Sorry if we “got cha” yesterday, April 1, April Fools Day. It is a CandysDirt.com tradition to fool you on April Fool’s Day. We had three April Fool’s posts. So naughty.

One, Jon Anderson’s “Tinder Home” post, which I thought was brilliant and am trademarking that name tomorrow. Move out of the way, Zillow, Tinder Home is on its way! Though this sentence, “But the real money is in selling user data”, may not have been so April Fools-y.

Two, Bethany’s very crafty “O” home of a McMansion at 401 (get it?) Narre Lane in Savage Gardens, Narre being Danish for “fool”‘, and the Realtor’s name (Dia Daspetas) literally means “April Fools Day” in Portuguese. Why Portuguese? Hell if I know.

Bethany actually hid the fact that this was an April Fool’s story IN the story. And Savage Gardens? That’s a late 90’s, early 2000’s music group (though it would be a great name for a Dallas neighborhood since we once had a mayor named Savage, 1949 to 1951, father of Dorothy and Virginia. Virginia Savage McAlester is the grand dame who saved Swiss Avenue, who wrote the seminal bible on architectural style we worship here at CandysDirt. I don’t know if readers believed us but the lover’s toilet, the basement access from the walk-in closet, the S&M torture chamber in the actual basement, and the “ballroom” are usual components of our “O” homes… and you do know what an “O” home is, yes? No April Fooling there!

Then there was the granddaddy of them all, the Fort Worth Zoo story, the brainchild of our Fort Worth Editor Eric Prokesh, who is brilliant. Also multi-talented as he is an award-winning interior designer.

The Zoo story broke our servers at about 4:00 pm, we had so much traffic. Of course, they are not selling the world-famous Fort Worth Zoo to a developer! The story proved two things: (1) we have a whole lot of readers in Fort Worth and (2) readers really trust us! I felt a wee bit badly that we had fooled so many, but honestly, all of real estate is kind of one big April Fools.

Which is why it has become our favorite holiday.

Hear us now: it is a CandysDirt.com tradition to FOOL you on April Fool’s Day, and ONLY on April Fool’s Day. (more…)

Zoo

In a bold, some may say brutal example of “highest and best use,” the  City of Fort Worth has announced plans to sell the Fort Worth Zoo. Founded in 1909 with one lion, two bear cubs, an alligator, a coyote, a peacock, and a few rabbits the 110-year-old zoo is now home to some 7,000 animals. The 64-acre parcel will be subdivided into 172 lots for residential development.

Zoo

Jocelyne Carp

“It was a difficult decision,” a city official was quoted as saying “But the land is just too valuable to keep as parkland. The offering is expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars which will add substantial capital to employee pension funds.”

The reaction was strong and swift. The prominent and powerful Perch family, longtime major zoo supporters, expressed their dismay through spokesperson Jocelyne Carp.

“We were just flabbergasted. It’s a sad day for the city,” said Carp. “Apart from protesting in the strongest possible terms, there is, apparently, little we can do from a legal standpoint,” she added.

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NarreIt’s not every day that a mansion on Narre Lane comes on the market at all — usually homes in the extremely exclusive Dallas if-you-have-to-ask-you-can’t-afford-it enclave of Savage Gardens are kept within the families that long ago claimed that tiny haven inside Dallas to themselves, or are quietly shopped among peers who tire of the social requirements of Highland Park.

In fact, most don’t even know that Savage Gardens exists at all, so obscured by greenspace and the conventional wisdom that says situating mansions near the Trinity River is foolhardy — unless, of course, you’re wealthy enough to afford the mechanics and technical workings to keep your home free of river water.

So when we heard that 401 Narre Lane was being offered as a hip pocket listing to potential buyers who can prove their bottom line, we jumped at the chance to pull back the curtain and show our readers how the other other other half lives.

