of single-family zoning because he realized the economic advantages. He understood developers were not going to build new apartments in slums, that lenders would not lend to homeowners if the area was zoned multi-family, and property owners had no incentive to maintain their rental properties if they were zoned for new apartments.

Joining the mayor and the apartment owners, who supported rezoning, was the regional director of HUD, FNMA, the neighborhood banks, the school principals, David Fox of Fox and Jacobs Homes who at the time was developing Bryan Place, the first new inner city housing in decades at the edge of downtown all of whom endorsed the single-family zoning. The homeowners understood the vision of the 100 blocks and supported the single-family zoning for the entire area. Careers were at stake. The planners proposed land use plans for the entire city was in jeopardy if the single-family zoning passed for these 100 blocks. The zoning battle was fierce and the planners played rough. The day the single-family zoning passed and Munger Place designated a historic district, Bob Logan triumphantly said that now, if everything went perfectly, it would take 30 years for the neighborhood to come back.

Thirty years later, the 100 blocks that had been apartments and overgrown lots now comprised three single-family historic districts: Jefferson Peak Historic District, Munger Place Historic District, and Junius Heights Historic District. The majority of original homes has been renovated and $500,000,000 spent on renovations and new homes that complied with historic guidelines. Most of the crime infested beer bars were no longer in existence.

I was feeling pretty good about this Old East Dallas neighborhood until I heard the keynote speaker at TEDxSMU, a bearded young SMU seminarian, say he was part of a new monastic order with a mission to live in forsaken neighborhoods where no one else wanted to live. For this reason he chose Old East Dallas. This idealistic SMU graduate student, imploring people to live more like him, was on a treasure hunt to find those that were low-income or disadvantaged. He saw the neighborhood as a glass half empty, celebrating the remnants of the neighborhood at its worst. The remaining low income fourplexes or apartments with high vacancy rates were still ample to house transients. While it is still easy for an SMU student to not think the neighborhood is posh enough for their taste, thousands of others enjoy the positive trend of the neighborhood that is becoming more single-family every year.

Shortly after the TEDxSMU address I heard a cheerier view from Larry Beasley, the internationally acclaimed rock star city planner from Vancouver who Dallas had hired as a consultant. He gave a beautiful slide show of Munger Place and Old East Dallas at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture and said what Dallas needed to do in these high-priced, close-in, single-family neighborhoods like Munger Place was to add some gentle density –maybe allow mother-in-law apartments, or allow an apartment over a garage, or some rooms for rent, maybe even an occasional bar, restaurant or office. He said they would add economic diversity and vibrancy to these close-in neighborhoods.

Larry Beasley was looking at a planning result he wanted, but not considering what people desired if they were going to live in a neighborhood that could be interpreted as good or bad, declining or improving.

While there is a long history of planners planning how and where they want people to live, it is more important to understand what will give confidence and serve as an impetus for people to invest, engage and live in a neighborhood.

The planners demand for more density was well intentioned in the 1950s and it decimated the neighborhood. The planners resolute call for mixed-use zoning in the 1970s was well intentioned but it would not have stopped the property owners from continuing to disinvest in their properties. It would have killed off the single-family renovation movement. Larry Beasley and Brent Brown, the CityDesignStudio director, have good intentions when they say Munger Place and Lakewood should have added gentle density zoning to give these neighborhoods more economic diversity, but it would reverse the positive progress. It is easier for a planner to add economic diversity by diluting a good neighborhood with zoning than it is to attract middle income families to a low income neighborhood.

Planners will always be for economic diversity, density and vibrancy even if it unravels and existing neighborhood. Homeowners will always be more attracted to an area that shows promise and a positive trend. A growing sense of stability and prosperity will always trump density, vibrancy and despair.

Categories: Home Tours and Events

Owner of Crespi/Hicks Estate Decides to Retain Land for Next Architect-Designed Home

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Crespi/Hicks Estate with private drive to formal motor court and informal motor court

Crespi/Hicks Estate with private drive to formal motor court and informal motor court

When in negotiations with a buyer who desired the entire 25.25 acres, the owners of the Crespi/Hicks Estate determined that they could not find land as appealing as their current land, so they have chosen to retain part of the land for a home they are having designed.  This gives a buyer the opportunity to purchase the 42,500 square foot estate home on 12 acres.  There has also been discussion regarding creating a few magnificent estate lots that are removed but relate to the Crespi/Hicks Estate Home.  The expansive 13 acres would provide the only private estate park setting in Dallas, befitting the finest architect-designed estate homes.  This estate home plan would allow the 42,500 square foot Crespi/Hicks Estate home on 12 acres of land to be purchased separately.

