By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
So I used to have crack houses. Now I've got a guy quoting Lewis Mumford at me. Am I better off?
I did my own little study of real estate appraisals in the Lowest Greenville area, not hard to do in this day of online appraisal records and spreadsheets for dummies. I took 26 properties, a mix of single- and multi-family residential, old and new, half a block to a block off Lowest Greenville both east and west of the street, and I looked at appraised values between 2000 and 2006.
Hmmm. Those appraised values rose 74 percent in that time. Citywide values in the same period rose 32 percent. So the area surrounding Lowest Greenville beat the citywide rate of improvement by two-and-a-third times.
What about crime? I can safely say that those of us who have lived in that area care about crime more than we care about child health care. What did you think the big dog was for? We have learned the hard way that nothing good happens until, unless and right after you do something about crime.
So I did a little crime study. Between 2003 and 2005 (the easiest full years for which I could get records), the Lowest Greenville area saw a decrease in crime that was two-and-a-half times faster than the citywide improvement for the same period, 30 percent versus 12 in total crimes reported.
When I tried to project numbers for all of 2006, the picture grew muddier, maybe because I'm a bad projector, maybe because it looks like we're headed for a pretty bad spike in crime citywide this year. But even at that, Lowest Greenville will beat the city by an even better ratio at the end of this year, according to my inexpert projection—a 10 percent dip near Greenville since 2003 versus a 5 percent hike for the city.
The people building this fashionable new housing—I spoke with several—are confident that they are assembling a whole new universe of customers for Lowest Greenville. They say as their properties fill up with young persons of income, this new local clientele will catch the eye of people such as Marc Andres, whose family has owned property on Greenville for three generations.
I called Andres. He agreed. He said his eye has been caught. He steered me to one of his new tenants, Bobby Hood, a young lawyer who lives a block off Greenville and is a principal in a sophisticated new jazz bar, Gezellig, in an Andres property on Greenville just south of Belmont Avenue.
Bobby Hood (addressed as Robert in the halls of the large law firm where he is a public finance attorney) told me his jazz bar is aimed directly at the people who are running off all of Otto's best crack houses:
"One of our absolute strategic concepts is to capture the market of people in all these new $500,000, $600,000 houses around there," he said. "We believe there is this group of affluent under-40 young people who don't have kids yet, who are buying these houses as their starter houses. They are seeing it as their last few years of having fun, and then they're going to have kids, and they're going to have to move out to the suburbs."
Something about that makes me so sad. I want for them not to have the kids, if it's going to make them have to move to the suburbs. It's not like we have a shortage.
This could all sound a bit Pollyanna. Rich young people move in, run off bad element. We in Old East Dallas know better. The bad element doesn't run. It retreats slowly, firing. And how do you know the richies will behave any better?
Lower Greenville activist Avi S. Adelman told me he thinks the bars are having some luck with a new dress code, suggested by the cops, to run off the gangbangers. But longtime neighborhood resident Cheryl Kellis said the gangbangers are not the worst of it:
"My biggest issue," she said, "has not been with Joey Gangmember. My issues have been with Joe Cool who's come down from Plano driving his top-of-the-line BMW, who decides to get out in front of my house and take his wiener out and piss on my tree in front of me."
Otto would love that.
That was where we started with this. The dogs. Who are obviously stupid. But they're dogs. C'mon. I think where I end is this: The scene on Lowest and Lower Greenville obviously needs to be controlled and contained.
But not too much. And if the area is trending anywhere, it's straight up. Oh, my gosh. All this time, has poor Dottie been trying to tell me something? I've been a beast.