Have you heard the good news? All the rich people in California are relocating to Dallas! A lot of rich New Yorkers are moving here, too. A recent New York Post headline: “Inside the Luxury Apartments Luring New Yorkers to Dallas.” Never mind that it was a one-source story quoting only a real estate agent selling downtown’s Hall Arts Residences. The fact remains: an indeterminate number of New Yorkers are being lured. As for the Californians? Look at the headline of this story!
What’s the best part of the cavalcade of Golden State richies? Some say it’s all the jobs and spending power they’re bringing. But for my money, it’s the rumors. Right now, for example, everyone is talking about a Los Angeles-based hedge funder who bought the Preston Hollow estate of a certain auto-dealing arts patron for millions above market, sight unseen. Is it true? Yes, it is probably mostly true. The phrase “sight unseen” is relative, given that the property can be found on Architectural Digest’s website, but undebatable is the fact that Dallas Central Appraisal District records show the place just changed hands.
Want to know the hedgie’s name? Same here. Turns out, though, as much as rich people like to gossip, they very much do not like to go on the record about other rich people. So I launched an in-depth-ish investigation because we deserve to know the identity of our new neighbor—if only to send him a muffin basket!
I began my quest with as little effort as possible, by scrolling through Instagram. It didn’t take me long to stumble on real estate agent Alex Perry’s IG page. My research revealed that Perry has a six-pack, and he just sold a $22.5 million property. Perry wrote: “one of the biggest sales Dallas has seen in over two years, according to MLS.” You better believe I reached out to him.
The fine gentleman called me back within an hour to let me know the buyers are indeed from California. Sadly, he would not tell me their names. He did, however, tell me that they had to tour the house several times before pulling the trigger. That didn’t jibe with my rumor. Worse: the sellers were Nasiba Adilova and Thomas Hartland-Mackie, an influencer and a plumbing fixture magnate, respectively. Neither traffics in cars. They’re not known as savvy art collectors. And the house is in Volk Estates, not Preston Hollow. A big sale, to be sure, but not our sale. I had to keep scrolling.
If you read magazines like Vanity Fair and Vogue, you’re probably familiar with Donald Robertson. The Estée Lauder exec has become something of a fashion-world darling thanks to his whimsical art. He has actually rebranded himself as the “Andy Warhol of Instagram.” I’ve been following along as he and his adorable family left New York for Santa Monica. More recently, I saw a photograph on his feed of a Colonial in what appears to be Dallas. The caption read: “Waiting for our stuff.” Upon further digging, I found that the Robertsons have indeed “moved to taxes I mean Texas,” according to one of his comments. I do think Robertson has a lot of money, and I bet some of it is even invested in a hedge fund, but he’s not running one. He also mentioned in another comment that his new two-story house is “walking distance to Chanel.” So unless he’s walkin’ more than Christopher, the house is in Highland Park. Another dead end.
It was time to take another tack. Who would a billionaire hedgie call if he wanted to hang out with people who have sympathy for giant firms when they get outsmarted on their short positions by kids on Reddit? I reached out to Brady Wood, co-founder of Highland Park Village’s members-only social club, Park House, to ask if perhaps our new best friend was signing for his supper there.
“There’s been an uptick in applications from Los Angeles,” Wood confirmed. Aha! “These are people who never thought they would leave L.A., and all of a sudden they find themselves here, and they’re searching for a community. You can’t join a country club overnight, so people try very hard to join Park House.” My excitement waned. He wouldn’t give me a single name. “Our new members are very influential, very nice people,” he said. “It’s a great time for Dallas. We’ll no longer be dismissed as second-tier by gateway cities.” It’s a nice sentiment, to be sure.
From there, I reached out to a few high-end real estate agents to ask them directly if they’d heard about this specific Preston Hollow sale. Everyone seemed genuinely shocked by the news, which meant I was basically now responsible for spreading gossip. Just like a rich person!
“There’s a huge capacity for growth here. We have 86 acres of developable land. No other city has that much land in their downtown,”
Kourtny Garrett of DDI
While the agents I spoke to didn’t know about that particular off-the-books transaction, they did have a lot to say about Californians who are looking to spend $2 million to $10 million on their homes, as opposed to $20 million. Long story short: they’re not exactly blown away by their options.
“Inventory is at an all-time low, and people have very different expectations,” said agent Richard Graziano. “They’re surprised by the size of the lots in the Park Cities.”
Rachel Trowbridge shared the advice she gives clients: “We tell them, ‘In the Park Cities, you have to live by the commandment “Love thy neighbor.” ’ ” Many of Trowbridge’s new-to-town clients list Preston Hollow as their top choice, but because admission to private schools isn’t a given even for the wealthiest families, some are waiting to buy until after they return from spring breaking in Gstaad to field admission letters. But we know our guy already bought, so it was time to move on.
Maybe the best way to solve the mystery of Preston Hollow was to look downtown. There are lots of New York- and California-based financial institutions that have either moved here or are in talks to do so. Real estate services giant CBRE made a splash last year when its CEO announced its headquarters (if not its employees) are moving from Los Angeles to downtown Dallas.
“We have a greater proportion of companies moving from California, at about a 3-to-1 ratio,” says Kourtny Garrett, president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc. “There’s a huge capacity for growth here. We have 86 acres of developable land. No other city has that much land in their downtown to do a build-to-suit.”
Financial firm Schonfeld Strategic Advisors recently leased almost 3,000 square feet at the Crescent (which is downtown-ish), and Los Angeles-based Canyon Capital is reported to be opening a satellite office here or in Austin. Our guy could be attached to one of those firms or to Goldman Sachs or to any number of financial services companies coming to town.
The fact is, lots of rich Californians are moving to Dallas—but that’s not new. Rich Californians and New Yorkers and even St. Louisans have been moving here forever. How do you think the Adolphus Hotel got here? A rich beer guy named Busch moved to town in 1912! Or did he?
The question we should be asking—aside from who bought that doggone house—is has that guy sold his home in California? Is he planning to live here 51 percent of the year, and not a day longer, for tax reasons? While Wood told me all the transplanted Park House members plan to make their home in Dallas full-time, real estate agents told me about mothers and children who are staying behind on the West Coast until the “end of school” (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). And let’s not forget: these people haven’t experienced a Texas summer yet. One of the big selling points of Dallas has always been how quickly you can escape it, so let’s wait to see how often they do before we get too excited about their arrival. In the meantime, I’ll be watching Instagram. I’m still on the case.
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