Brazos Island, its unique legacy

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Barometers measured the storm’s low pressure at 28.02 inches or 948 millibars at Brownsville at 1 am on Monday, the 5th. These figures characterize the hurricane as a Category 3 one. It is listed as #31 of 65 of the most intense storms to hit Texas.

The elements created a tidal surge of 13 feet along Brazos and South Padre Islands. All dunes on the latter were flattened. South Padre Island had over 40 overflow channels cut in it to the Laguna Madre.

The marginal ranching on the south part of South Padre Island was abandoned forever after this storm. On Brazos Island some Valleyites had constructed summer cottages of wood on pilings. They were in residence because of the holiday weekend. Coast Guardsmen boated over to Boca Chica Beach to warn them of the coming storm.

Some fled immediately while others chose to ride out any storm. In a VMS 8/4/05 account Lorene Valdez Meyners related what transpired. Battering waves soon struck the beach houses and started to tear them apart. The occupants then began a trek five miles south to Del Mar Beach and the shelter of its bathhouse.

Many ended by cowering behind sand dunes and moving as one by one they were eroded by tidal action. Fortunately all survived as the strongest part of the storm edged into the Valley a little more to the north. Their neighbors had not been so lucky.

Young Jose Longoria saw his 18-year-old sister Concepcion hit on her head by a beam, then swept by the winds out of the beach house only to be impaled on a spiny shrub. She succumbed to her injuries. The Coast Guard ferried some of the harrowed survivors to Port Isabel. Sam Robertson related that his Del Mar complex was not inundated by the high waters but that a large channel had been cut in the north end of the island.

This, of course, wasn’t the first hurricane to devastate the island. Most of the then existing buildings on the island were destroyed by the hurricane of 1867. This included the military depot on the north end. It was never rebuilt.

The 1933 storm did have one positive impact. The storm surges that drove waves across Brazos Island uncovered numerous Union Civil War artifacts, especially at the very north end where the Union Army had established a depot at Brazos Santiago. Col. Sam was to collect many artifacts from the sands turned up by the waves.

This piqued his interest in the Civil War, a war that had devastated his father’s life and that of his grandfather. He went on to collect stories and documents from old local residents. These included an 1867 map of the island. He donated this to Port Isabel’s Harbart Davenport, the local historian who was also a founding member of the Texas Historical Society. Davenport, in turn, presented it to Lota M. Spell of the Advisory Board of Texas Historians. Lota Mae Spell was the first director/curator of the Nettie Lee Latin American Collection.

The resort had opened with considerable fanfare with family friends and newspaper people attending the event. Another promotion in April 1933 ended in tragedy. During a skydiving exhibition, the parachute of William G. Swan failed to open, and he fell to his death over open water.

Continuing to lure guests to the resort the Robertsons, as Thomas relates, continued various promotions. One was

“October 1, 1934 (when) Sam and Maria promoted a fishing tournament for Red Fish, Trout, and Catan. Paul Usher won most trout for a day (28) winning $ 2.50, Librado Perez won largest red fish (19 ¼ lbs.) winning $ 5.00 prize money, and C. A. Pinkley won longest catan, winning ($1.00 ) prize money. August 25, 1937 (brought) a crowd of 3,250 visitors and on April 25,1938 (the resort) had 1,650 visitors. (On) May 13,1938 they again promoted ‘Cottages, Casino action, and Redfish competition at the Del Mar Beach Resort’.”

During World War II the U.S. Coast Guard asked Maria, who succeeded her dead husband in managing the resort, to close its operation. This was done on Thanksgiving Day 1942. After the war the lease and 800 acre property were sold by Al and Lloyd Parker to wealthy Dallas Texas business investors. The Brazos Island and Boca Chica State Park access are served by Texas State Highway 4.

The area has used over the decades by four-wheel drive vehicles, fishermen, campers, surfers and bathers but because of its remoteness isn’t heavily trafficked. The park was acquired and opened in May 1994. In July 2007, the Texas Parks & Wildlife entered into a 50-year lease agreement with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and is now part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Now the area and the south end of Brazos Island will get a new lease on life as development by the Space Explorations Technologies Corporation, better known as Space X, continues with its rocket launching base, currently under construction. Brazos Island with its long, unique history will again welcome change.

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North Dallas Standoff Prompts Apartment Evacuations

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Police evacuated a north Dallas apartment complex after a man fired shots into one of the units.

