I345Candace Carlisle at the Dallas Business Journal reports that one of the biggest commercial real estate groups in Dallas MAY spend $125,000 to explore the possible tear-down or re-development of Interstate 345.

Actually, Robert Wilonsky over at the Dallas Morning News reports the same thing.

That group would be the Texas Real Estate Council, or TREC.

The Real Estate Council is basically 95% of the top commercial real estate businesses in North Texas: developers, builders, brokers, attorneys, architects, investment bankers, accountants, finance and title professionals. TREC likes to strengthen and support the commercial real estate industry, and serve the community through government advocacy, education and professional leadership.

Candace says “the Real Estate Council of Dallas has been searching for its next big community-focused real estate project to invest in after helping fund Klyde Warren Park” — yeah, they got Klyde Warren park going, a winning number.

According to the TREC website, it’s a done deal. TREC has committed $125,000 to fund a study to look at the implications of the freeway either being repaired or going bye bye.

“We felt this was a good way that we can be engaged in the discussion and help a process that could determine the future of downtown Dallas,” Linda McMahon, president and CEO of The Real Estate Council, told the Dallas Business Journal.“We want to look at all options and not just tearing down the freeway. We want to look at what could possibly happen if it was either redesigned or removed.”

To explain: I-345 is a 1.4-mile elevated freeway connecting U.S. 75 to Interstate 30 and Interstate 45 on the east side of downtown Dallas. You have surely driven it, and maybe like me, been terribly confused by it. The freeway is a mess and needs major expensive work, and the Texas Department of Transportation needs to figure out whether they will band-aid it, or spend an aircraft carrier’s worth of money to rebuild it.

There are two young, active urban planners behind this: Patrick Kennedy and Brandon Hancock. In general, they hate Interstate 345 and they hate cars, think everyone ought to get off their butts and walk or bicycle. That’s what we all need to do, but I would like to know how we are supposed to do this in our Jimmy Choos and with no plastic bags for our groceries, just asking. I don’t know, I guess do like we do in NYC.  For the most part, they have some excellent points: highways are being de-constructed in other cities. And while not all of Dallas can be walkable, downtown Dallas can be, if we work on it. If we don’t live there, we can drive in and plop the car somewhere for the whole time. Since 2012 these two have been trying to get rid of the highway, as explained in their website for the plan,  A New Dallas.

Patrick Kennedy has, I think, some great points about what we could do with the land unearthed by tearing down the highway. He says the land could be freed up for development of, I guess, affordable housing — townhomes? apartments? condos? –and the development would better connect Deep Ellum to the Central Business District. Heavens knows we need affordable housing there, and I would love to see trees and grass instead of heat-sucking concrete.

Plus the overpass is just ugly. I guess we could recycle chunks of the old highway creatively, to create cool patios, fences, climbing walls.

Mark Lamster, the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News, who thinks we need retail options lining the Arts District, agrees with the tear down guys.

Lamster says I-345 is “a noose that segregates the urban core from the rest of the city, suppressing its vitality and economic prospects.”

I don’t think it’s a noose, it’s just like one big huge concrete statute that blocks everything. Steve Blow at the Dallas Morning News thinks the whole debate is hogwash — “It’s about the silliest notion to come along in years,” he wrote.  Texas Department of Transportation seems to be ignoring the tear down movement, saying it will repair I-345, sustaining it for another 25 years. In other words, a facelift.

Mayor Mike Rawlings has gone on record as saying the plan deserves more consideration, a second look.

So. The Real Estate Council will take a look/see, and investigate whether having a freeway slice through the center of the city is the best and highest use, or what use it is, now and 50 years from now.

Could the land really be used more effectively? And where would the existing traffic, estimated at between 160,000 and 200,000 per day, go? What if you are driving south on 75 to get to Houston? North to get to Plano? And don’t reroute drivers to Northwest Highway: 80,000 cars per day and not even a freeway!

Pretty soon traffic will have the same stigma of low income housing: NOT IN MY HOOD!

