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Last week, I wrote about the decisions we have coming up regarding real estate, and our son’s education. And I love, love, love all the reader feedback and comments. This week? This week I’d like to talk about our thought process thus far.

My husband and I are products of public schools – albeit not in Dallas, since we both landed here as adults. But in our time as a couple, we have kept a watchful eye on our adopted hometown’s education offerings, and once Tiny became a waving little alien on an ultrasound screen, we began, in earnest, discussing what we would do.

We’re kind of planners. OK, more accurately, I’m a raging planaholic, and my husband is a planner. But this now-ongoing discussion needed to happen that early because it involved real estate – which, as we all know, is something you try not to go into willy nilly.

So we first took a look at the school we would be assigned to for elementary school – Withers Elementary. As luck would have it, we have several friends and acquaintances with children who were attending at the time, and at least one whose children are now attending. Nothing but raves. A dual-language program that has benefitted hundreds of children. Robust parental involvement. Great ratings from the TEA, and compares well with  many of the elementary schools in the area of similar size and make up. (more…)

Drivelikeyourkidslivehere

These signs are proliferating in Preston Hollow and I’ve seen a few in the Park Cities. Anyone seen them? They are the creation of a Wethersfield, Ct. woman, Petulia Pugliares, who lives between two elementary schools and a high school and thinks people there drive too fast. She has witnessed several accidents and was even struck by a car herself.

Well Petulia honey, if they are driving too fast in Ct. let me tell you what they are doing in Texas, where we have a highway that lets us hit 120 mph. Drivers are on speed steroids here in Dallas. Not that it makes a difference, any fast-moving car is dangerous, but we drive bigger cars that are like missiles — trucks, SUVs, and Hummers. And she’s right — people DO drive too fast, endangering people and stray pets. Petulia’s creation attempts to create an empathy campaign to solicit or elicit empathy in the viewer of the sign. It sort of reels them in, reminds them of what’s really important, like their kids, and hopefully makes them slow down.

So much nicer than what my sign would say: “Slow Down You EFF*#@!! IDIOTS!” (more…)

I just came across something that gave me a great chuckle…so I thought I’d be generous and share.

Judgmental Maps posted a descriptive map of Dallas, which may render Google maps obsolete now.

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Turns out, I live with the Preservationist Zealots, which is pretty much on target. If I hear from one more neighbor that a certain Snitch (who of course does not live in a Tudor or even a cute house) has sent the City out to inspect their exterior colors or date test a stained glass window that was removed, said Snitch will have 6 dogs worth of poo thrown in their yard to add to their home’s charm.

Based on this amazing map, the Dirt Queen herself, Candace Evans, lives somewhere in between Big Hair, False Boobs, and George W. Enthusiasts. Way more appropriate if she lives with the W Enthusiasts, though there are a few Liberals sprinkled in her ‘hood. Keeps it interesting. I think the false boobs are more congregated between NW Highway and Royal Lane. Correct?

The “Schoolbook Suppository” (6th Floor Museum) also cracks me up…that’s what my dad’s been calling it for years.

Is where you live & work correct?

Enjoy, and you’re welcome.

Hollywood Santa Monica logo

Here’s my daughter’s FB post from Hollywood Heights last night, tells you a little bit about the neighborhood:

police helicopter circling above with search lights down street and in windows. hysterical mass texts with neighbors. love our ‘hood – so much more entertaining than Preston Hollow. #guessishouldlockthebackdoor #bitsytothescene

Yeah, well, we have FBI Raids in our ‘hood. Anyhow, this was for a 7 year old child who was believed abducted. Later, the child was found safe:

From Detective Allen: 
At about 9:40 p.m., the missing 7 year old girl was confirmed found at a residence near the vicinity of Santa Fe and Munger.  This has been reported as an stranger kidnapping, however, the police investigation has just begun.  Thank you for all who offered their help and spread the word!

Crime Fighting Works When We All Get Involved 

Drew Philp Detroit by Garrett McLean

Author Drew Philp in his Poletown home he purchased for $500

Photo: BuzzFeed/Garrett Maclean

Candy and I have been discussing this very interesting long-form story from BuzzFeed about a man who bought a home in Detroit’s Poletown neighborhood for $500 when he was 23 years old. Since then, protesters, investors, and CEOs have bought up property throughout Detroit’s devastated neighborhoods, demolishing buildings and shrinking the city’s footprint.

Drew Philp‘s story is a gripping one if you are interested in reclaiming urban neighborhoods, overcoming a history of civic corruption, and reinvesting in cities wrought by economic peril. I know several people in the southern reaches of North Oak Cliff who have purchased homes knowing that it could be years before their neighborhood transitions into a marketable one and a profitable investment. Did that deter them? Heck no.

