LBJ

Just a week after becoming president, Lyndon Baines Johnson picked up a ranch in Blanco County — Johnson City, to be exact — as a hideaway where he could relax a bit.

That spread adjoined another parcel he had already picked up much earlier from an aunt, which is now for sale. Currently home to the artist Benini and his wife, and often referred to as the Benini Sculpture Ranch, the 142-acre ranch is now up for grabs.

We have details on SecondShelters.com.

5618 Harbortown extIt is no secret that buyers are re-discovering the snazz and pizzazz of homes built in the 1980’s. With the dearth of inventory, they are also re-discovering Dallas north of LBJ.

In fact, the newest slogan around is “It’s OK to be north of LBJ”. Many boomers who lived south of LBJ for schools — ESD, Hockaday, St. Marks — or paid huge prices for postage stamp Park Cities lots, now want to stretch out on some serious dirt and have a country club at their beck and call. They want views of acres of green, manicured lawn that someone else takes care of and waters. And they want those master bedrooms on the first floor!

Now comes a contemporary-loving Valentine’s delight to the market, on the 14th hole of Bent Tree Golf Course: 5618 Harbortown. This glorious home is listed by Jacqui Bloomquist with Coldwell Banker.

First off, there are trees — trees which were little bitty saplings back in the 80’s when this area was developed. Now they are huge, mature, often healthier than Preston Hollow or Park Cities arbors. This valentine is nestled amongst trees on a .52 acre cul-de-sac lot with panoramic views of Bent Tree from nearly every window! Built by Harold L. Tomlinson, of Tomlinson Construction Corp., as his personal residence. What does that tell you? No expense was spared on quality, that’s what. Architect Peter Manos drew the plans, while Cindy Severeson handled the interior design, but the second owner was none other than interior designer extraordinaire Connie Howe. The three-owner home has been treated like a precious treasure, maintained, updated and improved. Built in 1985, it has so much stone and travertine, including whole walls of the stuff, you might be able to start your own quarry should your grandchildren ever raze it.Connie Howe

The port cochere entrance is a foreshadowing of the drama ahead: a limestone terraced entry complete with lighted, sound-soothing fountain. Walk into to a foyer that will impress Vladmir Putin: a whole friggin wall of  hand scored, rough faced travertine showcasing an incredible floating staircase that is like a sculpture in balance. 5618 Harbortown front ext 5618 Harbortown fountain 5618 Harbortown stairs 5618 Harbortown LRThe formal living/great room is expansive – room at last for your concert grand, with a dining room big enough to hold the whole family during holidays. Onto the kitchen which has been updated with black galaxy granite,  a five-burner gas cooktop range with WOK burner, a commercial-grade Vent a Hood, double dishwashers, recycling bins, double sinks, convection oven and double SubZero. There is a walk-in bar, and the piece de resistance pour moi: a MORNING ROOM with a an aquarium wall!5618 Harbortown aquarium

The home has three of it’s five bedrooms downstairs, including the master. There is even an atrium room with a fountain that would make a perfect meditation room. Buy this home, you will stay-cation right here because the 25 by 15 foot master features a sitting room with fireplace, an office, mammoth his and her baths with a quarry-full of travertine on the floors, walls, probably even the ceiling! There are granite counters, oceans of deep custom cabinets, skylights, a hydro tub you step up and down from, none of this climbing business, a bidet, and a steam shower! Media you ask? Where would you like it, in the family/great room (much more efficient than a separate media room way away from the kitchen) OR the master where you can snuggle down on Valentines Day?

How about BOTH? The very wise owners installed drop down projectors and screens both in the great room and master bedroom!

5618 Harbortown master sitting 5618 Harbortown master bath 5618 Harbortown master bedroom 5618 Harbortown guest 5618 Harbortown game room bar 5618 Harbortown gameroom 5618 Harbortown spa atrium 5618 Harbortown upstairs guest 5618 Harbortown guest officeUp those sculpture stairs are two bedrooms, one of which would make a perfect office because it has a separate back entrance, and a game room with a full bar that really deserves to be called the second kitchen.

