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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Suburban Expedition

When reading John Bloom’s July 1987 story, “Misty Crest: On the Frontier of the New American Dream,” what struck me was how strange it was to have a neighborhood in southwest Arlington written up as a hot new development. A-Town seems like an aging former starlet past her prime, while everybody now goes gaga for her much-younger counterparts in Collin County.

Bloom pokes fun at the absurdity of navigating among subdivisions with “Glades” and “Glens,” “Villages” and “Creeks” in their names — regardless whether there are any actual glades or glens or villages or multiple creeks in the vicinity. At the time, one of the homes he ventured out to look at had an asking price of $96,850, about the median for Dallas-Fort Worth at the time. Twenty-seven years later, houses in the same neighborhood are going for somewhat more, but generally sticking pretty close to today’s median.

I asked Bloom what spurred him to write this piece, which we are honoring as one of the 40 greatest stories ever published in D Magazine. He responded:

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Watch a House That Was Built in a Week Get Built in 30 Seconds

Tim Rogers spent nine tireless years in pursuit of the story of the Biggins family, stopping only to eat, drink, sleep, brag about his children, anger his wife, win a free tuxedo, take vacation, drink, write National Magazine Award-winning work, and quit his job in favor of a cushier gig one row of desks over.

In 2004, the short-lived reality TV show Renovate My Family built the Bigginses a house. You can read what happened to them in the aftermath of this good fortune — the headline is a bit of a spoiler — in the August issue of D Magazine. You can also watch the above time-lapse video that compresses the building of the Biggins home, which was done in a week, down to a mere 30 seconds.

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: The Backyard Yacht of Highland Park

The 4000 block of Miramar Avenue looks pretty normal — if “normal” can ever appropriately be used to describe a row of homes in Highland Park. It sits just off Lakeside Drive, with easy access to sickeningly picturesque Lakeside Park and Exall Lake. It’s a block away from Beverly Drive and Dallas Country Club as well.

The homes are a mix of traditional and modern designs, most valued in the $3 million-$4 million range. On the corner, technically on Lakeside, sits the 60th most expensive home in Dallas. At 4004 Miramar, you’ll find one of D Home‘s 10 Most Beautiful Homes in Dallas for 2014. Across from that, at 4005, is a fairly unremarkable (by Highland Park standards) that’s valued at more than $3.1 million, with $2.5 million of that assessed for the land alone.

That lot looked very different 50 years ago.

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I Am On The Front Lines Of Mankind’s War With Owls

If you know me — either IRL or on various social media — you know I recently had a problem with an owl. If you don’t, then you can read about it here. The video you see here is courtesy of my friend Bob’s girlfriend, who noticed an owl mean-mugging her and, while recording, captured an attack on an unsuspecting jogger. (Just hang with it for a sec.) Also, you may have seen this video (language alert) of a man using a Swiffer to get an owl out of his home making its way around the internet recently. This is how these things start! It’s like, haha, what a funny situation and then, boom, we’re all huddled together in a giant nest watching a buddy being fed to a bunch of owlets. DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU.

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Poll: How Do You Pick Your North Texas Hometown?

By now you’ve likely pored over our Best Suburbs rankings, wherein we’ve given you a bunch of factors by which you can compare 63 North Texas towns, plus Dallas. You may have also taken our “Which Dallas Suburb Is Right For You?” quiz.

So what we’d like to know now is which of the factors we’ve used to evaluate the quality of these various municipalities weighs most heavily for you when you’re deciding where you should live.

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Dallas Homes Selling at Ridiculously Fast Rate

I do not envy anyone looking to buy a home in Dallas in the near future. A recent report from the real estate website Redfin.com says that, in March, 14.4% of homes in Dallas sold within three days of hitting the market. That’s up 1.5% compared to last year.

What’s more, in February, 38.8% of homes sold within two weeks. That’s up from what was already a fast-moving market in February 2013, when that rate was 31.9%. Our continued population growth, and housing inventory that’s down 19.5% since last year have a lot to do with it.

Prospective buyers must prepare for war.

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The 35 Richest Neighborhoods in Dallas-Fort Worth

The little town of Westlake, north of Fort Worth, boasts the highest average annual household income ($526,590) among all North Texas neighborhoods. That’s good enough for 12th richest in the nation based on an analysis by geographer Stephen Higley who’s ranked the top 1,000 based on 2006-2010 Census Bureau data.

The very top of the list is occupied by ritzy suburbs of New York, D.C., Miami, and Los Angeles. Only Chicago has an inner-city neighborhood in the 10 richest. “The Golden Triangle” of Greenwich, Conn., outdoes everybody with a mean household income of $614,242.

Here’s the entire list of the 35 Dallas-Fort Worth neighborhoods that appear in the Higley 1,000:

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Fort Worth, Dallas Top Forbes List of Best Cities For Investing in a Home

Forbes worked Local Market Monitor, a company that tracks home prices and economic factors in more than 300 housing markets, to put together a list of “Best Buy Cities.” These are the top 20 places where you should want to invest money in a home.

No. 1? Fort Worth-Arlington. No. 2? Dallas-Plano-Irving.

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When You Could Buy a Highland Park Home For $70,000

In looking through a 1975 issue from the archives of D Magazine for unrelated reasons, I happened across a story (which appears to be incomplete online) featuring a number of couples who had moved into East Dallas and discussed why they were choosing to invest in the neighborhood. Among them:

Don and Judy Templin had wanted to buy a house in Highland Park. The have lived there for a year in a rented place, but had begun to outgrow it.

They found a large one-story on St. John’s that they thought might fit their buying capability — around $40,000.

“As it turned out, we looked at it and liked what we found, but it cost too much,” says Templin, a young attorney. “I think it sold from $60,000 to $70,000.”

And then they witnessed what might have been the dawn of the teardown age:

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All Clichés Are Bigger in Texas Award Nominee: Champ d’Or Edition

Check out this headline on a blog post about the sprawling $35 million Champ d’Or estate in Hickory Creek going back on the market.

Et tu, Houston Chronicle?

 

Another in a rambling, occasional, rootin’, tootin’, calf-ropin’ series about writers who use Texas and Dallas clichés in their pieces.

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Leading Off (10/25/13)

School Board Strips Super of Investigation Oversight. As they’d proposed previously, Dallas ISD trustees on Thursday took the Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigates fraud or wrongdoing in the district, out from under the control of superintendent Mike Miles. OPR will merge with the district’s other investigative unit, the Office of Internal Audit, and report directly […]

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Want to Trade a Dallas Home For a Place in Napa Valley or North Dakota? Here’s Your Chance.

Someone in Napa Valley is looking to swap his house for a home in East Dallas: I have a 2/2 house in Napa, California wine country near the world famous Silverado Trail and need to live in Dallas for a year for my company. Is anyone interested in swapping houses? I'd like to live somewhere […]

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