• Property management company Intercity Investments tendered its resignation at the Athena.
  • The firm gave the HOA only 30 days notice, due to a high level of harassment from residents.

“Our firm is no longer willing to subject our staff to behaviors which could be described as designed to harass and intimidate others into compliance with certain individual’s special interests.” This news has the entire building in a tither. What this means is that effective October 16, the Athena will have zero maintenance. 

The whole letter — and more — after the jump: (more…)

The morning after the Preston Place fire, the extent of the damage was revealed to be catastrophic.

By Kevin McMahon
Guest Contributor

Recently, guest writer Barbara Dewberry expressed her opposition to the City Plan Commission’s proposal for updated zoning for PD-15. I would like the opportunity to offer a counterpoint and speak to the merits of the proposal. But first, I should state something up front some may consider relevant.

I am a former resident of Preston Place.

I lived there about four years. Our unit was the first home purchase my wife and I made, and we undertook a major renovation when we moved in, doing much of the work ourselves on nights and weekends. We aren’t real estate flippers. We had no intention of buying and selling and moving on to the next project. Instead, we put a lot of care and detail into our unit because we planned to call it home for many years. And then one Friday night, we watched with our then-5-year-old son as a fire indifferently consumed all that hard work.

Now two and a half years later, I see another destructive force at work in the neighborhood. It takes the form of hyperbole and fear of change which form the basis of much of the opposition to CPC’s proposal. Ms. Dewberry’s arguments are this hyperbole at work. (more…)

6307 Bandera Ave. Unit 6307C

When this crossed my desk, I immediately liked this idea. Agents from multiple brokerages representing the (lucky) 13 properties got together and devised a simultaneous open house from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 18. Think of it as a home tour, but you can actually buy the house you fall in love with.  And the Pink Wall is compact enough that you don’t need fussy tickets or an afternoon of waiting for the next bus to show up.

And yes, one listing begins “Rarely available” with 12 other properties within a two-block radius and three in the same building. Another knows its unit’s catnip blaring “ONE PARKING SPACE & UTILITIES INCLUDED” as its opener (but I digress).

Twelve of the properties are contained in the plethora of two-story buildings that line tree-lined streets. The listings also showcase the neighborhood’s bread and butter of two-bedroom units. Some have two bathrooms, while others pick up the half bath for visitors. They range in price from $259,000 to $695,000 and from 1,130 to 2,659 square feet in size. Most are also under $200 per square foot.

If you’re smart, you’ll strap on your Keds and see them all, but here’s my short list.

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Note: the Dallas City Plan Commission Public Hearing for PD-15 is scheduled for Thursday, April 18

This is the real story of the Pink Wall – a little pocket of Preston Hollow tucked between two of the highest net worth zip codes in the country. It is one of the few places where women of means at some point, who suddenly find themselves with a drastically limited bank account, can live with some dignity. And safety. For years it has been the answer to the need for affordable housing skirting the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods.

Sometime in the 1990’s we moved my mother “Behind the Pink Wall”, into her unit at The Seville on Averill Way. My mother had moved to Dallas in her seventies to be closer to my children, to help in my husband’s medical practice (she had managed medical practices in suburban Chicago) and to escape the bitter midwestern cold. Her first home when she moved here was a townhome off Knoll Trail Drive I found while taking the kids to Toys R Us: it was being leased by the bank holding the note, brand new, bright and cheerful.

It was also seven miles away from our home.

We wanted her to be closer, especially as she aged. We lived in Old Preston Hollow at the time and the only proximite multi-family living was Behind the Pink Wall. That is why I jumped on the two bedroom, two bath first floor unit at The Seville: it was about a mile from our home on Park Lane. We could walk to her house!

I will never forget sitting with her as she closed on the only property she had ever owned “sole” by herself. My parents had been married for 42 years before they divorced, and like most women of her Depression-era generation, men handled every penny. As we turned each page after her signature, she’d whisper to me, “are you sure I’m not going to lose everything?”