Homes in this well-heeled sanctuary are a reflection of the families that owned them, always, with finishes and touches so unique you’ll never find them in another home. Even the exteriors are frequently changed through the years, peeling off older facades in favor of newer amalgamations of styles, in order to better blend in with the less-preservation minded neighborhoods around them.

“Nothing to see here, we’re just your average McMansions from 1990s Preston Hollow,” the homes in Savage Gardens seemingly say to anyone who accidentally happens upon them, adopting a hide-in-plain-sight motif that serves the cloistered residents well.

“It’s really amazing how private this neighborhood is, and how ingeniously these families have kept it that way,” said listing agent Dia Daspetas with North Texas Luxury Homeplaces. “If you’re looking for a place that only tells people your net worth once they’re fully vetted and allowed in by staff, this is the perfect place.”

“A few years ago, there was some deep-seated worry about a toll road and a park potentially clueing in Dallas residents to this spendy spot, but luckily, time and a rumored juggler’s strike forced the city to reexamine the idea, and once again Savage Gardens is safe,” she added.

While the outside conforms to a rigorous requirement to appear awkwardly normal, rest assured that doesn’t hold true once you enter the home. Inside is where the imagination runs amok, flowering with details you definitely won’t find on Strait Lane. Ready to look? Let’s jump, shall we? (more…)

“Swipe left” and “swipe right” are poised to become the new it phrases in real estate as dating app Tinder expands their platform into residential home buying and leasing. The new app will create a seller/landlord user profile for home or apartment listings that buyers/tenants can peruse – a move that threatens to cut real estate agents out of the transaction altogether.

Prospective buyers and tenants scroll through nearby listings and swipe on those they like or dislike. New, patent-pending, artificial intelligence algorithms will learn through swiping data what prospective buyers like, individually and as a group, and prioritize listings that meet the most criteria. For sellers, those algorithms will learn what buyers want and offer suggestions to enhance their chances for a match.

Taking a step back, for those unfamiliar with Tinder, it’s a location-based mobile app that uses left swipes on profile pictures to signal dislike whereas a right swipe signals interest. When two users swipe left on each other, love (or at least a hook-up) is in the air. In Tinder Home, think of “love” and “hook-up” as analogous to “buy” and “lease.” To build a user profile, the app siphons information and pictures from Facebook pages and user-entered information. Instagram and Spotify accounts can also be linked. Like all mobile dating apps, appearance matters – call it human curb appeal (and it can be measured).

Lifestyle pics get the ball rolling.

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AF 2017 - Main 1

How real estate agencies operate is undergoing a fundamental shift. What began decades ago with neighborhood-centric mom-and-pop agencies were aggregated into city-wide, all-service agencies. Local brokerages, have, in some cases, grown over time into large national and global brands. The internet age has further changed things, adding largely online-based agencies to the mix.

In many walks of life, large conglomerate operations have begun breaking down. Agribusiness is being chipped away by the organic movement that’s given rise to artisanal “this” and heirloom “that.” In part, it’s being driven by a generation dissatisfied with one-size-fits-all products and services.

More darkly, we are witnessing the effects of a fearful society. Alliances and protections put in place after WWII — everything from trade to vaccinations — are fraying. Too dark?

Anyhoo, over the past 18 months I’ve noticed a shift away from larger brokerages and towards boutique real estate operations focusing on very specific niche markets. Some are agencies-within-agencies (within agencies again at times like a matryoshka doll). I’m concerned that at some point the niche becomes so small that it’s impossible to be successful.  But I suppose that’s for time to tell.

In the meantime, I’ve noticed more of these niche agencies being quietly launched. And you know me…let’s talk about them.

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Dallas cougars

Prepare: It’s not just bobcats and coyotes in North Texas. We’ve got a large population of cougars, too.

Everyone is abuzz with the coyote and bobcat sightings all over town, from Plano to East Dallas. These are the new most feared words in North Texas:

“You need to know that a coyote has been spotted out here tonight.”

