Property Potential Podcast

Property Potential Podcast

Property Potential Podcast

Robert Zalkin

October 20, 2023

Squirrel News 

Monte’s path to becoming a real estate developer; Philosophy behind community development; Managing relationships with stakeholders; Common misconceptions about re-development; Assessing new projects and lessons learned.

Welcome to the Property Potential Podcast, hosted by Robert Zalkin, where we dive deep into the strategies, playbooks, and tactics that have catapulted the industry’s most influential leaders to success. This series is perfect for anyone involved in real estate, from beginners to veterans. Why Listen? Expert Interviews: Take away exclusive insights from top figures in all aspects of real estate. Learn from their stories and gain insider knowledge that you can implement in your own projects.

 

South Polk Pizzeria in Dallas’ Oak Cliff

South Polk Pizzeria in Dallas’ Oak Cliff

South Polk Pizzeria in Dallas’ Oak Cliff slings perfect pies in pizza desert

Friday, January 23, 2023
Culture Map Dallas

Dallas has plenty of pretty pizza these days — but nearly all of it is found north of I-30.

So let’s hear it for South Polk Pizzeria, a new shop that opened in late December in Oak Cliff, at 3939 S. Polk St #527, just off US-67 and north of Loop 12, slinging the same kind of artisanal pies that are being slung across Deep Ellum, Oak Lawn, and North Dallas.

South Polk is doing serious pizza with stellar toppings — the foodie-famous Jimmy’s Italian sausage, for example — as well as the telltale sign of great-quality pizza: a crust made from dough that’s been fermented — left to age — for many hours to give it a light, crisp texture and toasty flavor.

South Polk is from Terrill Burnett, a chef and Detroit native who moved to Dallas in 2015 and has worked at fine-dining restaurants such as Knife, Nobu, and Saltgrass Steakhouse. For this first solo venture, he’s partnered with famed developer Monte Anderson.

Pizza is an exciting new avenue for him.

“When I partnered with Monte, I initially pitched barbecue,” he says. “But Monte encouraged me to think about pizza. I started doing my research on the concept of fermentation and got an understanding of how to do it.”

That included studying books like The Joy of Pizza: Everything You Need to Know, plus classes such as the Pizza Master Class with Vito Jacopelli.

He uses some of the techniques and ingredients of a classic Neapolitan-style pizza, with his own tweaks. He experimented with different flours until he found one with the right blend of seminola and a high percentage of gluten, and he’s fermenting his dough for 72 hours.

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Neighborhood Evolution in South Bend

Neighborhood Evolution in South Bend

Neighborhood Evolution in South Bend

Kevin Shepherd

October 4th, 2022

GO! Cultivate 

How sustainable is any system which requires the agreement and buy-in of those with the deepest pockets and largest portfolios to be successful? Can many small players create the same value in a place that the big guys do? This week’s guests will tell you that the former simply isn’t sustainable, and not only is the latter, but it also creates more lasting value for the community. Monte Anderson and Mike Keen are working in two different places (South Dallas and South Bend, Indiana). Still, they are working to create incremental wealth in the communities where they live, and as you will hear, both of them have been successful at this bottom-up approach to development.

The discussion on this week’s podcast covers topics like financing these small projects and how imperative it is that common sense and effective land use entitlements are to the success of these small, locally-led projects.

About Mike Keen

Mike Keen is a Managing Partner with Hometowne Development LLC, and President of The Bakery Group LLC.  A LEED-AP with two decades experience as a sustainability professional, he spent 30 years as a professor of sociology and sustainability studies at Indiana University South Bend.  

 As Managing Partner of Hometowne Development for the last six years, Mike has taken the lead role in the development of Portage Midtown, a sustainable neighborhood demonstration infill project located in South Bend, Indiana.  He is also the facilitator of the Michiana Town Makers ecosystem, an informal network of small scale developers, design professionals, finance officers, real estate agents, property managers, contractors, neighbors, and municipal officials dedicated to helping to create wealth in neighborhoods for neighborhoods.

 A social entrepreneur, Mike is trained in The Natural Step’s Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development.  He offers seminars, workshops and consulting services to developers, municipalities, and not-for-profits wishing integrate sustainability and/or incremental development into their localities.

