Looking Back at the Great Real Estate Market Of 2014

January 12th, 2015

Now that 2014 is fully in the history books, we can say it was an epic year for the DFW real estate market. Dallas itself continues to grow, and is, as we enter 2015, one of the 2014 Dallas real estate markettop five commercial markets (according to PriceWaterhouse Coopers) and the second-best residential market (according to CNN Money) in America.

The lofty hopes and predictions for Big D’s 2015 didn’t just happen. In commercial news, DFW set a high bar in 2014. The most notable deal in the market last year, of course, was the announcement that Toyota was bringing its North American headquarters to Plano. That move is already ramping up the North Dallas suburban home sales market, generating sales in the cities of Plano, Allen, and Frisco that have even gone above asking price.

Toyota’s imminent arrival also spurred demand for office space in DFW, as did expansions by Southwest Airlines and Omnitracs. Such major corporate deals generated nearly 5 million square feet of office space leasing, an eight-year high in leasing activity in northern Texas, according to the Dallas Business Journal.

In Dallas itself, the building boom echoed loudest in and around Uptown, where Harwood International’s 22-story Frost Tower (slated to be ready for occupancy by spring) touched off several building projects that are in progress. There is the construction at McKinney & Olive, where Crescent Real Estate Holdings is building a 530,000-square-foot mixed-use project; the much-anticipated construction at 1920 McKinney Avenue; and the 23-floor Victory Center tower just purchased by Hines.

In the residential market, starts were up 17 percent in northern Texas last year, according to a report by Residential Strategies. And third-quarter closings were the highest they’ve been since before the recession hit in 2008. Meanwhile, median home prices in DFW have come a long way since the depths of 2009. Since then, median prices here have grown by about 33 percent (around $70,000) to $275,000.

Even in the luxury market, 2014 was good to DFW. The listing for the $60 million former Trammell Crow estate in Highland Park capped off a year of big listings and sales, which also saw the titanic (and troubled) Waggoner family ranch hit the market for almost three-quarters of a billion dollars. Which isn’t so bad for half a million acres.

If 2015 is even half as good as 2014, it will still be a great year. But by all accounts, this year looks to be even better for DFW.

The Dallas Cowboys Prepare for Greenbay

January 10th, 2015

No, Dallas, you’re not dreaming. It’s January and the Cowboys are still playing.Dallas, Texas

Fresh off a dramatic comeback win against the Detroit Lions, the Cowboys are now headed to Green Bay for the divisional round, marking the first time the Cowboys and Packers will play an elimination game at Lambeau Field since 1967’s legendary Ice Bowl.

Though not expected to be balmy, the January 11 game will feature two teams having hot late-season success. The Packers themselves dispatched Detroit in Week 17 to clinch their division title, and the Cowboys, at last living up to their potential, have managed to parlay level-headed calm into a never-give-up style of play that is rewriting the decade-long disappointment fans have learned to live with.

Jason WittenKey to the Cowboys’ success against Green Bay will be which quarterback is most on his game. If Tony Romo, long (and, some say unjustly) blamed for the last several mediocre Dallas seasons, can maintain the level-headedness he attributed to the comeback win against Detroit, his leadership will likely carry his team through rough times (as it has all season). The Cowboy line, however, will need to do its part to protect Romo. Against the Lions, Romo found himself sacked six times. Part of that was a too-loose line, but Romo also needs to let go of the ball on pass plays sooner, so as not to tempt sack-happy defenses like the one Green Bay is about to throw at him.

Romo, of course, must also master his accuracy. Not long ago, Romo was known for tossing up interceptions at the worst moments, and his luck against the Packers was always dodgy at best. But Romo has mastered better throwing control since a disastrous late-fourth interception (yes, against Green Bay) a year ago. If he keeps his cool and shrugs off his mistakes, which he has been doing for most of this season, the Cowboys will do well against the Packers.

Dallas must also capitalize on the potential problems Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers will face. Rodgers is still getting over a calf injury he suffered from the same Lions that almost knocked off the Cowboys last Sunday. If the Cowboys can keep Rodgers on the run, his nagging calf injury could keep him off his game, especially late, when Dallas seems to most enjoy striking.

One major key to defensive Cowboy success in Green Bay will be the performance of rookie phenom DeMarcus Lawrence, who has, mostly, shown maturity under pressure. And so far, his most memorable moment this season is probably the late-fourth sack of Lion quarterback Matthew Stafford to essentially close out any hope Detroit had to rally back.

