Future of Odessa’s Ector Theatre Uncertain as City Reviews Development Plans

Photo courtesy Charles Henry via Creative Commons

Photo courtesy Charles Henry via Creative Commons

In our culture of “bigger, better, newer, faster,” historic theaters may well be one of America’s most endangered buildings.

There are at least 160 of these beauties in the Lone Star State, once the center of a city’s entertainment district. But now these Arcadias, Palaces, Majestics, Paramounts, and Pioneers often sit in states of disrepair.

Some municipalities or private groups have stepped up and renovated these architectural treasures, like the Pines Theater in Lufkin, the Historic Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff, and the Crighton Theatre in Conroe.

But all too often, these buildings are demolished to make way for new development that looks flashier and brings in more rent per square foot.

In Odessa, the Ector Theatre is at the center of just such a situation now, with a proposal to make it part of a new downtown hotel and convention center, a $73 million project. Dallas-based Gatehouse Capital, a real estate investment company, made the proposal for development of the area that would include retaining the historic Ector image, but details are sparse.

The Odessa City Council approved a 90-day, $192,000 study on Jan. 13 by Gatehouse and third-party companies to examine the options for the theater, and nothing is off the table yet. Jump to read more!


Home For Sale yard Sign

You know those Millennials and how they want their mortgages with cheap rates and minimal down payments. They want speedy pre-approval and closings with no hiccups. And they want it all right now.

If that seems demanding, well, that’s the Millennial generation for you. The interesting news is, according to a recent survey by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Generation Z is more willing to make sacrifices to achieve home ownership. That’s right: The same generation that knowingly misspells words all over Twitter and Facebook is willing to sacrifice more than the “y” and “o” in “your.” They say they’re willing to sacrifice social media access (HORRORS!) in order to own a home.


4907 Armstrong Parkway Erin Mathews has it listed, described as “Situated on one of Highland Parks most revered parkways, this premier 0.82 acre corner building site features an abundance of beautiful old growth trees. Truly an amazing opportunity to create your dream home.”

Yeah, we know all about the revered parkway and the amazing opportunity that was once 4307 Armstrong Parkway. A home beloved by it’s family, and a treasure for everyone who drove by. Sigh.

The only constant thing in life is change.

4307 Armstrong Parkway exterior (more…)

Under the Tuscan Sun, This Bluffview Beauty Is Very Much Into the 21st Century

5019 Shadywood close upOnce in awhile we get a Monday Morning Millionaire that makes me think I could actually become a high class house squatter. I’d move in, bring my own maid and Turkish towels, even my own all-natural, biodegradable cleaning supplies and sunscreen.

Here’s the first place I’d squat: 5019 Shadywood Lane, listed with David Griffin, David Griffin & Company Realtors. First of all, I LOVE Shadywood Lane, always have. From the days when I used to carpool the girls over here, I would linger just a little longer on Shadywood. It’s not as boldly name recognizable a street name as DeLoache, or Strait, but it has topography, gorgeous trees, and is where the quiet wealthy live, where so very many stunningly beautiful homes and estates have been built in the last few years.

Let’s see who lives on Shadywood: (more…)

