Parade of Playhouses

One of the playhouses on display at NorthPark Mall at the Parade of Playhouses last year, benefitting Dallas CASA.


Here at CandysDirt, we write about all kinds of houses. Today, we want to tell you about a few very special houses that help abused and neglected kids, some of the most vulnerable members of our human family.

Dallas CASA’s Parade of Playhouses, which features imaginative and creative playhouses on display in NorthPark Center, will be open daily during mall hours July 15 to 31. The playhouses are created and donated to Dallas CASA by local designers, architects, and builders. They are available to win by raffle at the end of the event. All proceeds from raffle benefit abused and neglected children served by Dallas CASA.

“The playhouses represent our hope for abused and neglected children in Dallas,” said Kathleen M. LaValle, Dallas CASA executive director and president. “Some children dream of having their very own fantasy playhouses, but abused children dream of having safe and lasting homes. We want all children to grow up in loving and permanent homes. Sadly, two out of five abused children in protective care in Dallas County do not have CASA volunteer advocates. We look forward to the day when we have enough volunteers for each child to have an advocate.”

(more…)

Ebby Halliday Collin County

From left, Ebby Halliday, her brother and Executive Vice President Paul Hanson, Ebby’s first sales associate Mary Lou Muether, and Mary Frances Burleson, who today is President and CEO of the Ebby Halliday Companies, celebrate the opening of the Plano office in 1972.

With thousands of people moving to Collin County for jobs with Toyota, Liberty Mutual, and many others, it’s not a big surprise that North Texas residential real estate firms are now flocking to the area.

It’s easy to forget that one firm, Ebby Halliday Realtors, has served Collin County since 1971. That’s when Ebby herself opened a one-room office in the growing town of Plano. There was a great deal of home construction going on in the area and Ebby’s office — a builder’s shack with a porta potty — was a favorite gathering spot for homebuilders who knew she always had a hot pot of coffee ready and enjoyed visiting about the potential of this small community north of Dallas.

“Keep in mind that NorthPark Center opened at the corner of Northwest Highway and Central Expressway in 1965 and that many Dallasites were of the belief that civilization didn’t actually exist north of Northwest Highway,” said Mary Frances Burleson, President and CEO of the Ebby Halliday Companies. “That goes to show just how visionary Ebby and her leadership team were about the future growth of the North Texas region.”

(more…)

Dallas cougars

Prepare: It’s not just bobcats and coyotes in North Texas. We’ve got a large population of cougars, too.

Everyone is abuzz with the coyote and bobcat sightings all over town, from Plano to East Dallas. These are the new most feared words in North Texas:

“You need to know that a coyote has been spotted out here tonight.”

Several house pets have been killed, and homeowners are alarmed that the coyotes are becoming, well, BOLDER:

In an academic paper for Purdue University, (Robert Timm, a University of California wildlife specialist), outlined several warning behaviors that sound like what we’ve been seeing in East Dallas in the last couple months: an increase in coyotes seen on the streets or in yards at night, coyotes killing pets and especially daytime appearances of coyotes.

Coyotes schmoyotes. Now there’s a different, more fearsome animal you’ll see much more of in North Texas: Cougars.

They are independent, strong, beautiful women of a certain age with definite luxe real estate leanings—full marble master baths with book-matched marble not only on the floors and counters, but up the wall to keep those claws sharp, and a keen (green) eye for style: it’s celadon, dammit, not teal.

Kitchen with dual sinks are a must for visiting South American pumas. Handscraped hardwoods are her floor of choice (doesn’t show scratches), and she will not sniff a house without ensuite baths and at least three powder rooms (gotta check on the sleek looks). 

Most out on the prowl are harmless, though they are crepuscular. A college student jogging in Preston Hollow after dusk was recently picked up by a PH cougar driving a black S-Class who insisted he get in her car, and let her take him home to protect him from the wild coyotes roaming the streets. He didn’t know who to fear more. He succumbed, and she dropped him at his door without a scratch.

Others, have not been so lucky, especially with the mid-cities cougars who have exhibited irrational, aggressive behaviors, such as trapping 18-year-olds.

We’ve talked to several concerned businesses and homeowners alike around DFW to find out where these cougars are most likely to be spotted, usually crouching, and gauging just how dangerous they are. (Only 20 people in North America have been killed by cougars between 1890 and 2011, including six in California.) Seeing them in the wild—like at the recently sold Waggoner Ranch—is such a thrill! We have no doubt some will soon be seen at the Crespi Estate/Walnut Place and also down at the former residence of Margaret and Trammell Crow. (Margaret is watching, you cats!)

Truth be told: their coats are to die for.

Just be careful if you’re a 20-something man with big guns. These cougars are bold, confident, devour real estate, and are dressed to kill.

(more…)

NorthPark center Dillards

Northpark Center is nowhere near this fate, because it is one of the best managed, best retail anchored, and most innovative shopping centers in the world, not to mention one of the most beautiful and well-maintained.

But it had better do something to check the crime. Heather LeClair’s petition asking Northpark Mall to beef up security after at least three documented crimes since December 16 has more than 1100 signatures — click here if you have not signed.  Soccer moms vote their concerns with their Black Cards.