DFW 2015 Hype Basketball Championship

January 6th, 2015

One of the biggest youth basketball tournaments in the U.S., the Hype Tournament championship, took place last weekend in North Texas, and VIP Realty president Richard Soto’s  son, Caleb, was there when his squad scored the buzzer-beater that won the tournament.

D1 Shooters 2023

Caleb is a member of the D1 Shooters 2023, which competed against some of the best teams in the country. Teams from California, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, and Texas took to the hardwood for the Hype championship, which seeks to foster drug-free, violence-free, diverse programs that advocate tolerance, unity, and acceptance among the many races, religions, and ethnicities of the world. The Shooters entered the championship 5-0, and put everyone across the county on notice that some of the nations best young basketball players are from right here in the Frisco area.

The 2023 Shooters were placed in a Super Pool with two other Top-15 teams ‒‒ American Roundball Corporation (ARC) from Los Angeles and the Oklahoma Chaos. The Shooters kicked off the tournament with a 38-33 thriller and swiftly moved through the best young players in America en route to the championship game against Houston’s Gulf Coast BlueChips at the Hype Sports Winter Jam in Lewisville.IMG_4292

The Championship game on January 4 was a thriller for the ages. An epic back-and-forth battle ensued from the opening tip-off, both teams making huge plays and showing their abundant game skills. But a forced a turnover with 12 seconds to play cost the BlueChips. With the clock ticking down and the score tied 28-28, the Shooters passed like pros and set up for what can only be described as a storybook ending for the young North Texans. Robert Jones Jr. saved a broken play with less than three seconds to go and made a dazzling pass to Ty Cox, who sank a 16-foot, nothing-but-net jumper as the final buzzer sounded, giving Shooters a 30-28 victory and a championship to cap their perfect tournament run.

“I’m proud of my son for playing like a champion and, mostly, for his sportsmanship,” Soto says. “He gave his whole family a memory we’ll cherish for years.

For more information, visit www.BeEliteBasketball.com and www.hypebasketball.com/Events.html

Take In a Show This Holiday Season in DFW

November 25th, 2014

 

You might have heard rumors to the effect that Christmas and the holiday season are around the corer again. Well, in between fighting the mall traffic, frantic plan-making, and ‘Yeah, I’ll just have one more cookie,” you might want to catch one of DFW’s great holiday shows. Here’s some of the lineup you can catch before 2015 sets in.

1. The Nutcracker, Nov. 22-23, McFarlin Auditorium, or Nov. 28, Winspear Opera House

Kick off the holidays with the legendary Nutcracker ballet. Probably the most famous Russian export ever written, a rendition is performed by the actual Moscow Ballet on Nov. 22 and 23. If you’d rather see the Texas Ballet’s performance (or both, we don’t judge), catch it on Nov. 28. For Details, click here

2. A Christmas Story, Dec. 2-14, Music Hall At Fair Park

Is Christmas Day really Christmas Day without at least one viewing of Bob Clark’s immortal film? You know all the lines, you relate (painfully) to so much. And you love every minute of it. Well, A Christmas Story is a major musical too, and if you dig theater, it’s just as good as the movie. For Details, click here

3. Brian Setzer Orchestra: Christmas Rocks, Dec. 13, Winspear Opera House

The blondest pompadour in rock belongs to Brian Setzer, who’s turned his post-Stray Cats life into a rollicking blend of rock, opera, classical, and swing. Setzer, pompadour and band with him, brings his lauded holiday music show to Dallas for one night only, on December 13. Suitable for all ages, this is a show to see ‒‒ if you like rollicking, humorous, amazing music, that is. For Details, click here

4. Mannheim Steamroller, Dec. 28, Music Hall At Fair Park

Round out 2014 with the only classical rock band synonymous with Christmas, the mighty Mannheim Steamroller. In town for just one night, December 28, Mannheim Steamroller may be the perfect after-Christmas tonic to help you ready for the new year.  For Details, click here

The 5 Coolest Movies Shot in DFW

November 23rd, 2014

Ever get the vague sense that something in a movie looks familiar? Well, you’ve likely walked right through some of cinema’s more mainstream sets and never knew it. Or maybe you did know it. In either case, here’s a list of some of the coolest movies ever to set up camp in DFW.

