Drew Philp Detroit by Garrett McLean

Author Drew Philp in his Poletown home he purchased for $500

Photo: BuzzFeed/Garrett Maclean

Candy and I have been discussing this very interesting long-form story from BuzzFeed about a man who bought a home in Detroit’s Poletown neighborhood for $500 when he was 23 years old. Since then, protesters, investors, and CEOs have bought up property throughout Detroit’s devastated neighborhoods, demolishing buildings and shrinking the city’s footprint.

Drew Philp‘s story is a gripping one if you are interested in reclaiming urban neighborhoods, overcoming a history of civic corruption, and reinvesting in cities wrought by economic peril. I know several people in the southern reaches of North Oak Cliff who have purchased homes knowing that it could be years before their neighborhood transitions into a marketable one and a profitable investment. Did that deter them? Heck no.

Still, Philp’s perspective on broadening gentrification is an interesting one. His account, which takes us through the first couple of years of living in a once-abandoned home that was so full of trash it took him a month to clear the first floor, to now. Here’s a telling excerpt:

Dan Gilbert, the owner of Quicken Loans, has moved more than 7,600 employees downtown. He also just sent a notice to one of my ex-girlfriends, explaining he has purchased the apartment building she’s lived in for the last 16 years and his future plans don’t include her. The city is talking of disinvesting in entire neighborhoods such as mine — literally letting the neighborhood go to seed and removing city services, shrinking the city in what some have termed as “white-sizing”; upstarts backed with foundation money are talking about transforming an entire neighborhood into an 2,475-acre urban farm. The state just approved a $350 million subsidized giveaway for a hockey stadium with a suburban fan base that’s going to tear down another portion of the city and push more people out. Of course, the divide between the gentrifying Detroit downtown and the bankrupt Detroit that is the rest of the city mirrors what is happening in a lot of this country.

These changes are making me feel a bit threatened and defensive. Instead of a lone weird white kid buying a house in Detroit, now I’m part of a movement. I shop at the Whole Foods, knowing every step into that store is a step away from a brand-new city that could be. And if someone tries to break into my house again I will not hesitate to defend myself and someday my family. Some days I feel caught in a tide I cannot row against, but these are the realities. Maybe I’m feeling a bit like the good people of Detroit must have felt to be counted amongst the citizens of “Murder City.”

But there’s another Detroit, too, of which I am but a small part. It’s been happening quietly and for some time, between transplants and natives, black and white and Latino, city and country — tiny acts of kindness repeated thousands of times over, little gardens and lots of space, long meetings and mowing grass that isn’t yours. It’s baling hay.

It’s the Detroit that’s saving itself. The Detroit that’s building something brand-new out of the cinders of consumerism and racism and escape.

Read the whole thing and then tell us: Does the modern Detroit really reflect how our nation is changing? And how do we turn the tide, as Philp suggests we do?

 

Drew Philp Detroit by Garrett McLean

Author Drew Philp in his Poletown home he purchased for $500

Photo: BuzzFeed/Garrett Maclean

Candy and I have been discussing this very interesting long-form story from BuzzFeed about a man who bought a home in Detroit’s Poletown neighborhood for $500 when he was 23 years old. Since then, protesters, investors, and CEOs have bought up property throughout Detroit’s devastated neighborhoods, demolishing buildings and shrinking the city’s footprint.

Drew Philp‘s story is a gripping one if you are interested in reclaiming urban neighborhoods, overcoming a history of civic corruption, and reinvesting in cities wrought by economic peril. I know several people in the southern reaches of North Oak Cliff who have purchased homes knowing that it could be years before their neighborhood transitions into a marketable one and a profitable investment. Did that deter them? Heck no.

Still, Philp’s perspective on broadening gentrification is an interesting one. His account, which takes us through the first couple of years of living in a once-abandoned home that was so full of trash it took him a month to clear the first floor, to now. Here’s a telling excerpt:

Dan Gilbert, the owner of Quicken Loans, has moved more than 7,600 employees downtown. He also just sent a notice to one of my ex-girlfriends, explaining he has purchased the apartment building she’s lived in for the last 16 years and his future plans don’t include her. The city is talking of disinvesting in entire neighborhoods such as mine — literally letting the neighborhood go to seed and removing city services, shrinking the city in what some have termed as “white-sizing”; upstarts backed with foundation money are talking about transforming an entire neighborhood into an 2,475-acre urban farm. The state just approved a $350 million subsidized giveaway for a hockey stadium with a suburban fan base that’s going to tear down another portion of the city and push more people out. Of course, the divide between the gentrifying Detroit downtown and the bankrupt Detroit that is the rest of the city mirrors what is happening in a lot of this country.