Police were able to bring this to an end peacefully without any injuries but not before some tense moments all unfolding before a crowd of evacuees.

People packed the sidewalks and grassy areas surrounding the Suncrest Apartments after patrol officers heard gunshots from the building. The officers weren’t the only ones who noticed the distinct sound and the sight of gunfire.

We were locking the door, and we turned that way as soon as we heard the shots, and it looked like it was yellow and white, and I don’t know,” tenant Melaniie Torres said.

Torres says she and her family live directly below the suspect. Police say the man fired multiple shots into an occupied apartment before barricading himself in his own unit.

“At first we thought it was like a car backfiring or something, but as we were walking we heard something just kind of graze by,” said David McKnight, who lives nearby.

As the SWAT team set up a perimeter, investigators say the suspect fired shots through a wall with SWAT officers on the other side. Police sent tear gas into the unit, and the sound startled the crowd outside. Eventually officers were able to convince the suspect to surrender.

“That’s our goal is to have zero injuries including the suspect,” Dallas Police Deputy Chief Thomas Castro said.

Police are not releasing the suspect’s name and say for now they don’t know why he fired the shots. He faces four counts of aggravated assault, and more charges could follow.

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‘Rats Fell from the Ceiling’ at Chipotle in Downtown Dallas, Customer Says

Rodents were crawling around a downtown Dallas Chipotle in the West End Historic District on Tuesday.

A Facebook video showed one rodent scurrying across the ground, another climbing the wall and a third limp on the ground at the restaurant in the 200 block of North Market Street, near Elm Street. Customer Bahadir Han Koseli uploaded the footage, which had been viewed nearly 115,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon.

“Rats fell from the ceiling at Chipotle in the West End,” he wrote. “That brought a quick end to lunch. Management didn’t do anything while we were there but apologize.”

Koseli appeared to have removed the Facebook post Wednesday afternoon, but the video remained on Twitter.

Chipotle corporate said they were mice that got into the restaurant from the outside.

Management removed them before contacting professionals who found a small structural gap, which is believed to be the access point and is being repaired, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. spokeswoman Quinn Kelsey said.

“This has definitely been high on our radar since yesterday, and we’ve been in close touch with the customer to offer our sincerest apologies and to make it right,” Kelsey said. “This is an extremely isolated incident, but of course it’s never anything we’d want our customers to encounter.”

The Denver-based company has tried to regain the public’s trust after several health-related incidents in the past few years, most notably an E. coli outbreak in 2015.

Recently, one of its restaurants in Virginia closed after some illnesses reported by customers that were consistent with norovirus, a virus from contaminated food that can cause stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the Dallas Chipotle has received stellar food inspection scores the past three years.

In January, the city gave the restaurant a score of 94 out of 100, which means “very good,” according to the scale.

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Developer Kdc Is Working on Project at the North End of D/Fw Airport

Developer KDC is marketing a mixed-use building project at the north end of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The 50-acre tract at Royal Lane and State Highway 114 is owned by an Austin investor.

KDC is pitching the vacant Avion Business Park property as a site for office, hotel, retail and industrial development.

KDC is one of North Texas’ busiest commercial builders with a number of corporate projects under its belt.

The developer is currently building the more than 1 million-square-foot State Farm Insurance campus in Richardson.

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North Texas Home Sales, Prices Set Record in June

North Texas real estate agents sold a record number of houses in June.

Last month 11,638 preowned properties changed hands in the area – up 13 percent from a year ago and the largest number ever in a single month.

Area prices also hit a high point in June. The median sales price for a single-family home was $256,000 – 8 percent ahead of where it was in June 2016, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information System.

Through the first six months of 2017, real estate agents have sold 51,627 houses through their multiple listing service – 5 percent more than in the first half of 2016.

“I think Dallas will set another record for all of 2017,” said Dr. James Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center. “The market is still very strong and it isn’t backing off much if anything.”

Gaines said worries about rising mortgage costs may be putting pressure on the summer homebuying market.

“It could be the talk of interest rates increasing by the Fed is spurring people to come into the market and brining demand forward,” he said. “If you believe the cost of financing is going up, it spurs you to action.

“In the long run increasing interest rates will cause demand to go down a little bit.”

There are signs that the huge undersupply of homes for sale in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is easing.

At the end of June there were 11 percent more houses listed for sale with agents in North Texas than a year earlier. Almost 22,000 houses were on the market.