 

1. RoboCop (The Good One)

Back in 1987, the vision of Detroit 10 years hence was in need of a location in transition. Dallas turned out to be just right. The filmmakers used Big D as the setting for futuristic Detroit to legendary effect. While not a film for all tastes, RoboCop is certainly an iconic passage in movie history.

 

2. JFK

Just about every movie about the Kennedy assassination has sent its crew to Dealey Plaza. But no film about the fallen president is bigger (or better) than Oliver Stone’s 1991 take on the paranoia and chaos that surrounds the still-hotly debated death of our 35th president.

 

3. Armageddon

Okay, so most of this one wasn’t shot here, but a handful of scenes filmed in Denton qualify Michael Bay’s 1998 space/disaster opus as a DFW project. Which is fitting, considering the asteroid dooming earth in this film was the size of Texas.

 

4. Logan’s Run

This vintage sci-fi epic about a future dystopia turned 1970s Dallas into a classic set piece for a society that does anything but revere its elders. Dallas has changed a lot since the filming, but the idea of  an overpopulated metropolis is still relevant for anyone stuck in traffic downtown.

 

5. Office Space

Call it cult or call it justifiably beloved by everyone who’s ever hated a job, Mike Judge’s 1999 small-budget classic made wonderful use of Dallas’, well, office space. Not to mention excellent use of an abandoned field where an uncooperative computer meets a most satisfying fate.

Five Best Live Music Venues in DFW

November 14th, 2014

 

There’s no night out quite like going to see some live music. Whether it’s a band you love, a quiet chamber group, or a symphony orchestra, check out these sound environments for the best audio pleasure DFW can bring you.

Bass Performance Hall, Fort WorthBass Performance Hall, Fort Worth


The acoustics of this downtown palace are so perfectly attuned to the space that there is truly not a bad seat in the house. Wherever you sit, you hear the music as it should be heard. And the music in this space is just as likely to be the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra as it is to be rock&roll. Whoever’s playing, it’s going to sound phenomenal.

 

Gexa Energy Pavilion, Fair ParkGexa Energy Pavilion, Fair Park


What, you thought there was no reason to go to Fair Park when Big Tex wasn’t around? Pah! This outdoor venue has an indescribable charm that actually makes the occasionally odd acoustics and sometimes-passable views of the stage work. Maybe it’s because you can take a picnic there and sit under a shady tree. Whatever, it’s a must if you want a memorable show. The venue is usually host to mainstream acts, particularly country-western.

Granada Theater, Greenville AvenueGranada Theater, Greenville Avenue


Where do up-and-coming indie acts always play when they’re just a year or two from making it? The same place legendary acts like The Pixies play when they come to Dallas. The Granada, on Greenville Avenue, is maybe the best place to see a concert in town. With multiple shows every week in an intimate setting, you’ll remember every show you see here, and with good reason. Take your friends and go.

 

Southside Ballroom, South DallasSouthside Ballroom, South Dallas


Okay, so South Dallas isn’t usually where people think to hang out, but hear us out. The Southside Ballroom (formerly the Palladium Ballroom)  throws big-time shows. And by big-time, we mean names like Lauryn Hill. And okay, maybe the place is a little cramped when 3,000 others are in there with you, but the intimacy only enhances the feeling of being right there with the band.

Verizon Theatre, Grand PrairieVerizon Theatre, Grand Prairie


It may sound mainstream (and it can be), but Verizon Theatre is the chameleon of music venues in DFW. The crew here can do an astonishing job with panels and dividers that turn the theater’s wide-open arms into a cozy hug, or vice-versa. From several hundred to a max-6,300, there’s a space for you to catch great live concerts and shows. And it’s amphitheater-style seating, which means there’s not a bad seat in the house.

5 of the Best Pizza Places in DFW

November 11th, 2014

DFW might not be world-famous for pizza, but there are indeed some world-class choices here. Next time you get a hankerin’ for pizza that’s above and beyond the norm, check out these fine examples of Italian bliss.

Campisi’s

In Dallas, if there’s one definitively Texas institution for pizza, it’s Campisi’s. It’s been around since the 40s and trust us, you’ve never seen so many oblong (yet somehow not misshapen) pizzas in one place in your life. Now with nine Dallas-area locations, Campisi’s is a good bet for a great slice (or 4).

 

 

 

Cavalli Pizzeria Napoletana

If you’ve ever heard anyone refer to New York-style pizza, they mean the one with the thin, foldable Napolitano crust. Surprisingly, no one in DFW could get one until 2008, when Cavalli rolled into Irving and brought Napolitano pizza with it. They also have a shop in McKinney, and it’s just as Italian.

