Is the development along Henderson Avenue set to become the new Uptown?
For years, Knox/Henderson has reigned supreme as one of Dallas’ hottest neighborhoods, with its swanky condos, abundance of trendy dining, boutique shopping and fabulous-by-association proximity to Highland Park.
But the geographic street cred of the area only spread so far. A drive just a little too far east down Henderson and the urban landscape changed from something out of Rent into something more West Side Story. Well, at least, that used to be the case.
Just like the urbanization that swept through Uptown, creating entities like West Village, over the past few years the gentrification train has once again rolled up and transformed another Dallas neighborhood: Henderson Avenue and all points east. Only this time, the mix of posh-living abodes and see-and-be-seen watering holes sit side by side in a sea of single-family homes and taquerias in a phenomenon one might call el barrio fabuloso.
"The new places seem to be an extension of the hot spots on Henderson closer to I-75 like Fireside Pies, Old Monk, Vickery Park, which were extensions of Knox and Travis Walk. Basically I see it as urban sprawl for retail/restaurant/bars. And it makes sense considering the East Dallas population and their eclectic tastes. It has an upscale feel with a little ‘dive’ thrown in for good measure," says Jeff Duffey, a Realtor with Duffey Homes.
John Artis, who has rented a townhouse in the East Henderson area for about a year now, says that it’s convenience and community that drew him to the area.
"I work downtown, so my daily commute is 10 to 15 minutes, max. This area is where I spend the majority of my free time. Some of my favorite restaurants and hang-out spots are just a few blocks away from my front door," he says.
But "it" eateries aside, there are also new places to live in East Henderson, giving people more access to the "Knox/Henderson" lifestyle. New developments include high-end rental living like Eastwood at Henderson and the Belmont Apartments. Or, buyers can choose from options ranging from new condos with museum finish floors to a variety of traditional freestanding homes.
According to Tony Nuncio with Keller Williams Realty â€“ Dallas City Center (which offices in the area), "From a price perspective, housing is still more affordable east of I-75 than it is on the west side of I-75, so you can get more home for your money, regardless of the style of home you choose to buy. There are a variety of types of housing: single family detached, town homes, condos, single family attached (duplex), three-plexes and four-plexes. In Uptown, for example, there are very few single family detached homes, so for those people who want a backyard and space from other homes, it is not easy to find."
So, is East Henderson the "New Uptown?" "It’s more like an extension of Uptown," says Artis.
But Pearl Cup owner Carlene Saelg, who opened shop in February with partner Rita Davis, sees it as something more: "We chose the area specifically for the diversity and eclectic feel that reminded us so much of Austin."
Both parties agree that the growth for the neighborhood has not completely displaced the original flavor of the area and that, in fact, the expansion has been beneficial for all involved.
"There are pockets along some streets that are gentrified," Artis says, "however, I don’t think the changes to the community are intended to force the lower income residents out. As a matter of fact, I think the lower income residents will benefit from improved safety, city services and employment opportunities. The improvements make the neighborhood a more attractive place to live regardless of socio-economic status."
And what about the inclusiveness of the LGBT community in this new landscape? Both Artis and Saelg agree that like everything else in the neighborhood, it adds to the diversity. And that diversity will just continue to spread.
"I see continued growth and more awareness from folks outside the neighborhood that haven’t ventured in to start making the trip to enjoy all that Henderson Avenue has to offer" says Saelg. "[Now], if we could just get the city to repave the street … it would be more appealing to drive down a smooth street!"
DON’T SHAKE YOUR FOUNDATIONS
Dave Herbster of Rainbow Repair and Remodeling recommends checking the foundation and plumbing of that new home before closing the deal.
Foundations — Foundation issues are mostly visible. Cracks on the walls stemming from the corners of doors and windows is a good inidcator. Cracks on the exterior bricks and hard to shut doors can be good indicators the foundation is shoddy. Check gutter drainage as well. They should be directed away from the house because soil moisture can affect the strength of the foundation. "A slab is only as strong as what it’s built on. Even new and high dollar homes can have these problems. The thing is to have the seller get it fixed or keep looking," Herbster says.
Plumbing — It’s important to know the type of pipes your new home may have. Plastic is the most common but some have copper pipes also. Metal is stronger for handling water pressure issues, however, they can be costlier to fix. Plastics are much less pricey should they need repairs. Shut-off valves throughout the house should be checked. The most overlooked item is also the most obvious. "Most people forget to look at the water heater. This is crucial and even a brand new one should be double checked," Herbster says.
This article appeared in the Defining Homes magazine presented by Dallas Voice on October 9, 2009.