News Article | 9/4/2007

The Creeks of Preston Hollow – an amazing neighborhood

The founder of Excel Communications assembled seven lots along the banks of Bachman Creek at Inwood Road and Royal Lane and planned to build a home for himself on the property.

Later, Mr. Troutt decided not to build on the property. And last spring, he agreed to sell the acreage, listed at $28 million, to the Ross Perot family’s Hillwood Residential. Allie Beth Allman and Sherwood Blount helped negotiate the sale.

Hillwood has subdivided the property’s 22 acres into 17 lots, most of which are on the creek, and calls the project The Creeks of Preston Hollow. The average selling price for the lots – all but four of which are already sold – is $2.2 million each, or about $37 million total.

The plan is for a select group of builders, operating under strict architectural guidelines in this 24-hour-a-day secured neighborhood, to construct Old World European-style homes with 8,000 to 15,000 square feet of living space that cost between $5 million and $12 million.

Except for its Victory Park residential high-rises near downtown Dallas, this project is the only Hillwood development in the city of Dallas, and The Creeks is the one likely to establish Hillwood’s credentials as a high-end developer in North Texas.

“This project is a big, big part of the Hillwood strategy,” Ross Perot Jr., chairman of Hillwood, says.

But it is even more than that to Mr. Perot Jr. As a youngster, he says, “I played all up and down the creek.” He rode his horse, named Hills Perfection, from which the name Hillwood is indirectly derived, along the creek when he was not riding it to school at St. Mark’s School of Texas or to meet girls at The Hockaday School.

His parents still live across the creek on Strait Lane.

“This neighborhood is amazing,” Mr. Perot Jr. says.

There is little to see for now at The Creeks behind its curving rock wall and guard office. Some landscaping is in, and large trees are being planted or protected. Two homes are being built, including a show house that will be ready for the public to tour during the 2008 holiday season.

A 12,000-square-foot home, priced at $7 million, is being built by Geoffrey Grant Custom Homes. Crescent Estates Custom Homes and Calais Custom Homes are beginning construction on two other homes.

Mark Molthan of Platinum Series Custom Homes is building a 14,000-square-foot Italian villa as the show house that will be open to the public for touring during the 2008 holiday season.

The home will feature six bedrooms, seven baths, three half-baths, five fireplaces, three covered loggias, a wine grotto, a subterranean courtyard, a spa and fitness facility and a billiard room in an entertainment wing that includes a home theater. It also will have a garage that will fit “seven Hummers or eight regular-sized cars,” Mr. Molthan jokes. Six of the garage spaces will be underground.

The tour of the home will raise money to support the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and the Junior League of Dallas. The event is also sponsored by Texas Capital Bank, Briggs Freeman Real Estate Brokerage and LUXE Magazine.

J.C. Montgomery, president of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, says, “The opportunity to get a piece of land like this south of LBJ, it’s a miracle.”

By comparison to Hillwood Residential’s other subdivisions, The Creeks of Preston Hollow is small.

The company has developed 13 other communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has delivered more than 17,000 lots in 25 cities. But to Fred Balda, president of Hillwood Residential, The Creeks is unique.

“We wanted to develop this property because of its location,” Mr. Balda says.

Working with Mr. Perot Jr. since 1992, Mr. Balda is accustomed to the pressure of building high-end, high-profile projects. The Creeks is his third such development, including the Bar BC Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyo. In the middle of the Grand Tetons, the lots there average $9 million to $10 million.

Developing The Creeks near one particular Strait Lane neighbor, Ross Perot Sr., added a little pressure.

“I asked Fred if he really wanted to develop this property with my dad driving by the property every day,” Mr. Perot Jr. says.

Regarding their presentation on The Creeks of Preston Hollow to Mr. Perot Sr., Mr. Balda says, “He is very excited about our plans.”

When Mr. Perot Sr., the billionaire founder of EDS and Perot Systems, heard the asking price of the houses in The Creeks, Mr. Balda says, “He smiled and said ‘I guess that makes my house a pretty good investment.'”

The challenge for Hillwood, the younger Mr. Perot says: “We have to keep this neighbor happy.”