University Park City Council Gives Blessing to Gerald J. Ford’s Greenhouse Gift to Wife

Kelli Ford will soon have a luxurious greenhouse for growing vegetables and other plants. (Photo by Nir Shafir, via Flickr)

Kelli Ford will soon have a luxurious greenhouse for growing vegetables and other plants. (Photo by Nir Shafir, via Flickr)

No matter what you’re thinking of getting your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day, you’re going to have to step up your gift-giving game if you’re going to compete with Gerald J. Ford.

The namesake of SMU’s football stadium is giving his wife a 1,500-square-foot greenhouse that will be nearly 16 feet tall. We know this because the University Park City Council signed off on the present to Kelli Ford last night.

OK, technically, the council signed off on an amendment to the ordinance governing Planned Development District 32 — a.k.a. the Fords’ 6.2-acre property — that will allow the greenhouse to be erected.

According to Harry Persaud, University Park’s chief planning official, the Fords own the largest single-family lot in UP. It’s on the tax rolls for $31,198,820, and it held the No. 2 slot in the two most recent editions of D Magazine’s biennial rankings of Dallas’ most expensive homes. (Tom Hicks’ place in Preston Hollow topped both of those lists.)

The City Council saw no reason to deny Ford’s request to build a greenhouse. In fact, they had three big reasons to approve it:

1. As is customary, University Park officials sent notices to 12 property owners within 200 feet of the proposed greenhouse site. They received only two replies — from Terry Worrell and from Lucy and Henry Billingsley — and both of those were in support of the request. Councilman Bob Begert noted that both replies came from people who live on the opposite side of the Ford estate from the proposed location of the greenhouse. But the homeowners who live directly across Turtle Creek Boulevard from it said bupkis.

2. Persaud assured the council that the perimeter of the Fords’ property is heavily landscaped, so it will “almost impossible to see the greenhouse, walking or driving.” That may be true when the Fords’ trees and shrubs are in full bloom, but on a winter’s day like, say, today? Not so much.

3. University Park’s Planning & Zoning Commission gave the greenhouse their seal of approval back in December. In fact, it was the minutes of that panel’s meeting that let us know the greenhouse is a gift: “Following the vote, Mr. Ford thanked the Commissioners for their recommendation of approval and stated the greenhouse is a Christmas gift for his wife.”

So, that’s that. The amendment passed unanimously. But Persaud told the council they should expect to consider another one shortly, as the Planning & Zoning Commission will soon debate Ford’s request to erect a 35-foot flagpole on his property. No word on who will be considered the recipient of that.