The home has a total of five bedrooms, seven and one-half baths so all bedroom baths are en-suite, a whopping 7774 square feet of wondrous living. Outside, there is a covered pavillion and glorious pool.

All this for — I hope you are sitting down — a mere $1,675,000. A quarry of travertine, resort-like backyard, pool, fountains, water features, outdoor fireplace (two inside) and a golf course right next door.

I mean, really! Open this Sunday, February 16 from 12 to 4 pm for your post Valentine’s Day pleasure with food, music and drink… just head north of LBJ, it’s REALLY OK!5618 Harbortown pavillion 5618 Harbortown rear pool

 

 

 

5618 Harbortown extIt is no secret that buyers are re-discovering the snazz and pizzazz of homes built in the 1980’s. With the dearth of inventory, they are also re-discovering Dallas north of LBJ.

In fact, the newest slogan around is “It’s OK to be north of LBJ”. Many boomers who lived south of LBJ for schools — ESD, Hockaday, St. Marks — or paid huge prices for postage stamp Park Cities lots, now want to stretch out on some serious dirt and have a country club at their beck and call. They want views of acres of green, manicured lawn that someone else takes care of and waters. And they want those master bedrooms on the first floor!

Now comes a contemporary-loving Valentine’s delight to the market, on the 14th hole of Bent Tree Golf Course: 5618 Harbortown. This glorious home is listed by Jacqui Bloomquist with Coldwell Banker.

First off, there are trees — trees which were little bitty saplings back in the 80’s when this area was developed. Now they are huge, mature, often healthier than Preston Hollow or Park Cities arbors. This valentine is nestled amongst trees on a .52 acre cul-de-sac lot with panoramic views of Bent Tree from nearly every window! Built by Harold L. Tomlinson, of Tomlinson Construction Corp., as his personal residence. What does that tell you? No expense was spared on quality, that’s what. Architect Peter Manos drew the plans, while Cindy Severeson handled the interior design, but the second owner was none other than interior designer extraordinaire Connie Howe. The three-owner home has been treated like a precious treasure, maintained, updated and improved. Built in 1985, it has so much stone and travertine, including whole walls of the stuff, you might be able to start your own quarry should your grandchildren ever raze it.Connie Howe

The port cochere entrance is a foreshadowing of the drama ahead: a limestone terraced entry complete with lighted, sound-soothing fountain. Walk into to a foyer that will impress Vladmir Putin: a whole friggin wall of  hand scored, rough faced travertine showcasing an incredible floating staircase that is like a sculpture in balance. 5618 Harbortown front ext 5618 Harbortown fountain 5618 Harbortown stairs 5618 Harbortown LRThe formal living/great room is expansive – room at last for your concert grand, with a dining room big enough to hold the whole family during holidays. Onto the kitchen which has been updated with black galaxy granite,  a five-burner gas cooktop range with WOK burner, a commercial-grade Vent a Hood, double dishwashers, recycling bins, double sinks, convection oven and double SubZero. There is a walk-in bar, and the piece de resistance pour moi: a MORNING ROOM with a an aquarium wall!5618 Harbortown aquarium

The home has three of it’s five bedrooms downstairs, including the master. There is even an atrium room with a fountain that would make a perfect meditation room. Buy this home, you will stay-cation right here because the 25 by 15 foot master features a sitting room with fireplace, an office, mammoth his and her baths with a quarry-full of travertine on the floors, walls, probably even the ceiling! There are granite counters, oceans of deep custom cabinets, skylights, a hydro tub you step up and down from, none of this climbing business, a bidet, and a steam shower! Media you ask? Where would you like it, in the family/great room (much more efficient than a separate media room way away from the kitchen) OR the master where you can snuggle down on Valentines Day?

How about BOTH? The very wise owners installed drop down projectors and screens both in the great room and master bedroom!

5618 Harbortown master sitting 5618 Harbortown master bath 5618 Harbortown master bedroom 5618 Harbortown guest 5618 Harbortown game room bar 5618 Harbortown gameroom 5618 Harbortown spa atrium 5618 Harbortown upstairs guest 5618 Harbortown guest officeUp those sculpture stairs are two bedrooms, one of which would make a perfect office because it has a separate back entrance, and a game room with a full bar that really deserves to be called the second kitchen.

