Mark Cuban Vows to Keep Razing Houses in Preston Hollow, Refuses to Meet with Neighbors

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Mark Cuban photo via Flickr user Keith Allison
Dallas City Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban are at odds over Cuban's development plans for Preston and Northwest Highway.
Mark Cuban's curious real estate play at Preston and Northwest Highway -- the one where he's tearing down 80-year-old estates and floating plans to build a couple office buildings -- has gone over about as well as if he had littered the earth with the carcasses of a thousand rotting elephants and then turned Ebby Halliday's little white house into Section 8 housing.

And you know what? Cuban doesn't care. He's a billionaire. Those whiny neighbors? Barely even millionaires.

To demonstrate how few shits he gives about his neighbors, here's an email exchange he had last month with City Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates. (Michael Romo is a developer working for Cuban on the property). Gates opens with a polite request for a meeting:

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Any Developer Proposing Apartments in Preston Hollow Should Brace for a Howl of Stupidity

Categories: Neighborhoods

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The Crosland Group
Highland House
Somewhere in Preston Hollow, Laura Miller is wiping clean the dagger with which she eviscerated two proposed apartment developments at Preston Road and Northwest Highway. Developer Luke Crosland has officially abandoned plans for Highland House, a 27-story high-rise he wanted to build behind Hopdoddy in Preston Center. On the northeast corner meanwhile, Transwestern's shrinking plans for its luxury apartment development -- it started at eight stories, was reduced to six, and finally came down to four in a failed attempt to placate neighbors -- led some would-be property sellers on Townhouse Row to walk away from the proposed deal.

Some cheer the demise of the two projects as a victory of neighborhood values. Others lament it as a lost opportunity to intelligently increase density and grow the city's tax base. I'll have a deeper exploration of that debate when the cover story I'm working on goes to press in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, it seemed worthwhile (or at the very least entertaining in an afflicting-the-comfortable kind of way) to share some of the more ludicrous comments Preston Hollow homeowners offered -- on paper, in City Hall's official zoning file no less -- in opposition to the two projects.

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The Lower Greenville Wal-mart Is a Terrible Neighbor

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Neighbors never exactly embraced Wal-mart's plans to build a Neighborhood Market on Lower Greenville. Suspicious of the chain's ability to integrate into an urban neighborhood, particularly one as fastidious as Lower Greenville, their opposition was close to unanimous, the only variation being in the intensity of their anti-Wal-mart sentiment.

Leaders of the surrounding neighborhood associations -- Belmont, Greenland Hills, Vickery Place, Lower Greenville and Lowest Greenville West -- also realized they didn't have much choice. The zoning was in place and the landlord, former City Councilman Mitchell Rasansky, could lease the property to whomever he chose. Their only option was to band together and wring what concessions they could out of the world's largest retailer, which they did.

Melissa Kingston, an attorney who lives two blocks from the Wal-mart, led negotiations on behalf of the neighborhood groups.

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Forest Lane's Funkiest Mural Has Been Restored to its Original 1976 Glory

Categories: Neighborhoods

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Alice Laussade
In the end, W.T. White alum Brent Herling never had to make good on his threat of a citizen's arrest. The unhappy neighbor, who smeared beige paint across the funky, half-mile long Forest Lane mural Herling and a rotating corps of more than 100 volunteers were busy restoring, never returned, cowed either by the prospect of encountering TI engineer/amateur artist Herling -- a man who once, single-handed, erased every spot of graffiti along a seven-mile stretch of Forest Lane -- on a dark sidewalk by the massive blowback the act of vandalism inspired.

That was at the beginning of June. Since then the restoration -- the Starship Enterprise's newly crisp transporter beams, the return of the giant armadillo's scales -- has been drama-free, the type of feel-good project that involves lots of paint-spattered children and good neighborly feelings all around. (Herling himself was responsible for a previous spot of controversy when he painted, on a long-blank section of wall with an image of SpongeBob SquarePants; this was seen as historically inaccurate, as SpongeBob did not exist when W.T. White students were painting the mural in 1976,)

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Northwest Dallas Neighbors Are Fighting to Restore Forest Lane's Funkiest Mural

Categories: Neighborhoods

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Brent Herling/Helping to Paint the Wall Facebook page
Though he was prepared to do so, it turned out that Brent Herling has not had to repaint Northwest Dallas' longest, funkiest mural all by himself. Paintbrush-wielding volunteers have flocked to the half mile of wall along Forest Lane, eager to help restore the masterwork left by W.T. White students in 1976. The giant armadillo is once again clearly headed toward the Downtown skyline. The moon's cleft chin is more clearly defined than it has been in years. The Starship Enterprise looks like it's just soared off the showroom floor.

