Articles by

Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is CandysDirt.com's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on SecondShelters.com. An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

07/11/19 2:30pm

Have you ever wondered why Texas cities are more liberal than outlying areas?  It’s not a Texas thing.

Large urban environments are typically more ideologically liberal around the globe. Like a blast zone, liberal ideals diminish the further away you get from an urban environment.  But why?  The clichés of vibrancy, higher average education, and these days, younger populations.  But research is beginning shed a slightly different light on the phenomenon.

In a nutshell, liberalism today can be equated with empathy. The regular immersion and interaction between the daily lives of diverse peoples makes it easier to empathize with the effects of policies and ideas on people you know. Conversely, the further people are from those affected by negative actions, the easier it is to accept them. Call it skin in the game.

From the media we select, to friends (sometimes family), to the very real estate we inhabit, humanity has built its own echo chambers (often referred to as “bubbles”) in recent decades.

As a nation we cared more about war when there was a draft that (most) everyone was subjected to. When it was your children or your neighbor who was conscripted, you paid more attention. Would the Vietnam protests have changed the course of that war without mandatory service? Would the U.S. still be in Iraq and Afghanistan were there a draft? Would we have gone at all?

I hear you asking what this has to do with real estate. Simple. The vibrancy brought about by urban environments is not only great at attracting good restaurants and sidewalk-littering scooters, but it’s also good at breeding empathy, which today unfortunately equates to liberalism. Unlike the faceless online world, real life is generally kinder when real people are face-to-face.

(more…)

07/10/19 9:30am

A good start, but where’s the rest?

Streetlights Residential is trying to redevelop the corner of Oak Lawn and Lemmon Avenues where a Shell gas station and a Pizza Hut sits next to the original Eatzi’s. Their first go-around was a blah building that didn’t have a lot going for it.

The second visit saw a much improved Oak Lawn Avenue frontage that reimagines the original Melrose Theater that once sat on the site. It was after that meeting when I spoke to StreetLights that I congratulated them on the new façade but wanted the same care taken with the rest of the 240-foot apartment tower. They said they were working on it. At last night’s third visit, they hadn’t moved a brick since last time – which is disappointing.

To review, StreetLights’ plan is for a 240-foot “T-shaped” tower containing 297 apartments with ground-floor retail space along Oak Lawn Avenue. They’ve visited the Oak Lawn Committee in May and June.

After last month’s meeting I wrote, “In my book, there are four things that still need working out. First, the already-mentioned 7-story garage. Second, the skin of the building above the new façade still needs help. Third, the orientation of the parking lot entry from Eatzi’s needs to be aligned with the road. And fourth, a bit more explanation on traffic flow for deliveries, moving vans, etc.”

The 75-foot tall podium parking garage is untouched. The skin above the façade is unchanged. The parking garage orientation is unchanged, but they did show traffic flow for deliveries – simply adding pathway arrows to existing illustrations. One question came about whether large semi-trucks can make the corner from Oak Lawn Avenue onto the alley entrance to serve Eatzi’s. StreetLights’ answer was they’d have to look into the turn radius. (In one hysterical moment, StreetLights doubted whether that large of a truck was used – then an audience member pointed out you could see the trucks in their own pictures. Oops!)

(more…)

07/09/19 12:05pm

August 2019 issue is a must-have for high-end appliance shoppers.

Consumer Reports is a magazine most of us don’t read often enough. Sure, when we need a new TV or car, we scour the library for back issues, but this is hit and miss. Last weekend, sipping a cool drink outdoors at a local watering hole, I needed armor, so I bought and brought the latest Consumer Reports. So interesting was the August issue that my drink’s ice melted long before I’d finished reading.

For the first time, the magazine issued a report on appliance reliability by the manufacturer. Even more enticing is the inclusion of ultra-premium brands like Miele, Thermador, Sub-Zero, and Viking, which often get left out due to a lack of data compared with brands selling tons more units like GE or LG.

While not to be confused with the organization’s ratings on appliance usability and features, reliability is clearly as important when buying a car as a refrigerator. The surprising yet unsurprising thing was the general consensus by appliance makers that 10 years of life is good enough. Some ultra-premium players like Miele and Sub-Zero/Wolf claim 20 years of useful life while washer/dryer brand Speed Queen touts 25 years.

Of course, that’s not to say that consumers will have 10, 20, or 25 years of flawless service from their appliance. The organization reports that 40 percent of refrigerators will require some type of servicing within their first five years – ranges, the most reliable class of appliance will see 25 percent requiring service.

(more…)

07/06/19 9:30am

Honolulu County awards pot of gold to hotel industry

Hawaii has had a complicated relationship with the short-term vacation rental market. Back before Silicon Valley got its claws into the process, these types of arrangements were called B&Bs (bed and breakfasts). Stereotypically, older ladies with a penchant for macramé would rent rooms and provide a meal or two – hence the name.