The Crespi/Hicks Estate on 12 Acres of Land Characterizes the Aesthetic of the Estate Home

Forest and paths are included in the 9 acres of land surrounding the Crespi/Hicks Estate

Forest and paths are included in the 12 acres of land surrounding the Crespi/Hicks Estate

The Crespi/Hicks Estate home – main house, guest house, and pool house – is being offered for sale with twelve acres of land, which includes the forest, creek and stone bridges, meadow, formal and informal gardens that characterize the site, refinement, and aesthetic of the original design by architect Maurice Fatio, the renovation design by international architect Peter Marino, and London based landscape architect Arabella Lennox-Boyd.

Crespi/Hicks Estate Represents the Best Value of any Estate Home Offered for Sale

Guest house garden looking at master bedroom balcony of Crespi/Hicks Estate

Guest house garden looking at master bedroom balcony of Crespi/Hicks Estate

The Crespi/Hicks Estate represents the finest architecture designed by some of the worlds greatest architects. The property represents the best estate land in Dallas. Mayflower Estates is the best neighborhood in the estate area of the city.

Finest Architecture

View of the guest house from the pool house

View of the guest house from the pool house

All three structures that comprise the 42,500 square foot Crespi/Hicks Estate home – the main house, guest house, and pool house – and are linked by gardens are architectural achievements unmatched by any other home in the United States built in the last few decades.  The price for the home on 12 to 25 acres represents the best value on a square foot measurement or aesthetic measurement of any estate home offered for sale.

Best Estate Land

Crespi/Hicks Estate placed in front of creek and forest

Crespi/Hicks Estate placed in front of creek and forest

Most large estate homes are built on multiple lots that have been pieced together to create enough land for a large home.  The original Crespi Estate land was originally selected specifically for its topography, creek, forest and because it is a site that would naturally and gracefully embrace a magnificent home.  From the winding approach to the rugged and refined outdoor spaces, no other Dallas property has the depth of enchantment.

Best Location in Estate Area

Small neighborhood lake

Small neighborhood lake

Mayflower Estates is the best location in the estate area.  Even with the seller retaining land for their next architect-designed home, this small, intimate neighborhood remains the location of the two largest estate properties.  The charm, seclusion, and security of the neighborhood, along with its location that is only eight miles from the Arts District downtown, is the reason it has a history of attracting the finest and most prominent Dallas families from the Murchisons, Woodalls, Fitts, Coxes, Altshulers, to the former President and First Lady.

Twelve Acres Provide the Aesthetic Substance of the Property

Twelve acres of the original Crespi Estate land is a lovely site for the Crespi Hicks Estate home, guest house, pool house, pool, rose garden, tennis court, motor courts, and stone bridges over the creek and waterfall.

Main House Designed by Architect Maurice Fatio

Original Crespi Estate was designed by architect Maurcie Fatio lined with allée of magnolias

Original Crespi Estate was designed by architect Maurcie Fatio lined with allée of magnolias

The original allée of magnolias frame the 1939 Crespi/Hicks Estate originally designed by Swiss-born architect Maurice Fatio and renovated and expanded by New York-based architect Peter Marino.

Guest House Designed by Architect Peter Marino

Guest house designed by Peter Marino

Guest house designed by Peter Marino

The architecture, detail and scale of the rooms in the guest house reflect that of the main home.  Placed next to the forested creek, balconies are placed right into nature.  A path takes guests to the kitchen and breakfast room of the main house to start the day with the family.

Pool House and Pool

Pool house balcony and master bedroom balcony overlook pool and garden

Pool house balcony and master bedroom balcony overlook pool and garden

The pool and pool house are connected by gardens to the main house and guest house.  It is the center of recreational indoor and outdoor games and activities.

Rose Garden

Formal rose garden of Crespi/Hicks Estate

Formal rose garden of Crespi/Hicks Estate

Past the informal motor court and garage bays and on the way to the tennis court, one passes the rose garden and vegetable garden.

Crespi/Hicks Estate tennis court

Crespi/Hicks Estate tennis court

Stone Bridges Over Creek

View of stone bridge from conservatory

View of stone bridge from conservatory

One stone bridge takes one from the guest house to the paths through the forest.  The other stone bridge and water fall is off of the conservatory that has an extensive curved wall of windows that provides views of the water, birds and trees.

Stone bridge leading from guest house to forest

Stone bridge leading from guest house to forest

Aerial View Capturing Some of the Twelve Acres Offered with the Crespi/Hicks Estate Home

Aerial view of Crespi/Hicks Estate home

Aerial view of Crespi/Hicks Estate home, motor court, informal motor court, pool, pool house, guest house, surrounding by a forest

The Crespi/Hicks Estate is the finest estate home in America whether it is sited on 9 acres, 16 acres, or 25 acres

The Crespi/Hicks Estate is the finest estate home in America whether it is sited on 12 acres or 25 acres

Categories: Real Estate Insights

Douglas Newby & Associates | 100 Highland Park Village #200, Dallas, TX 75205 | (214) 522-1000