Toot-toot! End of the line! I have been riding myself ragged up and down DART’s Blue and Green lines in Southern Dallas for our Southern Dallas Buyer’s Guide. My goal was to see what kind of housing and neighborhoods are out there for those wanting a home close to the city without the North Dallas price tags.  Some neighborhoods are rougher than others, but many were surprisingly vibrant and full of housing stock many would recognize from more talked-about areas … near the Zoo might as well be called East Oak Cliff.  Of course, if you’re a renovator, there are cheap as sin gems in the rough awaiting new life.  Equally surprising (and a little saddening) were the number of new builds that are stylistically more at home in an exurb tract development. Sure, they’re better than an empty lot, but they hardly blend into the neighborhood (doubly true when they knock down old-growth trees in the process).

This last installment focuses on the area south and west of Fair Park serviced by the Hatcher, MLK, and Fair Park stations.  It seems like a large area (and it is), but there’s not a lot of homes for sale here.  I suspect the never-ending breath-holding for Fair Park’s revival plays some part in this.  But these days, it’s not only Fair Park that could drive a renaissance here …

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Lawnview Station at top center, right

Looking at the maps, you may wonder what all the empty space is south of the Lawnview station. You wonder why the DART Green Line swings around this patch from the Lake June Station to reach Lawnview. At least that’s what this former Chicagoan was wondering before visiting the area.  Dallasites probably know it as being part of the Great Trinity Forest where White Rock Creek meets the Trinity River. Believe it or not, these hundreds of acres of forest once stretched all the way to Florida.

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7465 Schepps Parkway

It’s been a while since my last installment of my Southern Dallas Buyer’s Guide. Bet you thought I forgot!  Nope, I just didn’t relish State Fair traffic and then real-life hoo-has set in.  But now I’m back to examine what’s available and what’s happening on the DART Green Line. Our first stop are the line’s last two stops – Buckner Station at the corner of Elam Road and South Buckner Blvd. and Lake June at Lake June Road and US-175.

There’s a surprising amount of new construction going on, much of it a riff on the single-story suburban tract home.  Surprise! Two are the number of original 1940s to 1960s ranches that are being spruced up flipped.  Surprise! Three is the amount of raw land for sale … and I’m not talking about the typical in-fill lot sprinkled here and there, I’m talking acreage … 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 acre parcels.

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I had to feature one renovation candidate

Let’s pause and enjoy our halfway point — this fifth installment of the Southern Dallas Buyer’s Guide marks the end of the DART Blue Line.  For those just joining us, you can get going here.

A lot of folks tell me that while they enjoy watching all those renovation shows in HGTV, the thought of picking up a hammer gives ‘em the willies.  Since Halloween is fast approaching, I decided to comfort those move-in folks by moving just south of I-20 and into the jagged borderland of Dallas and Lancaster. You’re still a close to the UNT DART Blue Line Station making public transit an option.

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As we continue our Blue Line buyers’ train into Southern Dallas, we hit Ledbetter, Camp Wisdom and UNT Dallas DART stations.  We also hit a lot more homes on the market. On the other side of I-35E is the Golf Club of Dallas that’s been in the news lately (here).  Net-net, by simply crossing east of I-35E, prices will fall by 25 to 35 percent and the homes will be slightly more modest. But the same forest of trees.

In case you’re all confused, this is the fourth installment of my Southern Dallas Buyer’s Guide where I’m riding the DART rails to see what’s available in some of Dallas’ last bastions of affordable housing. To catch up, click here, here, here.

The neighborhoods in this area are Glenview, Spring HillsHidden Valley, Runyon Springs, Cigarette Hill (I kid you not), Wisdom Terrace, and Wheatland Meadows.

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Southwest Dallas neighborhoods. Stars represent DART Light Rail stations.

[Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in Jon Anderson’s Southern Dallas Buyer’s Guide. Read the first two here and here.]

First Stop: The Tenth Street and The Bottoms

Every neighborhood needs a Lester Houston fighting for it.  In Houston’s case, he’s the Cedar Haven Neighborhood Association leader located just southeast of the Zoo. Houston grew up in the area and actually lives in the home he grew up in. But Houston’s life story adds to this often-told tale of activists reclaiming their childhood.  As a Marine for 35 years, he’s lived and traveled all over the world. This gives him a local and global perspective often lacking in neighborhood revivalists.  He also understands hard work, discipline, and the realization that “overnight” is a pat phrase.

The area surrounding the Zoo didn’t slide into neglect overnight, and it won’t rise again overnight.  The area has had several building cycles, usually after some war — be it Civil (one of the oldest black areas), or after both World Wars when the area was mostly Caucasian.  During the 1960s, two things happened: White-flight took whites to the ‘burbs and U.S. Highway 77 was upsized to I-35E, severing the connection with Oak Cliff.  Because of this, the area slid into decline and became almost exclusively black. I’m sure we all understand the racial motivations and freeway mania of the time, as we strive, decades later to begin healing that wound.

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Snapshot of some Southern Dallas neighborhoods east of the Dallas Zoo.

Recently, I wrote that buyers looking for reasonably-priced homes close to the Dallas core needed to start looking south, specifically south of I-30 from I-35E to east of Fair Park. These are the areas that particularly fell prey to redlining. Once thriving areas in the midst of renewal, they offer some fab bargains and the opportunity to be part of rebuilding some neglected areas … deals unheard of in Oak Cliff and further north these days.  My self-imposed challenge was to use the DART’s light rail stops as a guide to southern Dallas.  Part of using DART was obviously the catchiness of the hook, but also because the folks most likely to move to this area are of a generation wanting more transit options outside a personal automobile.

It’s worth noting that there is an element of political will required as areas revitalize.  Because of that, it’s equally worth noting that notes were sent to the Dallas City Council members representing these districts (Rick Callahan, Dwaine Caraway, Kevin Felder, and Tennell Atkins) seeking community contacts and perhaps a chat about the areas they represent.  Over a week later, none have responded. Thankfully, I have blundered into some neighborhood contacts to add color and educate me.

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If it’s Red, full steam ahead; if it’s Yellow, say “hello;” if it’s Blue, you might’ve missed your queue.

Last week, Seth Fowler wrote about a client of his looking for a home in the sub-$200,000 market close to his job in Bedford.  “Ted” had been on a roller coaster of 43 showings and 11 contract offers … still without a home eight months on and counting. In today’s Dallas, it’s a story that’s been accelerating since the housing market began recovering in 2013. While slacking in the upper end of the market, the entry level remains full steam ahead.

Also last week, Alex Macon posted on D Magazine’s Frontburner about the legacy of redlining and a new set of charts overlaying 1930s redline maps against the current racial makeup of Dallas (U.S. Census data).  It’s clear that the 30-year pox of redlining, from the 1930s until 1968, still infects the Dallas landscape (as it does nationwide in many previously redlined areas).

But what’s the reality? I’m going to find out.

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