Laura Miller And Dallas Real Estate

Laura Miller can’t seem to decide where in Dallas she wants to live, plus three of the hottest listings on the Dallas real estate market.

Six Degrees of Laura Miller
When she’s looking for a new house, the mayor seems to be everywhere.

Movin on up: Laura Miller and family are heading north to a Dallas neighborhood that Laura says reminds her of Oak Cliff: Preston Hollow. Last October, she and hubby Steve Wolens closed on a home on Dentwood Drive in Old Preston Hollow for “are you ready?”a whopping $4 million-plus. The 8,000-plus-square-foot house was built in 1952, sits on 2.08 acres, and has three stories (including a basement with living quarters). The county appraised the property at $2,572,000. The estimated 2002 taxes on the Dentwood house, without an exemption: $67,629.60. Cha-ching! Maybe we’ll see Madame Mayor down at the Appraisal Review Board soon.

As for how they got to Dentwood, the word is that last summer the mayor wrote an I-want-your-house letter to the owner, Tomima Edmark, creator of the TopsyTail, that nifty ponytail device, among other things. (Tomima split with hubby Stephen Polley a while back, and “my kind of girl “she got the house.) Supposedly, in their pre-mayoral days, the first couple tried the I-want-your-house approach with a home on Audubon Place, but, when that failed, transferred their affections to a Frank Lloyd Wright house.

Then the building-bug bit, and they bought a 3-acre lot on Cochran Chapel Road. That is, until they saw Tomima’s house and bought that, too. (At press time, the Cochran Chapel property is FSBO “for sale by owner. The asking price: $1,880,000.) Seems the mayor can’t quite make up her mind. Well, I’m just glad it’s them and not me with all of that overhead: Tomima told friends that her landscaping alone required $2,000 a month to maintain.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out our real estate market. The doom-and-gloom contingent says that the Dallas housing market is heading south faster than a Cancun-bound senior. According to their expert opinions, we’re in year three of a five- to seven-year downward spiral. (Close your eyes, Laura and Steve. Do not read this.) Fact: in 2002, according to Foreclosure Listing Service, the number of homeowners threatened with foreclosure jumped 25 percent in Tarrant County, 32 in Dallas County, 63 in Denton County, and 73 percent in Collin County. Ouch!

On the other hand, my Realtor sources report they’ve enjoyed record months. December 2002 was Ellen Terry’s best month ever, with $10 million in closings. Though December was also super-busy for Eleanor Mowery-Sheets, January 2003 was even better. One of her listings, the I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt Brice family manse on Rockbrook, was sold in a bidding war—without ever making it onto the MLS. The George Lewis-built, Larry Boerder-designed 7,679-square-foot home on a huge lot across from a park sold for more than $3 million. Granted, it was loaded “right down to the backyard by Robert Bellamy.

I can also report that we’re seeing more giant houses on the market “giant meaning more than 9,000 square feet and/or more than $3 million. As of this writing, there are 36 $3 million-plus listings in Dallas County (and 140 multimillion-dollar listings in the Park Cities). And those mega-spenders around town who aren’t selling are scrambling to refinance their mega-mansions. (Isn’t it comforting to know that even people who can afford to own sports teams are mortgaged to the hilt just like the rest of us?)

The doom-and-gloomers also seem to be overlooking all of the new construction around town. Comer Cottrell, for one, is building on Strait Lane. The hair-care product sultan has Bob Thompson hard at work on a 15,000-square-footer. Across the street and down the road, Joe Kain is building a 20,000-square-foot mansion for Issam Karanouh and Marianne Plancke on property they bought from Ross Perot. Further down the way, the Glosser family has Joe remodeling a setback stone home built by an associate of John Dilbeck.

Speaking of Strait Lane, wonder what happened to Carole McBride, who was listing Chateau du Triomphe for Jean Boulle before it burned last summer? Can you imagine losing a $45 million listing? There’s talk that an Egyptian looked at the house several times and was prepared to pay the asking price”before it burned, of course”but, when the time came to fork over the big ones, he said his country wouldn’t release his funds.

Can I try this at Neiman’s? Or with the IRS? Dear Department of the Treasury, I’d really love to pay you, but my country won’t release my funds. Sincerely….

HOT PROPERTIES

3640 Beverly Drive, which is listed with Allie Beth Allman, comes in at just under 10,000 square feet “it’s a good thing this house sits on a double lot in the Park Cities. Then there’s the cabana, three living areas, eight fireplaces, master suite with sitting and exercise rooms and his-and-hers bath, arbor, pool, fountain, sport court, and too many bedrooms to count. Owners Cinda and Tom Hicks reduced the asking price from $10,000,000 to $8,500,000.

Dave Perry Miller’s $1,095,000 contemporary listing at 3500 Gillon Avenue has it all: a Highland Park address, 3,600 square feet of serene, austere beauty by Ron Womack, plus music alcove and guesthouse. But my question is will seller Rex Morgan toss in a lifetime supply of his famous chocolates?

9635 Meadowbrook Drive has been featured on Oprah, Inside Edition, Lifestyles of Rich & Famous “you name it. It’s home to one of the most sizzling master suites south of the Mason-Dixon. (If those walls could talk…. Wonder if listing agents Todd and Ellen Terry would?) There are 8,600 square feet in the main residence and more than 1,000 in the cabana and guesthouse. This is the bargain of the month: $5,995,000 is worth every penny to live in Tiffany and Mike Mullen’s mansion.

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