About Monte Anderson

Since 1984, Monte has been improving the living and working environments in Texas’ southern Dallas and northern Ellis counties. He’s an outspoken man who cares about people, and he is an advocate for policies and practices that serve urban neighborhoods.

‘Autophagy’ for the Built Environment

‘Autophagy’ for the Built Environment

Suburban retrofit is ‘autophagy’ of the built environment

By ROBERT STEUTEVILLE

AUG. 23, 2022
Public Square, A CNU Journal

Conventional suburbs are cities that have grown obese. We need processes for reusing their worn-out parts and creating something of higher value.

My summer reading sometimes leads to connecting diverse topics with my area of professional focus—the built environment. I recently read a book on fasting that introduced me to the body’s recycling process called “autophagy,” and I thought about suburban retrofit. I don’t know that anyone else would make this analogy, but I think it’s apt.

Autophagy means “self-eating,” which sounds macabre, but is the body’s vital process of reusing old, worn-out cellular parts. Recycling often produces goods of lesser or similar value—think of recycled paper—but autophagy takes our body’s junk and makes it highly valuable, using damaged cell parts for energy and building blocks for new growth. In 2016, Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in medicine for work in this area.

Autophagy helps us to survive in times of extreme stress—such as starvation—but it also is important for routine health maintenance. If this process breaks down, illness such as cancer may result.

Similarly, retrofit is critical to the long-term health of suburbs. It’s the process of taking low-value elements of the suburban environment—say a defunct mall or out-of-date shopping center—and building, say, a mixed-use urban center, affordable housing, a health district, or a park.

June Williamson, coauthor of Case Studies in Retrofitting Suburbia, notes that public health and the built environment are intertwined. Suburban retrofit is linked to improving public health and promoting longevity. Projects highlighted in the book “encourage everyday physical activity; incorporate tenets of biophilia; reduce social isolation with communal gathering spaces; improve safety from various risks; mitigate ill effects from air, soil, and water pollution; increase access to healthy foods and preventative health care, and reduce the stresses of income and resource inequality,” she told Public Square.

A short history of conventional suburban development (CSD) is warranted. CSD makes up most of new development that has occurred since 1950s. Due to zoning regulations and development practices, different uses and housing types are separated from one another in a low-density pattern. Rather than a tight network of streets that is found in almost all cities and towns prior to 1950, CSD takes a dendritic (“tree-like”) form with large blocks and isolated subdivisions, where local streets lead to collectors, then to arterials. The latter thoroughfares gather all the traffic, and that’s where the commercial uses locate. CSD now makes up about 90 percent, give or take, of our metropolitan regions by area. 

Due to the separated, low-density form, CSD has a lot of underutilized, low-value land. This is especially true when commercial properties like malls and office parks decline economically. 

US suburban environments, especially if they have been around for more than three decades, are riddled with such sites. When dead and dying pieces of the built environment achieve a critical mass, they threaten to bring down the value of everything around them. That is why it is important that retrofit occur in suburbs, once they get past their first generation—30 years—of growth.

The question is, what kind of retrofit will take place? Will it be “recycling,” or “upcycling?” The latter is the process, according to Wikipedia, of creating something of greater value. Here’s a couple of examples of upcycling in a suburban environment:

Grow Desoto Market Place. Developer Monte Anderson purchased the The Brookhollow Shopping Center in Desoto, Texas, a standard neighborhood strip mall with 50,000 square feet in a majority Black suburb, in 2016. “Rather than knock the building down and start from scratch, he worked from the inside out, adaptively reusing the building in a way that would provide uses to foster walkability and serve as a hub for the community to gather,” according to a report by Christopher Kuschel for CNU. Anderson filled the reclaimed mall with small local vendors, added residential units to a strip of land at the edge of the site, and reclaimed part of the parking lot for food trucks and vendors. 

Downtown Westminster. The Westminster Mall in Westminster, Colorado, declined in the early 2000s after operating for 40 years. The city has led a public-private partnership to redevelop the site into a downtown that the Denver suburb never had. It has been rapidly developing, even during the pandemic, with apartments, entertainment (brewpub, bowling), retail, hotel, restaurants, medical offices, and more. The new urban plan has established a tight network of streets and public spaces that allow far more value to be created than ever existed in the heyday of the mall. 