But that still only amounts to a 2.6-month supply of preowned homes available for purchase.

And almost 13,000 of the houses listed for sale are priced over $300,000.

Sales of homes priced at $1 million or more have had the biggest increase this year. So far in 2017 874 million-dollar properties have traded – 37 percent more than in the first half of 2016.

Sales of North Texas houses priced at less than $180,000 are down because of a shortage of low and moderate priced properties.

The average time it takes to sell an house dropped to just 36 days in June, down 5 percent from a year earlier, according to the data from real estate agents.

North Texas in the last few years has seen some of the fastest rising home prices in the country.

Median sales prices in the first half of 2017 were up 11 percent from the sale period last year.

And in the last five years prices have jumped 55 percent, according to the latest sales data.

The biggest price increase have come and the low and moderate sections of the market.

Appreciation of high-end homes has begun to slow this spring and summer, agents say.

“The over $750,000 market for sure is most definitely flatting out,” Gaines said. “There is a whole lot more inventory in the upper price ranges.

“If you are looking at a house less than $250,000 there is a real shortage.”

The booming economy in North Texas should keep the local home market hot through the rest of 2017, Gains said.

“Dallas-Fort Worth and really all of Texas has been a bellwether market around the country,” he said. “Until the economy slows down considerably the housing market will stay strong.”

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No End in Sight for North Texas’ Homebuilding Labor Shortage

Ask a homebuilder to name the industry’s biggest concerns, and the lack of labor is near the top of their list.

Unfortunately for the housing industry, the shortage of workers is not something that’s easy to fix.

Studies suggest it may be impossible to lure enough young Americans into the construction trades to meet ongoing demand. And tougher immigration policies mean there will be fewer foreign workers on construction job sites.

In North Texas, the labor pinch is even worse. Dallas-Fort Worth leads the country in residential building, with more than 50,000 apartments and about 30,000 single-family homes under construction.

Builders could do even more if not for the unprecedented labor shortages.

“In our estimation, it is 18,000 to 20,000” workers needed in the area, said Phil Crone, head of the Dallas Builders Association.

Good luck finding them. North Texas is almost at full employment, and there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill jobs in many sectors.

The shortfall in the homebuilding industry goes back more than a decade.

During the Great Recession, dozens of local builders shut down and laid off workers. When the housing market came back, the labor didn’t.

Finding labor has become a full-time job for some subcontractors, who must be on their toes to keep competitors from stealing their workers.

The shortage of labor and land has held back home construction all across the U.S.

“We have not recovered in terms of production of new homes in this country,” said Doug Yearley, CEO of top-10 builder Toll Brothers. “Going back to the 1970s, this country produced 1.5 million new homes every year.

“We went from producing 1.5 million houses a year to 500,000” during the recession, Yearley said. “It hasn’t come close to approaching the 1.5 million starts a year.”

In the D-FW area, single-family home starts are still about 40 percent below 2005 and 2006 levels — before the crash killed buyer demand.

The buyers came back. But a lot of the folks building houses haven’t.

“We have a tough labor market, and it’s going to get worse,” says Colorado builder Gene Myers.

Myers, whom I visited with last week at a conference in Denver, said the housing industry has done a poor job of keeping up with employment innovation and is lagging in worker production. He said tighter immigration policies are adding to the strain.

“Disruption is possibly on our doorstep in the industry,” Myers said. “This kind of moribund industry is ripe for disruption.”

Myers says a lot of the vacant building jobs are positions Americans don’t want.

A recent industry study found that a majority of young Americans would not take construction jobs even if they paid six figures or more. They basically said they didn’t want to work that hard.

The National Association of Home Builders estimates that the industry in the U.S. is short almost 1 million workers.

And with the average age of many skilled laborers — plumbers, electricians, masons and the like — in their late 50s, housing will see even more people leave the business in the years ahead.

By some measures, 20 percent of the current residential building workers plan to retire in the next decade, taking away another 900,000 jobs.

Those are jobs that will be increasingly hard to fill in hot real estate markets like North Texas.

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Found a Really Great Apartment in North End Dallas

I was searching for a new apartment to rent. The lease on the one I was in was almost up and I was ready to move. I didn’t want to renew my lease because my neighbors were just terrible and tried to pick fights with me and my friends all the time. I knew it was time to move on and go somewhere else to get away from them. They were really rude and wouldn’t even try to get along with me or anyone else. I wasn’t the only one that had problems with them.

