NEIGHBORHOODS How to Find Your Place

Neighbors are more than the people who live next door. They make life comfortable.

CHARLES KURALT DESCRIBED AN BIGHT-BLOCK AREA IN GREEN-wich Village as home, and we understand. Home is where we live, play, worship, and dine when we don’t want to dress up. Home is where the waiters don’t have to tell us their names because they already know ours. Home is where we know the other parents, who to trust, and what time die kids will be home. Dallas-Fort Worth is a collection of homey neighborhoods, each one a little bit different than the one down the highway and each one pretty sure it’s a little bit better.

DOWNTOWN/UPTOWN/DEEP EILUM/OAK LAWN

Median Home Value: $ 199.000

Change 6om’99:+110%

Median Household Income: $40,400

Any downtown office building or warehouse thai has any charm at all and could possibly be marketed as a loft is fetching fancy prices. Residents tell us it’s noisy at night, which surprised us because we thought downtown Dallas was empty at night. Uptown is yuppieville, every inch packed with apartments and townhomes, making it Dallas’ most walkable, liveable, in-town neighborhood. Deep Ellum. just east of downtown, does the SoHo thing, getting cooler all the time. Oak Lawn always was.

HIGHLAND PARK/UNIVERSITY PARK

Median Home Value: $490,000

Change from ’99: +209b

Median Household Income: $99,500

HP or UP, for those in the know. The two Park Cities are separate municipalities from Dallas, each with its own police and fire department. The school district is called Highland Park, but it belongs to both. The “Bubble” contains everything anyone would ever need: schools, churches, shops, work, restaurants, and parks. And that’s why they never leave. Tip: Don’t speed on Preston Road, and it’ you see a blue Suburban, hit the brakes-the police drive fancy ones, with gold lettering. Jerry Jones owns one of the town’s biggest houses, and they arrested him. They won’t bat an eye before arresting you.

M STREETS/EAST DALLAS/LAKEWOOD

Median Home Value: $131.000

Change from ’99: +9%

Median Household Income: $61.300

The spiffy Tudor cottages lining the M Streets are more difficult to admire when you’re bracing for the next teeth-rattling speed bump. We guess the speed bumps are a good thing if you live there; the rest of us are just trying to get to Greenville Avenue. The M Streets have been called the beginner Park Cities, but they’re cuter than that. Lakewood is beautiful and expensive and has the distinction of being one of the few honestly named neighborhoods in Dallas: It has a lake and is full of woods. The lake is While Rock, freshly dredged and more sparkling than ever. East Dallas can be summed up by the Sunday meatloaf special at the Dixie House-filling, bland, but priced about right.

LAKE HIGHLANDS

Median Home Value: $159,700

Change from ’99; +6%

Median Household Income: $54,000

The good news is thai Lake Highlands is a tightly knit community with a little-town feel and great public schools. The bad news is that nobody ever moves out alter the kids go to college. The result is a slowly expanding empty nest. That’s why Lake Highlands is our choice for grandparents moving to Dallas. No blaring stereos, racing cars, or toilet paper waving from trees, just the comforting whine of string trimmers on Saturday morning. Grandparents must have the bucks-property values are holding.

OAK CUFF

Median Home Value:$67.450

Change from ’99: +6%

Median Household Income: $.15,200

Oak Cliff is the Cinderella of the close-in Dallas communities. Stevens Park is the best public golf course in the city limits. The Kessler Park section is filled with houses that have character and 10-year-old Volvos parked out from, if not pumpkin carriages. The community has been characterized as “liberal.” “filled with old hippies,” “edgy.” Check out the Bishop and Davis area. Jefferson Boulevard is lined with authentic Mexican restaurants, the infamous Texas Theater, site of Lee Harvey Oswald’s post-assassination matinee, and the newly renovated Jefferson Tower. Oak Cliff is close to downtown, has big trees and rolling hills, and is cheaper than East Dallas. Grocery shopping used to be grow-your-own; now it’s almost civilized.

BLUFFVIEW/PRESTON HOLLOW

Median Home Value: $269,000

Change from ’99:+15%

Median Household Income: $91,000

If someone sold a tour map to locate the homes of the rich and famous of Dallas, it would direct the gawkers to the Bluffview and Preston Hollow area that begins just south of Northwest Highway and runs north between Preston and .Midway roads. The problem for map buyers would be that, like Beverly Hills, nothing much is visible behind the brick walls lined with manicured hedges. Narrow twisting lanes are overhung with oaks and pecans and offer precious few holes to spy the massive stone-and-brick mansions and sprawling ranch homes that lie beyond. If you’re moving to town from Larchmont and want to see leaves but not necessarily the neighbors-or the riff-raff-find a teardown here and build your own fortress.