These changes are making me feel a bit threatened and defensive. Instead of a lone weird white kid buying a house in Detroit, now I’m part of a movement. I shop at the Whole Foods, knowing every step into that store is a step away from a brand-new city that could be. And if someone tries to break into my house again I will not hesitate to defend myself and someday my family. Some days I feel caught in a tide I cannot row against, but these are the realities. Maybe I’m feeling a bit like the good people of Detroit must have felt to be counted amongst the citizens of “Murder City.”

But there’s another Detroit, too, of which I am but a small part. It’s been happening quietly and for some time, between transplants and natives, black and white and Latino, city and country — tiny acts of kindness repeated thousands of times over, little gardens and lots of space, long meetings and mowing grass that isn’t yours. It’s baling hay.

It’s the Detroit that’s saving itself. The Detroit that’s building something brand-new out of the cinders of consumerism and racism and escape.

Read the whole thing and then tell us: Does the modern Detroit really reflect how our nation is changing? And how do we turn the tide, as Philp suggests we do?

 

The Old Oak Cliff Conservation League has announced the locations for its 2013 home tour, which benefits neighborhoods and nonprofits in the district.

The tour is one of the oldest of its kind in the city. This year, from noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 12 and 13, visitors can view 12 homes from seven historic neighborhoods. The houses range from solid craftsman homes to stately colonials, post-modern ranches to stunning contemporaries.

“This year’s tour stretches from Kessler to Kiestwood and includes homes from the 1917 to 2007,” said OOCCL president Philip Leven. “We’re especially pleased to have a home in North Cliff which has not been represented on the Tour in several years, and a home in South Winnetka, which is a first-ever for that neighborhood.  Our goal is to showcase the quality and variety of the homes and the neighborhoods of Oak Cliff. You’ll see beautiful historic restoration, repurposed older structures, and sensitive new construction, in everything from a 1,600-square-foot bungalow to a 4,500-square-foot contemporary.”

The OCCL recently announced the beneficiaries of the 2012 home tour, which included neighborhood grants for street sign toppers, sidewalk improvements, school uniforms, crime watch signs, and murals. Oak Cliff nonprofits that received grants included Fort Worth Avenue Development Group for Western Heights Cemetery Maintenance, Hampton-Illinois Library Friends, the Turner House, Friends of Oak Cliff Parks and The Well Community.

Home tour tickets cost $25 for adults and $15 for seniors 60 and older on the day of the tour, and can be purchased at W. 7th Street and Bishop Ave in the Bishop Arts District. Discounted advance tickets ($20 adult and $12 senior) are available at Tom Thumb stores located at 315 South Hampton Road, 5809 East Lovers Ln., and 6333 E Mockingbird Ln. You can also buy tickets online at the OOCCL website.

Here are the homes in this year’s tour:

1347 Cedar Hill in East Kessler Park

1347 Cedar Hill in East Kessler Park

1645 Junior in East Kessler Park

1645 Junior in East Kessler Park

1811 Evergreen Hills in Kessler Park

1811 Evergreen Hills in Kessler Park

2916 W. Greenbriar in Kessler Park

2916 W. Greenbriar in Kessler Park

2526 W. Tenth in Kessler Plaza

2526 W. Tenth in Kessler Plaza

2450 Five Mile Circle in Kiestwood

2450 Five Mile Circle in Kiestwood

905 N. Montclair in Kings Hwy

905 N. Montclair in Kings Hwy

1325 Kings Hwy. in Kings Hwy.

1325 Kings Hwy. in Kings Hwy.

2847 Ivandell in North Cliff

2847 Ivandell in North Cliff

701 S. Clinton in South Winnetka

701 S. Clinton in South Winnetka

1910 Marydale in Stevens Park Estates

1910 Marydale in Stevens Park Estates

1939 W. Colorado in in Stevens Park Estates

1939 W. Colorado in Stevens Park Estates

10-nonesuch-rd-dallas-tx-1-High-Res-6

Why is preservation important? That’s a question that can be answered differently depending on where you live, what you do, and your personal taste. To me, I think preserving historic architecture allows a city a shared sense of history, as well as a barrier from becoming homogenous.