The home has a total of five bedrooms, seven and one-half baths so all bedroom baths are en-suite, a whopping 7774 square feet of wondrous living. Outside, there is a covered pavillion and glorious pool.

All this for — I hope you are sitting down — a mere $1,675,000. A quarry of travertine, resort-like backyard, pool, fountains, water features, outdoor fireplace (two inside) and a golf course right next door.

I mean, really! Open this Sunday, February 16 from 12 to 4 pm for your post Valentine’s Day pleasure with food, music and drink… just head north of LBJ, it’s REALLY OK!5618 Harbortown pavillion 5618 Harbortown rear pool

 

 

 

Midtown Valley View

Valley View Shopping Center is shaping up on paper like a Victoria’s Secret glossy ad, but one thing’s for sure: it may never again look like the Valley View Mall many of us grew up with! I will never forget the opening of Bloomingdales over there, how cool was that? Alas, now Valley View is suffering behind the road hell that is LBJ is and you almost cannot even see it anymore. But like I tell myself every time my tires touch LBJ, this too shall pass and something way better will be here. Well, after a year working closely with the City of Dallas, neighborhood stakeholders and internationally respected architects, i.e. everyone, Beck Ventures is giving us a first look at detailed plans for the transformation of Dallas Midtown. And it is, to say the least, ambitious!

Dallas Midtown gondolas

Yes, that is a gondola! Dallas Midtown will soon be a community within a community, another depot for shopping, entertainment, working, high density living or gondola riding.

The plan covers all the land from Galleria Dallas on the west to Preston Road on the east, and from LBJ Freeway on the south to even a couple of blocks north of Alpha Road. Over the next couple decades – yes, twenty years — about 60 percent of the existing buildings could be torn down.

Eventually, the potentially $10 billion project could include 14 million square feet of commercial —  30 story high-rise office commercial towers,  mixed-use and residential buildings, green space including a park four times the size of Klyde Warren Park, and the “entertainment destination” still holding the last prime remnants of the old mall. More than 10,000 people potentially could live there.

Scott Beck, you may recall, is the dude who purchased the rather sorry Valley View Shopping Center last year, and has sworn $2 billion to revive the largest continuous tract north of 635 into a vibrant, bustling center of activity. If you don’t remember, read up on my interview with him here. It’s called Midtown even though it’s not really in the middle of Dallas. In fact, if we looked at a map of Dallas, what would be “Midtown”? University Park? Highland Park Village? I don’t think it really matters because everyone’s perception is that the intersection of LBJ and Preston Road is the middle of Dallas. I like the name. Sorry!

Yes, Scott has big plans to revamp “Midtown” but also connect it to the city. There will be hike and bike trails connecting to White Rock Lake, the parks, open spaces, a trolley system and Gondola rides to Galleria (what? Don’t drop me on LBJ!), interactive water features throughout the development, including a wave pool and Ariel Show Fountains, two luxury hotels, upscale condos and rental apartments, office towers, 16 screen movie theater, boutiques, restaurant and entertainment venues.

Ariel Show Fountains? Are we thinking The Bellagio? That is exactly what they are planning at BahaMar in Nassau.

“Since our firm first announced the acquisition of Valley View Mall, the interest in this project has been unprecedented. We are attracting national and international attention. We are honored to be stewards of a crucial transformational project of this scale. The city of Dallas and our elected officials have been fantastic partners in helping this vision become a reality, ” says Scott Beck. The young president of Beck Ventures is bringing in some never-seen-befores, like a seven-story glass enclosed European style market. He says he’s focusing intently on details, and when people come to Dalla Midtown, they won’t want to leave.

Dllas Midtown glass

City Hall seems pretty pumped, as it would thinking of the expanding tax base cha-ching cha-ching. But, as The Dallas Morning News reports, this immense project will require millions for infrastructure — new sewers, water lines and roads. It will require police and protection. It is yet to be seen if the Dallas Plan Commission is on board.

“This development will create a city within a city. With restaurants, shopping, housing and office space, Dallas Midtown will completely redefine this part of Dallas, ” said Linda Koop, Dallas City Council, in the press release.