Still, Philp’s perspective on broadening gentrification is an interesting one. His account, which takes us through the first couple of years of living in a once-abandoned home that was so full of trash it took him a month to clear the first floor, to now. Here’s a telling excerpt:

Dan Gilbert, the owner of Quicken Loans, has moved more than 7,600 employees downtown. He also just sent a notice to one of my ex-girlfriends, explaining he has purchased the apartment building she’s lived in for the last 16 years and his future plans don’t include her. The city is talking of disinvesting in entire neighborhoods such as mine — literally letting the neighborhood go to seed and removing city services, shrinking the city in what some have termed as “white-sizing”; upstarts backed with foundation money are talking about transforming an entire neighborhood into an 2,475-acre urban farm. The state just approved a $350 million subsidized giveaway for a hockey stadium with a suburban fan base that’s going to tear down another portion of the city and push more people out. Of course, the divide between the gentrifying Detroit downtown and the bankrupt Detroit that is the rest of the city mirrors what is happening in a lot of this country.

These changes are making me feel a bit threatened and defensive. Instead of a lone weird white kid buying a house in Detroit, now I’m part of a movement. I shop at the Whole Foods, knowing every step into that store is a step away from a brand-new city that could be. And if someone tries to break into my house again I will not hesitate to defend myself and someday my family. Some days I feel caught in a tide I cannot row against, but these are the realities. Maybe I’m feeling a bit like the good people of Detroit must have felt to be counted amongst the citizens of “Murder City.”

But there’s another Detroit, too, of which I am but a small part. It’s been happening quietly and for some time, between transplants and natives, black and white and Latino, city and country — tiny acts of kindness repeated thousands of times over, little gardens and lots of space, long meetings and mowing grass that isn’t yours. It’s baling hay.

It’s the Detroit that’s saving itself. The Detroit that’s building something brand-new out of the cinders of consumerism and racism and escape.

Read the whole thing and then tell us: Does the modern Detroit really reflect how our nation is changing? And how do we turn the tide, as Philp suggests we do?

 

Drew Philp Detroit by Garrett McLean

Author Drew Philp in his Poletown home he purchased for $500

Photo: BuzzFeed/Garrett Maclean

Candy and I have been discussing this very interesting long-form story from BuzzFeed about a man who bought a home in Detroit’s Poletown neighborhood for $500 when he was 23 years old. Since then, protesters, investors, and CEOs have bought up property throughout Detroit’s devastated neighborhoods, demolishing buildings and shrinking the city’s footprint.

Drew Philp‘s story is a gripping one if you are interested in reclaiming urban neighborhoods, overcoming a history of civic corruption, and reinvesting in cities wrought by economic peril. I know several people in the southern reaches of North Oak Cliff who have purchased homes knowing that it could be years before their neighborhood transitions into a marketable one and a profitable investment. Did that deter them? Heck no.

Still, Philp’s perspective on broadening gentrification is an interesting one. His account, which takes us through the first couple of years of living in a once-abandoned home that was so full of trash it took him a month to clear the first floor, to now. Here’s a telling excerpt:

Dan Gilbert, the owner of Quicken Loans, has moved more than 7,600 employees downtown. He also just sent a notice to one of my ex-girlfriends, explaining he has purchased the apartment building she’s lived in for the last 16 years and his future plans don’t include her. The city is talking of disinvesting in entire neighborhoods such as mine — literally letting the neighborhood go to seed and removing city services, shrinking the city in what some have termed as “white-sizing”; upstarts backed with foundation money are talking about transforming an entire neighborhood into an 2,475-acre urban farm. The state just approved a $350 million subsidized giveaway for a hockey stadium with a suburban fan base that’s going to tear down another portion of the city and push more people out. Of course, the divide between the gentrifying Detroit downtown and the bankrupt Detroit that is the rest of the city mirrors what is happening in a lot of this country.

These changes are making me feel a bit threatened and defensive. Instead of a lone weird white kid buying a house in Detroit, now I’m part of a movement. I shop at the Whole Foods, knowing every step into that store is a step away from a brand-new city that could be. And if someone tries to break into my house again I will not hesitate to defend myself and someday my family. Some days I feel caught in a tide I cannot row against, but these are the realities. Maybe I’m feeling a bit like the good people of Detroit must have felt to be counted amongst the citizens of “Murder City.”

But there’s another Detroit, too, of which I am but a small part. It’s been happening quietly and for some time, between transplants and natives, black and white and Latino, city and country — tiny acts of kindness repeated thousands of times over, little gardens and lots of space, long meetings and mowing grass that isn’t yours. It’s baling hay.