 

The potential for suburban upcycling is tremendous. A recent analysis, reported in Public Square, of the Boston region showed that 125,000 housing unit could be built by retrofitting just 10 percent of strip malls. “Retail strip redevelopment … allows communities to accommodate new growth without the loss of the valuable open space required for new subdivisions or greenfield multifamily development,” notes the report.

We need mechanisms to reuse these sites in the suburbs, much like our bodies creatively reuse broken down parts of cells. Imagine if our bodies didn’t do this—if we kept adding new cell parts as we accumulated those that are broken. We would all quickly become obese and grotesque. 

That’s kind of what has been happening in the suburbs, which can be thought of as cities that suffer from obesity. We need codes and development practices that constantly reuse the failing parts of the suburban environment as places of higher value. With these mechanisms in place, we could incrementally transform sprawl.

Squirrel News | Cities owned by locals

Squirrel News | Cities owned by locals

Squirrel News | Cities owned by locals

Jonathan Widder

March 21, 2022

Squirrel News 

Social inequality is one of the major problems of our times. And housing is one of the areas where you can feel that immediately. In a movement called incremental development, people who would usually not be able to afford it and sometimes not even think about it help each other aquire residential property, often very successfully. In this episode, we spoke with Mike Keen, a sociology professor who is part of the movement in South Bend, Indiana, and Mary Hall, a journalist who covered the approach.

Hosts: Ed Crasnick, Jonathan Widder. Editing: Nina Bohlmann.

Oak Cliff Connections

Oak Cliff Connections

Oak Cliff Connections

By Rebecca Brooke & Rachel Stone

May 20, 2022
Oak Cliff Connections

The Advocate

If you like those PBS shows where a sophisticated British woman walks around and talks to you about the Cotswolds or the Roman Empire, then you will love Rebecca Brooke.

“I am a lover of community and of history, and I thought, ‘What a better place to explore than my own backyard of Oak Cliff,” Brooke says in the intro to her online show, Oak Cliff Connections.

The actress and filmmaker, who lives in Beckley Club Estates, created the show over about a year, starting pre-production in June 2021. The first episode launched May 20.

It runs a little over 26 minutes with an introduction to Oak Cliff that touches on our neighborhood’s beauty, history, culture and climate. The quality of the production could put most visitors bureaus to shame, and it has a hyperlocal edge that cuts a little deeper.

“If you want to meet the real Oak Cliff, you can’t accept the beauty without acknowledging the pain,” she says in the show.

With a change of tone around the 5-minute mark, Brooke dips into topics of racism and gentrification.

“When you enjoy the amenities of a fun new development, you need to know that while that was growth for some, it was most likely loss for others,” she says.

After a history lesson about Hord’s Ridge, Thomas L. Marsalis and the historic Oak Cliff Cemetery, Brooke gets into the expected format of profiling people, places and businesses.

At about the 14-minute mark, she visits Tyler Station, where she has an Oak Cliff Brewing Co. beer and interviews the owners of Trade Oak Cliff.

Brooke has lived in Oak Cliff for seven years and has two kids. The episode was shot in October and November 2021, and she did editing and post-production from then until May, as she had time as a stay-at-home parent.

The Tyler, Texas, native says she hopes to have the next episode finished by the end of summer.

Micro Homes for Shopping Center

Micro Homes for Shopping Center

Micro homes wanted for South Polk shopping center to create walkable urban village

By Rachel Stone

April 6, 2022
Advocate | Oak Cliff

Picture an urban village with homes, a grocery store, restaurants and a bank in South Oak Cliff.

That’s the vision Monte Anderson has for the Golden Triangle Shopping Center at 3939 S. Polk St.

Anderson wants to build 12 one-story “micro homes” in the shopping center’s parking lot.

“We’re taking an under-used, over-parked shopping center and putting in small units,” Anderson says. “It creates the urban form so that it feels like an urban village.”

A zoning-change application requests that the shopping center’s RR zoning, regional retail, be changed to MU1, walkable mixed-use.

