8630 Angora Front

By now you know the motto of East Dallas’ weirdest neighborhood: “Keep Little Forest Hills Funky.” In this neighborhood that reminds most people of Austin, you’ll find tiny cottages and bungalows with low ceilings and wood siding. Some of them have been added on, some have been remodeled, and some have been renovated inside and out. But the neighborhood remains a bastion of diversity in taste and architecture.

That’s what’s so remarkable about 8630 Angora: It’s so very different from what you’d expect to find in Little Forest Hills. This two-bedroom, two-bathroom 1980s soft contemporary has high ceilings, big windows, and open spaces — all a far cry from the typical cottage lining the hilly streets of the neighborhood.

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DISD Admin Building 3700 Ross Ave

Both Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said that education is one of the major issues facing North Texas. But other than outright dissolution or breaking up the urban districts, advocates and officials are scrambling for ways to fix underperforming schools and disaffected communities.

The idea that has gained the most traction is home rule. It’s a complicated process that involves a commission appointed by school board officials that will then develop a charter, which will then go to a citywide ballot for a vote. In the end, the district will be reshaped in a way that will change how the school district is managed.

It’s been hailed as a way to cut through the bureaucracy that has kept Dallas schools from succeeding. If the district reorganizes and becomes more successful, more middle-class people will come back to the city, and so will employers.

At least that’s what Rawlings hopes.

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9003 Groveland Front

I’m sure you’ve seen the signs in the front yard of homes sandwiched between Old Gate and Lakeland, sporting green lettering admonishing passersby to “Keep Little Forest Hills Funky!” Still, over the years as investors and newcomers have bought up the little cottages that line the hilly streets of this neighborhood, many of the homes have become more bland, more predictable, and decidedly less “funky.”

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6407 Richmond Front

Not only is this home updated and fresh as a daisy, but it has a spacious, fenced-in backyard as well as Lakewood schools (Lakewood Elementary, Long Middle School, Woodrow Wilson High School), as well as some of the best pre-schools in the area, such as East Dallas Developmental Center.

So yes, if you’re considering moving to Lakewood, think about this super cute two-story just off Richmond Avenue in a very walkable part of the neighborhood, Country Club Estates. Yes, Lakewood can be walkable! This home at 6407 Richmond, which has more than 2,000 square feet, three bedrooms, three full baths, and brand-new stainless steel appliances is listed by Dave Perry-Miller Realtor Scott Jackson for $2,950 a month. Pets are allowed, too!

6407 Richmond Living Dining

Sure, Richmond can be a busy street. It’s right between Abrams and Gaston — two significant thoroughfares in Lakewood. But consider that a selling point because there are tons of amenities nearby. You’re within walking distance of Whole Foods — literally just across the — Chipotle, Lakewood Shopping Center, Paciugo, Tietze Park, Lakewood Country Club, and the list goes on and on.

6407 Richmond Kitchen 6407 Richmond Downstairs Bath

It’s a fantastic home for someone used to a more dense neighborhood such as Uptown, who wants to upsize without having to deal with driving everywhere for everything. And besides being super close to great shopping, there are tons of fantastic community groups, especially the Lakewood Early Childhood PTA.

So what do you think of this rental? Is it good for someone who wants a place to live while they find their dream home in Lakewood?

6407 Richmond Backyard

6339 Velasco Front

What a cute little dollhouse this cottage is! Truly, romantic properties aren’t always huge bathtubs and gigantic kitchens with wine chillers. They can be sweet and warm, just like a good chick flick or not unlike fondue.

That’s what I think of when I see this adorable Lakewood Heights cottage at 6339 Velasco. This house is just so sweet, perfect for newlyweds who want a little love nest in a fantastic area. Lakewood Heights is full of a wonderful mix of old and new, some are lovely brand new custom-built homes and homes like this one, a gorgeous 1,390-square-foot home built in 1928. It’s listed by Keller Williams Elite Park Cities agent Joyce Bauert for $230,000.

6339 Velasco Front Porch

With three bedrooms and two baths, this home is a fantastic size for a small family. It’s close to White Rock Lake, and it’s also inside the Lakewood Elementary School attendance area, which feeds into Woodrow Wilson High School.

