Update: It seems all these sports teams buying, selling and going belly-up are very good for the local real estate market. Remember, it brought Chuck Greenberg to Vaquero! This post is also on CandysDirt.com.

So, the Dallas Stars have filed a bankruptcy package that will ease them out of some debt and hopefully smooth the way for a possible sale to Vancouver-based businessman Tom Gaglardi and his family. Gaglardi, reports Bloomberg,  is chairman and chief executive officer of Sandman Hotels, Inns & Suites. (Is that like “Mr. Sandman?”) According to the Dallas Morning News (subscription required):

“Gaglardi, 43, is involved in hotels and restaurants in Canada through his family’s Northland Properties. Gaglardi recently purchased the Sutton Place hotels in Edmonton and Vancouver for $198 million.

Gaglardi has a hockey background. He tried to purchase the Vancouver Canucks in 2004 and currently is majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, of the juniors-level Western Hockey League.

Gaglardi’s father, Bob, studied mechanical engineering at LeTourneau University  in Longview, Texas. The magazine Canadian Business listed Bob Gaglardi as No. 39 on its list of richest Canadians, with an estimated worth of $1.47 billion. His son did not crack the top 100.”

Tom Gaglardi – Vancouver Sun

Terms of the sale, which is always subject to a court-approved auction and acceptance by the league, and could be changed a hundred times, weren’t disclosed.

What I want to know is: how will this affect Dallas real estate? Will Mr. Gaglardi and his family move here? Will Mr. Hicks, who has recently been removed from the Forbes billionaires list, downsize to their beach home in California or elsewhere?

Forgive me, I hope the Hicks stay put because I cannot imagine packing up 29,000 square feet. But I’m trying to get ahead of the game. I have found the perfect home for Mr. Gaglardi in one of Kari Schlegel Kloewer’s beautiful listings: 9727 Audubon Place. $9,950,000. I have no doubt that Kari’s dad, Robert Schlegel, knows the Gaglardi’s because of their shared Canadian background and hockey conections. Surely Kari will show Mr. G. those seven bedrooms, at least 7.5 baths, three dining areas, 9 — NINE — living areas. Plus I think this includes the lot next door, which once belonged to some friends. When they sold their home, they were told it was going to be made into a driveway for 9727.

As for the Hicks gang, if this summer did you with the watering of 20-plus acres and A/C — though the Crespi Estate has it’s own well — let me suggest this beautiful and slightly more humble abode not too far away at 9339 Hathaway: construction by Sebastian Construction Group, interior design by Richard Trimble and landscape design by Harold Leidner. Less Italianate than what you have, this is a true French retreat in the heart of Dallas, Texas! Iron gates open to a cobblestone drive, and 2 prime Preston Hollow acres will still get you a well but far less watering. You will love the multi-level grand entryway,  marble flooring and a beautiful double staircase. The two-story formal living room has an exquisite fireplace, a custom-painted ceiling and views of the resort-style pool through a wall of windows. The formal dining room and the library feature antique paneling and moldings and French doors that open to verandas. The spacious master suite is downstairs and includes a sitting area with a domed ceiling and views of the pool and grounds. The master bath has a barrel-vaulted ceiling, a double shower, a jet tub, dual vanities, walk-in closets and a cedar storage closet plus an attached exercise room. The kitchen is just out of sight — Dacor, Asko and Sub-Zero, breakfast area with a fireplace offer views of the grounds. On this floor you will also have a theater with seating for twelve, a den with two walls of windows and a cast-stone fireplace, a card room, wet bar, and climate-controlled wine room. Oh also a guest bedroom with bath, of course, down here — great for grandbabies. Upstairs three bedroom suites, and an upstairs den. You also have an elevator, a guest apartment and seven garage spaces, a koi and goldfish pond, stone bridge leading over a creek to a bamboo forest and even a walking trail. Of course you are right down the street from your previous home, so it will be really the same old same old, just with a LOT less maintenance!

