When I first met Bob Hoebeke of Hoebeke Builders, Inc.  and he explained what he planned to do in his new Farmer’s Branch development, I said, “Bob, you are re-creating Seaside in North Texas without the Beach!”

Little did I know, Seaside and Watercolor are exactly what he had in mind, only for North Texas.

Seaside and WaterColor are two coveted vacation home communities on Florida’s Gulf Coast that are hugely popular with Texans. Seaside, the original, is a poster child, master-planned community along Highway 30-A in the Florida panhandle, a 28.5 mile corridor that hugs the Gulf of Mexico coastline in Northwest Florida’s Walton County. The area takes you back in time to the days when Florida was just a sleepy sand and water state. Here is where the cottages of Seaside were born, planting a standard-setting imprint upon New Urbanism. Consumers snatched up beachy homes and white picket fences, but also completely walkable communities where cars were parked, locked (didn’t have to be) and families could walk to everything.

Beach towns were the first inspiration for strolling urbanism, because what do you do most at the beach? Walk!

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There are many reasons why Hoebeke Properties LLC selected Branch Crossing in Farmers Branch to develop Hoebeke’s homestead plus four additional development lots, but proximity to community amenities was chief among them! 

“Start with an old estate on a beautiful creek surrounded by Farmers Branch’s Historical Park, add a bird sanctuary, rose gardens, a four-acre park complete with interactive children’s playground, and million dollar homes right down the street, bingo,” says Bob Hoebeke, “that’s Branch Crossing.”

Branch Crossing in Farmers Branch is the hottest neighborhood of this sleepy community that borders Dallas just north of LBJ/635 off Marsh Lane. It comprises a pocket of post World War II homes that are quickly changing hands, many torn down outright, thanks to the City’s incredible builder/developer economic incentives. Yes, while other municipalities underwrite businesses, Farmers Branch underwrites homeowners — stay tuned!

Homes in the area have enjoyed the rising tide of real estate values across DFW and are now touching the $900,000 mark, for many reasons.

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Rudy Giuliani, Zach Ipour, and Kevin O’Leary in Farmers Branch Tuesday

I cannot call it a party, because it was so much more. I have been to a lot of Realtor’s parties. This one REALLY topped them all. Zach Ipour, founder and CEO of Megatel homes, threw a MEGA EVENT Tuesday night, a VIP experience, for the North Texas Real Estate world at Mercer Crossing, the 370 acre planned community in Farmers Branch, just north of 635 and the Luna Road exit. The billion dollar mixed use development will dramatically shift the southwestern corner of Farmers Branch into a Viridian-type environment.

I know what parties cost, and this one had at least 2500 real estate professionals, with full bar service and seated dinner. There was a huge white tent with a/c. Even the bathrooms were tip-top, those nice white trailers just like the ones at the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance. There was a smattering of tip top producers, too, from Dave Perry-Miller’s Ryan Streif and Charles Gregory, who has already sold two homes in Mercer Crossing, ReMax Premiere’s Von Truong, Bryan Poche, Dallas City Center’s Lisa Marie Dyess-Richardson, the ubiquitous Jeff Lindigrin, and more. Donations were also raised for Guns and Hoses Foundation of North Texas.

But get this: Kevin O’Leary, Mr. Wonderful of Shark Tank, and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who made even more news after leaving Texas, were keynote/ribbon-cutting speakers. The two sat right among the dinner guests, posing for pictures.

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Brickyard water tower

Photo: Jonah Gilmore, Studio Rocket Science

Urban art has a new home in Farmers Branch with a stained glass water tower at The Brickyard.

Local artist Joseph Shortell of Shortell Design was commissioned by Dallas-based Billingsley Company to create this iconic structure at New York-style apartment community. Lauren Stout, an independent artist working with Shortell, laid out the color schemes with direction and approval from property developer Lucy Billingsley.

“We could not be more thrilled with how the water tower has turned out,” said Sumner Billingsley, managing partner on The Brickyard project. “I think it fully encompasses the thoughtfulness and unique attention to detail that went into this development – inspired by elements of the past, but infused with the creativity and energy of our community today.”

Among the features of The Brickyard water tower:

  • Internally lit with 24 LED flood lights
  • Agricultural silo-style metal roof
  • 24 three-foot-by-six-foot curved panels, each with individual colored acrylic panes in varying shades of yellow, orange, red, blue, and green
  • Panel and pane frames made of powder-coated metal to withstand harsh Texas weather

We’ve written about The Brickyard before: they have a unique vision for their property Farmers Branch, an inner-ring Dallas suburb about 14 miles north of downtown Dallas: bring New York-inspired living to DFW, but without the price tag.

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The Brickyard

We recently wrote about how one Dallas inner-ring suburb is seeing big changes, Farmers Branch Renaissance Turning Once Sleepy Suburb Into Vibrant City.

The city has another reason to celebrate: Billingsley Company is bringing New York City architectural charm to to Farmer’s Branch, with The Brickyard. This is their new apartment community in Mercer Crossing, at the crossroads of Interstate 35E, Interstate 635, and President George Bush Turnpike.