It's been inspiring, really, how the neighborhood has come together to save its quirkiest landmark. The mood is pretty well captured in this five-minute YouTube documentary. What type of cold-hearted asshole could possibly be against such a joyous outpouring of community spirit?

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According to The Dallas Morning News, All of DFW's Best Neighborhoods Are in the Suburbs

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Dean Terry
The Dallas Morning News' peculiar vision of paradise.
Has it really been a year? Have 12 months really passed since The Dallas Morning News trolled us all with its rich, lily-white and generally boring Best Neighborhoods list?

No, it's been 11. But the paper apparently couldn't wait the extra 30 days, so eager it was to roll out the results of its newly rejiggered Best Neighborhoods formula. So without further ado, they are:

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Northwest Dallas Man Will Restore Enormous Forest Lane Mural, Whether Anyone Helps Him Or Not

Categories: Neighborhoods

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Helping to Paint the Wall on Forest Lane Facebook page
Brent Herling has a confession to make.

"I'm the one that put SpongeBob on the wall."

The sudden appearance of the cartoon sponge sparked a minor uproar in 2011 among purists who wanted to preserve W.T. White students' 1976 mural, which covers a half mile of wall along Forest Lane, in its original condition. Cathy Miller McCoppin, one of the original student artists, described her mood to us at the time as "infuriated."

Herling meant no harm. "A Corvette hit the wall way back in the early 2000s and took out the last, I dunno, 50, 60 feet of the wall." The city eventually replaced the missing section but not the artwork. Someone inelegantly scrawled the word "GOOF" across the blank section, and so it stayed for several years before Herling, a TI engineer and amateur sculptor, picked up his paint brush.

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Kip's Big Boy Is Back on Abrams Road

Categories: Neighborhoods

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Earlier this year, Kip's Big Boy statue made his Abrams Road debut, replacing the extraordinarily creepy baby Buddha statue at the center of White Rock Landscaping owner Gary Isett's Cowboy star-shaped flower bed.

The iconic hamburger slinger's cameo proved to be brief. Within days, city of Dallas code inspectors issued a decree that the 7-foot statue was in violation of city ordinance.

"Basically, the violation was [the statue] was not within the setback rules," code compliance director Jimmy Martin said at the time, adding that it also violated visibility rules that govern what can be placed on corner lots.

So, Isett dusted off the creepy Buddha and moved Big Boy into his backyard.

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The Opposition to New High-End Apartments in Richardson is the Primal Scream of Suburbia

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A rendering of the planned Palisades development, the stake through Canyon Creek's heart.
In Richardson, along the booming Central Expressway corridor, architecture firm Good Fulton and Farrell and developer JP Partners have teamed up on the Palisades project, a large mixed-use development they plan to put on 58 mostly vacant acres across the freeway from DART's Galatyn Park light rail station.

The folks who live in the adjacent Canyon Creek and Prairie Creek neighborhoods are, for the most part, fine with the 1.5 million square feet of office space and the 200,000 square feet set aside for restaurant and retail. They're even OK with the 65 town homes planned for the site and, to a lesser extent, the 250 condos.

Their beef is with the 750 high-end apartment units, which many are convinced will turn their pleasant neighborhoods into crime-plagued Vickery Meadow and their exemplary elementary schools -- Prairie Creek, Canyon Creek, and Aldridge -- into miniature versions of Lake Highland's Forest Meadow Junior High, "commonly known today as Forest Ghetto," as one man was keen to point out.

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Junius Heights Welcomes Barking Dog Avi Adelman By Burglarizing His New House

Categories: Neighborhoods

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When the news came out that Avi Adelman, who stood sentinel over Lower Greenville for a quarter century, had sold his Belmont Avenue home, he was cagey when asked where he was heading.

We now know the answer is Junius Heights, where he and his wife have purchased a modest, two-bedroom home. We know this because DCAD now lists Adelman as the owner, and also because he reported to police that his new place was burglarized early Thursday morning.

The thieves broke down the back door at some point between 3 a.m., when a contractor friend who was working on the air conditioning left, and 10 a.m., when Adelman showed up. They stole $250 worth of power tools from the living room. They moved a table saw but left without it.

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