Several house pets have been killed, and homeowners are alarmed that the coyotes are becoming, well, BOLDER:

In an academic paper for Purdue University, (Robert Timm, a University of California wildlife specialist), outlined several warning behaviors that sound like what we’ve been seeing in East Dallas in the last couple months: an increase in coyotes seen on the streets or in yards at night, coyotes killing pets and especially daytime appearances of coyotes.

Coyotes schmoyotes. Now there’s a different, more fearsome animal you’ll see much more of in North Texas: Cougars.

They are independent, strong, beautiful women of a certain age with definite luxe real estate leanings—full marble master baths with book-matched marble not only on the floors and counters, but up the wall to keep those claws sharp, and a keen (green) eye for style: it’s celadon, dammit, not teal.

Kitchen with dual sinks are a must for visiting South American pumas. Handscraped hardwoods are her floor of choice (doesn’t show scratches), and she will not sniff a house without ensuite baths and at least three powder rooms (gotta check on the sleek looks). 

Most out on the prowl are harmless, though they are crepuscular. A college student jogging in Preston Hollow after dusk was recently picked up by a PH cougar driving a black S-Class who insisted he get in her car, and let her take him home to protect him from the wild coyotes roaming the streets. He didn’t know who to fear more. He succumbed, and she dropped him at his door without a scratch.

Others, have not been so lucky, especially with the mid-cities cougars who have exhibited irrational, aggressive behaviors, such as trapping 18-year-olds.

We’ve talked to several concerned businesses and homeowners alike around DFW to find out where these cougars are most likely to be spotted, usually crouching, and gauging just how dangerous they are. (Only 20 people in North America have been killed by cougars between 1890 and 2011, including six in California.) Seeing them in the wild—like at the recently sold Waggoner Ranch—is such a thrill! We have no doubt some will soon be seen at the Crespi Estate/Walnut Place and also down at the former residence of Margaret and Trammell Crow. (Margaret is watching, you cats!)

Truth be told: their coats are to die for.

Just be careful if you’re a 20-something man with big guns. These cougars are bold, confident, devour real estate, and are dressed to kill.

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Cowboys Stadium 2

Lord knows how long the Exxxotica lawsuit will take to wind its way through a begrudging legal system.  In the meantime, Cowboys Stadium is rumored to have been offered up as an alternative location.  A source for the Cowboys said, “We know first-hand what it’s like to be chased out of town by the Mayor of Dallas.”

My source also commented on the similarities on their business models.  This makes sharing space a good fit, “Like Exxxotica and Adultcon, we also target an overwhelmingly male audience who enjoy watching the action more than participating.”

And step-in they will. Apparently the deal would provide Cowboys season ticket holders with a discount on Exxxotica and Adultcon conventions, a gift card for purchases, and a free T-shirt.

In a joint press release, Adultcon and Exxxotica look forward to exhibiting together should the city of Dallas prevail, “We’re usually fierce competitors but it’s a unique situation and it’s a huge stadium, so we’re working together to supersize the experience for attendees.”

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Main 1 SM

Inspiration for the new high-rise came from this bold tree/townhouse design. We LOVE it!

Just a few weeks ago we reported on the mysterious new owner of the “Poston Property” on Hall Street that’s surrounded by the Renaissance Condos.  Now, an insider has provided CandysDirt.com exclusive detail on the still shrouded owner’s plans.

Remember, Steve Brown, you read it here first.

Apparently the owner, a former household name in the petroleum industry, is looking to do some environmental penance by constructing this first-of-its-kind, self-sustaining, fertilizing, high-rise residential urban farm!

The new building, simply called The Farm, is the brainchild of architect Aibek Almassov and will be based on his cylindrical tree/townhouse design seen throughout this column.  Obviously the square lot requires some adjustments and will retain a glass box aesthetic but lose the central tree in favor of renewable gardens.  The 26-story building, having sailed through permitting just days ago at Masterplan, of course, will feature many environmental firsts.

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