Don’t know if this is Part One of a multi-part series, or a great stand-alone piece, but as promised, Eric Nicholson over at The Dallas Observer asks the question most of us ask as we peruse that stucco jungle of cars, one-way streets, and quite possibly the ugliest parking garage in the US, Preston Center. I am talking Preston Center west side, not east side. That question? Why in the ef is this place such a friggin’ mess when it is nestled between two of the richest neighborhoods in the U.S? Where is the Rodeo Drive-esque strip of cute little pricey stores? Why is it not more like Highland Park Village, or Coral Gables, Florida, where George Merrick once bragged that every business was just two blocks away. Coral Gables Miracle Mile is famous for beautiful designer stores, boutiques, food markets, handcrafted specialties and great clothing. Preston Center west is famous for the skateboarders who slide down the ramp in the old Foleys parking garage.
Eric does a skillful job of explaining how the area came to have multiple owners, how all those owners find it hard to agree on anything, hence nada progress. He also shows how a quirk of real estate history — deeding parking rights to the owners of the real estate surrounding the Preston Center parking garage, aka Skateboard Central, is keeping the status quo:
Back in 1955, it seems, back when the land was being parceled out to the Lobellos et al, the buyers were promised in their deeds that the land at the center of Preston Center would forever be used for parking and only parking. The settlement the property owners ultimately signed with the city makes clear that they can waive this covenant so long as they come to a unanimous agreement, but that hasn’t — and might never — happen.
Couple things. One, a grocery store is coming to the area, taking over a portion of the second floor of the old Foley’s building. I have not yet confirmed this, but I hear it will be an upscale brand of Tom Thumb. That will be nice, so stay tuned. That discount mecca was always a real estate head-scratcher; the shoe place gives me a headache, but I frequent Marshalls about twice a year.
Second, he didn’t tell us how much Mitchell Rasansky spent suing the owners of the parking garage so the City could take it over — the City of Dallas owns the parking garage, but the property owners are allowed to access easement parking to the benefit of each and every owner. Rasansky thought the City could sell the garage to a developer and pull in several million. Some owners tell me they could reach a consensus and re-develop the garage. Maybe that story’s coming next week.
Anyhow, read Eric’s story. This gives me an excuse to show you Laura Miller’s house on Dentwood. Doesn’t she want to shop in snazzier surroundings to match her 8500 square foot Julio Quinones-designed mansion on 2.08 acres like say, Coral Gables? Or how about a scaled-down Rodeo Drive?
Instead, we get these leaking relics from the 1950’s and an overdose of cheap discount stores.
Then, too, there is scuttlebutt that Mark Cuban wants to develop his Preston Hollow lots, two each on Averill Way and Jourdan Way, the Jourdan Way (love the name of that street) that winds right up to Northwest Highway. Cuban started buying this dirt back in 1988, the latest acquisition in 2012. One lot has a house. Neighbors are petrified that Cuban might want to develop this area into a chic shopping strip a la Coral Gables. After all, there is Ebby’s Little White House next door, which was once the 1500 Marilla Street-equivalent of the Village of Preston Hollow. The area is zoned residential. Cuban told Eric “Nothing definitive,” last February — “I get and liste[n] to offers all the time but I’m in no rush to do anything.” I think he’d be smart to forget commercial, build a few mega mansions behind some gorgeous gates, with pearls.