I am glad we are giving this proposal a serious second look. But if we do tear down I 345, it should be done in conjunction with a “freshening” of downtown Dallas streets. End the one-way street madness, maybe even add some streets and side roads. Downtown Dallas streets are a schizophrenic mess for anyone who drives or attempts to walk much, that is, until you get to Klyde Warren Park. And that’s in the Arts District.

10245 Strait Lane ext

Here is yet another indicator of our hot, hot real estate market even in the double-million dollar price range. And it’s a good example of how our economy is feeding the real estate frenzy for the One Percent. The merger of U.S. Airways with American Airlines has brought a whole slew of high-end buyers to Dallas, and any agent with a home over about five million is polishing up their portfolio.

Remember this gorgeous spec home on Strait Lane, built by the wondrous Sharif-Munir Uncustomary Homes, almost 20,000 square feet in three stories on a one acre lot loaded with mature trees? It was built as a spec home to only set you back $12 million —well, just $11,750,000?

Well, one of the new executives from American Airline’s merger with U.S Airways, just snapped it up for his family.

“The property was on the market for 10 and a half months,” Mickey Munir, CEO of Sharif & Munir Custom Homes Inc., told the Dallas Business Journal. “We were hoping it would’ve sold sooner, but the investors were happy. This was the only brand new house of its size and caliber on the market.”

Strait Lane Living
Strait Lane Kitchen
Strait Lane Master Bath
Strait Lane Bar
Strait Lane Wine Cellar
Strait Lane Living 2

This home is spectacular, one of my all-time favorites. I think the kitchen is probably the best in Dallas and that granite cannot be duplicated nor found anywhere. The 14,429 square foot home has five bedrooms, seven full and four half baths, formals and more formals, a full basement loaded (to put it mildly) with a with a theater, fitness room, wet bar, wine cellar, den and exits to a sunken courtyard with a covered sitting area and a water feature that flows from the pool and spa above. Including the sunken covered verandas and garages, there’s a whopping 19,184 square feet under one roof. Every room is loaded with detailed hyper-vigilant quality from the construction to the trim, paint, baby’s butt-smooth wall finishes, flooring and granites which are some of the most rare in the world. This is a home for entertaining! The gourmet kitchen features a giant center island with a veggie sink, 8-burner range with pot filler and warming drawers.

Come to think of it, I think Mickey told me the kitchen granite may be one of a kind in the world! It’s from The Granite Shop, “Super White” on the perimeter, and “Matrix Brushed” on the island. And I am drooling over HER master bathroom and vanity with the giant soaking tub, walk-in shower, water closet (i.e. potty) with a bidet and a cavernous wardrobe with a center island packing table. Marble, marble everywhere! This is just the way Mickey and Michael Munir build homes. And I think this house is really their finest moment!

Like I said, this Strait Lane prize is definitely one of the largest homes in Dallas au currant, and was one of the priciest on the market. It was built for a major league star… who will feel right at home with all the other stars of Strait Lane:  Ross Perot, Dirk Nowitzki, Phil Romano (well, one of his homes) and Brint Ryan. I’m told the buyers, who are moving here from Phoenix, had their hearts set on another listing (one of Erin Mathews’) on Meadowood, but that last minute legal hiccup with the AAL-US Air merger kind of nixed that deal. Besides, they fell head over heels in love with THIS house.

Candace Carlisle at the Dallas Business Journal reports that the buyers paid $10.5 for the home. And you know what? She’s actually RIGHT!

Note: an earlier version of this post with the buyer’s name appeared on February 28, but was removed Saturday afternoon due to what were, in our opinion, a proliferance of mean and vicious comments. That’s not our style on CandysDirt. We decided to re-post and remove the owner’s names, though all information is public record. 



Lorraine-Inwood-HOTWI first introduced you to this bevelled beauty last May: 4236 Lorraine. 