“Dallas Midtown will become a major economic driver for the city of Dallas. It will strengthen our tax base and help our city lure and retain corporate headquarters. This is an extremely desirable site and this is the perfect way to develop it,” dittoed Tennell Atkins, Dallas City Council, also in the press release.

I am so excited about this project. I mean, did you ever think you’d see a park in Dallas over a highway? I can imagine the Tweets: Let’s GG: gondola to the Galleria.

Dallas Midtown overviewImage 1

 

Midtown Valley View

Valley View Shopping Center is shaping up on paper like a Victoria’s Secret glossy ad, but one thing’s for sure: it may never again look like the Valley View Mall many of us grew up with! I will never forget the opening of Bloomingdales over there, how cool was that? Alas, now Valley View is suffering behind the road hell that is LBJ is and you almost cannot even see it anymore. But like I tell myself every time my tires touch LBJ, this too shall pass and something way better will be here. Well, after a year working closely with the City of Dallas, neighborhood stakeholders and internationally respected architects, i.e. everyone, Beck Ventures is giving us a first look at detailed plans for the transformation of Dallas Midtown. And it is, to say the least, ambitious!

Dallas Midtown gondolas

Yes, that is a gondola! Dallas Midtown will soon be a community within a community, another depot for shopping, entertainment, working, high density living or gondola riding.

The plan covers all the land from Galleria Dallas on the west to Preston Road on the east, and from LBJ Freeway on the south to even a couple of blocks north of Alpha Road. Over the next couple decades – yes, twenty years — about 60 percent of the existing buildings could be torn down.

Eventually, the potentially $10 billion project could include 14 million square feet of commercial —  30 story high-rise office commercial towers,  mixed-use and residential buildings, green space including a park four times the size of Klyde Warren Park, and the “entertainment destination” still holding the last prime remnants of the old mall. More than 10,000 people potentially could live there.

Scott Beck, you may recall, is the dude who purchased the rather sorry Valley View Shopping Center last year, and has sworn $2 billion to revive the largest continuous tract north of 635 into a vibrant, bustling center of activity. If you don’t remember, read up on my interview with him here. It’s called Midtown even though it’s not really in the middle of Dallas. In fact, if we looked at a map of Dallas, what would be “Midtown”? University Park? Highland Park Village? I don’t think it really matters because everyone’s perception is that the intersection of LBJ and Preston Road is the middle of Dallas. I like the name. Sorry!

Yes, Scott has big plans to revamp “Midtown” but also connect it to the city. There will be hike and bike trails connecting to White Rock Lake, the parks, open spaces, a trolley system and Gondola rides to Galleria (what? Don’t drop me on LBJ!), interactive water features throughout the development, including a wave pool and Ariel Show Fountains, two luxury hotels, upscale condos and rental apartments, office towers, 16 screen movie theater, boutiques, restaurant and entertainment venues.

Ariel Show Fountains? Are we thinking The Bellagio? That is exactly what they are planning at BahaMar in Nassau.

“Since our firm first announced the acquisition of Valley View Mall, the interest in this project has been unprecedented. We are attracting national and international attention. We are honored to be stewards of a crucial transformational project of this scale. The city of Dallas and our elected officials have been fantastic partners in helping this vision become a reality, ” says Scott Beck. The young president of Beck Ventures is bringing in some never-seen-befores, like a seven-story glass enclosed European style market. He says he’s focusing intently on details, and when people come to Dalla Midtown, they won’t want to leave.

Dllas Midtown glass

City Hall seems pretty pumped, as it would thinking of the expanding tax base cha-ching cha-ching. But, as The Dallas Morning News reports, this immense project will require millions for infrastructure — new sewers, water lines and roads. It will require police and protection. It is yet to be seen if the Dallas Plan Commission is on board.

“This development will create a city within a city. With restaurants, shopping, housing and office space, Dallas Midtown will completely redefine this part of Dallas, ” said Linda Koop, Dallas City Council, in the press release.

“Dallas Midtown will become a major economic driver for the city of Dallas. It will strengthen our tax base and help our city lure and retain corporate headquarters. This is an extremely desirable site and this is the perfect way to develop it,” dittoed Tennell Atkins, Dallas City Council, also in the press release.