I was reading an old article from 2008 about one dead shopping center, Southwyck Shopping Center, in South Toledo, Ohio that closed down completely after 36 years as a leading regional shopping venue. It was one of many that shuttered in Ohio and the midwest for a number of reasons including the economy. But experts cited crime as ONE of the main reasons:

Other often-cited reasons for Southwyck s decline include the increased competition from strips malls and the growing Franklin Park complex, the South Toledo mall’s lack of major renovations or upgrades, and a lingering perception of crime or danger at the mall.

They have some of the same landscaping and benches that were there when it opened, and you just can t do that in any type of retail setting, said Rob Ludeman, an agent with Danberry Co. Realtors and a former Toledo city councilman whose district included Southwyck.

The mall and its parking lot were the scenes of several incidents of vandalism, assaults, drug deals, and fights in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The crime perception is hard to overcome. The 70’s and 80’s were heydays for large shopping malls, and many managed to survive 20 to 30 years before becoming dangerous. Crime is, unfortunately, all around us and perhaps that is the shelf life for criminals to move from one location to another: from a “bad part of town” that gets cleaned up to the suburban-esque mall. (Some police have told me you never really get rid of criminals, you just make them move elsewhere, become another person’s problem.) Shopping centers are like feed lots for criminals: shoppers have money, expensive gadgets, and autos. They are distracted and prime targets.

enhanced-1483-1396285482-6

Also, if you have not seen this BuzzFeed post on Nine of America’s Abandoned Malls, here it is (who knew there was a Dead malls Enthusiasts Facebook group?):

Dead malls are popping up all over the states, particularly in the Midwest, where economic decline has sped up the “going out of business” process. This map, put together by a Dead Malls Enthusiasts Facebook group, shows that well.

As Americans are faced with multiple shopping options and more stores are leaving malls, it should be interesting to see if malls and mall culture will survive.

What you are about to see is what happens when malls are abandoned. It’s apocalyptic and really, really creepy.

design competitions

This princess needs her own castle, er, dog house, with the Bark + Build Design/Build Competition, benefiting SPCA of Texas. Photo: spilltojill via Creative Commons

Two local design competitions are calling on Dallas-area professionals to show off their best work this summer.

The Bark + Build Doghouse Design/Build Competition, presented by AIA Dallas and TEXO Association, calls on architects and contractors to team up and design haute houses for dogs. All proceeds benefit the SPCA of Texas Home for the Holidays event.

All entries will be judged on both design and construction quality by jury panel, with various award categories, and displayed at NorthPark Center from Nov. 16 – Dec. 7. While on public display, buy a raffle ticket or two—all proceeds benefit SPCA of Texas.

The competition serves to foster relationships between architecture and contractor firms and raise awareness and support for SPCA of Texas’ mission, to provide every animal exceptional care and a loving home and is the leading animal welfare agency in North Texas. Register your team or learn more by clicking here.

(more…)

Central Dallas Home

Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, the old saying goes. If that’s the case, then the post-war beauty at 5824 Palm Ln. won’t be on the market long, so take a look while it’s still available.

This 2-2 is renovated from the top to bottom of its 1,479 square feet. The reno includes newly refinished and stained hardwoods, crown molding, surround sound capability, Wink home automation, a luxury master bathroom, and a kitchen that wows with its look and amenities.

The North Stonewall Terrace neighborhood in central Dallas is a prime location, near Mockingbird and Matilda, just three blocks from Central Expressway, three miles from White Rock Lake, and 3.5 miles from NorthPark Center.

It’s also zoned for Stonewall Jackson Elementary School, rated “10” by GreatSchools.org.

Our Thursday Three Hundred was listed June 5 by Damon Williamson at Keller Williams Park Cities for $399,900, and we bet this Central Dallas home will find a buyer soon.

(more…)

One of the playhouses on display at NorthPark Mall at the Parade of Playhouses, benefitting Dallas CASA. Photo: XXX

One of the playhouses last summer in the Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses at NorthPark Center. Photos: Kristina Bowman

We write about a lot of houses here at CandysDirt, the places where we make our memories, build our families, and have fun.

Today, we’re looking at some very special houses that directly benefit vulnerable children in foster care.

The 20th anniversary Parade of Playhouses at NorthPark Center is an enjoyable, family-friendly event held every summer. It benefits Dallas CASA, an organization of community volunteers trained and appointed to advocate for the best interests of abused or neglected children in foster care locally.

Generous corporations, organizations, and individuals will design, build, and donate extraordinary children’s playhouses to raise funds so Dallas CASA can provide more volunteer advocates to help abused children have safe, permanent homes where they can thrive.

This 20th-anniversary of Parade of Playhouses is a reminder that all children deserve to be protected and loved,” said Kersten Rettig, Director of Development for Dallas CASA. “While some children dream of having their very own fantasy playhouse, others dream of having a safe, stable home filled by those they love and who love them—this event really helps all of those dreams come true.”

(more…)

When Barneys New York came back to NorthPark Center in 2006, they made a huge splash with an equally splashy ad campaign. Folks were anxious to have the un-self-conscious luxury retailer back in Big D. It showed the rest of the world that our fair city was on our way back up.

While it appears that Dallas has one of the healthiest real estate markets in the country, and our state has no shortage of millionaires and billionaires, and yet, we’re losing our Barneys?

As Dallas Biz Journal reporter Steven Thompson notes, Barneys was acquired earlier this year by Perry Capital. Does the new owner have something to do with the two-story NorthPark anchor closing?

While NorthPark Center officials say something “exciting” is planned for that huge space, Barneys will be missed. Why do you think the store is closing?