It’s people’s health and life expectancy versus Pecan trees down in Oak Cliff. This is a real head scratcher for me, given the fact that staying fit is the undisputed key to staying healthy and reducing health care costs in this country. Southern Dallas is already a wellness desert; the area has the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension in the city. Methodist Dallas Medical Center wants to expand a small campus fitness facility to a full-fledged wellness center to benefit everyone living south of  I -30. 

It’s even January, the month where everyone makes resolutions to get into better shape. And the latest mortality report from the Centers for Disease Control shows that Americans are dying sooner. In fact, for the third consecutive year, U.S. life expectancy fell. Our nation now ranks 29th globally in age-adjusted mortality despite all we spend on healthcare. Look at the 10 leading causes of death; at least half could be dramatically reduced with knowledge and technology we have right now if only U.S. citizens took better care of themselves. The author, Dr. Robert Pearl,  says that “if more Americans kept their New Year’s resolutions to improve their diet and exercise, we could greatly reduce the incidence of diabetes, our nation’s No. 7 cause of death.”

But in East Kessler Park, some folks who live in the neighborhood surrounding the Folsom Fitness Center on West Greenbriar Lane are more interested in saving trees, than people.

The Folsom Fitness Center at Methodist Dallas Medical Center wants to expand its current fitness facility, constructed in 1984 and only 5100 square feet, to a 35,000 square foot state-of-the-art center just northeast of the current location. They envision something similar to Baylor’s Tom Landry Fitness Center in Old East Dallas, which has aquatics, kettle bells, pilates, triathlon training, sports-performance programs, and so on. Or the 52,000 square foot Cooper Fitness Center in North Dallas, which has all of the above plus running trails on about 30 acres. (more…)

Kessler Park Colonial
This Kessler Park colonial is precisely the sort of home people dream of finding when they decide to move to the rolling hills of Oak Cliff. It embodies all of the original 1935 New England charms but has undergone an extensive remodel, which means no work for you!

Featured on the Oak Cliff Home Tour, it’s clear 1006 Lausanne Avenue has been not only well-loved for over 80 years, but also beautifully maintained and continually and carefully updated.

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1704 W ColoradoYou recall the story of 1704 West Colorado, yes?

OK, I will refresh:

The Spanish-style mansion at 1704 W. Colorado Blvd. that has been admired far and near in Dallas — named one of the “Most Beautiful Homes in Dallas” by D Magazine and featured on the Dallas Open Days Garden Conservancy Tour, — this Kessler Park home is a Spanish mission-style killer with a 4,000-square-foot main home and accompanying structures, expansive gardens, maizes and tremendous views of the nearby Stevens Park Golf Course and Coombs Creek.

Anyhoo, the shocker came a few months ago with news that this home was going to be auctioned off July 7. And not just any auction, but one on the steps of the George Allen Courts building on Commerce St.

Yeah, you know what that means. Bidding for this beauty started at just $500,000, according to the Auction.com listing for the property.

Not only were bargain hunters rubbing their palms over this auction, the home, like my beloved Aldredge House, had raised the hackles of neighbors after hosting weddings and more, posting in the VBRO pool as a place to rent. The property is perched high atop a cliff overlooking the Stevens Park Golf Course, one of the best locations in Dallas.

We were pretty saddened by the thought of anyone losing their precious home. We’ve been there, it’s tough. And we found out this wasn’t a typical case. At first the homeowner would not talk, then he told us he was trying to prove a point. As in, trying to get the attention of the bank. Well, he got it.

Enter an Ebby Halliday agent named Laurie Welch, who, like every agent in North Texas, reads this site. (more…)

1704 W Colorado

We do not think that 1704 West Colorado, the Oak Cliff home of Ken Row (and at one time, Sergio Remirez), is hitting the auction block tomorrow, or next month, though we know a lot of people looking for quarters under the seat cushions to buy this amazing historical estate. Robert Wilonsky over at The Dallas Morning News  got people more excited over the weekend, and gave us even more background on the stunning, 90 year old home — turns out it was built by James Binford and quite a party house even back in the day:

Best I can tell from our archives it was built by one James Robert Binford in 1925; according to our archives it was quite the party house even then. A March 1, 1929, headline reads “Mrs. J.R. Binford Entertains With Tea,” and merely lists some of the 300 guests in attendances, among them women all the way from …New York City.

As Jennifer Mitten notes in the comments, Mrs. J.R. Binford was Estelle Zang — daughter of early Oak Cliff developer John F. Zang, the boulevard’s namesake.

We had reached out to the owner of the home, Ken Row, right after we saw the story in The Advocate. He said he was a pretty shy guy and also  “I think we should wait to see how this movie ends… I think you can see from the facts available..this has been a calculated decision … I’m impressed you bird dogged me here.”

Ken directed us to his attorney, Dax Richards, who told us the house would not be on the auction block and that when the story came out, it wouldn’t be quite as salacious as we might be hoping. (Dang!) He was out of state and asked us to wait a bit, which we did, but we kept circling the story. I was intrigued by some other things the owner, Ken, whom I have heard is just one of the nicest people you could ever meet, had to say — (more…)

Choosing the stone and tile for a large-scale project from only pictures and chips can be an anxiety-inducing task, says Cooper Smith Koch.

Choosing the stone and tile for a large-scale project from only pictures and chips can be an anxiety-inducing task, says Cooper Smith Koch.