It was built for Tim Headington in 2000. But I do not think you can say he created this mansion. It’s more like he birthed it. It was Elizabeth Robertson (and Albert Hill) who nurtured and nannied it, gave it a real coming out party!

Excuse me for a second: is this ceiling treatment not FABULOUS?????4236 Lorraine den 4236 Lorraine kitchen 4236 Lorraine nook 4236 Lorraine closetsYou know one of my axioms: buying a home from a millionaire all but guarantees perfection. Chances are any home managed by a wealthy soul has been spoiled with “price is no object” quality from day one.

Just like the kids — kidding!

After Headington sold 4236 Lorraine, the home was purchased by Carl Webb, Senior Partner at Ford Management, L.P. and Chief Executive Officer and Director of Pacific Capital Bancorp, among other things. Carl lived here the last ten years before HP Estate Homes, owned by Al Hill, Jr., and responsible for some of the most stunning homes in Highland Park, got hold of this beauty that just needed a little Santa Barbara fluff. And fluff indeed: interior designer Elizabeth Robertson smoothed the interiors in every inch of the 6,574 square feet with traditional furnishings bearing a California clean edge and beautiful wood finishes, like the barnwood blue-white-washed kitchen, the handscraped deep oak floors, parquet and limestone, solid Honduras rift-cut mahogany doors, marble countertops EVERYWHERE! Spanish tile roof, saltwater pool, 512 square foot cabana off the pool, full covered outdoor kitchen, prime corner lot with 167 foot depth.

4236 Lorraine sitting 4236 Lorraine patio

There are five bedrooms, five plus two half baths which is now de rigeur, and a three car garage plus plenty of parking. The downstairs master suite had me screaming with not just one, but TWO closets the size of the Vince store at Highland Park Village, his and her, complete with pull-down rods, built-ins and drawers, a cedar closet within the main closet, plus a huge spa bath with soaking tub, steam shower, coffee/wet bar and auxiliary luggage closet. There is also a private terrace off the master with quick access to the pool.

4236 Lorraine pool 4236 Lorraine sitting

Caroline Summers put this pup in MLS June 7, 2013, with an asking of $6.8 million. Here’s what she told the DBJ’s Candace Carlisle:

“This is not a McMansion; this has a highest level finish-out and is a one-of-a-kind, quality home,” said Caroline Summers, a Realtor with Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, who is representing the seller, Albert Hill.

We agree. We think the M word need not even get near this home, unless we are talking “mortgage”. Let’s focus on that along with the “I” word for Inwood Mortgage: these folks tell me jumbos are actually getting a bit easier to find, and I know they’d like to find one for 4261 Lorraine Avenue.

4236 Lorraine LR

4236 Lorraine Kit4236 Lorraine master bath4236 Lorraine master4236 Lorraine DR

5444 NorthwoodIt’s common courtesy for journalists to give credit where credit is due — for finding a story, breaking news, or writing a really great piece. Folk at the Dallas Business Journal don’t always do that, but I AM going to credit Candace Carlisle with breaking this story: the Cottrell mansion is on the market at a reduced price.

That she was right about. The home, which was built in 1950, belongs to Isabell, who is divorced from Comer Cottrell, he being the founder of Pro-Line Corporation which creates ethnic hair care products. The 8,500-square-foot home was ONCE owned by Isabell and Comer, but they divorced back in 1996 or 1997, and in fact Isabell tried to divorce Comer 14 times during their 20 year marriage.

They also once lived in a gorgeous home on Hollow Way, that was sold to West Coast radio personality Dr. Toni Grant, who is married to John McCullough Bell. I have also been told that Comer Cottrell sold a large home on Strait Lane to a certain dentist.

My point is: the Cottrells, Isabell and Comer, love beautiful homes.

Candace was discussing the plight of older mansions. Like aging Hollywood movie stars, they suffer when it comes time to sell. They are like old movie queens — a dime a dozen.

