I345Candace Carlisle at the Dallas Business Journal reports that one of the biggest commercial real estate groups in Dallas MAY spend $125,000 to explore the possible tear-down or re-development of Interstate 345.

Actually, Robert Wilonsky over at the Dallas Morning News reports the same thing.

That group would be the Texas Real Estate Council, or TREC.

The Real Estate Council is basically 95% of the top commercial real estate businesses in North Texas: developers, builders, brokers, attorneys, architects, investment bankers, accountants, finance and title professionals. TREC likes to strengthen and support the commercial real estate industry, and serve the community through government advocacy, education and professional leadership.

Candace says “the Real Estate Council of Dallas has been searching for its next big community-focused real estate project to invest in after helping fund Klyde Warren Park” — yeah, they got Klyde Warren park going, a winning number.

According to the TREC website, it’s a done deal. TREC has committed $125,000 to fund a study to look at the implications of the freeway either being repaired or going bye bye.

“We felt this was a good way that we can be engaged in the discussion and help a process that could determine the future of downtown Dallas,” Linda McMahon, president and CEO of The Real Estate Council, told the Dallas Business Journal.“We want to look at all options and not just tearing down the freeway. We want to look at what could possibly happen if it was either redesigned or removed.”

To explain: I-345 is a 1.4-mile elevated freeway connecting U.S. 75 to Interstate 30 and Interstate 45 on the east side of downtown Dallas. You have surely driven it, and maybe like me, been terribly confused by it. The freeway is a mess and needs major expensive work, and the Texas Department of Transportation needs to figure out whether they will band-aid it, or spend an aircraft carrier’s worth of money to rebuild it.

There are two young, active urban planners behind this: Patrick Kennedy and Brandon Hancock. In general, they hate Interstate 345 and they hate cars, think everyone ought to get off their butts and walk or bicycle. That’s what we all need to do, but I would like to know how we are supposed to do this in our Jimmy Choos and with no plastic bags for our groceries, just asking. I don’t know, I guess do like we do in NYC.  For the most part, they have some excellent points: highways are being de-constructed in other cities. And while not all of Dallas can be walkable, downtown Dallas can be, if we work on it. If we don’t live there, we can drive in and plop the car somewhere for the whole time. Since 2012 these two have been trying to get rid of the highway, as explained in their website for the plan,  A New Dallas.

Patrick Kennedy has, I think, some great points about what we could do with the land unearthed by tearing down the highway. He says the land could be freed up for development of, I guess, affordable housing — townhomes? apartments? condos? –and the development would better connect Deep Ellum to the Central Business District. Heavens knows we need affordable housing there, and I would love to see trees and grass instead of heat-sucking concrete.

Plus the overpass is just ugly. I guess we could recycle chunks of the old highway creatively, to create cool patios, fences, climbing walls.

Mark Lamster, the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News, who thinks we need retail options lining the Arts District, agrees with the tear down guys.

Lamster says I-345 is “a noose that segregates the urban core from the rest of the city, suppressing its vitality and economic prospects.”

I don’t think it’s a noose, it’s just like one big huge concrete statute that blocks everything. Steve Blow at the Dallas Morning News thinks the whole debate is hogwash — “It’s about the silliest notion to come along in years,” he wrote.  Texas Department of Transportation seems to be ignoring the tear down movement, saying it will repair I-345, sustaining it for another 25 years. In other words, a facelift.

Mayor Mike Rawlings has gone on record as saying the plan deserves more consideration, a second look.

So. The Real Estate Council will take a look/see, and investigate whether having a freeway slice through the center of the city is the best and highest use, or what use it is, now and 50 years from now.

Could the land really be used more effectively? And where would the existing traffic, estimated at between 160,000 and 200,000 per day, go? What if you are driving south on 75 to get to Houston? North to get to Plano? And don’t reroute drivers to Northwest Highway: 80,000 cars per day and not even a freeway!

Pretty soon traffic will have the same stigma of low income housing: NOT IN MY HOOD!

I am glad we are giving this proposal a serious second look. But if we do tear down I 345, it should be done in conjunction with a “freshening” of downtown Dallas streets. End the one-way street madness, maybe even add some streets and side roads. Downtown Dallas streets are a schizophrenic mess for anyone who drives or attempts to walk much, that is, until you get to Klyde Warren Park. And that’s in the Arts District.