In recent years there’s been a (insert “large” synonym) growth in these types of listings. Back in the 1980s, Honolulu County (encompassing the island of Oahu) set a limit of 770 licensed B&Bs outside the tourist areas of Waikiki and Ko’Olina. It’s estimated there are 8,000 to 10,000 B&Bs operating on Oahu today. Suffice it to say that even subtracting those operating legally and in the designated tourist areas, there are still a ton operating illegally. (more…)

07/02/19 12:05pm

I’d always envisioned the opening line to this story would be, “When I first met Robert Blackman …” but I never did because I didn’t need to.

Robert Blackman is with Solvent Realty Group, a flat-fee brokerage who charged me $495 to sell my home – flat. As you may recall, it was under contract in a week with the first couple who saw it. Last Tuesday, the transaction closed with nary a hitch.

Happy? Yes. Is it for everyone? No.

I decided to go with a flat-fee brokerage for many reasons. Of course, I wanted to save money on agent fees – and I did.  But I also had good personal knowledge of the market and the right product to sell.  Let’s walk through the steps.

(more…)

06/28/19 9:00am

Both oppose development because of it being gated. One wants, one doesn’t.

Every zoning case initiates the sending of ballots to every property owner within 500 feet of the proposal. The list of property owners is supplied by the city, which use the list to mail ballots. Since the documents in a zoning case are public record, developers and their representatives often secure the list to educate and influence as well as to secure feedback on their project.

It’s a delicate dance where opposition might be turned into support for a project. As I wrote previously, response rates for these ballots are famously low. There are times when the zoning request is so tiny, it would only matter to the city – in which case there’s barely a return. In more controversial cases where opposition is high and well-organized, the returns are much higher.

All this balloting matters for several reasons. Obviously, the City Plan Commission and City Council want to know what the immediate neighbors, who will be impacted most, think. They also want to understand the basis for their opposition and whether there are common, valid themes. If a vast majority of respondents hate one thing, and it’s a changeable and bad thing, the city can use their powers to make it work.

(more…)

06/25/19 9:15am

Can Dallas have nice things? If this proposed project goes through, the answer is absolutely yes.

I get it, you’re immediately wondering what those green-walled balconies are running up the building. It’s a sneak peek at a proposed residential tower at 1899 McKinney designed by Chicago-based SCB Architecture for investor/developer Ari Rastegar of Rastegar Property Company – his first new-build in Dallas. Like the man, it’s ambitious architecture for Dallas. When I spoke with Rastegar and SCB principal Clara Wineberg, I imagined a conversation a resident might have explaining where they lived:

“Where do you live?”

“The building you’re on the waiting list for.”

But let’s unpack this picture.  In front of the white car, you can see the tops of umbrellas, which form the patio space for a proposed café. They’re so low because the plot is similarly sloped. This natural contour enables the café to create a more private feel while keeping the cohesion of the extensively landscaped pedestrian areas.

Slightly above the “ground” level, the green begins. Those “balconies” are in fact 17-foot deep amenity platforms spaced every three floors with lush green growing up their back walls. Expect them to be gathering places with seating and perhaps outdoor kitchens (my suggestion). That depth means you’re actually standing a considerable distance cantilevered out from the building’s skin – the views will be stunning. The uneven surfaces of the greenery should also tamp down some city noise in addition to being beautiful – were they simply glass-walled, they’d be an echo chamber.

What you can also see is the curved bump-out on the corner that will face down Akard to the Klyde Warren Park addition.  For those with Mayfair memories, I specifically asked about the radius of those curves. I find the tight turrets at the Mayfair condos result in largely useless spaces. The curve here is looser, allowing for easy furniture placement while delivering the drama of a curved glass wall.

(more…)

06/21/19 9:15am

Dallas isn’t the only city where historic preservation is tested, as a Frank Lloyd Wright homeowner seeks demolition.

It’s been a bad couple of years for Wright fans, as a medical clinic in Montana was demolished last year and now a progenitor of Wright’s Usonian homes is on the same path. These are pretty rare events. Prior to these two, the last Wright structure torn down was a beach house in Grand Beach, Michigan, back in 2004 and that was the first since 1973.

The cottage at 239 Franklin Road in suburban Glencoe was built in 1913 as a temporary home for Sherman Booth and his wife while Wright built their larger home. Booth was Wright’s lawyer.  The home is a modest 1,755-square-foot, three-bedroom with two full and one-half bathroom. Originally, the cottage was just 1,100 square feet, but later owners added a garage and bedrooms. After the main home was built in 1915, the cottage was moved to its current location.

The cottage had been the home of the Rudoff family since 1956 and was listed for sale in 2017 for $1 million with subsequent drops until it hit $599,900 in January 2019 – essentially lot value. After 63 years with the same owner, the home was well lived-in with a lot of updating required.  While the sellers had hoped for a conservation-minded buyer, instead they got Jean Jingnan Yang and Justin Jun Lu who quickly filed for a demolition permit after the May 9 closing.

(more…)