Isabell’s home sits on 2.21 acres, which mitigates backing up to Northwest Highway. She has five bedrooms, four full and two half baths, a tennis court and a pool. The tennis court appears to need resurfacing but that is no biggie, we had a tennis court in one house. 5444 Northbrook has been reduced by more than $1.5 million since it was first February 20, 2012 for $3.9 million. That’s almost two years ago.

“The home is going to have to be significantly remodeled or torn down,” Thornhill told the Dallas Business Journal.”

5444 Northwood foyer 5444 Northwood foyer 2 5444 Northwood Living 5444 Northbrook dining 5444 Northbrook kitchen 5444 Northbrook familyThornhill said it’s hard to remodel a house from the 1950s and get what today’s buyer wants, which is a large living space, huge bathrooms and big closets. Let me add to that tall ceilings, an outdoor kitchen environment, a master spa bath, decked out kitchen with SubZero, a unique granite that fell from a meteorite somewhere, Wolf or Viking, farmhouse sink, and at least two dishwashers. Having a Paykel drawer dishwasher in the Butler’s pantry is a nice touch, as is the Butler’s Pantry and a Keeping or Morning room.

Not, of course, a Mourning room.

That’s why people want to build new, and why lots are in such great demand.

So often agents tell me that certain homes, while beautiful on the interior, just won’t cut it for today’s buyer at a premium price. They are better off scraped.

So do we assume that every house built in the 1950’s or even 1960’s is a tear down? How much do you add to your home to keep it up to date? Paint? Carpet? New Lighting? Do we add on square footage? How often do you update bathrooms? If you have brass fixtures (BAH!) do you replace with platinum for a better sales price?

“Remodel, remodel, remodel,” said Thornhill, who gives the same advice to his clients to keep their mansions marketable.

Upkeep upkeep upkeep. Sounds like me: microderm, hair color, hair straightening, Botox, Juvaderm, exercise, ye gads it takes a Village.

At what point do you just say, sweetheart, we love you, but no more plastic surgery?

I do know of a movement afoot in Preston Hollow and the Park Cities whereby builders are coming in and remodeling homes to sell. Freshening them up for $15,000 to $20,000. Stay tuned for all the deets, but do tell:

Where do you draw the line on just flat out pricing a home as a tear down?5444 Northbrook tennis 5444 Northbrook pool 5444 Northbrook snow


9800-Rockbrook-back-sweep-575x383I don’t know if you get the Dallas Business Journal or not, but as of late (like ever since I started this blog,) they have been tinkering with residential real estate. Tinkering I say because like most media outlets, the poor journalists have to cover about five different subject areas and mop the bathrooms after five, plus report, write and blog. So I understand how things run behind or not at all. But this truly gave me a chuckle.

You have to pay for a subscription to the DBJ, so I will quote Carlisle’s piece for you:

“Interestingly, I’ve discovered that not everyone lists multimillion-dollar properties on the market when they’re for sale.”

Eureka? Have we not been talking about these things called hip pockets since, oh, about March or May?

(Killing me: Don’t give me such shocking news, Candice. Excuse me, Candace.)

Then she quotes  Rogers Healy,our Rogers Healy (who sold the M Mansion by Auction), who is practically my son, as saying that not listing an expensive home doesn’t hurt a mansion’s chances of selling, and in some case can help it.

“There’s some exclusivity of not putting a house on the market,” Healy told the Dallas Business Journal in an exclusive tour of a $12 million mansion that’s for sale, but not listed on the Multiple Listing Service. “When you look at who buys a multimillion dollar mansion, these people aren’t searching MLS.”

Selling homes in a hip pocket sale — a residential real estate industry term for an off-market deal — has gained traction in recent years as the housing market heated up, Healy told me.

The house they were touring was 9800 Rockbrook, which we showed you over a month ago. Rogers told Carlisle that the no-MLS route gives buyers the illusion of exclusivity, and has been working positively for the Rockbrook mansion on the market. He said he has shown it, a 10,600 square foot home on 1.73 acres, to three interested buyers. The story posted on CandysDirt.com on August 21, 2013.