Museum Tower J. SughrueStop whatever you are doing and read this column by The Observer’s Jim Schutze. He asks the very same question I had when I first read the Dallas Morning News story over a week ago about Mike Snyder’s fake Facebook accounts. The question is: if the Dallas Morning News analyzed Snyder’s IP addresses (those are numbers that link on-line comments to the source of the commenting, like a crumb trail) on his comments on the Dallas Morning News website, which are supposed to be anonymous, did they also check on others? In other words, did any “fake” comments or fake people make up comments on behalf of the Nasher? Did anyone check?

“I asked Rodrigue why the paper thought it was fair play to use information from its servers to out Snyder but made no equivalent effort to out another frequent pseudonymous commenter, “Wylie H.,” a fake-name warrior who fights on the side of the Nasher. By the way, my own very inexpert Internet sleuthing last week showed me that Wylie H. has accessed Facebook from within City Hall but also from within The Dallas Morning News building.

We do not know. The News traced only one side. They analyzed comments and saw similarities in some of the ones made by Mike himself and the fake persona. “

With apologies to Wylie H. Dallas, I generally do not like anonymous commenters. I think people can get carried away when they post anonymously and say things they might not say if they were looking you in the eye. Then the discussion gets mean and nasty, and begets more anonymous mud-slinging, especially is passion is involved. I also like to do one-on-one interviews, but that’s because I’m old-fashioned.

But here’s what people tell me: “I cannot use my name, it will get me in trouble. I’m a (insert occupation) professional.” Using anonymous comments with Realtors is like opening Pandora’s box because of the competitive nature of the biz. Can you imagine? Someone could post: “This home has bad juju” or “the owners are about to file for bankruptcy” or Lord knows what. I want some accountability, so we use Facebook-registered comments here, and I pray they are legit. This has not, however, stopped people from sending anonymous emails alerting me to things of which I need to know or, perhaps, check out.

Because that’s something else Jim Schutze points out: anonymous information can be very valuable and even lead to a revolution! Read this:

First of all, is there something intrinsically wrong, morally or ethically, with anonymous speech or its trickier cousin, pseudonymous speech, in which the speaker assumes a fake name to further camouflage his own identity?

Hope not. Anonymous and pseudonymous speech are stitched deep in the American concept of free speech, as they were woven into the very origins of our nation. The first public discussion of freedom and liberty in the colonies began when the letters of “Cato” (not his real name) began to appear in American newspapers in 1720.

Tom Paine‘s pamphlet, “Common Sense,” published in 1776, one of the most important sources of the popular concept of American liberty, did not include anywhere on its pages the name Thomas Paine. It was signed “An Englishman.”

From the beginning of our nation, American courts and especially the Supreme Court have protected anonymous and pseudonymous speech as essential to the preservation of liberty. The idea has always been that you should be able to challenge the legitimacy of the crown — or even say the king’s a fool — and not pay with your head, your livelihood or your freedom.

Ah, yes, American History 101, it’s eeking back: now this has me totally re-thinking my position. Suffice it to say that you can send me anonymous emails, and I will go to court to protect my sources if I have to! But when you get down to it, every move we make, every stroke we take, is traceable. I am on my cell phone 24/7. It’s not just a blueprint to my life, it’s a damn map! My husband tells me he is working on an app that will alert him whenever I walk into Neimans!

Please note,  I am NOT taking sides here. In my opinion, both parties should be spanked: Museum Tower failed to think of the future ramifications of it’s height and the energy-efficient building design. The Nasher was certainly here first and is a treasure to our city, but does that give them control over the whole neighborhood? Maybe each side should give in a little and see what happens. This is very much like two neighbors sparring over a property line or tree disagreement or house shadow or whatever. What bugs me is that that the media-based blogosphere, which Schutze says amounts to about 80 people,  seems to have taken one side quite firmly, screaming loudly.

In his weekly radio program with Eric Celeste, Schutze said “Dallas is a one-horse town.”

Well, it’s about time we got some more horses, because we are going NOWHERE with just one!

2323N Houston front extLet me be clear from the very start: this is unit 616 at The Terrace at Victory Park.  Kathy Nealy’s unit was 216 on the second floor, but exact same square footage  (1196) and save for being higher and maybe a different color marble in the kitchen or master, pretty similar. Robert Wilonsky at the Dallas Morning News reported today that Nealy’s condo will be sold on the courthouse steps next month in a tax auction. Nealy was, of course, a successful political consultant with close ties to John Wiley Price who apparently did not pay Uncle Sam. The Terrace2323 N Houston kit 616 2323 N Houston LR 616 2323 N Houston master bath 616Wilonsky interviewed Nealy’s attorney, who blames the sale on that famous June 2011 raid on John Wiley Price, which the attorney says “negatively impacted” Nealy’s ability to do business. And, I guess, pay her taxes.