Method of home purchaseI like to sit at the heels of smart peeps in the real estate industry, folks who know the industry, the role technology plays,  and have a grip on where it’s headed with this tech/transparency marriage. One of my faves is Rob Hahn, who turned me onto James Dwiggins, Chief Executive Officer of NextHome, Inc. NextHome is a San Francisco-based real estate startup, independently owned, with a focus on changing the way consumers interact with local agents and shop for real estate online. When I saw that Rob Hahn had first posted James Dwiggins’ Facebook essay on “Zulia” — a buzzword for the Zillow acquisition of Trulia — I liked so much I just had to share it. Asked James for permission, he said sure.
Listen to what James says, and look at the chart above. From 2001 to 2013 the number of people who have used a real estate broker has actually increased, and increased a lot, almost 20%. This while all the online stuff was hatching! 
Consumers have been using agents more than ever in the era of the internet!
James says no way will Zulia become an on-line broker, and we should stop worrying about it here and now. He says that is not their model, and if it were, he cannot see how Zillow and Trulia becoming a real estate company “would make any sense whatsoever. So we should stop worrying about this. If we as an industry are scared of this idea, then we should be paying closer attention to Redfin who is trying to make this kind of model work to some degree. They are not the first and they certainly won’t be the last.”
Ah, Redfin!
Will Zillow and Trulia dominate online real estate space and continue to grow? Yes, says James, until a new mousetrap comes along. I want to add two things to his points: one, I think traditional media has failed real estate agents miserably, MISERABLY.  You pay through the nose for your branding ads and do they support you with editorial? NO! This is one reason why Zillow and Trulia were smart enough to become media companies themselves. As Kael Goodman of BlankSlate told me, traditional media doesn’t understand media, they don’t understand the potential. Of course,  Lockhart Steele did. Maybe that’s why he sold Curbed.com to Voxx Media last year for a rumored $20 million.
Here’s what James says:
I’ve been traveling the past week so I haven’t been able to comment on the Zillow/Trulia buyout and I know many of you have asked for my thoughts. Let’s set the stage first: Trulia was founded May 1st, 2004 and according to CrunchBase, they received 32.8M in venture funding before going public. Zillow was founded in January 2005 and according to CrunchBase, they received 92.5M in venture funding before going public. Both companies set out to change the way consumers search for real estate online and make money off the advertising revenue. According to NAR, in 2001, homebuyers used Realtors 69% of the time when purchasing homes. In 2013, that number is now 88% of the time. While homebuyers continue to search more and more on non-real estate company sites, ironically they are also using Realtors more as well. My take: finding a home online is the easy part and constitutes about 5% of the entire home buying process. The hard part begins once you want to make an offer and actually purchase it, which consumers understand to some degree. If they didn’t, those numbers would not be increasing like they have and lots of alternative models that past several years that tried connecting buyers and sellers online would have succeeded. In fact, almost all of those companies have failed. I’ve attached the actual chart showing the increase in Realtor usage from the 2013 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.With regards to everyone worrying about Trulia and Zillow becoming a real estate company or franchise. We all need to understand that this is not their model whatsoever or for their shareholders sake, shouldn’t be. At the end of Q1 2014, Zillow had 52,968 premier agent subscribers. At the end of Q1 2014, Trulia had 66,700 premier agent subscribers. As everyone knows, their business model depends highly on having real-time listing data on their sites which is provided by brokerages and agents who in many cases are paying for premier placement. If they became a real estate company, you could almost guarantee two things: 1.) 52,968 & 66,700 premier agents subscribers would likely stop advertising on these sites, destroying their revenue, and eventually the companies as well… and 2.) If Zillow and Trulia were real estate companies, they wouldn’t want competing agents advertising on their sites either. That would be allowing competitors to take away buyers and sellers from their own agents which makes no sense. It’s exactly why every real estate company and franchise doesn’t allow its competitors to advertise on their sites now. That would be counter productive to making money. In other words, I can’t possibly see how Zillow and Trulia becoming a real estate company would make any sense whatsoever so we should stop worrying about this. If we as an industry are scared of this idea, then we should be paying closer attention to Redfin who is trying to make this kind of model work to some degree. They are not the first and they certainly won’t be the last. Are Zillow and Trulia dominating the online real estate space and will they continue to grow? The short answer is yes… until either “organized real estate” starts listening to consumer needs and builds something they actually want and will use, or another outside entity creates it. Lots of companies create game-changers and then lose the throne. Think AOL, Netscape, Internet Explorer, IBM. It can be done and it will happen again including our space.In closing, this is just two major online portals consolidating their businesses in a market that is fast becoming oversaturated as it is. They have just over 110,000 combined subscribers in an industry that has 200,000 potential subscribers at best. They’ll combine resources, streamline operations – (job consolidation) and hopefully become profitable. Please feel free to chime in if you see something different. RobKeithImranNobuAaron, I would love to get your take on this as well.


4907 Deloache front drive

Coming on the heels of our story last week about 4307 Armstrong Parkway, and the tragic tear down of the Donnally’s stately southern mansion, here is a home that gives a very lucky buyer a chance to redeem and bask in the beauty of the past. For this we go north to the finest nethers of Preston Hollow, to DeLoache. The street is named after prominent Preston Hollow developer, the colorful Ira Pleasant DeLoache.

4307 Armstrong Parkway exterior

Befittingly, DeLoache is probably the most coveted, dreamed-about, drooled over celebrity street in Preston Hollow. In THEE Preston Hollow — the honeypot. Oh yes there is Park Lane — but go too far east on Park and yucky yuck, someone will knock on your car window and try to sell you drugs. There’s Hollow Way and Hathaway, pretty but too short, too few big names. DeLoache is like the marquee of top Dallas names. It’s the street where Mark Cuban lives as well as John Carona, Bill & Skye Brewer, Jim & Julie Turner, Caroline Wyly, Annette Simmons and oh how can I forget — the $37.5 million dollar estate of Lisa Baron Blue. In fact, David Haemisegger and Nancy Nasher live on DeLoach, right across the street. Here’s an off-market listing that just screams Southern Living on the most luscious 1.6 plus acre lots I have seen in eons. A manicured Kennedy-esque lawn plus white columns!

What can I say? My very first boyfriend, Angus, lived in a house with white columns and they have caught my heart ever since. White columns are my Rosebud. (more…)

Crime Report: Home, But Not Alone


You know that shocked look Macaulay Culkin had on his face when he realized he was home alone? We imagine the victim in this week’s featured crime had a similar expression when he realized the opposite.

At 6:30 a.m. on July 23, a resident of the 3500 block of Crescent Avenue woke up and discovered that his iPad, his Dell laptop, and a white bag were not on the kitchen counter, where he’d left them before going to bed at 11 p.m. The man was also surprised to find the door leading from the kitchen to his backyard was wide open, because he thought he was the only person in the house. When he realized that someone had rifled through all of the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen, he called the police.

Officers arrived and cleared the property to make sure no burglars were still on the premises. They soon discovered several items – including hats, sunglasses, and briefcases – strewn about the backyard. When the officers entered the detached garage, it was immediately apparent that a burglar had ransacked all three vehicles therein: a silver 2011 Honda CRV, a silver 2011 Mercedes E350, and a green 2011 Land Rover RRV. The victim could not offer a full inventory of stolen items without consulting his wife, who was out of town, and his housekeeper. I bet the homeowner is upgrading their security system after that incident.

Click through for a roundup of last week’s other crimes at homes in the Park Cities.


Drive Like Your Kids Live Here


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…)