This got me thinking: we know that having properties in the MLS increases exposure to more, way more buyers. In fact, Rogers himself says “With a number of out-of-state relocations bringing high-end buyers to the Dallas-Fort Worth market, Healy said he expects the luxury home market to continue to remain hot for some time.”

Question: how are those out of town buyers going to find any homes to buy? They will be on the internet looking for homes, and if the home is not in the MLS then it won’t make it to a third party portal. They could find it here on CandysDirt, of course, the agent is smart enough to call me, as Rogers did. Which may be why he had three serious showing.

Or smart enough to get Candace Carlisle to write about it.

I just don’t understand how sellers expect agents to sell homes, in MLS or not, if they cannot market them. You need to tell the world, rich and poor, about the house so the right buyer perks his ears up. You cannot be all anonymous and find buyers. I mean, can you?




Light Farms sunset

Since Republic Property Group started dreaming up Light Farms, a master-planned community in Celina, we at CandysDirt.com have been intrigued. The location, the amenities, and the builders all drew our attention and we’re happy to hear that the Dallas Business Journal has named Light Farms one of the “Best Real Estate Deals” in all of North Texas.

Light Farms Info CenterWith builders such as Darling Homes, Highland Homes, and Lions Gate, this development will attract plenty of buyers. And with tons of great amenities — pools, green space, and parks out the wazoo — well, I’d definitely call that a great value.

According to a story from the Celina Record Star, city officials were bowled over by the appraisals coming in from Light Farms:

Projected at around $240,000, home values actually came in much higher than that at $350,000, a pleasant surprise to everyone involved.

“When all of this started, we were all concerned about the home values,” said Mike Foreman, city manager. “We were amazed at the values.”


Tony Ruggeri of Republic Property Group said that the success of Light Farms was possible because of the hard work the City of Celina put into the partnership. On the other hand, the Celina city officials think it’s the amenities offered by RPG and Light Farms that make it attractive and an incredible buy.

“This is the first big development that is going to kick-start major development in Celina,” Foreman said. “It is going to help provide the rooftops needed for retail in the city.”

Well, I think it’s a combination of both! Great planning and fabulous amenities are really drawing in residents. You can check out the models in Light Farms today, and see why 37 homes in the development are already sold.

Troy Aikman Highland HouseDon’t want to be mean or anything, and we are ever so flattered when you guys at the DBJ grab our stories (and our name) and churn them into your own… a little love link would be ever so nice and appropriate… but just thought we’d let you know since you cover real estate and all  Troy sold this home and moved into University Park. Highland Park. Whatever — it’s on Normandy. You can read all about it right here.

Oh and stay tuned: I am zeroing in on the buyers of this house and their extraordinary plans for it. Sometimes, it just takes a village…

Luxury Yard Signs
How exciting! The Dallas Business Journal took a close look at the total number and value of all North Texas residential real estate brokerages and declared Ebby Halliday Companies, which includes Dave Perry-Miller and Associates, head and shoulders above the competition!

Of all North Texas brokerages, Ebby companies closed 15,916 transactions — 45 percent more than any other brokerage, and 20 percent more than Ebby’s numbers last year.

“Congratulations to all of the dedicated, hard-working Associates and staff members who made these phenomenal sales numbers possible,” says Mary Frances Burleson, president and CEO of the Ebby Halliday Companies, according to a press release. “While 2012 was truly an exceptional year, we are already looking forward to what the record books will say about the Ebby Halliday Companies in 2013.”

So what does 15,916 transactions translate to in real money? More than $4.8 billion. Unreal. Can you believe that a multi billion-dollar brokerage that has a sales volume 58 percent higher than its competitors started with one determined woman? When it comes to Ebby, I can!

“At the Ebby Halliday Companies, we’re proud of our undisputed role as the dominant real estate firm in North Texas,” Burleson says. “Our clients benefit from many advantages that are a direct result of our status as the market-share leader.”

Congrats Ebby Halliday Companies!