The homes would have retro modern architecture to match the existing buildings. Each one would comprise about 500 square feet. They could even be divided into roommate pods of 200 and 300 square feet, each with its own a bathroom, Anderson says.

The apartments would be for rent at market rate, but Anderson’s company does accept housing vouchers.

The shopping center on South Polk is one of several in southern Dallas County that Anderson has purchased or is buying with similar goals.

He expects to close on Wheatland Plaza shopping center in Duncanville this week.

That’s where he’s planning to build two-story apartments or condos at the center of the existing development.

He’s also working on similar projects in Lancaster and DeSoto.

“These shopping centers have got to be reimagined,” says Anderson, who is known for his redevelopment of the Belmont Hotel and Tyler Station.

In suburban areas, it’s not financially feasible to tear them down, he says. And demolition just puts them in the landfill anyway.

Retailers like Dollar General, which has a lease in Wheatland Plaza, and Family Dollar, which has one on South Polk, can coexist with trendy restaurants and neighborhood services, he says.

But he also wants to downsize retail spaces. Along with shops and services like dry cleaning, there could be small graphic-design firms, podcast booths and studios that Tik-Tok influencers could rent, for example.

Adding a residential component livens them up with full-time residents to support those businesses.

As the zoning-change application states: “The owner wishes to leverage this housing to support high-quality walkable, mixed-use development, consistent with the goals enumerated in the City of Dallas Economic Policy …”  

Beckley Settlement, a two-story commercial building Anderson redeveloped on South Beckley in 2020, is fully leased with 32 tenants.

“And they’re all from the neighborhood,” he says.

That’s also part of his vision, that whatever commercial tenants are a fit for the shopping centers, they will be locally owned businesses, with an emphasis on upstarts.

In Duncanville, Anderson also own Main Station and the quaint retail strip near it, and he says people always ask why they don’t have “the pie place,” Emporium Pies, in their town.

“I tell them, the pie place don’t belong here. It belongs in Bishop Arts,” he says. “We need to have our own pie thing down here. You don’t want to go steal from other places. It doesn’t work anyway.”

Here are more architectural renderings of the plan for 3939 S. Polk.

Placemaking x City of Raleigh

Placemaking x City of Raleigh

Placemaking x City of Raleigh

Kady Yellow

director of placemaking

Firstly, thank you to the City of Raleigh and its residents for hosting me this past week. It was a pleasure to present to the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, Raleigh Urban Design Center, your city planners, and Sarah Powers of Raleigh Arts. Secondly, congrats on this exciting time as you search for the perfect person to direct placemaking.

The day started with drip-coffee with built-environment specialist, fellow parking lot placemaker, and founder of Raleigh Urban Rangers Tina Govan. We discussed the importance of ’soft boundaries’ and ambiguity when approaching the design and use of shared public spaces and no trees in parks unless you want ‘frying pan places’.

We then went to lunch with digital placemaker Marie Schacht who talks on “social stitching”, “loves adventures that take time” and implements a people-centric hiring process insisting on no resumes. We talked about “helping locals strengthen their neighborhoods through small-scale real estate projects” via the work of Monte Anderson.

We were then joined by fellow New York Stater and Arts-Administrator Sarah Powers, Feng Shui focused neighbor Nicole, and Kathleen Louis to tour Greg Hatem’s Black Main Street and his unique approach to pandemic-downtowns.

If you’re interested in any of these topics:
https://www.incrementaldevelopment.org
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/04/business/omicron-retail-real-estate.html
https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/events-and-placemaking-manager-at-downtown-raleigh-alliance-2851536822/

 

Oak Cliff/South Dallas     214-506-0480      https://oakcliffbrewing.com/

The Mournful Heart of It’s a Wonderful Life

The Mournful Heart of It’s a Wonderful Life

The Mournful Heart of It’s a Wonderful Life

By Megan Garber

Friday, December 24, 2021
The Atlantic

The holiday classic is now 75 years old, and a timely exploration of what happens when all that you’ve relied on fades away.

