Tagged: Dallas

Highland Park = Mayberry? LOL

A Wall Street Journal article yesterday talked about our beloved Highland Park, written by real estate journalist Alyssa Abkowitz.

The article describes the area’s perfectly manicured lawns and “traditional architecture.” It also mentions their charming 4th of July parade and Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.  “It’s like you’ve gone to Mayberry when you walk in,” said Mr. Ray Washburn of Highland Park Village, which he owns. My reaction: Image

Washburn bought HP Village in 2009 and is responsible for bringing in more upscale tenants like Stella McCartney and Dior. Very Mayberry, n’est pas?

Now we never did get to see little Opie grow up, but I’m quite sure he was never accused of raping a classmate or making bomb threats against his high school. Nor did Sheriff Andy Taylor rent a warehouse for Opie and his friends to get wasted underage. Image

In one episode, a family’s home is condemned because it is so run down. Rather than let the family face eviction, the entire community bands together to repair their home. Think of that in Highland Park, either a family letting their home get to that state or the community helping out.

Mr. Washburn is an older gentlemen and remembers the Highland Park of a bygone era. When Highland Park Village was a neighborhood shopping center and when other longtime residents knew their neighbors. In a tight-knit community, one knows when something is out of place, and you watch out for each other.

Nowadays, Highland Park is the epicenter of Dallas’ materialism, generally enforced by newcomers, “outsiders.” And this phenomenon can be seen all over the country: Beverly Hills, River Oaks, Coral Gables, Buckhead, or Scottsdale.

D Magazine wrote in their review Dallas’ suburbs, “we once eavesdropped on some high schoolers who were eating at Mi Cocina in Highland Park Village. One boy said to the group: Everyone in the word hates America. Everyone in America hates Texas. Everyone in Texas hates Dallas and everyone in Dallas hates Highland Park. Isn’t that awesome?”

That sums it up. HP is the center of their own world.

Even in Nichols Hills, Oklahoma where I grew up, the city’s relative affluence, as the home of ex-Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon, has now gained far more notoriety than its community feel. As a child I was never conscious of the area’s wealth, nor was my family by any means one of the wealthiest families. Home prices were also far lower back then, as is the case with Highland Park. Of the 44 current listings in Nichols Hills, just about half are for homes worth $1 Million and up. In Highland Park, the cheapest listing is nearly $700,000.

Were my family looking to buy into Nichols Hills now, we couldn’t. That sucks. Not to pick on California, but I blame you. You spoiled brats are pricing out the natives.

All is not lost. As Highland Park continues to drown in its own decadence, new genuinely family-oriented communities wil take its place. I love Lakewood. There is a lot to like about Southlake too, though it is (gasp!) in Tarrant County.

The point: you can spend your life chasing money or you can carve your own path. That’s exactly what the original residents of HP did! They left the established residences in the east and went “out west” to Dallas. They worked hard and built the prairie into the city we know today.

This Light Never Turns Green

I have convinced myself that TXDOT is out to ruin me. All too often I find various traffic lights either flashing red or completely out, while the ones a few blocks ahead or behind are functioning. This non-sense must stop, please!!

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If there is some kind of reason for this madness, a little advance warning would be much appreciated. A broken traffic light pits all us drivers against each other. I feel like this: 

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This past week alone I had to drive through three outages. I’ve had the worst luck at these locations:

Walnut Hill Lane: Boedeker St & Tibbs St

Northwest Highway: Inwood Rd, Thackery St, Boedeker Dr, NorthPark & Shady Brook Ln

Mockingbird Lane: Abrams Rd, Matilda St, DART Station, 75 Service Roads

Hopefully someone else has had this similar problem? Perhaps somebody else knows what’s going on? 