I am so excited about this project. I mean, did you ever think you’d see a park in Dallas over a highway? I can imagine the Tweets: Let’s GG: gondola to the Galleria.

Dallas Midtown overviewImage 1

 

No kidding, I thought this case was zipped. Or rather, zapped. Farmer’s Branch has had a long, expensive fight to keep undocumented immigrants from renting homes in the town just north of LBJ. Of course, with all the construction on LBJ, one wonders how they have any tenants at all. Four years ago Farmers Branch was sued after it passed an ordinance giving the city building inspector the power to evict any undocumented immigrant renters. And it lost that battle.

But that was only round one. Now the town with the agrarian name will have a most important hearing before a mainly conservative group of judges before the full membership of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Talk about opening a national debate: 10 of this court’s judges were appointed by Republican presidents and just five by Democrats.

The fireworks, er, legal arguments, open Wednesday in New Orleans.

 

 

 

Maybe she was looking at homes up north of LBJ, but the Dallas Morning News says she was arrested in Murphy and booked into the Collin County jail, hence this oh-so-attractive photo with the towel draped around her neck, a Collin County hallmark. Update 4:45pm: Rhonda is such a beautiful woman, I could not stand that photo of her, so I have removed it. She has been released on $269 bail, a very interesting number, after her car was towed. (I hope it wasn’t the Bentley.) Rhonda last year divorced famed quarterback Troy Aikman, whose lavish Highland Park home is still on the market but has some serious buyers circling. Rhonda, who lives in Preston Hollow, was also reportedly signed on to be a part of a Bravo TV reality show called The Real Housewives of Dallas. Too bad they haven’t started shooting yet, eh? Oh and I think we should all reserve judgement ’till we hear if she maybe took an Ambien or something. There but for the grace…

Artists and live music on Saturdays and a five star hotel? A viable urban village at one of the country’s busiest intersections?

Scott Beck grew up at Valley View Mall, the same mall he bought about a week ago. Well, not actually in the mall, but within two miles of it, near Beltline Road and Preston. Translation: he was a North Dallas kid. He recalls vividly going to Tilt at Valley View with his brother and playing at the arcade for hours.

His father, Jeff, is in the commercial real estate business and supported his kids, Scott, Jarrod and a sister, through real estate. Scott went to Greenhill. After graduating with a business degree (M.B.A.) from the University of Texas, he cut his financial teeth on Wall Street over at private equity then JP Morgan Chase. Then he came back home to Dallas to settle down, get married, and join the burgeoning family biz. In 1994, the Beck family bought the last 1200 acres at Trophy Club, a 24oo acre development in northeast Tarrant County that is actually the first master planned community in Texas and was originally designed for retiree. Today it is highly sought for families. In fact, just last week I met a young couple who want to buy in Trophy Club because they think the schools are great and the homes generous.

And now Scott owns 60 acres at the corner of Preston and LBJ, a dilapidated shopping center he plans to transform into a thriving master planned community along the lines of Legacy in Plano with the authenticity of the crafts shops and restaurants of Bishop Arts, and the age and spending demographics of Uptown. In fact, he up and hired the same architect who created Legacy, Mike Twitchell.

“This is the precipice of a renaissance for this area of North Dallas,” said Scott.”A centralized urban village.”

We all know the shopping center of yesteryear is dead as we know it — the shopping center that Valley View is in its current state. They were by products of a suburban society. Teenagers cannibalized them, and internet shopping drove the final stake. Prestonwood Mall, R.I.P. I admit, I hadn’t been to Valley View in YEARS — maybe I went to Sears to look for a refrigerator, but I honestly think the last time I set foot in Valley View, Bloomingdales was still there, and I do not mean the new discount Bloomies over on Park Lane. The mall is not dead, said Scott, and he challenged me to go see it for myself as he nibbled a Wetzel pretzel he had just picked up.

He was right. It’s not NorthPark or Galleria for sure, but it’s not dead.