It’s a Wonderful Life is an odd candidate for the “heartwarming Christmas classic” category. The film’s plot pivots around its main character’s consideration of suicide. And the story of George Bailey, a family man beset by troubles both financial and existential, does not get notably Christmas-y until its final seconds. “I didn’t even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it,” the director, Frank Capra, would later say. “I just liked the idea.”

The film’s current popularity is in some ways accidental: It met mixed reviews when it premiered in 1946 and flopped at the box office. It languished for decades until 1974, when what was likely a clerical oversight changed its fate: The film’s 28-year copyright period had come to an end because the studio that owned it failed to refile for a second term. It’s a Wonderful Life entered the public domain, and TV networks, availing themselves of its new royalty-free status, began airing it. Repeatedly. And eventually, as sometimes happens, the repetition led to love.

It’s a Wonderful Life is 75 years old this year, now beloved both because and in spite of the fact that it is about a man convinced by an affable angel that the world is better because he is in it. I’d remembered the film as a giddy blend of styles and characters: comedy, tragedy, magical realism, a celestial being whose angel-rank is Second Class and whose name is Clarence Odbody. I’d understood it through George’s descent from a would-be adventurer to a reluctant businessman, as a meditation on dashed dreams—an argument that growing up is, in part, adjusting the hopes you’ve had for the ones you might come to hold.

Watching the movie this year, though, I found that it landed very differently. It read even more darkly. What struck me this time was the dreams’ manner of death: They were extinguished not in an instant, but by repeated dousings. George, played by James Stewart, is a hero whose journey is quite often stuck in the “being tested” phase of things. He tries, so hard, to have adventures away from his small hometown; circumstance, again and again, keeps him homebound. The recurrent nature of his trials seems especially acute right now. The pandemic that looked, earlier this year, like it might be under control has resurged with a new variant. The chance leaders had to do the bare minimum to forestall the planet’s furies has been squandered once again. American democracy, new and ever-fragile, is under threat once more. George Bailey was never just George Bailey; he has always doubled as a collection of decidedly American metaphors. This year, though, he looks more like an omen.

The first thing audiences learn about George is that he is possessed of an intrinsic heroism. As a child, he saved his younger brother, Harry, from drowning after the ice of a pond they were skating on broke. George, without thinking, dived in; Harry lived; George came away with an infection that rendered him deaf in one ear. And then the cadence that defines much of the film—circumstances requiring his sacrifices—sets in. George dreams of traveling the world; he wants the scope of his universe to grow larger than life in Bedford Falls can afford. His initial plans for adventure get curtailed, at the very last minute, because his father has a stroke. He stays. Not long after, George is about to leave for college; minutes before he’s set to depart—the cab is idling outside—he learns that the family business, Bailey Bros. Building & Loan, will survive only if he takes over as its head. George has no interest in finance, but he does what must be done. He stays once again. Later, just as he’s leaving for his honeymoon—he and his wife, Mary, are in the cab this time—he sees a crowd in front of the Bailey Bros. office. There’s a run on the banks. Everyone wants their money back.

Again: George does what he has to do. He stays in Bedford Falls. He sacrifices once more. The circumstances are coincidental; for George, though, they amount for much of the film to a senseless resilience. He is tested and tested and tested, with a notable absence of relief or reward. The hero with a thousand faces is left, instead, with a thousand loan accounts.

The end of It’s a Wonderful Life reliably makes me cry: the community coming together to save George, the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” in the Baileys’ living room, the moppet Zuzu Bailey reminding her father that “every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings”—it’s mushy and saccharine and I love it. This time around, though, a much earlier scene brought the tears. George, having taken over the building and loan, is meeting Harry, who had gone to college in his older brother’s stead, at the train station. After four years away, Harry was going to move back to Bedford Falls and take over the business: the brothers swapping timelines, but both fulfilling their dreams.

And then, at the station, Harry disembarks with his new wife, Ruth. George learns that Harry will be taking another job, with her father’s company, outside of Bedford Falls. The camera zooms in on George’s face as he takes in the news, his expression ranging from horror to panic to resignation to despair. For a moment, the quintessential Capra film summons Hitchcock. And then George readjusts his expression into a smile. He understands what the world expects of him: compliance, sacrifice, resilience. Again, he does his duty. It was at that point, specifically, that I found myself tearing up.