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Leading Off

Leading Off (11/23/17)

| 16 hours ago

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Today is for eating and family and being thankful and…more eating. If you’re staying in town, burn some calories at the Turkey Trot before you feast. If you’ll be traveling to NYC, I’ll see you at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (if I actually make it out of my peaceful hotel room and onto the chaotic streets of Manhattan).

Wherever you’ll be, enjoy the holiday. And save room for pie.

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Commercial Real Estate

The Drever Gets Bridge Loan, Narrowly Escapes Foreclosure

| 1 day ago

The developer behind the 1401 Elm building in downtown has a new bridge loan to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season.

After defaulting on a previous $55 million loan and having the project posted for foreclosure last week, Drever Capital Management has secured a $66.7 million loan from Starwood Property Trust. The project, now called The Drever, has escaped foreclosure and will no longer be sold at auction on Dec. 5.

By definition, a bridge loan is a short-term fix for the redevelopment of the 52-story skyscraper that is being turned into a mixed-use project. Drever Capital did not respond to questions about long-term financing for the project, and did not share the term length of this Starwood loan.

“We’re eager to move forward with the remainder of the project’s permanent financing,” says Drever Capital asset manager Jerry Tonn, in a statement. 

A statement from the developer also said the project has qualified for $95 million in historic tax credits. The Drever still plans to be completed in 2019.

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WORLD CLASS CITY

Why Dallas Is No Longer the Happiest City in America

| 1 day ago

Way back in 2013, a poll by Harris Interactive determined that Dallas was the happiest city in America. Oh, how the mighty have fallen in four years. A new story in the November 2017 issue of National Geographic has moved Boulder, Colorado (where I will be spending some of the Thanksgiving holiday), into that slot. Dallas didn’t even make the top 25. Apparently, we’re failing where it counts: bikes and dentist visits. According to George Stone, who summarized the decades-long research of Dan Buettner:

There’s a high correlation between bikeability and happiness in a city. In Boulder you’re more likely to hear the whoosh of a cyclist than the shrill of a siren compared to places like Dallas, Tallahassee, or Los Angeles. Cities like Boulder question the unquestioned virtues of development,” says Buettner. “This benefits visitors, who can experience an emphasis on greenery, a high-quality culinary community, limited marketing onslaught and no billboards.”

Among the surprises Buettner turned up while drilling down into his place-based research: “There’s a strong correlation between quality of water and happiness. And places where people frequent their dentists report being more satisfied with their lives,” he says.

So stock up on spring-fed mountain water, schedule an appointment with your dentist, take a bike ride along the Trinity, and bulldoze a billboard. Happiness is sure to follow.

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WTF

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton Is Sorry About The Naked Photo

| 1 day ago

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, the Ennis congressman whose district includes parts of Tarrant County, didn’t intend for his naked body to wind up on Twitter the week of Thanksgiving. But that’s what happened, his nether regions edited out with blue, the photo posted next to a screenshot of a text message sent from a “Joe B.” that read “I want u soo bad. Right now” and a couple other words that I’ll let you Google for yourself.

Barton apologized immediately, saying that the photo was sent to someone with whom he had a consensual sexual relationship while separated from his second wife. And because we live in a time when a man accused of initiating sexual encounters with underage girls is still very much in a Senate race, Barton emphasized that the person in question was one of the “other mature adult women” that he’s had relations with. He is twice divorced, first in 2003 and then again in 2015 (he married for the second time in 2004). He says the photo occurred after the second divorce. 

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LGBT

This Anti-LGBT Conference in Fort Worth Opened With a Rainbow Flag Dance

| 1 day ago

Last weekend, the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth hosted the misleadingly named Teens4Truth conference, which has nothing to do with either teens or truth, but is instead focused on “countering the LGBT agenda” by giving adults “answers to issues of gender and sexuality.”

The Texas Observer has a full report on the conference, which includes the news that hardly anyone attended. It is a decidedly fringe event.

Teens4Truth is drawing some outside attention, however, for opening with this colorful interpretive dance by “ex-gay man” Derek Paul. Speaking at the conference later, Paul described himself as a veteran of the competitive cheerleading scene. As this video shows, he’s still got it.

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History

The Texas Theatre’s New Plaque Is Good for Historical Accuracy, JFK Conspiracy Theories

| 1 day ago

On the anniversary of its most infamous historical day, the Texas Theatre has a new state landmark plaque, with new wording that should appease both sticklers for historical accuracy and JFK assassination conspiracy theorists. The theater has been a Texas landmark since 2013, and already had a plaque that noted the Nov. 22, 1963 apprehension of Lee Harvey Oswald “for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.”

The Texas Historical Commission, however, recently dropped off a new marker, which has been installed in front of the movie theater and reads as follows (relevant changes bolded):

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Sports & Leisure

If You’re Going to the Cowboys Game on Thanksgiving, You Can Eat This Thing

| 2 days ago

You can eat this at AT&T Stadium on Thursday. You know, if you want to.

Per Legends Hospitality, the Texas-Style Dressing Holiday Meal consists of:

A Texas-shaped waffle made from traditional stuffing, topped with homemade mashed potatoes, a choice of roasted turkey breast or Petit Jean smoked pit ham, fresh green beans and homemade cranberry sauce. This meal is stacked high and slathered with turkey giblet gravy.

The Texas-Style Dressing Holiday Meal is not for cowards. The Texas-Style Dressing Holiday Meal is STACKED and SLATHERED. The Texas-Style Dressing Holiday Meal is tradition, REMIXED. The Texas-Style Dressing Holiday Meal is BIG, like TEXAS. The Texas-Style Dressing Holiday Meal takes NO PRISONERS. The Texas-Style Dressing Holiday Meal is THANKFUL that Cowboys fans have RAVENOUS APPETITES.

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Local News

Leading Off (11/22/17)

| 2 days ago

Body Found in White Rock Trail. Just north of the lake. The body was in the water for so long, authorities were not able to determine the man’s race or age at the scene.

Seedling Farm Opens in South Dallas. The goal is to teach the residents of the food desert to grow their own fruits and veggies.

Would You Pay $100,000 (Or More) for Lee Harvey Oswald’s Original Grave Marker? That’s what the owner of Poor David’s Pub paid in legal fees to get the marker back after a relative sold it without permission. Now he’s looking for the right buyer. It’s an interesting little story.

How to Eat a Thanksgiving Feast Without Lifting a Finger. Scroll through this list of restaurants or do what I do: be so bad at cooking that no one asks for your help. Happy Thanksgiving Eve, folks.

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Politics & Government

Politico: UT Dallas Professor May Be Trump’s Pick to Head Census

| 2 days ago

Thomas Brunell is a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas who once wrote a book titled “Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.” In its pages, he argues against having a healthy mix of Democrats and Republicans in a voting district—packing the politically like-minded into their own voting districts would lead to higher approval ratings and happier voters. It is a stance opposite that of many preeminent political scientists, and Brunell has taken his beliefs to court as an expert witness in a dozen cases. Most were related to gerrymandering, which Brunell has criticized. However, he has testified on behalf of Republican legislatures that have been challenged over the redrawing of districts.

Why tell you all this: According to Politico, Brunell is also the man who President Donald Trump is “leaning toward” appointing to be the deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau. It does not require a Senate confirmation, and, because the census currently lacks a permanent director, he will be its highest ranking member. As you can imagine, there is suddenly a lot of concern about what this could mean for the agency that counts the citizenry in order to determine voting districts:

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