Prior to the raid Nealy counted among her clients American Airlines, Hunt Oil, KB Homes and Wal-Mart. She also worked for Mike Rawlings’ mayoral campaign, Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Cowboys Stadium and American Airlines Center referendums, among other high-profile pushes.”

Wilonsky says Nealy purchased the condo in 2006, when the market was soaring like the Texas Giant Roller Coaster. DCAD has it appraised for $263,120.

.

Love this sassy little write-up on the Hicks estate, which is marketed by Douglas Newby & Associates, from Your Mama at The Real Estalker:

Like we usually do when it comes to dissin’ and discussin’ high-priced real estate in Dallas Your Mama gave the deliciously dishy Dallas-based property gossip Candy Evans a ringy-dingy and asked if she thought there was much of a market for a $135,000,000 house in Dallas.

There may very well be a market for an $135 million house in Dallas, but it’s a small one, as Candy said. You never know, right? Still, as Your Mama pointed out, you’re going to need big bucks and a lot of water to run this place. Natch:

The next owner of the Hicks’ estate may want to know that maintaining the vast estate will require an astonishing amount of water. Even with a private well Mister and Missus Hicks consistently rank among the highest users of water in a state regularly racked by drought. In August 2011 reports numerous multiple media outlets in the Dallas/Houston/Fort Worth area reported that Mister and Missus Hicks used 1.35 million gallons of public water for the month of June alone and in July 2012 the Dallas Morning News reported they consumed a total of 12,315,020 gallons of public water in 2011.

Eeek! That’s crazy! Then again, it’s not exactly like you can xeriscape a 25-acre estate! Maybe it’s time to take a nod from the soon-to-be-open George W. Bush Presidential Center and replace some of the landscape with drought-hardy natives and maybe some wildflowers? Just a thought.

 

Interesting stories out of the Dallas Morning News and really, everywhere, today on Museum Tower. While we think the two parties, the Nasher Museum and Museum Tower, have been negotiating diligently under the capable eyes of Tom Luce, we first get word today that negotiations may have all but broken down, and that litigation may take place. But then we learn that no, negotiations ARE taking place, reporting was wrong and the letter the story was based on was just CYA. Or something. Herewith:

“An attorney for the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System, Gary Lawson, blamed public criticism for the failure of the talks and threatening the $200 million building’s viability.

Purchasers of condominiums have canceled contracts and sales of additional units have been “substantially adversely affected,” Lawson stated in a letter he provided to The Dallas Morning News.”

“Blamed public criticism.” Now there’s an interesting phrase. Is Mr. Lawson saying that media stories are adversely affecting sales? I think he is:

“It is reasonable to anticipate that litigation will take place within the very near term, days if not weeks away,” Lawson wrote.

Sure sounds like a lawsuit:

Richard Tettamant, the pension fund’s administrator, confirmed in an email message Tuesday morning that a lawsuit is being considered. “I believe that the Nasher and the Pension System wish to resolve this issue amicably,” he said in an email, “but we have to protect the Pension System’s and Museum Tower’s legal rights.”

And now the Nasher is not the only one complaining about Museum Tower’s glare: a resident at One Arts Plaza is complaining that the mirrored siding on the new tower gives her a “sharp morning glare that lasts just too long, anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.” That is, only when she looks towards the tower from her home. It appears the resident, Petey Parker, works from her home if you look at the photos on her website.

OK, hang on. Later in the day, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System issued a response saying the DMN letter is inaccurate or out of text:

“The Dallas Morning News article about pending litigation is inaccurate. As a result of the Dallas Morning News’ numerous open record requests, we asked the Texas Attorney General to review parts of each request as allowed by law. A copy of that letter was required to be sent to the Dallas Morning News. The letter to the Attorney General is simply a prudent and conservative measure as allowed by law in response to the threat of litigation against Museum Tower as speculated in the press. More importantly, we agree with Mr. Luce’s statement today that last week’s discussions were successful, cordial and professional. We’re confident that the process will continue and we’ll have a positive outcome. The System has not changed its mission to try to resolve this matter in a reasonable and professional manner.”

That’s what I thought: CYA. And Tom Luce says things are (no pun intended) cooking:

“The Nasher Sculpture Center and Museum Tower have worked together in a series of meetings, most recently on Friday, June 22, to develop a number of potential solutions that will mitigate the glare from Museum Tower. Together, we have identified several design solutions that we are continuing to study and discuss. The process has been collegial and professional, with technical teams from both sides working together, and I believe we are close to reaching resolution.”

