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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According to ABODO, Dallas' 75216 Zip code is a hotspot for flippers. (Map: Google Maps)

According to ATTOM Data Solutions, Dallas’ 75216 Zip code is a hotspot for flippers. (Map: Google Maps)

Flipping a home is more of an art than a science. While budgets should be a consideration for any real estate investor, creating a home that someone wants to live in so much that they’ll put in an offer above asking price is paramount. But that’s tough in some areas where lot values are skyrocketing and materials costs are through the roof. But more budget-friendly areas, neighborhoods where you can get a lot of house for a little, are becoming more attractive to flippers.

In Dallas, that area is the 75216 Zip code. For the uninitiated, that’s a vast swath of southern Dallas between Interstate 35 East and Interstate 45 just north of Loop 12. Neighborhoods such as Cedar Crest. Interestingly enough, according to Realtor.com there are just 84 single-family homes on the market in this area, and 152 listings total. Seems like a hot area, but that could change because flipping is actually slowing down. At least that’s what ATTOM Data Solutions says.

The company, which calls itself the “curator of the nation’s largest fused property database,” said that the number of homes flipped in the US has actually decreased from the 6-year high reached in the previous quarter. That’s falling from a 5.6 percent flipping rate to 5.1 percent, or from 53,892 flipped homes to 49,305. Flippers buying with cash accounted 67.9 percent, down from 68.2 percent in the previous quarter and down from 69.0 percent in Q3 2015 to the lowest level since Q3 2008 — an eight-year low.

According to ATTOM, a flip is a home sold for the second time in a 12-month stretch. The company surveys more than 950 counties, which comes out to approximately 80 percent of the American population. Let’s see what that looks like in 75216.

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Fair Park Ferris Wheel SM

Turning Fair Park over to a private nonprofit could be good for Dallas, if it is held accountable, Jon says.

[Editor’s Note: We’re hosting a robust conversation about the future of Fair Park here on CandysDirt.com ahead of the 8:30 a.m., Aug. 4 City of Dallas Park Board meeting that could help decide the iconic landmark’s fate. Earlier we had a post from Amanda Popken covering the Monday meeting at the Hall of State. Below, Jon Anderson puts the plan itself in his sights and shows why Mayor Mike Rawlings and Walt Humann are in a hurry to pass the Fair Park Texas Foundation 20-year contract. We join our brethren from D Magazine, Dallas Morning News, WFAA and Observer in voicing concern and skepticism.]

The City of Dallas is set to become Fair Park’s and the State Fair of Texas’ Sugar Daddy if Mayor Rawlings and Walt Humann have their way.  On Thursday, the Parks and Recreation Board is set to vote on the Humann plan for Fair Park, after five silenced board members walked out of the last meeting after Parks Board President Max Well sought to limit discussion on the plan, leaving the meeting without a quorum.  Those were five brave, and I think correct, souls.

To back up a few days, there was a flurry of activity on Monday.  First, Mayor Rawlings had a press conference to whine about a meeting later that day titled, “Our Fair Park: A Conversation About a Dallas Treasure” to which neither he nor District 7 representative Tiffinni Young were invited.  While not being invited to the stage, they certainly weren’t precluded from attending the meeting, which by all accounts they didn’t.

The meeting was a place to yet again voice concerns that have been unanswered by Humann and Rawlings.

The issue for opponents isn’t the setting up of a public-private partnership for the stewardship of Fair Park.  The issue is the shroud this plan has operated under and the fear that the management contract with the city has loosey-goosey language and blank timetables that enshrines continued opaqueness for the next 20 years (the term of the contract).

For example, requirements for public meetings and open records are apparently not in the most recently distributed management agreement. But both Rawlings and Humann claim this is a myth along with the contract’s lack of specific planning goals to reconnect the park to the neighborhood, install needed parklands and the like.

UPDATE: The updated agreement is now available as part of the Parks Board meeting agenda for Thursday. The new document does have language supporting open meetings but is unclear on public access to financial records beyond IRS Form 990.  The document is a HEAVILY edited work-in-progress with pages and pages of strike-throughs and edits visible along with a boatload of blank pages.  Hardly the sort of condition a document of this type needs to be in on the eve of a multi-million dollar vote on a multi-decade project.

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Panel 8.1.16

[Editor’s Note: We’re hosting a robust conversation about the future of Fair Park here on CandysDirt.com ahead of the 8:30 a.m., Aug. 4 City of Dallas Park Board meeting that could help decide the iconic landmark’s fate.]

UPDATE: We have the entire agenda, including the unabridged version of the Walt Humann proposal for managing Fair Park, embedded at the end of this piece.

If you care about the fate of Fair Park, you may want to show up to the Park Board meeting this Thursday. Or at least read the 20-year, $12 million management contract that the Park Board will be voting on.

Park Board Agenda

Monday night’s panel discussion on Fair Park and the potential Park Board vote on Walt Humann’s management contract filled the Hall of State (around 300 attendees.) Despite Mayor Mike Rawlings’ last-minute press conference Monday afternoon to “make sure everybody knows the exact truth of what’s happened,” that everyone’s behind this approach (a private firm managing Fair Park), that the Park Board has been talking to Walt for two years, and “now it’s time to vote.” It was all too dismissive of the community meeting scheduled for later in the day.

The community meeting was organized in less than 1 week, in response to the July 21st Park Board special work session meeting where board members walked out (see about minute 31 of the meeting) in objection to the truncated meeting agenda which limited a thorough discussion on the proposed management contract.  They are expected to vote on the management contract at the upcoming meeting at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, which would then set it up for a city council vote. To enact the management contract for the next fiscal year, the agreement would need to be passed through council before next year’s budget is approved in September. These boards meet once a month, and the council meets twice a month with time required to put items on the agendas … you see the rush.

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1959319-1-G

Photo: Auction.com

Word comes from The Advocate that the Spanish-style mansion at 1704 W. Colorado Blvd. will be auctioned on the steps of the George Allen Courts building on Commerce St. July 7. The home, which has raised the hackles of neighbors after hosting weddings on the grounds. Still, we are absolutely saddened by the thought of anyone losing their precious home. We attempted to contact the homeowner, but the only phone number listed for the property has been disconnected.

This isn’t any ordinary home, though. Named one of the “Most Beautiful Homes in Dallas” by D Magazine and featured on the Dallas Open Days Garden Conservancy Tour, this Kessler Park home has some stand-out features, including a 4,000-square-foot main home and accompanying structures, expansive gardens, and tremendous views of the nearby Stevens Park Golf Course and Coombs Creek.

Bidding starts at $500,000, according to the Auction.com listing for the property, however, Dallas Central Appraisal District has it on the rolls for $939,880. How much do you think it will sell for?