When she died in 2003, I left the condo exactly as it was for months, hoping she’d walk in the door. It remains in our family as an investment property, and has always been leased by retirees, most of them single women. My mother loved living Behind the Pink Wall.

Thank God she is not here to see it turn into a Senior Slum.

I met a Realtor a few weeks ago who is moving into an apartment down the street from mine: her husband supported her with the Highland Park good life until he decided her best friend was more exciting in the boudoir. She is a woman needing a place to live with two school-aged kids as she stitches a life back together. All up and down Bandera, Averill Way, Pickwick, Edgemere are neat, tidy little homes, 1950’s and ’60’s apartments converted to condos, decorated to the hilt with furniture and antiques moved from some of the toniest addresses in town. Come dusk they walk their dogs, doting on them, chatting with neighbors, accepting the lot life has thrust their way.

But all that changed with the fire. (more…)

Update, 2:17 a.m: fire trucks gone, alarm off, all is well again Behind the Pink Wall!

A friend who lives at Preston Towers tells me this is the scene right now at The Athena, where a loud sound is keeping everyone awake at 1:40am: hour 2 of The Athena’s fire alarm.

“Two fire trucks have been out front the whole time; it is foggy but I haven’t seen flames,” she writes. “In a bad case of irony, this is the same alarm sound we heard almost exactly two years ago, when Preston Place (next to Athena) was on fire in the middle of the night.”

Lord, I hope it’s nothing serious.

I’ll cut to the chase (shocking, right?). Of the speakers last night that held opinions about the prospect of development, I counted 10 that were making positive comments and five were negative. There were a couple whose position I wasn’t sure of because their comments were more “don’t forget about X, Y or Z” – perhaps they’re the “undecided” voters?

Not too shabby. The same cast were in each camp with the area low-rises being positive to the process while residents from Preston Tower and the complexes on Bandera being negative. Like politics these days, actual facts don’t shift the world views of people who “just know they’re right.”

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PD-15, slightly east of Preston Road bounded by Northwest Highway, Pickwick Lane, Baltimore Drive and an alley.

Last night marked the first meeting of the newly-formed PD-15 task force, begun as a result of development pressures within the area of the Pink Wall known as PD-15. It went as most initial meetings do, trying to find its feet. The task force members from surrounding buildings were brought together by Dallas City Councilwoman Jennifer Gates and assisted by her plan commissioner Margot Murphy.

It began with a review of what had brought us there, namely the pressure to redevelop the fire-ruined Preston Place and the Diplomat.  The two are unconnected except in current timing with the Diplomat having worked on a potential sale for over a year prior to the March fire at Preston Place. Given that two out of the four buildings within PD-15 are in play, it’s safe to assume developers’ wagons are circling the rest.

(more…)

 

Transwestern Tear Down

The 35 year old apartments at the corner of Preston and Northwest Highway are gone. Late last week, the entire south block of Town House Row was gone. By the time I venture south today, the entire north side may be gone as well. Every time I drive by this portion of Preston Center “Behind The Pink Wall”, I say a silent prayer for the miracle that Transwestern actually did get to proceed ahead with it’s plans to raze these town homes  — charming as they were — and fill them with luxury apartments. New luxury apartments filled with fresh air. I say this even though we are in the midst of Preservation Month.NE-corner-Preston-Northwest-Highway-570x400

Pink-Wall-townhouse-row1-5

It appears that some of the town homes may have contained asbestos:

I hope the progress Behind the Pink Wall will help more people understand that as much as we hate change and tearing down the past, sometimes it has to happen with balance. Town House Row was charming, but it was not Swiss Avenue or The Alexander Mansion. We built homes differently in the ’50s and ’60s. Today we build with more energy efficiency and insulation and we wire homes for high tech systems. There are buildings Behind the Pink Wall with knob and tube wiring. Some don’t have grounded outlets. Asbestos is a very dangerous building product that was once put into buildings because of it’s fireproof characteristics, but it has been proven to cause Mesothelioma cancer.  (more…)