But then… then over at the Dallas Observer, another letter from Mr. Lawson to the Texas Attorney General spells it out: the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System is really ticked off at the local media. They think the reporting is biased, not just slanted towards the Nasher and architect Renzo Piano, but hinting the reporters are embedded with them:

“The Dallas Morning News has engaged in a coordinated campaign to move public opinion toward the Nasher side of that agenda, because your own reporter openly stated he, and by projection your paper, hold the rule of law in disdain. The Dallas Morning News, by this unethical act, has declared its advocacy agenda to influence public opinion with such pejorative fervor against our client in an attempt to force them to change their building.”

There is deep criticism of the way this story has been reported, saying that objective journalism has not taken place. Interestingly, I met with another developer a few weeks ago who told me, and showed me, how he had been mis-quoted in a Dallas Morning News story and when he confronted the reporter, the reporter said well, that was my interpretation of what you said. Mr. Lawson says no one has reported on “other Renzo Piano projects elsewhere around the world that have been embroiled in controversy over his aggressive and purposeful designs that disregard the surrounding community. Likewise they have failed to explore Piano’s flawed analysis of what future effects his buildings may project upon the immediate area.”

It’s hard to be objective as a reporter, really hard. Do you think the Dallas news media has objectively reported on the Museum Tower glass problem? Is the Dallas Morning News (and D Magazine) “not reporting the news, it has and continues to engage in active and unethical advocacy, gleefully acting as a change agent of the Nasher and Piano that is forcing the mediation into failure”? I think both are certainly obligated to tell the story, and report on it — that’s their duty. But have they been biased, or balanced?

 

These photos appear to be lifted straight from Paulette Greene’s listing for 2504 Beacon Crest Drive. Should the Dallas Morning News have credited the source?

I was reading an article on DallasNews.com earlier today when I saw one of those teasers on the sidebar that said, “Check out this Plano mega-mansion featured on TNT’s reboot of ‘Dallas’.”

I had to click, of course, if not only because I am infatuated with the new “Dallas” cast, but I wanted to see if they had some cool photos outside of the ones you saw with your own eyes right here on CandysDirt.com.

Well, they were the same ones, folks. I was kind of bummed! I wanted to see new shots, glamorous people, lights, camera, and action! There wasn’t any of that, and you know what else was missing? A link back to the listing, or any type of credit, for that matter.

So, while The Dallas Morning News is capitalizing on the hits that kind of slideshow will bring in, Ebby agent Paulette Greene won’t see any new traffic from it.

What do you think? Should the News have provided a link, or credit at least?

There appears to be some construction going on at 4949 Swiss Avenue, but the historic home remains boarded up.

Lee Hancock wrote an excellent long-form dissection of Mary Ellen Bendtsen’s home, 4949 Swiss Avenue, after Mark McCay and Justin Burgess were willed the house under suspicious circumstances. While there have been some reports of construction going on at the “Grand Dame” of Swiss Avenue, the front is boarded up and the carriage house is still crumbling.

But it won’t be that way for long, says Cameron Kinvig, who purchased 4949 Swiss and plans to restore the mansion that was once home to W.W. Caruth. In fact, all three floors of 4949 Swiss will be open to onlookers during this year’s Swiss Avenue Mother’s Day Home Tour on May 12 and 13.

“Many of the wall paintings from the ballroom (from Mattie Caruth’s debutante ball) were able to be saved and will be shown in their original (pre-restoration) condition in the ballroom,” Kinvig said via e-mail. “Docents will be on hand to discuss plans for the home’s renovation, and will be able to share some of the fun tidbits I’ve discovered since purchasing the home.”

After touring Swiss Avenue, if you want to watch the drama surrounding 4949 Swiss play out on the small screen, flip to the Discovery Channel’s “Investigation Discovery” on May 12 when they re-air the special about the case.

 

 

Steve Brown says the 28-story residential downtown tower styled by French designer Philippe Starck with 130 units is heading for foreclosure, and it could be one of the largest in Dallas history.

“I think it’s the biggest residential foreclosure posting we’ve ever had in Dallas,” George Roddy, president of Addison-based Foreclosure Listing Service, which reported the filing, told Steve Brown at The Dallas Morning News, who broke the story. “I haven’t seen anything bigger than this one.”

The broker who was handling the sales and marketing of The House, Bobby Dhillon, has not been on site since January 4.

Developing on my end. Here’s Steve Brown’s story, from a site called LoanSafe.org that seems to have lifted it right off the Dallas Morning News which is, of course, behind a paywall, which I subscribe to.