While the fireplace is purely ornamental, it is an adorable part of the living and dining area, which features walls of bookcases — a turn-on if there ever was one. The kitchen is dated and modest, but that’s part of the appeal of this home, which could be a fantastic fixer-upper or an investment for a couple that finds nothing sexier than putting in a little sweat equity.

6339 Velasco Living Dining 6339 Velasco Dining

 

6336 Velasco Kitchen

The master bedroom and bath could use a designer’s touch, but considering the overall scale of the house, it’s a pretty incredible size, giving the new owners plenty of room to build a super sexy master bath with the jetted tub every woman wants.

6339 Velasco Master 6339 Velasco Master Bath

The backyard has a great deck and a patch of lawn that is perfect for losing a few hours to daydreams. It really is a wonderful property for newlyweds looking for a love nest. What do you think?

6339 Velasco Backyard

Woodrow Wilson High School

Thanks to a Facebook page started by former State Rep. Allen Vaught, meetings with Dallas ISD trustee Mike Morath, and a growing groundswell of support, talk is picking up about Woodrow Wilson High School and it’s feeder campuses splintering from Dallas ISD to form their own school district.

It’s an interesting idea, one that would either create a sort of charter school district inside DISD, or secede from the district forever, depending on whom you’re asking. The complaints are as diverse as the proposed solution, but many families inside Lakewood are just fed up with the slow-moving bureaucracy at 3700 Ross Ave, one that Vaught wants to ditch completely.

Should this actually come to fruition, what would happen to the home values inside the Woodrow attendance boundaries and Lakewood as a whole? And what about homes surrounding the area?

6427 Lakewood ext

“My personal opinion is that when Lakewood becomes it’s own entity, the children are the ones who will benefit,” said Scott Carlson, a Realtor who specializes in Lakewood real estate and East Dallas. “Absolutely property values in Lakewood will be protected and become stronger.”

Nancy Johnson, also an expert in Lakewood-area real estate and is the listing agent for 10 Nonesuch Road, agrees.

“I think it would have a positive affect,” Johnson said. “Of course many details would need answering but DISD has such a bad rap that I think localizing and separating from all the negativity would hopefully have some of the great affects the Park Cities have enjoyed.”

Lakewood Elementary

Of course, Park Cities home values have always held strong, thanks to the solid schools, and recently values have taken a turn upward. But there have been some side-effects. Increased density and over-crowded schools are growing problems for Highland Park ISD. As more people seek to live inside a higher-performing school district, builders tear down single-family homes to build duplexes and four-plexes, increasing the burden on campuses to make room for more children. It’s a double-edged sword, for sure.

And let’s not forget that with higher property values often comes higher taxes.

“As you are aware, Texas does not have a state income tax. Never the less, we make up for that in our property taxes — mostly the school part of the tax,” Carlson said. “It’s a ton of money and therefore brings a lot of problems.”

But would White Rock ISD, or Lakewood ISD, or whatever we’re calling this proposed school district, become financially independent? Or would Lakewood property tax dollars still end up in DISD coffers? It’s something that has to be thought out carefully. If the school district becomes financially independent, and results in skyrocketing property values and property taxes, then the district will likely become targeted for redistribution according to the state’s “Robin Hood” laws.

Still, Carlson feels that the district already has a great amount of autonomy and support from the community.

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(Photo: Jenifer McNeil Baker)

“My thoughts are that Lakewood already operates on it’s own. What the parents and community has done for the Lakewood school district is extraordinary. A lot of families are moving to Lakewood primarily for the Lakewood school district,” Carlson said. As for support, there’s already a groundswell of that, thanks to the Lakewood Early Childhood PTA and their fundraising efforts.

“The upcoming Lakewood Home Festival, which is the weekend of the Nov. 8, shows how strong and financially viable Lakewood is,” Carlson said. “This being the oldest home tour in Dallas has set the standard for many other home tours. The focus and vision of the parents combined with their love for their children and community, grounded in the beauty of White Rock Lake and nature, is what has made Lakewood one of the BEST neighborhoods in America.”

And that is definitely catching on.