popularDuring the holidays, we’ve been sharing our best stories of 2018. But as Director of Audience Engagement, I was curious — what stories were the most popular this year?  We took a look at the most popular stories based on comments and social media likes and shares. Have a favorite of your own? Share it in the comments!

January: The Lakewood Porch Pirate Nabbed

While we started covering this story during the holiday season in 2017 (in fact, we were the first news organization to bring you the story of the Lakewood Porch Pirate and the box of poop she stole), that coverage continued into 2018, when Kelli Russell was arrested. (more…)

This week, CandysDirt.com staff are writing about holiday decor and the best places to hang Christmas stockings. Since graduating college, my best place for holiday stockings has been on my feet as I drove to an airport. Flush with money from my first big-boy job, I booked my first international trip to Europe for the precise purpose of escaping the holidays. I’ve never looked back.

I have never setup a Christmas tree, strung garland, or been awoken to a sugarplum dancing in my head. I’m sure it doesn’t take Freud to figure out my aversion.

My childhood holidays were a B O R E. My parents, brother, and I shredding through presents and then were kinda bored by noon followed by an early dinner and TV. Thank god when movies started being shown on Thanksgiving and Christmas days.

So I am here to tell you it is not too late. Hang your stocking from the overhead bin and RUN AWAY!

(more…)

Sunday may be a day of rest, but it seems that journalists, politicians, and Twitter never really rest, and that was borne out yesterday when Dallas city councilmember Jennifer Gates took to Twitter to air her feelings about a recent op-ed about Preston Center traffic woes that former Mayor and Preston Hollow resident Laura Miller wrote for the Dallas Morning News.

We were, of course, sitting up for this super straight. Because over at CandysDirt.com, we’ve been writing about Pink Wall/Preston Center shenanigans for years now, and our own Jon Anderson has been doggedly covering the issues Miller wrote about — to a different conclusion, natch — for years now as he covers PD-15. And before he picked up the baton, Candy was writing about it as well. Candy has also been transparent about owning property there, as does Miller (through her husband, Steve Wolens, who inherited an Athena unit) except she was not so transparent. And we were the first media outlet to report the terrible Preston Place condo fire in which a woman lost her life.

Miller wrote in the Dallas Morning News about the prospects for the Pink Wall and Preston Center (and that interchange), and then said this:

“On the other side of Preston Center, council member Jennifer Gates and Plan Commissioner Margot Murphy have been pushing for 18 months to up-zone the 12 acres in and around the Athena and Preston Tower so developers can demolish four low-rise condo complexes and replace them with rental-apartment towers as high as 25 stories. Hal Anderson, who designed and developed the iconic Pink Wall community 60 years ago — one of the last fully owner-occupied, tree-lined, condo communities in Dallas — would be heartbroken.”

And that was news to a lot of people, including Jon (more on that in a minute), who not only lives at The Athena but has been faithfully covering the meetings surrounding the issue for years, and, apparently, to Gates, who took to Twitter to insist she hadn’t taken a position, and in fact had been seeking neighborhood input

(more…)

Clairvoyance can be a terrible burden. Thankfully, it didn’t take any special powers to foresee Lincoln Property Company returning to the Oak Lawn Committee for their Lincoln Katy Trail project. After seeing the reactions of City Plan Commissioners on Sept. 22 to Lincoln’s plan to skip a re-blessing by the Oak Lawn Committee to their very different plan, I saw it as a foregone conclusion.

Had Plan Commission passed the project without renewed OLC support, it would have been precedent setting. I spoke with a few OLC old-timers and the only time any of them can remember that happening was when Victory was taking shape with the American Airline Center’s birth back in the 1990s. I was told that while OLC had a seat at the table, they were largely ignored as the area’s plan was being pushed with mayoral support.

I think we can all agree that the OLC’s success in managing Oak Lawn development has resulted in a lot better neighborhood than Victory. In fact, Victory got top honors as a failure in D Magazine’s recent “Dallas and The New Urbanism” special edition with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science called out separately for its poor streetscape, saying it makes “Field Street a miserable place to walk.”

Of course, what would this project be without arrogance?

(more…)

This was supposed to have been my 500th column, but time and scheduling got away from me.

