You already know that Grandwick, the former Dallas headquarters of the Church of Scientology, was reduced to ashes by a three-alarm fire Thursday. The owner, David D. Anderson, said that he was unable to obtain insurance on the property because it was vacant.
It would seem like this is a tragic, singular occurrence, but the truth is that Anderson owns several homes throughout east and southern Dallas, and many of them are vacant, overgrown, and generally eyesores.
In total, Anderson, who also owns two music stores in the area, has 23 residential properties in Dallas County according to records pulled from the Dallas County Appraisal District website. Of those 23 properties, four are rated “Unsound,” seven are rated “Poor,” and seven are rated “Fair.” Only five are rated either “Average” or “Good.” Grandwick, which is considered a commercial property, is not rated using the same system.
According to an official with DCAD, a property that is rated “Poor” often has more than a few code violations, the most common of which is peeling paint, overgrown landscaping, broken windows, as well as some structural issues. An “Unsound” property is often considered unfit for occupation, with serious structural issues, boarded up windows, along with a significant number of code violations.
A firefighter whose station responded to the blaze at Grandwick said that while they are unsure what caused the blaze that reduced the stucco-clad 1950s Spanish estate to a pile of rubble, Anderson told firefighters he suspects students from nearby Gaston Middle School. It’s a popular theory, especially considering the number of nearby residents who complain of vandalism and graffiti, as well as the previous 911 calls to Grandwick after break-ins.
So, if a property is sitting vacant and is a magnet for vandals, why not sell it to someone who could put the time and money into refurbishing it? It’s a good question, especially since vacant properties are many times more likely to be broken into and suffer catastrophic damage.
A neighbor to one of Anderson’s East Dallas homes in Forest Hills said that he visits his property at 8310 Forest Hills Blvd. regularly, but doesn’t live there. According to DCAD, this is the home Anderson uses as his primary address. The neighbor, who declined to be identified, didn’t think Anderson was acquiring all these properties just to let them rot, though. Instead, she said Anderson was amassing an estate for his daughter to inherit.
It kind of makes sense, but wouldn’t his daughter benefit more from property that is properly maintained? For example, 8310 Forest Hills Blvd. is rated in “Poor” condition by DCAD. On the flip side, Anderson bought his daughter Belle Nora at 8254 Garland Road, just a few blocks from his Forest Hills Boulevard home, for her 16th birthday. Since then, though, it’s sat empty save for Christmas dinner last year.
After reports from passers by and Forest Hills residents that the property wasn’t being maintained, we asked Realtor Vicki White if she had heard anything adverse about Belle Nora. In a Jan. 28 email, White said that while Anderson wanted to move into the stately mansion overlooking White Rock Lake, he couldn’t move his parents there, who are in poor health.
“He does own several houses, and some of them are in disrepair,” White added. “I don’t think that’s the case with Belle Nora.”
However, since that date, much of the property has become overgrown, and the wrought-iron fence facing White Rock Lake has been held together with some nylon rope for months, rusting without repair. It is rated in “Average” condition by DCAD.
Is it a pattern of neglect, or is it a property owner spread too thin? As Anderson’s Forest Hills neighbor claims, he’s spending much of his time with his ailing parents, and only visits other homes. She called the fire at Grandwick “a tragedy,” too.
But for some people who have visited his Garland Road music store, they say it’s a pattern of disorganized neglect. Patrons and East Dallas residents have likened the store to a hoarder’s home, with stacks and piles of equipment and very little concern for the structure or contents.
We tried to contact Anderson for this story, but our calls were not returned before deadline. Our attempts to contact Anderson at two different nearby Zoo Music locations were not returned.