Jack and Kate LaGere found exactly what they wanted when they least expected it. The couple wasn’t intentionally house hunting when they drove by 3524 Saint Johns Drive and spotted the For Sale sign. But after several subsequent walk-throughs and exploring every nook and cranny, the LaGeres knew the 1928 Tudor was a perfect fit with their family and historic vision.

Since Jack and Kate had three small children, they wanted to live within a safe walking distance to an elementary school and playground. Armstrong Elementary is not only across the street from the historic home, the school is Kate’s old alma mater. The house is likewise located on a large corner lot at St. Johns and Byron, which contained plenty of yard space for the active kids to practice sports and play outdoors.

The LaGeres had envisioned finding a classic home they could redesign while preserving its history. The Tudor had endless possibilities.

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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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Highland Park Texas modern

When this incredible Highland Park Texas Modern at 3701 Lexington Avenue popped up on my radar last week, I sat enraptured for some time. Remember, when it comes to beautiful homes, I’m hard to impress. I feverishly texted my fellow CandysDirt.com writers to drop everything and look at this one! When I recovered my composure, I rang up the enormously talented David Stocker, principal and founder of SHM Architects, to get the dirt. Oh, he had so much to say!

“A house should tell a story,” Stocker said. “It should draw you in and take you on a journey. It starts at the street. It’s a tease. You want to peek over the top of the wall. When you come through the gates, it says ‘hey, something is interesting about me, come and visit.’ ”

It’s apparent when talking to Stocker that he had fun designing this 8,156-square-foot home. But, how do you have fun, fulfill the needs of a young family, and create a timeless classic? Well, you enlist the aid of a stellar builder like Stephen Hild.

“He is meticulous, and his ability to pull off the details is unsurpassed,” Stocker said.

You also select time-honored materials to use, such as Lueders limestone, Douglas Fir, and Calacatta marble. Then you put a fresh spin on them.

“We are good at using a traditional form in a more contemporary way,” Stocker said.

Highland Park Texas modern

This extraordinary Highland Park Texas modern has it all. Private yet centrally located, with every amenity you can imagine.

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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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Niche

Photo courtesy Plano Parks and Recreation

Which North Texas cities made the cut for Niche’s best places to live list? How did Texas fare in a ranking of best (and worst) states to retire in? How is Texas trending in foreclosure starts? We have all this and more in this week’s roundup of real estate news. (more…)