Beck knows he cannot revive Valley View in its present form, those days are gone. He can bring in some cool stores and maybe get back some folks who go to Willow Bend or Stonebriar for what they used to get at Valley View. Maybe he’ll poach some traffic from the Galleria across the way, or NorthPark, Dallas’ shopping mecca, with some neat tenants. But the Valley View story, he told me, is just beginning.

“This is the largest contiguous piece of property in the area,” he says. “Preston Road to Noel, Alpha to 635.”

It will take time, it will have to marinate, but he says he wants the conversation to start toote suite, like today, on what the best possible use can be of this space as he closes a chapter on the largest closed air mall in Dallas and re-shapes it into a modern urban environment. In effect, another live-work-play-shop-eat-entertain community about 12 to 15 miles north of downtown CBD Dallas. And he wants everyone involved in the discussion –social, public, private, partnerships, the city, neighbors, arts and real estate segments.

Art?

We can see the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge prominently in the horizon, looking due south from the sixth (top) floor at Valley View Tower, 13101 Preston, the office building on the very northwest corner of Preston and LBJ, one of the busiest intersections in North Texas,  where Scott now offices. Built in 1977, the last owners filed Chapter 11 in 2009. Several floors here have already been transformed into prime office space with new surfaces, gleaming bathrooms and even an exercise studio on the first floor that employees actually use.  Look at this view, says Scott, and picture living here in a luxury high rise adjacent to a luxury five star hotel like a St. Regis.

The name Midtown: it was two years in the making, emanated from discussions with the City, Jones Lang LaSalle all calling it the Midway project. If you bubble it south of LBJ you think, um no, that is North Dallas. But really, Valley View is where North Dallas begins and stretches north for miles. Valley View is also “midway” between the Tollway and Central, sort of, but when you look at it in relation to the whole city, the name makes more sense. We are, says Beck, naming an area of the city.

Which is why he wants everyone to buy into the concept. What Beck envisions: several million square feet of office space, office towers, office above retail. The usual development hierarchy is entertainment (play) and related restaurants, living, working and shopping components; Beck is starting with living and playing. One of the first developments he wants to leap into is affordable live/work housing for artists, kind of like that at the Dallas Design District. This way, artists could begin building an interactive community almost immediately.

“Imagine,” says Beck, “that you who have lived in North Dallas or Preston Hollow all your life wants to move to a multi-family or high rise, higher density living, but you don’t want to move downtown to do it.”

The stores I’ve always shopped are here, he says, not downtown. My family is nearby. So would I live in a new high rise at LBJ and Preston because Preston Royal and Whole Foods are just two major intersections away?

Maybe. Definitely more familiar territory, which provides a comfort level. After all, the only other high rise condo north of LBJ is the Bonadventure, which struggled for years, high density living way ahead of it’s time.

For now he is focused on the existing mall, where they are writing leases up to 3 years. Tenants can transition to new spaces. To be clear, the Valley View we know today will be gone, replaced by streets where we maybe got Fruit of the Loom briefs or a Liz Claiborne jacket. The eventual two billion dollar transformation will cater to a younger demographic, age 21 to 35, single or newly married, big-time disposable income who eat out a lot and go to movies, frequent specialty boutiques and want entertainment at their fingertips. Get the message: active — bike and walk trails, gyms, jogging paths, tress, water, gorgeous landscaping. They can live at Dallas Midtown, or park underground.

Which leads us to another discussion: how will Dallas Midtown connect with the rest of the city, like public transportation? Beck doesn’t yet know what it will be, or in what form, but he envisions a mode of public transportation within the 400 acres. Of course, Dallas is, to me, still very much a car city and will be so for a long time. I find downtown extremely pedestrian unfriendly, which is why I wonder why, outside of the Arts District, anyone would want to walk it. That is one reason why the planned centers like West Village have exploded. They were actually planned, they didn’t slap another building up next to an existing keep going. The best we may hope to accomplish in my opinion is drive, park and contain your environment as much as possible. Young families still favor the suburbs for better schools, four bedrooms for $150 to 300K.  And there is only so much affluence to go around.

“I see half the population density of downtown Dallas here,” says Beck. Downtown Dallas is at a density of about 1200 people per square mile. “This is an evolving project. Take a look at what you see now, because in ten years, you won’t recognize this intersection.”