NORTH DALLAS: FARMERS BRANCH, CARROLLTON

Median Home Value: $ 131.450

Change from ’99: +9%

Median Household Income: $69,400

North Dallas is a place, not a direction. The problem is that nobody seems to know where it starts. Some think that it begins at Northwest Highway; others, LBJ. We say that North Dallas starts at Forest Lane and extends up to Keller Springs Road, including the cities of Farmers Branch. Addison, and Carrollton. Let’s put it this way: If you can hear the roar of LBJ you live in North Dallas. The area was built by legendary developers Fox and Jacobs, who were crazy for circular driveways. Deep Ellum folks prowl the garage sales looking for avocado-colored refrigerators. The Brookhaven Country Club area is nice; quiet, too. The whole area is a mite flat, which is to say there’s not an elevation change above five feet.

FAR NORTH DALLAS

Median Home Value: $220,000

Change from -99: +13%

Median Household Income: $70,250

Dallas has North Dallas and Far North Dallas, or what some of us call Nanuk North Dallas. Just where Far North Dallas begins is a touchy subject. We think that it starts where the palladium window count exceeds the number of cars parked in the driveways, say about Keller Springs Road. The homes north of Keller Springs are big-really big- and require a lot of brick. There will come a day when the citizens of Illinois and Georgia will rise up in revolt when they realize where all the nation’s bricks have gone. They will point their ringers at Far North Dallas and demand. “Did you have to border the patio too?”

PLANO

Median Home Value: $170,000

Change from “99: +7%

Median Household Income: $82,300

The Texas Motor Speedway holds one- and three-day courses to teach aspiring daredevils to drive 150 miles an hour. Evidently, all of the moms in Piano have attended. We suppose driving at high speed is necessary to shuttle the kids from soccer to T-ball, from gymnastics to piano, and get back home in time to call out for dinner. Move to Piano if you like all things new. The intersection of Park Boulevard and Preston Road is perhaps the biggest traffic intersection in the state-50 lanes wide in four directions. This is a city invented Cor children: great schools and playing fields that stretch to the horizon. Legacy Park already claims JCPenney. Frito Lay. EDS, and Dr Pepper, and now a new town center.

FRISCO

Median Home Value: $154,500

Change from ’99:+10%

Median Household Income: $68.500

If Matt Dillon were living in Dallas, he and Ms. Kitty would be sitting on the porch somewhere in old Frisco. The water tower is still there. Downtown Frisco is perking up with locally-owned restaurants. Frisco starts where die Tollway dead-ends. We gaped at an enormous shopping mall going up at the corner of Highway 121 and Preston Road. It will be filled with Nordstrom, JCPenney, Macy’s, Sears, and a 24-screen movie theater. When it’s done, there’ll be no need to drive as far south as the Galleria. Just down the road an electrical contractor told us. “It’s hard for us to keep up with demand.” He’s right. Huge homes. The best collection of golf courses in Dallas.

ALLEN/WYLIE

Median Home Value: $143,500

Change from ’99: +7%

Median Household Income: $68,000

It’s weird to see open pastures, hundreds of acres each, punctuated by red brick housing developments huddled behind walls as though marauding Indians still roam North Texas. It is quiet though. People like that. Near Wylie, we stopped a woman and asked her how many times she had been to downtown Dallas. “Oh,” she said, “maybe six times in 10 years. We go to Piano or Mesquite if we need something.” Wylie’s Olde City Park sits next to its downtown and kinda says something about the rate of the area’s growth. The park was built in 1994.

RICHARDSON/GARLAND

Median Home Value: S104.70O

Change from ’99: +7%

Median Household Income: $61,500

Like so many of the cities that have grown into metropolitan Dallas, Richardson has multiple personalilies. There is the mature Richardson: straight streets and older, low-slung houses. There is new Richardson: dramatic developments growing out on the linger that juts into Murphy and North Garland roads. Apparently marketers have found a soft spot in homebuyers for projects with the name “farm” in the title. Sharp’s Farm and Breckinridge Farm sprawl eastward but you’re just far enough out that you can’t see the cranes working to build more telecom high-rises along Central Expressway. To the east, the streets are filled with pickup trucks-city inspectors, pool contractors, electrical guys, you name it. Live here if you’ve got a high-tech start-up but still want to hear the birds chirping in the morning.

MESQUITE

Median Home Value: S85.000

Change from’99:+1%

Median Household Income: $45,500

We grew up in an age when mesquite was a dirty word. Mesquite was a tree that you cut down whenever you had half a chance and a hatchet handy. And back in those days, nobody paid good money for ittybitty pieces of mesquite to barbecue with, either. Most of the trees that gave our Mesquite its name are gone today. They have been replaced with smallish houses and blue-collar neighborhoods and sprawling car dealerships along IH-635. We go to Mesquite for the rodeo. But our friends tell us there are great starter homes being built at great prices.

