spooky spots

Here’s a roundup of spooky spots to visit in the nation’s top ranked cities for celebrating Halloween.

There’s a ranking for everything nowadays, and that suits us just fine, as WalletHub named Irving and Plano among the top 20 cities nationwide for celebrating Halloween. The personal finance website compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 20 key metrics, ranging from candy and chocolate stores per capita to average price per Halloween party ticket, to share of potential trick-or-treat stops to compile 2018’s Best Places for Halloween report. Arlington, Dallas, and Fort Worth also made the list, rounding out the top 50.

To be fair, it seems awfully hard to quantify a city by its “Halloween-ieness” when most cities were just a few points apart, so to help you decide for yourself here’s a look at some local spooky spots, both haunted houses and real-life horrors, in WalletHub’s top five Texas cities for Halloween:

Spooky spot: The now-demolished Texas Stadium?

1. Irving

Ranked #9 in the U.S.

What makes Irving the Metroplex’s most Halloween-tastic city? Well, some longtime Dallas Cowboys fans say Irving is home to the ghost of Superbowl performances past — a curse of the now leveled Texas Stadium, if you will. Sean Mosley writes in Haunted Places in Texas about sightings of an old man and his granddaughter walking the second floor, the young girl dressed in a cheerleader’s outfit and waving a flag. Interpret that as you will.

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1806 High County Dr. Westlake

Now, we love Westlake, which has one of our favorite gated communities — Vaquero Club. It’s borderline perfection, with sprawling estates with incredible design and execution everywhere you look, plus a Tom Fazio-designed golf course.

But, in this list from Veranda, they rank Westlake as the most expensive suburb in Dallas. Yes, we do love you, Westlake, but there are three homes in Highland Park that are each being marketed for $12.5 million, plus three more that are on MLS for prices northward of $10 million. Though whether the Park Cities are technically a suburb is still debatable, but it’s definitely outside of the city limits of the largest metro in the vicinity, so you’d think it would qualify.

1806 High County Dr. Westlake 2

Regardless, we love Vaquero, especially that featured home (pictured) 1806 High Country Dr., an Engel & Volkers listing on the market for $4 million. But it’s not the priciest listing in Westlake, which happens to be a 35-acre equestrian property just outside of Vaquero at 1905 N. Pearson Lane, on MLS for $9.999 million.

See what Veranda had to say about Westlake after the jump!

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Historic-Downtown-McKinney

UPDATE: Comes word from Robert Wilonsky at the Dallas Morning News that civil rights groups and activists are demanding a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the police action in McKinney — as they should. Many people feel (as I do) that the officer, Eric Casebolt, way over-reacted and should likely find another line of work. Meantime, I am having trouble locating the man who posted the “neighborhood plea”  we posted below, that is circulating Facebook: Michael Cory Quattrin.

MONEY Magazine voted McKinney, Texas, as the best place to live in America last year, and we are pretty bullish on the town, too: great homes, great values, charming downtown, a good school system.

Honestly, agents tell me most buyers prefer the schools in Lucas, Prosper and Allen. But McKinney’s are highly rated.

Now McKinney is on the national map, for a pool party incident at a private community pool in Craig Ranch, a 2200 acre private development of upscale single family homes, that was videoed, posted and put the community all over the internet as yet another community where white police pick on black. I saw the news last night and emailed Jo. My initial reaction to what I saw was outrage. Outrage at what appeared to be obvious police brutality against a teenage girl and a bunch of black teenagers. The headlines were clearly meant to incite and provoke a negative reaction against the McKinney police department, to suggest that McKinney is a racist community.

This is not the McKinney I know.

Then I recalled a party my daughter threw years ago in our back-yard on Park Lane, circa 1998, along with two friends. Word spread quickly (these kids had cell phones, not Twitter) that someone was having a backyard pool party with underage drinking, WHICH WE WERE NOT. Kids came out and over from everywhere, tall, thin, black and white, public school, private school. They came slinging six-packs over their shoulder, holding bottles of tequila, and we found so much booze in our yard after that night we stocked the (locked) bar for years.

I called the police to help me get the kids off my property, which they did. They were told to go home. And they did. I learned some brutal lessons parenting teenagers that night: (more…)

Duncanville 4

That’s where he went to to high school, and had his entire class down with him in Austin last night. (He grew up in Wichita Falls. )

I happened to have been in Duncanville yesterday afternoon, looking at real estate with Monte Anderson and Daniel Flores. Getting warmed up for the write up — I thought Duncanville was pretty cool. You can get a home here for — are you sitting down? Smelling salts nearby? — $80,000. Go up to $300,000 and you will have a 3000 square foot ranch on a substantial lot. There are trees, topography, a burgeoning cute downtown and a Ben Franklin with a soda counter. Felt warmth there, even though it was pouring rain. They’ve  even turned a church into a dance studio, which gives me hope that the Religious Right hasn’t gone nuts here yet. The community is also pretty diverse but in a natural, organic way. (more…)

Main Entry Web

Republic Property Group — developers of masterplanned community Light Farms in Celina, TX — has donated $2 million to Prosper ISD as well as the land for a new elementary school. The campus, which will be located within RPG’s sustainably oriented Light Farms development, a 1,070 acre community with tons of family friendly amenities.

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Hambric kitchenReally thoughtful piece by Jacqueline Floyd, who lives in “a peaceful Denton County suburb”, in Sunday’s Dallas Morning News. She says that after all of last week’s Rah Rah Urbanism activity — you know the New Cities Summit and the U.S. Conference of Mayors — that there is a looking-down-the-nose at suburban dwellers element going on.

