Power Houses

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

Both Price and Garcia have architecturally distinctive, perfectly nice homes on Fifth Street--Price a two-story clapboard at 406 E. Fifth (20) that's valued at $89,880 and Garcia a two-story, white adobe-looking place at 500 E. Fifth (21) that's $112,430.

The neighborhood, like all urban neighborhoods, is a mixed bag in that the old houses are in various stages of disrepair or renovation. Price's house, built in 1916, has a nicely maintained yard--someone recently planted two large beds of red begonias down front--but is in dire need of a paint job. Garcia's 1940 house is typical in that it's a lot like its owner in personality--shiny as a penny out front (brass door fixtures and large, snazzy planters) but rather corroded-looking if you peek around the back where the house is clearly in need of extensive updating.

Still, the two men share one of the best views of the Dallas skyline in town.

Our one other south-of-the-Trinity celeb is down-homey Channel 8 anchorwoman Gloria Campos, whose greatest marketing strength is that she comes across on the tube as your basic Everywoman. Katie Couric-esque, those Hispanic surnames roll off her tongue like butter on the griddle, and it makes you feel good just knowing that a smart, young, Hispanic female has made it big at a TV station filled with stiff, old white men.

With all that in mind, I motored to the Deep South of Oak Cliff--one street short of the Duncanville city line--to a sunny, rural road called Ranchero Lane. This is a street filled with long dirt driveways and weather-beaten metal mailboxes out at the curb--just like you'd see out on those remote country roads where you feel lucky just to get mail.

Down the street from Campos at 5510 Ranchero Lane (22), a horse farm is for sale with an indoor and outdoor arena. In fact, the only downside out here on Ranchero is that you're almost directly underneath the ugliest--orange and white, yet--water tower I've ever laid eyes on, and you're, well, in Duncanville.

Campos, though, apparently thinks she's in Beirut. She has a serious metal fence across her driveway with an electronic security system attached to it--so much for the folksy image. Unless you want to hike through some deep woods to get a glimpse of her modest, 2,842-square-foot home, you've just wasted a trip. Appraisal-district records show barns and horse stalls on the 4.6-acre property, and it's all worth a modest $251,220.

Clear across the county from Campos, as far north as you can go before you cross the Richardson city line, is the home of Dallas City Manager John Ware.

Ware was recently given a very generous raise, increasing his compensation to more than $173,450 a year and making him one of the highest-paid city managers in the country. He is the city's CEO--in charge of levying enough property taxes and fees citywide to try to keep the whole place maintained in the style to which we became accustomed in the '80s heyday, and which we'll probably never see again.

It's a tough job--a delicate balance--and one that is not helped in the least by the fact that Ware does not pay any of these property taxes himself. In fact, of all bizarre things, the Dallas city manager is a renter.

Ware rents at 9702 Burleson Drive (23) in a little pocket of suburbia--just north of the ugly commercialism that is LBJ and Skillman, just south of the Richardson city line--that appears to have been plunked down precisely for the reason that it afforded residents the chance to live as close to Dallas, where they work, as possible without sacrificing their God-given right to attend Richardson public schools.

Which is clearly why Ware and his wife and kids are there.
What's really embarrassing, though, is that Ware has one of the only houses in that six-street development that looks like a rent house. It's drab and unrelentingly brown. There's not a flowering thing anywhere. And the lawn needs water. We're talking 2,727 square feet, $147,600 on the rolls, and not a good thing to say about it.

We were intensely interested in knowing if the city's most famous handyman was, well, handy.

It was a potentially sobering mission. After all, after listening for years to Carrell's nasal musings on aluminum siding and window caulking on KRLD-FM 1080 radio, it would have been profoundly disturbing to see rotted gutters, loose shingles, or even an uncoiled garden hose.

Not to worry.
Carrell has a pretty tidy little abode at 9808 Boedeker Drive (24), on the other side of Walnut Hill Lane from Mary Kay Ash's private lake. Valued at $199,840, Carrell's two-story house doesn't have an inordinate amount of character--and it's a doggone nightmare if you don't happen to enjoy cars whizzing by your driveway at 60 miles an hour--but it's structurally sound and even has a few nice landscaping touches. Also, on the handy front, he's built himself a sturdy, wooden box out back to store unsightly trash cans.

We would recommend, though, that he take lunch with fellow radio commentator Neil Sperry to get a few gardening tips for the front yard. We would also take a few nails to the back fence, which is leaning over a bit. And we certainly would devise a handy way to keep that seasonal, Tracy-Rowlett-type flag from twisting up on the pole like that.

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