Happy Ending: Forest Lane “Library” Lot on Forest Sold Last Week for $3.8M

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On May 30, the City of Dallas made a pretty savvy auction sale of a city-owned lot, one of many across town, this one at 5639 Forest Lane which has been sitting idle for years, just east of the Dallas North Tollway.

The property failed to meet a minimum bid in January when (another) church wanted to buy it.

It’s kind of a sorry piece of property, history-wise, because the city bought it, probably paid too much for it, and then couldn’t do anything with it. The 150,702-square-foot, 3.45 acres are on the outskirts of Melshire Estates, where neighbors were bemoaning the chopping of a half-mile of trees along the Tollway by Oncor a few months back  — wonder how they feel about that now? Guess they don’t mind the house in foreclosure on Quincy one house in from Forest, though. 

11907 Quincy, listed for $448,000, is pending. Check out the potential, backs to Dallas North Tollway

This forlorn Forest Lane stretch is the former home of the Korean Young Nak Presbyterian Church, which was torn down and moved to Plano in about 2010. Inwood Road is just to the west, Preston to the east. It was supposed to be, many moons ago, a new library, a replacement for the Preston/Royal Library on Royal Lane, part of the 2006 $1.35 billion bond package during Ann Margolin’s reign. Then the city could not afford the library, so they bounced the idea of a dogpark — an idea which the neighbors just hated — or a pop-up Farmer’s Market, which could not be done without re-zoning (the area is zoned residential), even a special events parkette… nothing happened. The neighborhood’s HOA president, real estate agent Linda Vallala, was beyond frustrated:

…Vallala, who, five years into her tenure as the HOA president, said she’s “dumbfounded — dumbfounded — by the city’s decisions,” including officials’ repeated refusals to let them give the dreary land a makeover, however temporary. And I can’t say the same for council member Jennifer Staubach Gates, who said this week she’s trying to do something on the land but is hamstrung by her own City Hall. Which would be hilarious if it weren’t so infuriating.

Gates said she has looked at doing a number of things there, including a dog park and, most recently, a farmers market. But the city can’t afford the former, which plans spec’d out to around $100,000. And it won’t allow the latter — even though it owns the land, because of course.

Thank God they decided to sell it. According to Robert Wilonsky, the city paid about $3.2 million for the site: $2.6 million for acquisition, $360,000 for a library design, $76,610 to demo the church; “and about $100,000 for testing the land and keeping it clean since”, as he reported in November 2018, which means more than that by now. The land was, like we said, auctioned in January 2019, but did not meet the reserve.

It went to auction again May 30, and the winning bidder was… Michael Schiff of Intervest Companies. Mike has been developing single family homes and more for the last 45 years. If you want an example of his work, look at the last phase of Caruth Homeplace: he developed it.

31 Stonecourt Drive, Caruth Homeplace

Mike was the highest bidder, and he paid $3.850 million for the site. (He outbid Centurion American, which has stunning developments further east on Forest.) So the city of Dallas actually broke even with a little change to spare.

Once-proposed library to be lock & leaves in North Dallas

Mike is planning high-end luxury “lock and leave” zero lot line homes, which of course will be somewhat pricey because he paid so much for the land, he told me. Mike chose the alternative closing option, meaning he plans to pursue a zoning change.

“We are not going to build anything the neighbors don’t like,” he told me. “The entire community will be gated and walled, 1400 feet of wall to build.”

The homes will be inwardly-oriented, like Caruth Homeplace, with no windows facing Forest Lane. Think 3,000-ish square feet, first-floor master suites, gorgeous.

“The property is narrow, so the lots can be pretty wide, just not deep,” he says.

This story is developing, as to how many units, styles, etc., as always stay tuned for more.

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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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