Mark DotyFor Mark Doty, a staff member with the city of Dallas Historic Preservation office and author of Lost Dallas, a city’s past is written in its streets and buildings, its neighborhoods and its public spaces. They stand as everyday monuments to the people who lived and worked within them every day.

Doty took some time out of his very busy schedule to share his thoughts on the significance of 10 Nonesuch Road, the famed estate of retail magnate Stanley Marcus, and how the Lovvorn family’s work can serve as an example of how preservation isn’t a fixed equation. Jump to read more …

CandysDirt.com: In 2008, the Lovvorns set off a huge citywide debate over historic preservation when they set out to demolish 10 Nonesuch Road in order to build a more energy efficient home in its place. What were your thoughts on the proposal?

Mark Doty: At first I was disappointed that the property owners were seeking demolition, which is why the city of Dallas initiated historic designation over the owner’s objection in order to at least begin the conversation with the owners about the value in landmark designation. Through the initiation process, the Lovvorns understood the constraints and benefits to designation and our office was able to work with them to craft a document that protected the main facades of the historic structure, but also gave them flexibility on the rear and the interior to make any changes they deemed appropriate for their lifestyle.

However, what this particular discussion did was to highlight again the fact that there are many structures and entire neighborhoods within the city that have no protection. The preservation community at large should take a more proactive approach to starting a conversation with either property owners or neighborhoods to have these buildings or neighborhoods protected or to reach an understanding to not object when they are threatened with demolition or inappropriate changes.

The entire community was lucky that the Lovvorns were open to other suggestions besides tearing the structure down. They should certainly be commended for their hard work and patience.

CD: As author of Lost Dallas, I am sure you are thrilled that the Lovvorns chose to renovate the Stanley Marcus estate instead of demolish it. Can you tell us your thoughts on the home’s historic significance?

Doty: To say the least I was thrilled! This is a home that was one of the first International Style residential structures built in Dallas and one that is associated with a Dallas icon, Stanley Marcus. I mean, Grace Kelly, Eleanor Roosevelt, not to mention scores of fashion royalty spent time in this house. So the significance goes far beyond the physical. It is a cultural touchstone and really speaks to Dallas’ place in fashion history.

CD: We’ve posted photos of the interior of 10 Nonesuch Road, showing that the renovations not only preserved much of the home’s character, but added modern amenities and earth-friendly features. Do you see this home as being a model for how a historic structure can meet modern demands without losing its soul?

Doty: Absolutely. I think there is such a rush these days to build things as quickly and cheaply as possible that there is a lost opportunity to take a step back, truly review what makes an historic structure special or unique and then make changes that increase a structure’s value and function without sacrificing its history or heritage.

CD: The Lovvorns and W2 Studio spared no expense to preserve 10 Nonesuch Road. What is your favorite feature of the home after its renovation?

Doty: Unfortunately, I have not been able to view the house since the renovation was completed. However, I may try to sneak into one of the open houses to see it for myself! [Editor’s Note: Someone get this guy a private tour!]

Arboretum Garage WFAA

 

(Photo: WFAA)

It was just a year ago that public outcry from neighborhoods surrounding the Dallas Arboretum put the kibosh on a parking lot planned for Winfrey Point. That project would have paved over a significant portion of the restored prairie and baseball fields inside one of White Rock Lake’s most popular areas.

It was protracted, dramatic, and thankfully short. It sent Arboretum officials back to the drawing board to formulate a parking plan that won’t impact neighborhoods, views, and traffic on Garland Road — a major East Dallas thoroughfare.

According to stories by The Dallas Morning News and WFAA, the 1,200-space garage is planned for a lot on Garland Road that the Arboretum already owns. It will be connected to the main property via an underground tunnel, allowing patrons to cross the busy three-lane road safely.

