Power Houses

A celebrity home tour of Dallas' rich, famous--and all too often tasteless--movers and fakers

Back on Planet Earth--after all, who in the world wants to live in that Ferguson Road-Buckner Boulevard nether world of abandoned strip shopping centers?--is Nice East Dallas.

We're talking M Street Land and what we like in particular are the M Streets between Skillman and Abrams where there are some big front yards and distinctively un-Texan-looking homes.

If you happen to be a liberal-to-moderate Democrat, this is your neighborhood. In the space of eight blocks live four big-time, reasonable-minded, city players: the mayor, the former school-board president, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, and the federal judge with the loudly liberal rulings.

Mayor Ron Kirk lives at 6342 Mercedes Ave. (11) in a wide, two-story white house that looks more like a house you'd find in deep-woods Connecticut, where it would be downright gorgeous, Mr. Mayor, if you'd throw a little color at it. Instead of playing golf on Fridays, get out there in the yard and put a little elbow grease into your $310,210 property. Even one bed of flowers would be nice. An American flag flapping proudly against the white paint would be striking--not to mention helpful for the political career.

Sandy Kress lives on the same street as Kirk, just three blocks down, in a smaller, funkier house with a prestigious architectural history that he is only too happy to tell you all about. While Kirk's house is sterile-looking, Kress' $122,090 abode at 6021 (12) has lots of homey touches--flowers, a whimsical paint job, even an old-timey perambulator parked by the driveway on the day we were there. (Star guide insider note: The inside of the 1,984-square-foot house is enormously charming, too.) Though Kress, unlike many males we know, pretty much had this place whipped into shape before he got married about six years ago, we attribute an equal share of the personality factor to his artist wife, Camille.

Paul Coggins, the U.S. attorney, and his wife, Regina Montoya, lawyer and former Clinton appointee, have a solid-looking, two- story brown house at 3302 Oakhurst St. (13). On the rolls for $249,980, the most remarkable thing about the property is its large, sloping side lawn--which would be nice for frolicking, though that's not quite the superserious Coggins' style.

Jerry Buchmeyer has issued some pretty seriously liberal rulings in this city--single-member districts for the Dallas City Council and the more-recent public housing for Far North Dallas both come to mind. After making a rather thorough canvas of his neighborhood, we can say on good authority that the judge doesn't have any HUD apartments casting long shadows over his $213,360 house at 6502 McCommas Blvd. (14).

No, there's nothing in the immediate environs of the judge's home to adversely affect his property values--or selling price, considering Buchmeyer's house just sold.

Of course, maybe the judge knows something his neighbors don't.

No list of prestigious Dallas addresses would be complete without the Little Colonel, but we are sad to say our guide will be a bit thin. Not that we didn't try. Knowing that Perot has a big, black, iron driveway gate and several acres of sky-high foliage that makes even the tiniest peek at the Perot layout impossible, we appeared, we admit, at the Perot homestead last week with a ladder in our station wagon. But after checking out the main entrance of 10444 Strait Lane (15)--complete with requisite security camera--we decided that it was indeed possible for a Sherman tank to be hidden on the other side of the gate. And, considering the billionaire's penchant for paranoia, we figured it wasn't impossible that we'd wind up with a cannon barrel stuffed up our nose.

We circled the 23.6-acre compound best we could--you can drive along its perimeter on three sides, including Royal Lane, Manson Court, and Strait Lane--but the man must have $20,000 in shrubbery out there. (He's also got some military-looking hangar-type sheds at the end of Manson Court, which we assume will explode into activity when the Islamic jihad pays that overdue visit. Or it may just be the site of the helipad Perot and his Top Gun son, Ross Jr., tried to build some years back, prompting the neighborhood to go bananas.)

That said, tax appraisal and county-tax-office records reveal the following: a relatively modest 8,264-square-foot home with four fireplaces, one wet bar, five-and-a-half baths, a tennis court, stables, and a greenhouse. (Star guide insider note: I can also vouch for a Perot Gymnasium, which I actually visited many years ago when I was on a date with one of Top Gun's friends. Specifically, I can say I trampolined at Perot's.)

The gonzo compound is on the rolls for $8.8 million, which is patently ridiculous seeing as how Perot has a spread the size of 18 football fields on one of the most prestigious North Dallas streets. It gets easier to understand when you consider that Perot dragged the appraisal district into court three years ago because it tried to raise his valuation. The DCAD and Perot wound up in binding arbitration instead of a trial, which Perot most ardently wanted to avoid because he didn't want the publicity. Well, it's dejà vu all over again: This year Perot's challenging his valuation again. The first protest hearing is June 27.

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