“Live tweeting from the bathroom of my high school reunion. Two beers in. Ask me anything,” I tweeted in homage of Reddit’s popular AMA format.

That’s right, I started writing this CandysDirt.com column from the women’s restroom of Saint Rocco’s, the Trinity Groves venue hosting my Lake Highlands High School 20-year reunion. But I wasn’t having a John Hughes 1980s movie meltdown moment. I was simply feeling reflective about something I’d been honestly dreading for weeks.

Why would anyone put themselves through that? Now that Facebook has made catching up with old high school friends as swift as clicking a button to “Add Friend,” it admittedly seems pointless. But I’m going to make a bold assertion, so hear me out: Going to your high school reunion could actually be good for you. Here are four reasons why:



Follow the creative work force and you’ll always find the next cool place to live.

Photographers and artists originally pioneered repurposing historic warehouses into studios that doubled as homes. It happened in Deep Ellum back in the 1970s and ‘80s. They were eventually priced out, and moved on to another warehouse neighborhood — The Design District. It’s become the new hip place to live and it’s where we found a Design District “wow-house” warehouse.


Nathan Grace Realtor Jennifer Ayyad

Nathan Grace Realtor Jennifer Ayyad created large-scale acrylic paintings at their Frisco office, including the one pictured above, which hangs in the kitchen. All photos: Daniel Martinez with DM Photography

Dallas native Jennifer Ayyad is a real estate agent and artist who is finding a beautiful way to marry her passion for both.

The Nathan Grace Realtor has received several recent commissions for her extraordinary, large-scale acrylic paintings. The first was for a friend at the W Residences who had recently purchased a condo there.

“He was open to all kinds of ideas—I started painting on clear acrylic and we decided, why not do something that’s functional art?” Ayyad said. “So we did sliding barn door with a modern, contemporary twist.”

Nathan Grace Realtor Jennifer Ayyad

One of the acrylic sliding doors painted by Jennifer Ayyad in the Frisco office of Nathan Grace.

Her friend loved the piece, as did many people who saw the photos of it she posted on Facebook. One of her fans was her own real estate firm. They commissioned her to create art for the new Nathan Grace Frisco offices earlier this year.

Ayyad painted a set of sliding doors made out of four 10-foot-by-6-foot acrylic panels for the office entry, pictured above, and a large piece for the kitchen, both with vibrant colors and metallic gold accents.

The pieces are unusual and arresting, and people are lining up for her work.


Photo courtesy Wood Partners

Another residential development is underway near West Dallas’ super hot Trinity Groves neighborhood with the construction of Alta Yorktown by Wood Partners LLC.

The development will include 226 luxury apartments in three, four-story buildings on six acres. The property, located at 660 Yorktown St., is just one mile west of downtown Dallas, and sits near the Trinity Groves restaurant, retail, and entertainment area.

Rents at Alta Yorktown will average just over $1,300 a month for apartment homes that average 827 square feet (available as studio, one, two, and three bedrooms). Leasing will begin toward the end of 2015, and construction is slated for completion toward the middle of 2016.

Interior finishes in the apartments will include granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, tile backsplashes, Shaker wood cabinets, upgraded fixtures, and wireless technology packages. Community amenities will include an outdoor swimming pool and courtyard, grilling stations, and fire pits. The property will also have a small amount of retail space.

Alta Yorktown is just one of multiple new developments in and around Trinity Groves, where Wood Partners has a big stake in the neighborhood. It sits next to the Sylvan Thirty mixed-use project, in where Wood Partners built the 200 apartments, and the Alta West Commerce apartments, which will have 252 units. Jump to read more!


The Trinity Village development in West Dallas will begin in 2015. Photo courtesy of Dallas Morning News.

Work will begin on the Trinity Village development in West Dallas in 2015. Rendering courtesy of StreetLights Residential.

More good news for development in West Dallas with word Thursday that Dallas-based Stonelake Capital Partners has closed on a 25-acre tract of industrial property on Singleton Boulevard, west of Sylvan Avenue.

Along with developer StreetLights Residential, Stonelake is planning a $200 million mixed-use development at 1000 Singleton Boulevard, on the southwest corner of Singleton and Sylvan.

This is 2014’s largest single redevelopment property in West Dallas, and it will bring about 1,500 new residential units to the area west of Downtown Dallas. (more…)

I have to agree with The Dallas Morning News editorial board on this one: More residential development in West Dallas benefits everyone. How they arrived at the conclusion is another matter.

Take this paragraph for example:

While this might sound like a chicken-or-egg question — which comes first, housing or residents? — the answer is clear: It’s housing, especially single-family homes, that is key to a neighborhood’s rebirth. Fresh signs of that rebirth are showing up in West Dallas and North Oak Cliff.

Is it really all that clear?


The apartments at Sylvan|Thirty are some of the 1,300 projected units that will be built in West Dallas.

The apartments at Sylvan|Thirty are some of the 1,300 projected units that will be built in West Dallas.

Steve Brown’s dissection of the new apartment projects in West Dallas says that this area with incredible views of downtown and the Calatrava bridge will become the next big industrial-to-residential transition in Dallas. But what impact will these 1,300 brand new apartments have on the existing infrastructure? And will this redevelopment become a model for other areas?