Big Deals in Real Estate

The real estate business has been rather lean lately, but as with every rule, there are exceptions. Two of them occurred back-to-back this summer in Dallas. Both are noteworthy, because they involved the essential ingredients of a really great deal – money, money and more money.

The first involves the estate of the late Pollard Simons, an international wheeler dealer, whose interests stretched from Montego Bay, Jamaica, to his fabulous home at 4800 Preston Road. Simons died of a heart attack on November 22, 1974, leaving behind $13 million and a most interesting will. Simons bequeathed $1.5 million to Lovers Lane United Methodist Church to build a sanctuary, which the church will begin in a few months. He left his 7.8-acre Preston Road estate to the Town of Highland Park, although for the time being his widow has elected to keep it. Simons left instructions that his empire be sold off, which is taking some doing. Simons interests included such things as:

Chemical Express, a Dallas-based trucking firm. He owned 47 percent of the stock, valued at $2 million.

Triton Oil & Gas, a Dallas energy producer. He owned five percent of the stock, valued at $400,000.

The Westgate Company, a Fort Worth real estate firm, valued at$600,000.

One-quarter million do liars in mineral right

Simons Land Company, valued at $2.8 millio

It was the Simons Land Company, one-time owner of 1100 prime acres in North Dallas, which sprung the latest deal, thought to be the largest residential real estate deal in Dallas history. Two Henry S. Miller vice-presidents, Mike Reynolds and Hank Schlachter, began eyeing the Simons land, at Preston and Arapaho, about 18 months ago. After enduring a number of frustrations, Reynolds and Schlachter approached the Simons trustees with an offer to buy 114 acres for several million dollars. Not a big enough deal, the trustees replied. Think bigger.

Reynolds, Schlachter and developer Talmadge Tinsley thought bigger and by the time the deal closed in July, the sale totaled 601 acres, at the phenomenal price of $13 million, all in cold cash. The price was so high that buyer Metropolitan Savings of Dallas, a moderate-sized savings and loan, had to scurry about looking for help. San Antonio Savings came to the rescue, furnishing most of the unprecedented sales price.

The $13 million will go into the Simons family trust, which is growing rapidly as Simon’s empire is sold off. Sorting out all of the pieces isn’t easy, as evidenced by a seven-month audit conducted by Coopers & Lybrand, which spent 1,850 hours trying to figure out just which properties belonged to Simons independently, and which properties belonged to both Simons and his widow. The audit revealed that although most of the property belonged to Pollard Simons, his widow (who has since remarried) had one interesting investment. Sharon Simons Moss has a $335,000 investment in the Texas Rangers.

The second deal was pulled off by Ebby Halliday, a residential Realtor, who sold a cool $4.5 million in homes on five Saturdays. The trick was wooing The Associates, a financial concern moving to Dallas from Indiana.

Halliday began by sending packets to Associates employees, which de scribed home buying and apartment renting in Dallas. On five Saturdays groups of 50 Associate executives and their families flew to Dallas on char tered jets. They were lodged in the Hilton Inn, and while Halliday people arranged for such tasks as babysitting one family’s 23 kids, Associates execu tives were driven all over town in search of housing. Some families looked at as many as 50 houses, but the hustling proved worthwhile for Halliday. All told, Halliday sold 79 houses and rented 59 apartments after five days work.


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