I started looking for a new apartment and went online and searched for North End Dallas apartments for rent. I had to find something that was reasonably priced, but not too expensive. I also wanted something that was nice and in an area that I wanted to live in. I found several apartments for rent in North End Dallas that I really liked. I saved them so I could contact the landlord and look at them in person.

I contacted a few different landlords and asked to see the apartments in person. After looking at a few of them, I decided which one I wanted to rent and the landlord got the lease agreement ready for me to sign. I was able to move in the following week. I have never been so relieved to get away from neighbors like I have with these people. I feel so much better every day because I don’t have to deal with the stress and trouble making they caused for me. I really like this new apartment. The neighbors are great and there is even a pool for the apartments. I love it and the price I got it for too.

The Lumen Hotel Dallas: Boutique Luxury Near SMU

Whimsical interiors

While The Lumen Hotel is somewhat minimalistic in its adornments, don’t think it is boring inside. Furnished in a modern and tasteful style the lobby and rooms are both comfortable and relaxed. Whimsical chrome sculptures are found throughout the hotel inside and out. Tile floors, large windows, and spotlessly clean rooms are evident. Guests can choose from twelve room types to fit their needs and whims. King interior rooms have no windows for those wanting to keep outside distractions to a minimum. The King Deluxe room with windows, some with views of the SMU campus, will let in the bright Texas sunshine. One of my favorite room choices is the Pool View King Room for those who love a pool scene outside their room.

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Room to rest

The Executive Studio is the starting point for stepping up to more amenities and space. This 360 sq ft/33.45 m² room features a separate living room, sectional sofa, and a large glass-enclosed shower. If it’s not enough, you have five more suite choices to choose from with the Grand Lux suite being the best option for Texas-like billionaires on the road. A Lone Star State sized 869 sq ft/80.73 m² will provide enough room to stampede a herd of cattle in! Well, not quite that much room, but it’s still spacious. Complete with a plush king bed outfitted with custom headboards, large soaking tub, oversized desks, a queen-sized sofa bed, and sectional sofa you will have space for friends and family to gather.

All rooms spoil guests with pillow-top beds, Frette linens, custom showerheads, Atelier Bloem amenities, 37-inch flat screen TVs, Jawbone and Tumbler clock and laptop safes. WiFi is available at a fee. However, if you sign up for Kimpton Karma Rewards you not only get free WiFi but they also throw in a 10USD bar credit, and it’s free to join. The Lumen Hotel is pet-friendly in a big way. They offer any room for pets, no size limitation, and don’t charge extra, a very rare thing in the hotel world.

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Convenience and comfort

Valet parking is available and costs 22USD per day with in-and-out privileges. If you need transportation within three miles, their house car is there for your use based on availability. Other amenities include overnight laundry, dry cleaning, shoeshine service, free wine reception in the lobby nightly, and complimentary bike program to explore the city, complimentary morning coffee, newspapers, and onsite fitness center. The roof top terrace is “The Place To Be” on days when the weather cooperates. Have a glass of wine with snacks and enjoy a cool breeze with a view in this treetop-like perch. The rooftop terrace is also available for a unique outdoor meeting space for up to 120 persons. Meetings and events for groups of 10-55 can be accommodated in a recently renovated meeting room space.

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Enjoy the pool

Dallas is known for some scorching hot days in the summer. What a better way to cool off than in the interior courtyard pool? Closed for maintenance from October 11-28, 2016, the pool will be shipshape afterwards. The pool area features private cabanas and an outdoor bar and lounge area for large or small gatherings.

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Dine in Dallas

As for location, The Lumen Hotel is only four miles/6.4 km from Dallas Love Field Airport. Also nearby is Snider Plaza (with boutique shopping and dining), walking distance to George Bush Library, and three miles/6.4 km to American Airlines Center where the Dallas Mavericks (basketball) and Dallas Stars (ice hockey) play. For in-hotel dining, The Front Room Tavern offers Breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Go big for a real Texas breakfast of biscuits and gravy, or light with steel-cut oatmeal. At dinner try the roasted half chicken with roasted squash couscous paired with a glass of Truchard Carneros Chardonnay.

See our full list of recommended hotels in Dallas and also compare the prices with vacation rentals in Dallas

With so much going for it The Lumen Hotel in Dallas is the best choice if a trip to North Dallas is in your future.

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