Of course, neighbors in Little Forest Hills, Forest Hills, and other nearby communities aren’t just going to stand idly by. While the Arboretum is on a deadline for new parking spaces thanks to getting the boot from Lincoln Properties, folks still plan on getting a very close look at the garage and its construction before giving it a nod of approval:

“We have a checkered history with the Arboretum; they haven’t always played on the up-and-up,” said neighbor Kelly Cotten. “I think it’s right to come to these meetings with some cautious suspicion.”

I think I remember someone suggesting this plan last year as an alternative to the Winfrey Point parking lot, but I could be mistaken. In any case, I hope Good Fulton & Farrell Architects are up to the task of working with some very ornery neighbors.

What do you think of the plan? Would you want to live next to a 1,200-space parking garage?

Arboretum Garage WFAA

 

(Photo: WFAA)

It was just a year ago that public outcry from neighborhoods surrounding the Dallas Arboretum put the kibosh on a parking lot planned for Winfrey Point. That project would have paved over a significant portion of the restored prairie and baseball fields inside one of White Rock Lake’s most popular areas.

It was protracted, dramatic, and thankfully short. It sent Arboretum officials back to the drawing board to formulate a parking plan that won’t impact neighborhoods, views, and traffic on Garland Road — a major East Dallas thoroughfare.

According to stories by The Dallas Morning News and WFAA, the 1,200-space garage is planned for a lot on Garland Road that the Arboretum already owns. It will be connected to the main property via an underground tunnel, allowing patrons to cross the busy three-lane road safely.

Of course, neighbors in Little Forest Hills, Forest Hills, and other nearby communities aren’t just going to stand idly by. While the Arboretum is on a deadline for new parking spaces thanks to getting the boot from Lincoln Properties, folks still plan on getting a very close look at the garage and its construction before giving it a nod of approval:

“We have a checkered history with the Arboretum; they haven’t always played on the up-and-up,” said neighbor Kelly Cotten. “I think it’s right to come to these meetings with some cautious suspicion.”

I think I remember someone suggesting this plan last year as an alternative to the Winfrey Point parking lot, but I could be mistaken. In any case, I hope Good Fulton & Farrell Architects are up to the task of working with some very ornery neighbors.

What do you think of the plan? Would you want to live next to a 1,200-space parking garage?

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment of our series of Dallas City Council candidate questionnaires. You can view the first here and the second here. We attempted to contact each candidate in every contested race (10 races total), and those who responded with a working email address received the same eight questions. We gave them until April 5 to respond. Below you’ll find the answers to our questions, which we did not edit or abridge.

Today we’re featuring Ori Raphael, a contender for Dallas City Council District 11’s seat. This district is a pretty darn influential one, encompassing much of North Dallas and a good-sized portion of the Preston Hollow area. The district, represented by outgoing councilmember Linda Koop, is being pursued by Lee Kleinman, too. Unfortunately, Kleinman did not answer our repeated requests for answers.

Ori RaphaelOri Raphael

1. In your view, what are the strengths of the Dallas real estate market versus the rest of the nation?

Jobs, low cost of living, low taxes, good transportation, a lowering crime rate and great neighborhoods are all attracting people to our area. If we could improve DISD the city of Dallas would see growth equal to that of the suburbs.

2. What are the next areas/neighborhoods you feel are poised for high volume growth?

In District 11 the redevelopment of the Valley View site is poised to be a signature development. The Southern Sector offers the greatest opportunity for growth, but areas such as West Dallas also offer growth opportunities.

3. What areas/neighborhoods need the most help and any solutions?

The 27 crime ‘hot spot’ areas demand out [sic] attention. In my district we have a number of apartment complexes that have crime problems as well. We must support our police, increase code enforcement and work together to help build strong neighborhoods. Mayor Rawlings’ Growth South plan is an excellent example of planning for success, but let’s not forget other areas in our community that need the same passion and planning.

4. Would you support retaining the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research to do a study of the root causes of decline in the City of Dallas, as it did for NYC during the Giuliani era, leading to one of the most compelling restorations of a major city in history?

I would certainly consider this, although I would like to concentrate on the future and what we can do to improve our international competitive advantage, rebuild our schools and plan now for the future challenges around transportation and water.

5.  Would you approving the zoning variance to allow an on-campus lighted soccer field at Ursuline Academy of Dallas, winner of 22 state soccer championships?