They have everything you think of when you imagine NYC: romantic industrial architecture, brick detail, metal-framed windows, metal awnings, large arched windows, and walk-up style housing. Everything, that is, except the price.

In Manhattan, the cost of living is more than double the national average: The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Lower East Side is $3,558, according to the First Quarter 2016 Citi Habitats market report. This is roughly equal to the entire monthly income of the typical U.S. worker.

Current pricing for The Brickyard ranges from $995 to $1910 per month.

Sumner Billingsley, a managing partner on The Brickyard project, took her experience living in the West Village in New York and translated this project.

“As a former resident of New York, I wanted to bring the rich neighborhood feel of the West Village and the Bowery to Dallas but at a price that was right for us,” Billingsley said. “I have been told that ‘quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.’ So our sole focus is to deliver a fantastic product, and I’m damned if I am not going to deliver it at a great price.”

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Farmers Branch

A Todd Bonneau custom home. Photo: Todd Bonneau Homes

Once upon a time, a decade or two ago, Farmers Branch was a sleepy suburb with older homes, older shopping centers, and older infrastructure. It wasn’t a bad place to live, but it wasn’t exactly topping the charts of vibrant cities in DFW.

The housing stock, in particular, was fraying around the edges and many aging residences needed a total overhaul. But Farmers Branch reached buildout in the 1970s, so if something new was to go in, something old needed to leave.

But then the city woke up. They adopted a forward-thinking, progressive approach, and builders and developers took notice. The city, which already had parks and green space, has started better utilizing those areas for residents and visitors. Shopping centers and other commercial buildings are getting facelifts, partially funded by the city. Dilapidated houses are being torn down on the city’s dime and the empty land sold to encourage better homes with a higher tax base. Multi-family developments are in phased developments to create a work-play-live, walkable atmosphere.

The result? A Renaissance, of sorts, showing up across all sectors of the Farmers Branch community. This suburb is sleepy no more.

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You may have heard of this one today: a woman in Farmers Branch, Lisa Price, put this sign in her front yard at 3312 Pebble Beach Drive, to get even with her neighbor, who she says is not being a good neighbor. She told CBS-11 that he complains to the city about her 4 dogs barking and has a security camera aimed at her house.

“He knew we had dogs when he moved in,” she said.

The final straw was a $121 ticket in the mail citing her for a “barking dog.”

Price said she doesn’t really intend to sell her home, but was driving home a point.

“We thought maybe that would help him to back off,” she said.

CBS11 tried to reach the neighbor referenced in the sign, but could not find them at home.

CBS-11 found out that as long as the sign is a real estate sign, she can leave it up.

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3459 Courtyard Front

There are some really one-of-a-kind rentals out there, folks. I love seeing inside homes for lease that have cool architectural details that really set them apart from your generic apartment or townhome development. Neat materials, vintage fixtures, interesting lines, indoor/outdoor pools …

WAIT … INDOOR/OUTDOOR POOLS???

Yes, that’s right! This Farmers Branch townhome at 3459 Courtyard Circle has a partially indoor outdoor pool that is such an interesting feature. First  — how many rentals out there with such a hot location as this have backyard pools? Tremendously few, folks. But the personality in this three-bedroom, three-bath, two-car garage townhome goes beyond the backyard, which includes a putting green, by the way. (I KNOW, GUYS! A PUTTING GREEN!)

3459 Courtyard Pool

Beyond the gated entry that gives way to the front courtyard, you’ll find a front door that opens to the remodeled kitchen. With an island, granite counters, stone backsplash, pot rack and built-in appliances, you’ll enjoy the level of luxury this rental offers in the heart of the home. There’s also a sizable pantry and fresh paint, but you might be a little disappointed by the dated appliances.

3459 Courtyard Kitchen

There is tons of living space in this home, including both a sunroom and a solarium. The formal living room has an interesting fireplace surrounded by mirrors. Definitely reminiscent of “American Hustle,” but kind of fun, too. With almost 2,350 square feet, there’s plenty of room to move around, so if you’ve got pets (which are OK, by the way), you’ll all be able to find a sunny spot.

3459 Courtyard Living

The mirrored fun doesn’t stop there, as the master bedroom also has a wall-to-wall mirror. But that’s OK, considering the French doors, which open to the patio, that let tons of light into this master suite. There is an attached five-piece bath, which has incorporated shell sinks in the vanity, a jacuzzi tub, and a stand-alone shower. You will of course notice the carpet in the bathroom, which is something that makes my brain itch. Moving along …

3459 Courtyard Master 3459 Courtyard Master Bath

But what you really came for is the indoor/outdoor pool. How neat is that? So when it gets ridiculously hot and bright this summer, you can just hang out in the shaded area of the pool with your frosty margarita and your closest pals, still getting your soak on without being singed by our unfathomable UV rays.

Truly, this townhome is epic fun for the next occupant. You can lease it today for $2,400 a month, which, considering this unit’s proximity to Brookhaven Country Club, is a price well worth the personality. And considering the huge storage cabinets in the garage, you’ll have plenty of places to store all your golf clubs and gear as you work on your game. Fore!

3459 Courtyard Garage