The largest, and some might say most famous, estate in North Texas once known as Champ D’Or is officially now a wedding and events venue called Olana.
Yes, brides are now getting dressed in that master closet fashioned after the Chanel boutique in Paris.
And after Tuesday night’s town hall meeting in Hickory Creek, that wedding venue will be expanding. Walters Hospitality, the new owners since September of 2018, have been approved to forge ahead with plans to build more commercial spaces on the property — a two-building hotel and a restaurant.
The changes were not popular with a smattering of nearby property owners in the town of 4956.
Developers working with the new owners, Walters Hospitality, sought zoning changes from the township of Hickory Creek that would allow the additional buildings to expand the Olana into more of a destination venue. Think conference center. It is already in use as a wedding venue, but recall the home, though 48,000 square feet, really did not have that many bedrooms to accommodate wedding guests. And when you are in Hickory Creek, there are not many hotel options for guests. So…
Homeowners bordering the megamansion worry the events venue will bring in more traffic, drunken drivers, and reduce privacy in their pastoral hamlet just off I-35 north of Lewisville, west of Lake Dallas, in an area often referred to as the Lake Cities.
The town council for Hickory Creek voted on the PD Tuesday night. Now Walters can add 60 hotel rooms, a restaurant and a spa/sauna to their 33 acre property. I am assuming that spa and sauna is in addition to the one in the Chateau, off the master bath, and fashioned after the sauna seen in the movie “The Rat Pack.”
Word in town was that even though some homeowners didn’t want to see the Olana get its expansion, most acquiesced.
“People in the know said if we don’t pass this, he will pull out of the city,” says Judge Fite realtor Bonnie Brown Vinson, meaning the owners of Walters.
She polled the neighborhood, and Vinson says most homeowners were happier with a wedding venue rather than the potential of something awful to look at, such as a decaying or torn-down mansion.
There are those who have called the Champ The Best Little Teardown in Texas.
The mayor of Hickory Creek, Lynn Clark, had let homeowners stew for a public comment period after two informational meetings where the community was given more details, including learning that the restaurant will be open to residents. Clark was pro-development, saying the expanded venue would help Hickory Creek. The zoning will be for a planned development district.
Saratoga Drive residents in the Steeplechase North development closest to the megamansion are the most concerned, because their backyards face the mansion and soon, new structures. They claim they paid more for houses facing a greenbelt… and a mansion. In fact, it’s the neighbors bordering the estate who are most concerned that their once-elegant views of the Champ are about to become very different. Vinson says Walters will be required to construct a buffer wall along the property line with a 40 to 45-foot buffer zone.
The neighborhood app NextDoor is brimming with the discussion: neighbors Evelyn Valteau and Theresa Webb don’t necessarily oppose the development, worry about pinching property values and the loss of privacy. Neither like the notion of people looking into their backyards.
Champ D’Or, modeled after Paris’ Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomt, was built by CellStar Corp founder Alan Goldfield and his wife, Shirly. The estate, which was once 38 acres, cost in excess of $50 million to build. Its name means “Field of Gold”, just like the original owner’s names. Once listed for $72 million, it took ten years and eight real estate agents to help the Goldfields unload the Champ, which they finally did at auction: Joan Eleazer, who had it first, Doris Jacobs with Allie Beth Allman, Greg Cagle with Ebby Halliday, Cindy Frey with Coldwell Banker, Elaine Whitfield & Mathew Edwards at Dave Perry-Miller, then Joan Eleazer again and again. Clay Stapp finally brought the buyer when the mammoth estate went to auction in March of 2012. The buyer, a North Dallas resident, used it as a “country” retreat for his family and grandchildren.
He sold the property to Walters Hospitality last September.
There were a few extra large homes on the property for the Goldfields three sons, and one still owns the tract of land to the north of the mansion, #62274. Word is a contract is underway and the property will be a new home development. Then the Champs will be surrounded by homes, all much more modest than the estate. After taking ten years to build the home, the Goldfields eventually divorced. Alan Goldfield passed away in October, 2018.
According to town lore, the Goldfields never really lived in the estate. After spending a few nights, the couple thought the house was just too big, so they moved into the 10,000 square foot guest house.
Of interest: Walters Hospitality is getting a $373,000 agriculture exemption from the state of Texas for the cows grazing the northeast corner of the property!