 

 

 

Zoli’s NY Pizza Tavern 

Speaking of Napolitano pizza, Zoli’s in Oak Cliff brings the delicious combo of rich, red tomato sauce and gooey mozzarella cheese to one of Dallas’ up-and-coming trendy neighborhoods. If your tastes run a little more southern (southern Italian, that is), try one of Zoli’s awesome Sicilian pies.

 

Fireside Pies

A decadent twist on the New York-style pizza is to make the crust puffier and the cheese and tomato sauce hedonistically divine. Dare we say the crust at Fireside Pies, the Henderson Avenue mainstay for pizza lovers, is actually voluptuous? Yeah. We dare say.

 

 

Grimaldi’s, Various locations in DFW

Chain restaurants seldom get the notice they deserve when they’re good. But Grimaldi’s corners the market on what real New York pizza tastes like. Not what New York-style pizza tastes like, what actual New York pizza tastes like. The company filters local water so that its chemical composition matches that of the water in New York (which actually is considered the among cleanest and best-tasting in the country), so that the crust comes out exactly right. If you’re from the East Coast, taste this little slice of home, it doesn’t get any more authentic (or delicious) than this.

DFW Top 10 Best Hotels for a Staycation

November 10th, 2014

When you live in an area like DFW, there’s a lot more reason to stay put when it’s time to take a few days off. DFW offers a ton of great things to do on  a staycation, and plenty of great spots to stay. Before you book your next trip out of town, consider booking a staycation at one of these top-notch hotels.

 

The Joule

The Joule in Downtown Dallas is a fab boutique hotel that draws pretty much every celebrity who passes through DFW. Indulge in the gym, the yoga classes, the world-class coffee, and the top-tier service. You’re in the right hotel if you see the giant eyeball sculpture across the street.

The One Boutique Hotel at Spa Castle

Need to relax? Stay at The One, where the in-house Spa Castle offers detox rooms, swim-up bars, full-body massages, and a host of other indulgences. Because what’s vacation without some indulgence, right?

 

 

 

 

 

Great Wolf Lodge

Need to bring the kids? Great Wolf Lodge has you covered. While the kids (and you, let’s be honest) get to play in the best waterpark in town, you get to quaff some of the tastiest cocktails around. There’s lots to do and lots to not do at Great Wolf.

The Sanford House

If you’re looking for quiet and small amid the action, check out the  Sanford House, a tiny bed and breakfast right in the middle of Arlington’s legendary tourist attractions. Get your indulgence on at Sanford House’s full-service spa before hurtling through the air at nearby Six Flags.

Warwick Melrose 

If you’re in the mood for a great hotel with a four-star restaurant, you must visit the Warwick in Oak Lawn. This posh stay will give you little reason to go outside, between the Landmark restaurant and the in-house Library Bar (which is sensational for several reasons This hotel is also quite pet friendly ‒‒ they even have biscuits for your four-legged companions.

Belmont Hotel

Belmont Hotel 

Want a staycation in North Oak Cliff? Ty the Belmont, which probably is the best-kept secret in the Metroplex. With a lot full of Texas plates, this wonderful boutique hotel is tailor made for those who want to get away without going away.

 

 

 

 

Stoneleigh Hotel & Spa

Also in Fort Worth is the Stoneleigh, the recently (and sumptuously) renovated throwback to the opulent 1920s style of Atr Deco. Simple and elegant, the Stonleigh houses the top-notch Bolla restaurant and a great location among Fort Worth’s many cultural treasures.

 

 

 

 

Hotel Palomar 

The exterior of the Palomar may fool you from the street. But walk inside this exquisite Dallas hotel, across from Moickingbird Station, and be prepared for a great surprise. Close to the DART and all things fun downtown, The Palomar also offers wonderful indulgences including gourmet food and in-house spa services.

 

 

 

 

Aloft 

The Aloft, near the Dallas Convention Center, is the epitome of trendy renovation downtown. Cool, chic, retro, and innovative all at once, you can relax amid the first-floor amenities like the pool, fitness room, and bar while you forget your worries. It’s also great for kids because its on Young street, close to venues like the Dallas Zoo and Pioneer place.

 

 

 

 

Hotel ZaZa

Want the apex of luxury staycations in DFW? Dallas’ Hotel ZaZa is simply the crown jewel. From service to amenities to an intoxicatingly energetic vibe close to Downtown and Uptown, there is simply no better place to indulge your staycation than this upscale gem.