Crossing the Trinity

My parents were in town this weekend for a concert. We ate at Tillman’s Roadhouse in the Bishop Arts section of Oak Cliff. I’ve been skeptical about Oak Cliff for many reasons. One: I’m still not entirely sure it’s safe. Two: Why drive all that way for some food? Three: I’m not hipster. I am impressed by the area however let’s look at it from another point of view:

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White people have a history of invading lower-income neighborhoods, increasing property values and consequently pricing out the area’s original inhabitants and character. Think Haight-Asbury, Abbott-Kinney/Venice in LA, Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. Let’s not forget that Uptown was nothing 15 years ago and this same phenomenon happened. So to all of you scrambling to move to Oak Cliff because it’s not like Uptown, I hope you’re planning to move soon. As to what is better: Oak Cliff as it is or encouraging its gentrification? I haven’t a clue. There are positives and negatives to both.

Oak Cliff is still in its beginning stages as Bishop Arts remains an an attraction but hardly anyone actually wants to move there.

As for the restaurant, Tillman’s was incredible. The inside is decorated like an Anthropologie store. Quite literally. It’s Southwestern-Texas chic or whatever. Beautiful crystal chandeliers highlight the faux hunting trophies on the unfinished wood walls. My only complant: the noise level is unbearable.

The food? Out of this world. I had “spare rib ravioli” and Dad had the “lobster tamales.”

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My mom was holding out for dessert and only had a salad. But it was well worth it. Their signature item is table-side s’mores! The marshmallows come in three varieties: orange, chicory and maple.

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Tillman’s Roadhouse: 324 W 7th St, Dallas, TX. Tillmans also has a Fort Worth location. http://www.tillmansroadhouse.com Dinner for two: $95

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Give Bishop Arts a try. I only hope it continues to develop it’s own unique atmosphere and does not succumb to the Olsen Twin effect.

Another Great Day for Dallas

ImageDallas is quite the exciting place to be. Several new real-estate developments have been announced that are poised to reinvent several areas of the city.

Announced just today is a major revitalization the Affiliated Computer Services property, on Haskell/Fitzhugh facing 75. Currently a collection of office buildings, legendary Trammell-Crow proposes a mixed-use facility, with apartments and shops.

This is a very key area. Uptown Dallas lies just on the other side of the freeway, an area transformed in the last 10 years. As a child, I recall Uptown as a collection of vacant lots, abandoned or run down homes and warehouses. Check out this before and after from the Dallas Morning News. Also read this Uptown blog. If you don’t live here you won’t believe it.

US-75 has in many ways acted a barrier, preventing the east side from growing as much as the west. The area has struggled to overcome its past.  But change has arrived, as Knox-Henderson has blossomed into an incredible mecca of local restaurants. New apartments and revived historic homes line the streets behind. Trammell-Crow’s development lies in a gap between the two areas. If done right, and Crow will, his property will bridge that gap and perhaps spur redevelopment of the surrounding area.

And unlike Bishop Arts, it won’t require a trek across the Trinity! I look forward to seeing its completion, the date for which has not been announced.

Another project, called Midtown Dallas, will redevelop the fabulously ghetto Valley View Mall, next door to the increasingly ghetto Galleria Dallas. The Galleria of course made headlines recently when Saks Fifth Avenue announced it will close its doors come summer. The area is in desperate need of some TLC. It’s a prime location, and construction on LBJ will be completed in the next year or so. Just south of the area is Preston Hollow, one of the wealthiest areas of town. Addison and Plano lie to the north, upscale areas with yuppies and young familes. The area also has a huge daytime population of white-collar workers nearby.

The site plan calls for hotels, shopping, an AMC theatre, “flagship” JC Penney, ice rink, a park and trails, restaurants and apartments. One stop “shopping” for family fun.

The trouble? Branding. NorthPark and HP Village definitely have a hold on the luxury market. Yes, people are so silly as to drive forever to say they bought it at NorthPark. And for Preston Hollow money, it’s not that far. In Plano, Stonebriar Centre has them covered for their everyday needs and entertainment.

The Challenge? Convince Addison yuppies they don’t need to go to Uptown to have fun. Impossible? Perhaps, but this center has a number of unique features that will help establish itself. Also problematic: Richardson. That area has not aged well and incomes continue to decline.

I worry it will turn into a collection of chain restaurants appealing largely to bored convention goers and tourists. But the plans look attractive and at this point, anything is better than Valley View.

Check it out for yourself here.