LEWISVIILE/HIGHLAND VILLAGE

Median Home Value: $153,000

Change from ’99: +7%

Median Household Income: $65,500

Like so many communities surrounding Dallas, Lewisville used to be a distinct place. The area was a farming community. In fact, the high school football team still calls itself The Fighting Farmers, as in “Get off our wheat and get outta our corn/Drop our tomatoes and regret that you were born! Go-oo-oo Farmers!” Alas, this last vestige is all that remains of rural life. The houses are smaller here, closely packed, with lots of kids. And the area wins in the cleanest clothes category of Dallas neighborhoods. We counted more dry cleaners than anywhere else. One on every comer. Maybe two.

GRAPEVINE

Median Home Value: $194,500

Change from’99:+11%

Median Household Income: $80,500

We like Grapevine. It may be the most historical of the towns that make up greater Dallas. It also came by its name honestly. Grapes actually grow there. Grapevine has a couple of different wineries and a growing network of gingerbread, Victorian houses. Grapevine works hard to promote tourism. Shop big in Grapevine at either the Grapevine Mills Mall, an outlet lover’s nirvana, or Outdoor World, a hunting and fishing store so large that it required its own hotel next door.

COLLEYVILLE/COPPELL

Median Home Value: $209,450

Change from’99:+15%

Median Household Income: $104,600

One wag said that Colleyville looks as though it fell out of the sky in a single pre-fabricated piece with the names of the subdivisions already in place but intended for someplace else. If you want to live in a development with the name “bridge” or “gate” or “arbor’1 or “glen” in the title, then Colleyville is your place. Coppell is more interesting. Especially old Coppell with its funky square perched right on 1-35, Nearby is the rainbow-striped grain elevator that used to advertise a troubled local televangelist. Today the grain elevator is a rock-climbing gym. Climbers pick out their own silo and head for sunlight. If you want a decent garden or a Dallas Star or Dallas Cowboy as a neighbor, head to Coppell or Colleyville. Schools are good, the houses are fresh and new. and the area boasts every chain restaurant imaginable.

SOUTHLAKE

Median Home Value: $206,700

Change from ’99: +9%

Median Household Income: $93,700

We suppose that nouveau riche is better than no riche at all. Southlake comprises West Piano-sized houses, only bigger, with more palladium windows, and situated on five-acre ranchettes. If you want to live with horses in Dallas, forget Parker and the South Fork area (that was the ’80s), head west to Southlake. A can-do kind of place. When Southlake needed a downtown, they built it from scratch, complete with street lamps and The Gap. Southlake is close to the airport. Texas Rangers live here so they can sprint to the ballpark. Downside: There’s no place to eat unless you like hay and oats. Horses don’t seem to mind.

LAS COLINAS/IRVING

Median Home Value: $127,000

Change from ’99: +9%

Median Household Income: $.”53,000

Las Colinas is the home of Williams Square and the much-photographed mustang statues that appear to run through a stream. Las Colinas also has a canal that appears to run through its downtown core. PGA Tour stops at the Tournament Players Club at Las Colinas for the Byron Nelson. Cool River is the hangout, a place where the residents from the huge apartment complexes that dwarf Northwest Highway can mingle in a manner that resembles a salmon run. Proponents mention that Irving has older houses with mature, leafy trees, and quiet streets. The town’s best-kept secret is the University of Dallas-a Catholic liberal arts college perched on the hill that overlooks Texas Stadium.

ARLINGTON

Median Home Value: $107,000

Change from ’99: +7%

Median Household Income: $60,800

What came first? Six Flags or Arlington? It is hard to tell. The slow pace of the city belies the determination of the city fathers to build all the region’s attractions within one tax district-theirs. Not to mention General Motors. Maybe the most progressive series of mayors anywhere in the world. Great place to live if one spouse works in Dallas and the other in Fort Worth. Affordable. Weekend fun includes the Ballpark ai Arlington, Lone Star Park (which sits just across 1-30 in Grand Prairie), and giant water parks. Arlington was the first place in Dallas to land a Krispy Kreme donut shop. That ought to tell you something.

20. DUNWNVILLE/DES0TO/LANMSTEH

Median Home Value: $89,400

Change from ’99: +3%

Median Household Income: $53,800

Manifest Destiny in Dallas has always been thought of as a march to the north. Steadily, however. DeSoto, Duncanville, and Lancaster have added population, jobs, schools, and unfortunately, traffic. 1-35 is a parking lot headed north in the morning and south in the evening. Widening is underway but for now the choice for commuters is either to leave home early or arrive to work late. This area has a mix of modest homes and more expensive communities, like the Thorntree Country Club section of DeSoto. The rest of DeSoto. however, isn’t faring so well, with home prices declining 11 percent on a fall in sales of one percent over last year.

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