About the New York Times Putting the Museum Tower Sunlight Debacle on Today’s Front Page

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On the one hand, the story of Museum Tower’s light battle with the Nasher on the front page of the New York Times is pretty damn great publicity if you might be looking to buy a condominium in Dallas. I just got my Local Market Monitor report and once again, Dallas-Fort Worth-Plano rules the roost with positive numbers:

“Home prices have bottomed out but strong job growth and a good risk premium still present opportunities for investors willing to take risks. The local economy features a large finance sector [banking]. Population growth has been high, more than double the national average. Income is above average. The housing boom was non-existent, with a price rise of 12 percent. The recession was mild, with jobs down 3 percent.”

With rents expected to increase over 16 percent here in the next three years, I would say that’s a better return than a whole lot of others. But yes, there is an issue and Dallas’ growing pains are now exposed to the world. But if you subscribe to the notion that as long as they spell your name right, who cares what they print, I want to know if the stories actually generate more sales leads.

Which is what I have been talking about all week long with people, from Realtors to out-of-town film makers to the cocktail party circuit. I’m getting a drift of two sides forming. One, someone very closely involved with the original partnership at the very beginning, currently out of state, but this was his reaction when I sent him the stories (and told him to sit down): “I was pretty blown away really. I think that someone should have done their homework before moving forward, though, sad really. I hope/think they will come up with a solid resolution in the end.”

Then this weekend at the USA Film Festival, folks from out of town were shaking their heads over the issue and talking about problems with high rises in their cities – like the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles that architect Frank Gehry had to sandblast portions of because the reflected sunlight was creating problems for residents in a nearby apartment building. Question: who covered that expense, the architect or the developer?  Someone else said architects have to do their homework on glass and cities in the sun belt need to incorporate this discussion into building guidelines: the Zale Building on I-35 had to change out glass several years ago as the reflection was blinding drivers and creating car wrecks! Eons ago, the John Hancock Building in Boston was losing sheets of glass in the 1970’s and killing people.

Yesterday, someone asked me this: in what other major U.S. city does a museum control the rights of the real estate around it? A major local commercial developer whose story will soon appear on this site said the Nasher is being short-sighted and should be more cooperative. After all, more buildings are going to go up in the area eventually and one may even BLOCK the so-called death rays. Ultimately, my concern is sales and how this hiccup will affect them. Said my out-of-state source: “Everything affects sales one way or the other. I wouldn’t say this would ignite sales (no pun intended, well maybe just a little bit)… but I feel sorry for John and the rest of the guys and hope there is a solution that works for all.”

We all do.


Candy Evans

A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for Forbes.com, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature CandysDirt.com, and SecondShelters.com, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).

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