This adventure began in January 2015 after a particularly egregious HOA meeting when I sent Candy a screed on the loony-ness of my HOA. Candy being Candy, immediately replied wanting to publish the inner dirt. When I woke up the next day, I thought about burning bridges (my own) and asked her if perhaps we could try something more regular and less “shoot myself in the foot”. She agreed to a trial run.

What I didn’t know until much later was that behind the scenes, Candy and executive editor Joanna England were very wary about a putz like me. After all, I have no journalism degree or seeming writing experience. Could I write my way out of a paper bag? It’s been over 500 columns and I’m sure that some days they still wonder what the hell they got themselves into. (Editor’s note: This is accurate.)

(more…)

21 Exterior

The first installment of this transformation story can be found here.

Aside from the hard-dollar utility bill savings, this overhaul delivered other benefits to residents as well as uncovered some interesting history.

Temperature Control

In 21, the building at 3883 Turtle Creek, units on one side froze in winter while the other side baked in the summer.  Some residents had gone so far as to install auxiliary HVAC units on their patios.  After the upgrade, owners happily removed those units.

They told me another part of the issue was that back in the 1960s, HVAC building codes only called for air-conditioning to lower indoor temperatures by 20 degrees.  On 105 degree days, 85 degrees was A-OK. Codes have changed and that just doesn’t fly today.  Sitting in front of an open refrigerator, TV propped in on the vegetable bin, is no way to live.

(more…)

Ritz Unit 702 Terrace

Want to share a story about HOA shenanigans, or have a beautiful unit to show off? Jon Anderson wants to hear about it.

We at CandysDirt.com have been set atingle by the comments readers have posted in public and (scandalously!) in private. First of all, I wish to thank all of my readers. This is the first time I’ve had fans that haven’t been attached to the ceiling!

Share the HOA Luvin’

To expand the theme, we’ve created an email address for readers to contact me more directly. If you have a salacious real estate story or tales of HOA tomfoolery, let me know. If you have a positive story to tell, believe it or not, I’m interested in that too! It’s just as valuable and interesting to know who’s doing “it” well. Not to worry, you’ll be kept as anonymous as you want. As Jim Croce sang…”You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger, and you don’t mess around with… Candy!”

Share Your Crib Shots

Also, you know I’m big on renovations and I’d love to showcase your hard work. This is especially true of the high-rise variety. So send me your before and after pics along with your renovation yarn (or we can have a chat and I’ll take notes). Realtors, got a high-rise dump you’re trying to shift or a mega-renovated listing to crow about? We can talk, or if you’d rather, play show-and-tell. I’m game either way.

Share your story with me by shooting me a note at sharewithjon@candysdirt.com

Preston Tower - Small

Preston Tower’s balconies are fantastic, but the floorplans are odd shaped.

By Jon Anderson
Special Contributor

Correction: In last week’s column, I made a rookie mistake of believing a friend without checking (he’s been flogged and I’ve been humbled). The history of the “21” building at 3883 Turtle Creek is far more interesting than the story I was told about the 21 name reflecting the number of stories. In fact, as pointed out by reader/commenter and 21 resident John Rogers, 21 refers to the number of acres of the original plot. Development began in the 1880s as the site of Holy Trinity University which in the 1940s became Jesuit High School before being sold for the development of “21” and other commercial uses. The building was originally envisioned as low-income HUD housing. But when the original developer was arrested for skimming money from the project, ownership reverted to HUD before changing ownership again and being converted to condos.

On with the show…

The “Sticks” (the Pink Wall)

The Athena and Preston Tower were built in what was considered “the sticks” back in the day. If you’re under 60, you may not have heard of “Behind the Pink Wall.” It was a marketing phrase that made its way into local parlance. Today, the “pink wall” is a low, curvy faded beige brick wall you’d imagine Humpty Dumpty to preside over. It runs along the north side of Northwest Highway from the Athena to Preston Road and rounds the corner heading north for a bit. Locals think of it as a shrine. Practically, it’s a barrier keeping crazy folks from driving into building lobbies (and they do plow into the wall with some frequency).

Both Athena and Preston Tower were to have had two towers each. Preston Tower was to have had a second oppositely-curved tower also facing Northwest Highway. The Athena would have gotten a matching big-box tower as well (which a friend calls the Bob Newhart building). I assume interest wasn’t strong enough to make the second towers viable. By the time condos rolled around, I’m guessing the moment had passed. Today a pair of forgettable low rises occupy the space.

(more…)