This is not in my district and would defer to the councilperson in that district.

6. How would you handle the Museum Tower/Nasher Sculpture Center impasse? Should the Nasher also play a role and adapt some structural changes? Or is the burden purely on Museum Tower and future residential developments to mitigate impact on surrounding structures?

Both parties need to work together on a solution to this problem.

7. Historic and conservation districts are a great way to maintain a neighborhood’s character, but some older districts have regulations that seem somewhat out of date. For instance, a homeowner in Junius Heights was cited for having xeriscaped his front yard in lieu of a traditional water-hogging front lawn even though our region faces long-term drought. Should alternative landscapes and eco-friendly materials be allowed in historic and conservation districts as a citywide policy change?

Yes, I would support that type of flexibility because of the need to conserve water resources.

8. What is your stance on hydraulic fracturing (better known as fracking) inside the city limits? Do you feel it poses a danger to residents and nearby businesses? Or does the potential income to the city outweigh overblown risks?

I am in favor of gas drilling as long as it can be done safely. I am not in favor of drilling on park land.

 

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment of our series of Dallas City Council candidate questionnaires. You can view the first here and the second here. We attempted to contact each candidate in every contested race (10 races total), and those who responded with a working email address received the same eight questions. We gave them until April 5 to respond. Below you’ll find the answers to our questions, which we did not edit or abridge.

Today we’re featuring Ori Raphael, a contender for Dallas City Council District 11’s seat. This district is a pretty darn influential one, encompassing much of North Dallas and a good-sized portion of the Preston Hollow area. The district, represented by outgoing councilmember Linda Koop, is being pursued by Lee Kleinman, too. Unfortunately, Kleinman did not answer our repeated requests for answers.

Ori RaphaelOri Raphael

1. In your view, what are the strengths of the Dallas real estate market versus the rest of the nation?

Jobs, low cost of living, low taxes, good transportation, a lowering crime rate and great neighborhoods are all attracting people to our area. If we could improve DISD the city of Dallas would see growth equal to that of the suburbs.

2. What are the next areas/neighborhoods you feel are poised for high volume growth?

In District 11 the redevelopment of the Valley View site is poised to be a signature development. The Southern Sector offers the greatest opportunity for growth, but areas such as West Dallas also offer growth opportunities.

3. What areas/neighborhoods need the most help and any solutions?

The 27 crime ‘hot spot’ areas demand out [sic] attention. In my district we have a number of apartment complexes that have crime problems as well. We must support our police, increase code enforcement and work together to help build strong neighborhoods. Mayor Rawlings’ Growth South plan is an excellent example of planning for success, but let’s not forget other areas in our community that need the same passion and planning.

4. Would you support retaining the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research to do a study of the root causes of decline in the City of Dallas, as it did for NYC during the Giuliani era, leading to one of the most compelling restorations of a major city in history?

I would certainly consider this, although I would like to concentrate on the future and what we can do to improve our international competitive advantage, rebuild our schools and plan now for the future challenges around transportation and water.

5.  Would you approving the zoning variance to allow an on-campus lighted soccer field at Ursuline Academy of Dallas, winner of 22 state soccer championships?

This is not in my district and would defer to the councilperson in that district.

6. How would you handle the Museum Tower/Nasher Sculpture Center impasse? Should the Nasher also play a role and adapt some structural changes? Or is the burden purely on Museum Tower and future residential developments to mitigate impact on surrounding structures?

Both parties need to work together on a solution to this problem.

7. Historic and conservation districts are a great way to maintain a neighborhood’s character, but some older districts have regulations that seem somewhat out of date. For instance, a homeowner in Junius Heights was cited for having xeriscaped his front yard in lieu of a traditional water-hogging front lawn even though our region faces long-term drought. Should alternative landscapes and eco-friendly materials be allowed in historic and conservation districts as a citywide policy change?

Yes, I would support that type of flexibility because of the need to conserve water resources.

8. What is your stance on hydraulic fracturing (better known as fracking) inside the city limits? Do you feel it poses a danger to residents and nearby businesses? Or does the potential income to the city outweigh overblown risks?

I am in favor of gas drilling as long as it can be done safely. I am not in favor of drilling on park land.