Kind of like that “you live north of LBJ? I am so sorry” ‘tude. Jacqueline says bring on the new urbanism but don’t demonize the ‘burbs and all who live there:

As a spirit of “new urbanism” is making serious inroads in Dallas, its satellite communities are fielding the blame for a host of woes: not just freeways and sprawl but such elemental human failings as greed, bigotry and mindless consumerism.

I liked her points, and I agree with many. The fact is, a lot of journalists, many in fact who are writing some of those Rah Rah stories, live outside of Dallas, in the suburbs. Why? Because that’s where they can afford to live and educate their children. Because let’s face it: you get a better deal on a home in the suburbs than you do in Dallas. You get cookie cutter, yes, but your chances of being slashed with a box cutter tend to be less, too. (more…)

7103 Mumford Court Google

Very interesting case here in North Dallas. Orthodox Rabbi Yaakov Rich has been hosting two services a day in his home, dubbed Congregation Toras Chaim, and recently applied for a Certificate of Occupancy with the City of Dallas.

Yaakov Rich Toras ChaimRabbi Rich wants to operate a religious center in his 3,572-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath home at 7103 Mumford Court. Built in 1986, records show this home was purchased in June of 2013 and is valued at $330,000.

As reported by Fox 4 (KDFW), neighbor David Schneider has sued Rabbi Rich (pictured at left) for $50,000, claiming that the in-home synagogue is lowering his property values inside the Highlands of McKamy, a custom home subdivision served by Plano ISD.

“The courts in the State of Texas have upheld the rights of homeowners in communities such as ours. As an individual, I have looked to them for relief,” Schneider said in a statement.

Schneider is referring to homeowners association covenants and conditions that have been affirmed by courts, including restrictions against home-based businesses as well as commercial use in an area where an HOA agreement is signed upon closing on the home.

On the other hand, the Rabbi’s counsel, 2007 Harvard Law grad Justin Butterfield of the nonprofit Liberty Institute, says that the meetings hosted at the Mumford Court home are protected by federal law.

“The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, that protects religious land use,” said Butterfield in the Fox 4 story. “And that can be anything from a church to a person having a Bible study in their home.”

Besides, as Rabbi Rich explains, Orthodox congregations are a boon for neighborhoods, driving home values up, but never down, thanks to the foot traffic they bring in.

Eric Nicholson on the Dallas Observer‘s Unfair Park blog sums the matter up like this:

Liberty Institute is basing its defense of Rich and his synagogue on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a law passed by Congress in 2000 protecting arbitrary zoning rules that infringe on religious liberty.

Whether that argument flies depends on whether the Liberty Institute and Congregation Toras Chaim can convince the court that the government — or, in this case, a homeowners association — has no compelling interest in barring a church or synagogue from operating out of a single-family home.

Whether the fight expands depends on how Dallas chooses to interpret its zoning laws. Churches and homes occupy separate parts of the city’s zoning code, with the former required to provide a certain amount of parking.

This will be a very interesting case for anyone living inside a community governed by an HOA. Do signed and agreed-upon HOA covenants protect homeowners from uses not otherwise approved? Or does federal law supercede that, meaning that homeowners can’t see damages, real or perceived, wrought by an unapproved use.

What do you think? Will the courts find that the congregation’s twice-daily meetings are protected use, or will the HOA covenants against home-based enterprises be upheld?

Stay tuned to see how this turns out!

7929 Green Valley Front

We drove out to Sachse last night to barbecue and watch fireworks with my cousin and his family. It was so delightful to get away from the city for the evening and enjoy a little small town patriotism. The weather was perfect to pull up a chair in their front yard and watch the fireworks after filling our bellies.

7929 Green Valley Living

The only way it would have been the quintessential July Fourth experience (to me, at least) was if we had watched the fireworks while bobbing in the pool, with an outdoor kitchen close at hand to refresh our drinks. Really, so many homes have great outdoor spaces that when it comes to celebrating, you never need to go inside save for a trip to the lavatory.

7929 Green Valley Dining

That’s what makes this North Richland Hills home so great. It’s out of the way but not too far in the fabulous Forrest Glen West subdivision, with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, and more than 3,200 square feet. Outside you’ll find a three-car garage, a saltwater pool, and a great pergola and outdoor kitchen for hosting your Fourth of July bash!

7929 Green valley Family

This great traditional at 7929 Green Valley Drive is listed for a recently reduced $394,000 (down from $400,000) by Marcy Barkenmeyer of Keller Williams Realty. Built in 2004, the interiors are pristine and ready for a family to make it their own!

7929 Green Valley Kitchen

The kitchen is great for entertaining with double ovens and a breakfast bar. And the family room is spacious and looks out to the huge backyard. You have formals and a study in this home, with a main-floor master suite and plenty of room for kids to stake their claim. Speaking of kids, the schools in North Richland Hills are excellent.

7929 Green Valley Master

 

7929 Green Valley Master Bath

But really, let’s talk about all the entertaining you’ll do in this huge, lovely backyard. There’s plenty of lawn for ladder toss, playing catch, or throwing a football around. There’s a lovely little saltwater pool and a huge patio, as well as a good-sized loggia and a pergola that covers your outdoor kitchen where you can grill burgers and dogs until dark!

7929 Green Valley Patio 7929 Green Valley Pool 7929 Green Valley Pergola

Wouldn’t you love to watch the fireworks from here?