It’s the Detroit that’s saving itself. The Detroit that’s building something brand-new out of the cinders of consumerism and racism and escape.

Read the whole thing and then tell us: Does the modern Detroit really reflect how our nation is changing? And how do we turn the tide, as Philp suggests we do?

 

Park Cities sidewalksI sigh not because I do not enjoy walking, but because all this “walkable” talk is so annoying in our climate right now. Oh, I know we have had a really mild summer — last week we would have sat outside in the evening had it not been for the mosquitoes and West Nile.. Really, who walks when it’s 100 degrees outside? Do these walk-enthusiasts not understand that hair frizzes, clothing gets drenched, blisters are created in sweaty flip flops and overall walking is not the most pleasant of experiences come July, August and most of September in Dallas? Then there are the mosquitos! Walking is the best way to get around in New York City, but during the sweltering August I spent there two years ago, it was tortuous. And I avoided it as much as I could, then hit the air-conditioned gym.

So Dallas ranked as the 30th most walkable city in the United States, by Walk Score, a really neat site that started a few years back, measures a neighborhood’s walkability rating, among other things. Walking is great — people who live in walkable places weigh 6 to 10 pounds less, according to Walk Score. A score of 47, which we got, is not so hot. But it’s better than a score of  0 to 24, where almost everything is butt-expanding car dependent. A score of 50 to 69 would have been better, meaning that some errands can be accomplished on foot. 70 to 89 is super walkable, and 90 to 100 just rocks as a walker’s paradise. I could not find any large cities with scores higher than 90. New York City was first, with a walk score of 85, followed by San Francisco, 85, Boston, 79 and Chicago, 74. I will hasten to add that Chicago is the total opposite of Dallas come December, January and February: freeze your butt if you walk during those months unless you are wearing major cover. And I do mean major.

Most of the high-scoring walkable cities were up north, with the exception of Miami, score 73.

Next, Zip Realty zipped in to narrow the focus even more, and offered up the three most walkable neighborhoods in Dallas. They are University Park, Highland Park, and Addison.

What does University Park and Highland Park have that the rest of Dallas lacks? Sidewalks. Moment I moved to Dallas, I asked, where are the sidewalks? North Dallas does not have many. South Dallas has way more, like this photo from the Kings Highway Conservation District Conservation program shows:Kings Highway project

Of course the Park Cities, with some of the priciest real estate in town, would rate higher because they have dang sidewalks! In my ‘hood, you walk in the street and move over in terror to someone’s driveway or right of way when a Suburban comes tearing out like a bat out of you-know-what.

As for Addison, doesn’t surprise me at all. Nice little residential area springing up around Addison Circle with great planning, condos, restaurants and stores and everyone’s walking. Don’t believe me, ask Carol Blair who is selling real estate up there like crazy.

 

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A Reader Writes:

Here is a picture of the fam in front of our townhome. We are still all over the place in terms of where to live and find the perfect neighborhood. When I wrote you last, it was Lake Highlands. A week before that, it was UP. Today, it’s Lakewood.

As you can see from the pic, we need some room for the family. I hope I can convince the hubs to have a 3rd baby by next year. If I prove persuasive enough, we’ll have 3 kiddos. We know we will need space for kids, a nanny, and a good public elementary. Whether that is buying a 4 bedroom in Lake Highlands, building an extra living quarters onto a 3 bedroom in Lakewood, or just sacrificing to get into (a shoebox) in Park Cities is a daily discussion. On top of that, each of those submarkets have micromarkets within. We want some value-add/fixer-upper potential, but to what degree, we are not sure. We just know that we don’t want to commute, and we don’t want to pay for private school.

We still have a lot of soul searching to do, and any advice helps.

What a beautiful family! Please tell your husband you have to have at least one more baby because your children (and y’all) are so beautiful!

Your’s is the classic Dallas dilemma brought on by what has been, in some parts of town, a mediocre public school system for the last 30 years. Of course you’re all over the place because Dallas has so many wonderful neighborhoods close in, but you have children to educate and I’m sure security and safety are also important.

My daughter just moved to Lakewood, submarket Hollywood Heights Santa Monica, because of the great elementary schools and leafy terrain. The great public schools in Lakewood are driving that market up up and away. To a certain extent, the same thing is happening around Kramer Elementary up near JanMar and Northaven, and really around any high-performing public school. Let’s enlist the help of our talented real estate community to help you narrow down the selection, and find you a new home!

PS: I’m with you on Lakewood. Today, at least!