Top 5 Fort Worth Area Patios for Cool Fall Dining

November 4th, 2014

 

Now that the summer heat has (mercifully) cooled into tolerable fall weather, dining outdoors is the thing to do. And Fort Worth has no shortage of cool outdoor patios suited for a good nosh, a nice brew, or a great sandwich.

Bird Café

Downtown, on East 4th Street, the Bird Café is a split-level restaurant with more 2,300 square feet of patio space that looks out over  the recently renovated Sundance Square Plaza. It’s the perfect spot for  cool views and delicious, sharable plates that include everything from Prince Edward Island mussels to potpies. And most of the menu is built from foods from local farmers and growers.

 

Chimy’sChimy’s

In Fort Worth’s West 7th neighborhood is Chimy’s, which, we know, kinda seems like a fast food joint. It’s not. It’s fast, yes, and it’s inexpensive. But the chance to sit on the spacious patio and enjoy some ace Tex-Mex with a cold beer or what may be the best margaritas in town will quickly make you forget you’re in a diner. Make sure to try the “Chimy” Changa while you’re there.

 

Ellerbe Fine FoodsEllerbe Fine Foods

Ellerbe, on West Magnolia Avenue, is big into local and seasonal ingredients for its innovative farm-to-fork cuisine. Inside, the place is somehow cozy and airy t the same time. It’s also equal parts elegance and  minimalist. The patio, of course, is all sorts of elegant that offers an ideal seat for everything from a business lunch to fine dining with fine wines and gourmet food.

 

 Flying SaucerFlying Saucer

With more than 100 beers on tap, you’d be hard-pressed to not find one that goes just perfectly with the sandwich you’ll get here ‒‒ because, trust us, you’ll want a sandwich. There’s, of course, more to Flying Saucer than beer and sandwiches. This hip downtown pub has excellent sharables and live music and a patio space that makes it a happening spot in the heart of Fort Worth.

Joe T. Garcia’sJoe T. Garcia’s

No visit to the Stockyards neighborhood should end without dropping by Joe T. Garcia’s. Justifiably famous for their margaritas and awesome Tex-Mex, this staple of the Stockyards combines old-school recipes with one of the most scenic outdoor garden eating areas in DFW. If you want Tex-Mex in a hacienda-style setting, don’t miss this place.

Top 5 Dallas Area Patios for Cool Fall Dining

October 28th, 2014

 

Halleluiah, the summer heat is over in Dallas and it’s high time to step back out into the fresh air. But don’t think you have to step back indoors to enjoy a fine meal. Check out some of these excellent patio dining spots in the Dallas area.

 Katy Trail Ice House 

On the Katy Trail, haven to runners, walkers, and cyclists from Downtown to North Dallas, is the Ice House, an Uptown hotspot whose back deck offers beautiful year-round views of the trail and its tree-lined splendor. With a massive selection of beers on tap (they have more than 50 taps) and a huge outdoor seating area, the Ice House is tailor-made for good times, groups, and a relaxed party vibe. It’s also dog-friendly and, by the way, has dynamite food.

 

 Belly & Trumpet

On McKinney Avenue, one block from West Village, this wraparound patio restaurant is always a good time. Less a party space than the Ice House, B&T is finely suited to a great glass of wine to go with delicious, sharable small plates that always seem just right.

 

Boxwood Tap + Grill

The Boxwood, on Thomas Avenue, took over the old TABC space and kept the latter’s famous and beloved patio. And that’s a yay if ever there was. The tree is still in the middle of the patio, the selection of craft beers on tap is still great (if limited to 10) and the food is still excellent.

 

Cane Rosso White Rock

Dallas may not be the world’s first choice for Pizza shops, but where it’s good it’s really good, and at Cane Rosso’s second location, in White Rock, it’s really good with a great outdoor vibe. Family-friendly, comfortable, and spacious, the patio features an awesome fire-and-water display amid the arbors of White Rock. It’s also a great spot for unique and tasty wine cocktails.

 

Le BilboquetLe Bilboquet

Extra points if you can pronounce the name, this little French sidewalk spot has the rare (for Dallas) street-patio eatery feel of Western Europe. Located in the Knox-Henderson neighborhood, Le Bilboquet reprises the roast chicken and other dishes from the original Le Bilboquet in New York, with real French owners making sure the food and wine are as authentic as you can get.