By Cooper Smith Koch
Special Contributor

This is the second pool we’ve built and, at the halfway point of this one, I still think the hardest part of the process is choosing the right materials. Even though, after 16 years together, Todd and I generally share the same taste and gravitate towards similar design styles, there’s nothing that can get us into a full-on argument than picking out the materials to finish a home improvement project.

You’re expected to make this massive commitment, based on small samples and color chips. You have no idea how it will look when there’s hundreds of square feet of a particular stone climbing the walls or an expanse of stained concrete underfoot.

It’s also where the dollars really start to add up and cost-value benefits start to come into play. Do we splurge on the fancy tile or the super-quiet pool pump? Do we really want an oversized fireplace with stone mantel if it means we have to postpone the outdoor kitchen? And, perhaps most importantly, where can we add the most value to the house?

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An old brochure for Kessler Park shows the beautiful stone stairways that can be found within the neighborhood.

An old brochure for Kessler Park shows the beautiful stone stairways that can be found within the neighborhood.

Rachel Stone at the Oak Cliff Advocate has an update on an unexpectedly contentious issue that has formed battle lines among Kessler Park residents: The steps between Canterbury Court and Edgefield Avenue.

The stone walkway, which was installed by the original developers of Kessler Park, North Texas Trust Co., was part of a system of small pocket parks that were meant to attract wealthy families to the neighborhood. However, the steps have fallen into disrepair, and until recently, it wasn’t exactly clear who owned the steps or was responsible for their maintenance.

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After 7 years in their Kessler Park home, Cooper Smith Koch is taking the plunge and putting in a pool.

After 7 years in their Kessler Park home, Cooper Smith Koch’s family is taking the plunge and putting in a pool.

By Cooper Smith Koch
Special Contributor

When we bought our Kessler Park house seven years ago this month, we acknowledged that it had a handful of “fatal flaws” that kept it from realizing its full potential. In fact, the house had been on the market for nearly a year before Todd and I first looked at it — and then we hemmed and hawed ourselves for almost a year before we finally took the plunge, right as the housing market was crashing … snagging it for about 60 percent of its original list price.

First, the dark galley kitchen was horrific: plastic countertops (yes, plastic that a hot pot could melt through), ancient appliances, peach-painted cabinets and access from the rest of the house only through a claustrophobic butler’s pantry. About four years ago, we remedied that “flaw” by blowing out walls, combining four small rooms into one and completely moving the kitchen from the back of the house to face the street. It’s now the favorite area of our home.

Now, we’re tackling the second biggest flaw: the backyard…or lack thereof.

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The Old Oak Cliff Conservation League has announced the locations for its 2013 home tour, which benefits neighborhoods and nonprofits in the district.

The tour is one of the oldest of its kind in the city. This year, from noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 12 and 13, visitors can view 12 homes from seven historic neighborhoods. The houses range from solid craftsman homes to stately colonials, post-modern ranches to stunning contemporaries.

“This year’s tour stretches from Kessler to Kiestwood and includes homes from the 1917 to 2007,” said OOCCL president Philip Leven. “We’re especially pleased to have a home in North Cliff which has not been represented on the Tour in several years, and a home in South Winnetka, which is a first-ever for that neighborhood.  Our goal is to showcase the quality and variety of the homes and the neighborhoods of Oak Cliff. You’ll see beautiful historic restoration, repurposed older structures, and sensitive new construction, in everything from a 1,600-square-foot bungalow to a 4,500-square-foot contemporary.”

The OCCL recently announced the beneficiaries of the 2012 home tour, which included neighborhood grants for street sign toppers, sidewalk improvements, school uniforms, crime watch signs, and murals. Oak Cliff nonprofits that received grants included Fort Worth Avenue Development Group for Western Heights Cemetery Maintenance, Hampton-Illinois Library Friends, the Turner House, Friends of Oak Cliff Parks and The Well Community.

Home tour tickets cost $25 for adults and $15 for seniors 60 and older on the day of the tour, and can be purchased at W. 7th Street and Bishop Ave in the Bishop Arts District. Discounted advance tickets ($20 adult and $12 senior) are available at Tom Thumb stores located at 315 South Hampton Road, 5809 East Lovers Ln., and 6333 E Mockingbird Ln. You can also buy tickets online at the OOCCL website.

Here are the homes in this year’s tour:

1347 Cedar Hill in East Kessler Park

1347 Cedar Hill in East Kessler Park

1645 Junior in East Kessler Park

1645 Junior in East Kessler Park

1811 Evergreen Hills in Kessler Park

1811 Evergreen Hills in Kessler Park

2916 W. Greenbriar in Kessler Park

2916 W. Greenbriar in Kessler Park

2526 W. Tenth in Kessler Plaza

2526 W. Tenth in Kessler Plaza

2450 Five Mile Circle in Kiestwood

2450 Five Mile Circle in Kiestwood

905 N. Montclair in Kings Hwy

905 N. Montclair in Kings Hwy

1325 Kings Hwy. in Kings Hwy.

1325 Kings Hwy. in Kings Hwy.

2847 Ivandell in North Cliff

2847 Ivandell in North Cliff

701 S. Clinton in South Winnetka

701 S. Clinton in South Winnetka

1910 Marydale in Stevens Park Estates

1910 Marydale in Stevens Park Estates

1939 W. Colorado in in Stevens Park Estates

1939 W. Colorado in Stevens Park Estates