Looking to find a little estate in the Loire Valley but your spouse wears a “France Sucks” tee? You can have 25 acres that resemble the French countryside and a 48,000 square foot estate so perfect you may never wish to leave. The 25 acre estate of Thomas O. and Cinda Hicks on Walnut Hill Lane and Hollow Way Road in Preston Hollow just hit the non-MLS market for a whopping $135 million. For more photos and all the scoop, check out the site of Douglas Newby, who is the agent.

Private Air Luxury Homes coverAnd it may actually now be the most expensive home listed in the entire United States!

Fasten your seatbelt, it’s going to be a wild ride in real estate this spring. The ink is not yet dry on our post detailing 5911 Glendora, Howard and Cindy Rachofsky’s family home that just hit the market. Now I’ve discovered that, while it is NOT in MLS, Douglas Newby is indeed marketing the 25 acre estate of Thomas O. and Cinda Hicks on Walnut Hill Lane and Hollow Way Road.

For years, the Crespi Estate has headed every list of the Most Expensive Home in Dallas. But, having been inside it, I can tell you this home is about so much more than money. There was speculation when former President Bush bought his home on Daria that he wanted to be near the Hicks, and perhaps utilize their helicopter landing area. (Hicks does not have a concrete helicopter pad, I learned at the time, but he does have the lighting.) The Hicks have a rear auto estate entrance just a few feet from the Dallas North Tollway service road. The Hicks family hosted numerous Mayflower Estates homeowners meetings introducing the Bushes to the neighborhood.

Crespi Estate Photo Sunroom

According to Doug, Mr. and Mrs. Hicks acquired the Crespi estate 16 years ago and Cinda spent five to ten years completing the architectural vision of the original architect, Maurice Fatio. She brought in international architect Peter Marino from New York and worked painstakingly on the home, refining and honoring Fatio’s proportions and architecture. I have heard from knowledgeable sources they spent close to $100 million on the expansion and remodel.  The Hicks have raised six children in the house and are now empty nesters in a home DCAD sizes up at 28,996 square feet for the main structure, 6300 for the guest house, and 7200 for the pool house. That might be a little large for two people, eh? Tom Hicks is the former chairman of Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, an investment banking firm, and he once owned the Stars and the Rangers. Hicks sold the Rangers for around $590 million in 2010. He recently just this January settled disputes with Texas Rangers Baseball Partners administrator Alan Jacobs. He is now the chairman of Hicks Holdings and currently making several exciting business acquisitions.

Doug says the dirt in Mayflower Estates is valued at $2 million per acre, which would be about $50 million, and the residence with pool house, guest house and main house comprises 42,500 square feet for a grand total of $85,000,000. 

 Crespi Estate Entry

So it appears it will take $135,000,000 to buy The Crespi Estate. Did I get all those zeros right? This makes Mt. Vernon look like a Blue Light Special.

But really, $135 million is nothing for the most refined, sophisticated residence in Texas on an expansive 25 acre estate that is merely 8 minutes from downtown Dallas, the Arts District, 40 minutes from D/FW or really, what matters, 15 from your private jet hangar at Love Field. I have been in this home and seen what the Hicks have created and it would be impossible, impossible to replicate it.  A new owner could even add a stable: one horse per acre in Preston Hollow!

As Doug described it so aptly in this post for The Huffington Post:

“A winding private drive descends to the home beautifully placed in front of a creek flowing across the 25-acre estate property. It is majestic, dignified and graceful. The home is also warm and fun. The design exudes elegance and the architecture, a subtle power. The architectural massing of the main house, guest house and pool house convey a home that is grand yet serves primarily as a place for a family to live. The sensibility for the past is blended skillfully with the technology and resources of the present, presenting visual continuity. The estate owners honored the original family, architecture and history of the home with an inspired approach — one that creates the impression that the home has not been renovated or expanded, but truly and magnificently completed.

To be continued, stay very tuned…

Oh and where did all the pictures go? Gracious Doug Newby kindly let me keep them posted for a few days, but to see more, and I mean way more, click right here over to his site.


For $2 million you can grab a Florida mansion for 50 cents on the dollar and maybe even brag to friends or tenants, “Osama Bin Laden MIGHT have slept here.”

It’s huge and sprawling and located just 50 miles outside of Orlando, Florida on State Road 50, but it’s also been vacant and abandoned since 9/11… creepy. (Here’s a local TV station’s look inside, even creepier.) There’s a mansion, carriage house and barn. It’s the former home of Khalil bin Laden, Osama’s brother, who owned the home for two decades, then got out of the country quick a week after the terrorist attacks. The 17-acre estate is now on the market for $2 million.

Which is a bargain.

The Realtor listing the property says the original investors have $4 million in it, so it’s basically going for 50 cents on the dollar.

The agent, Autumn Norris-Makin, says it’s not just the former owners that make this property unique — it’s the architectural detail which is unique for Florida. (I’ll bet!) People have apparently looked at the property as a potential bed and breakfast retreat. After all, it’s pretty close to Disneyland.

Hang on for more deets… this place is almost worth a quick trip to Orlando just to photograph.

Actress Hilary Swank hosted the best ticket in town Saturday night, a Super Bowl XLV dinner party at 10660 Strait Lane, the home of Lillie and Phil Romano. The entire event, and let me tell you it was 700 people strong,  benefited The Giving Back Fund.

Why am I writing about this social event? Ah, so glad you asked. It happened to take place at one of Dallas’ most talked about homes on the market, the Phil and Lillie Romano estate that has been on the market now for, oh, four years. This is the home that caused a huge fight between me and Mama, ’till we kissed and made up. P.S. Mama told me Phil was none too happy with her little write up.

Now Phil Romano is totally my kind of man because he, too , believes in having many homes. Almost a year ago, he bought 4838 Shadywood, a lovely hilltop Bluffview home on one acre that was restored by Downing Thomas and George Lewis in 1993. The 4769 square foot home has three bedrooms — two masters, actually — three full baths and two half baths. There is an infinity edge pool, landscaping by Robert (not Ralph) Bellamy and a 1080 square foot guest house. Full disclosure: my daughter spent many a fun time playing in that house as a child. The former owner was none other than dynamic Briggs Freeman Realtor LeeLee Gioia.

The home was last listed at $2,595,000 and DCAD has it valued at $1.8, so my guess is it sold somewhere in the middle. Most beautiful property on a street that reminds one more of Greenwich, Ct. than Dallas. Kay Bailey Hutchison is just around the corner. Anyhow, not sure exactly why Phil and Lillie bought Shadywood while they already have Strait, except that I totally get it. What is my mantra? Repeat after me: One can never have too many homes! Phil did buy and redo 4645 Meadowood in 2007 — Erin Mathews and David Nichols got that moved lickety-split. The Romanos dig real estate. Strait is on the market for $12,500,00.¬† First listed with Doris Jacobs in 2007 for $17,500,000 — hey, it was that kind of market then, can we even remember those days? Now listed with Claire Dewar of Briggs Freeman/ Sothebys for $12,500,000, Strait is a 4.697 acre estate with gorgeous views of the grounds, private lake with fountains, waterfalls and a creek side setting. Really much more like a resort, Strait is 14,680 square feet with eight bedrooms, 8.4 baths (guess that means four half-baths, I cannot recall from when I was in the home, but it is a lot of Charmin) and get this: 9 living areas. Also wine room, media room, tennis court, and I would not be surprised if Phil had a putting green or three. Media tonight was banished to the garage — don’t get me wrong, gorgeous garage and they had a heater and Mojitos — so I am relying on “memory” here. But this is a house born to party, party built right into her DNA, so she was in her full prime. And how smart is Claire Dewar to bring in the glitterati of Hollywood while in town for XLV? You know one of those celebs might just snap up chez Romano Strait, pack it up and take that house back to LA on someone’s G 5. I know what they were saying: in LA, baby, this house would be well over $30 million.

Over on FrontBurner, My Sweet Charity‘s Jeanne Prejean has a great photo of Phil, Hilary and Lillie. Why is Hilary wearing a tee shirt and jeans? Jeanne reports the airlines must have lost Hilary’s luggage and party frock. Did what any gal does in such a situation — happened to me at The Greenbrier this summer, in fact — go shopping. But despite her need to do laundry, don’t think Hilary flopped in any one of those 8 bedrooms. No sir, she’s staying down at the Crescent Rosewood Hotel along with Jesse Metcalfe — remember that¬† hot young gardener on Desperate Housewives who got it on with Gabby, aka Eva Longoria? I’m told Jesse Williams (he plays Dr. Avery on Greys Anatomy)
Michael Clark Duncan, Brian Baumgartner, Tony Romo and Miles Austin are also staying at the Cresent. By the way, Rosewood just opened Rosewood San Miguel De Allende. And guess what’s next? Give up? Second homes by Rosewood in San Miguel De Allende.

Don’t touch that dial!