It’s been quiet here on SecondShelters.com, but I’ve not been slacking. I’m proud to announce that CandysDirt.com is now up and running! It will be everything DallasDirt was and more, and will be hosted on many sites around town from the Dallas Morning News NeighborsGo to You+Media, and more in the works! I’ll be weaning my readers to http://www.candysdirt.com/ for all the LOCAL Dallas, North Dallas, Frisco and Collin County Real Estate news and dirt, and slowly shaping SecondShelters.com into what it was always meant to be — a blog about vacation home ownership. Each blog is but a tab click away from each other, because I know that not only can you never get enough Real Estate dirt in Dallas, you also need the dirt on second… and third homes. So go check it out… bookmark and subscribe. CandysDirt.com is your new go-to for everything you’ve always wanted to know about Dallas real estate, and much, much more! And even more, we have a live twitter feed to watch for the latest on open houses, price reductions, and more. All you have to do is follow me on Twitter at DallasDirtCandy… and your tweets will be on CandysDirt!

Read Steve Brown and you might say what someone from last month’s ULI Conference told me they felt like doing after the opening session: committing suicide. Steve says north Texas pre-owned home purchases were down 15 percent in May — the 12th consecutive month of declines, a solid year of flushing.

Real estate agents last month sold 6,224 single-family homes through the MLS, which is 145 percent less than they sold during the first five months of 2010. Because of, let’s all chant now, the “First Time Homebuyer’s Credit.”

Sales volume is down, which was expected once the crack cocaine was taken away. But experts are glancing at the U.S. economy and scratching heads, because it ain’t looking so rosy, and everyone’s re-thinking recovery ETAs.

“I don’t have a concern about things getting a whole lot worse,” (usually chipper) Jim Gaines, an economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M told the Dallas Morning News — RECON is like the Bible of real estate statistics in Texas. “But where is the demand going to come from?”

Good question, when banks are not lending and employers are not hiring. Maybe Mexico? Capital flight? That only leaves the rich buying homes, which we know they are.

“I can’t see any kind of substantial increase” in home sales for the rest of 2011, Gaines told the DMN.

Sales. Last week, the Standard & Poors/Case-Schiller report showed a 2.5 percent drop in Dallas area home prices in March – the 9th straight monthly decline. Every metropolitan area in the country except for Washington, D.C. showed declines. That 2.5 was not so bad compared to other areas. Patricia Szot, president of the MetroTex Association of Realtors, told KERA our local housing market is stable overall and showing some improvement. In fact, Szot says the average home price in north Texas is $195,000, six percent higher for the first four months of the year than we were last year. Our median price is $143,000, up 1% from last year. I’m not going to go into other details of the interview because we all know that Dallas has a growing population, 350 to 398 new families arrive in North Texas daily looking for jobs, our unemployment levels are not as bad as the rest of the country’s. Szot, like me, is more concerned over how federal banking regulators are making it hard to get loans. No loans, no sales. But the biggest challenge remains employment. One more positive note: Dallas is the only federal district where the economy is expanding, says the Federal Reserve. New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Chicago are slowing, says the Fed, according the Beige Book report, while the other districts are expanding. Some experts say that’s because of the increase in oil prices which tends to benefit the Texas economy while it drains consumer’s pocketbooks. The report also says real estate prices continue to decline in most areas, while it noted that:

Dallas indicated that improved traffic has raised prospects of improved sales in the second half of 2011, and Boston observed signs that the market is stabilizing. Sales activity was characterized as mostly steady in the New York, Cleveland, Dallas and San Francisco Districts, but declining in the St. Louis and Minneapolis Districts.

I thought it was bad when I had a shrunken head in my house. But there’s probably one thing worse than a shrunken head in your house: the 21-foot-long boney remains of a flesh-eating dinosaur.

On Sunday, Heritage Auction Gallery –third largest auction house in the country and rising — is offering what is probably the largest-ever auction of giant dinosaur skeletons — yes, real dinosaur skeletons — at the Tower Building in Fair Park. I mean, where else would they fit? The skeletons will be open to the public beginning Thursday.

“The estimate for the triceratops is $500,000. The last one sold — and it wasn’t as good as this — went for $950,000,” Herskowitz told the Dallas Morning News. “You buy a painting by Jasper Johns, it would cost you $3 million. And Jasper Johns is still alive.”

Well,  the 65 million year old triceratops is definitely dead. And mighty old.

I’m sure having a 19-foot-long skeleton in your home would make for great convo during home showings — or perhaps it could be included as a perk in the sale of the house? Until recently, the skeleton was on loan to the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science, where officials would dearly love to acquire it permanently for the new Perot Museum.

According to David Herskowitz, Heritage Auction Gallery’s natural history director, the skeletons are among the most complete ever uncovered. Bidding begins in the six figures, to him, a bargain.Tony Fiorillo, the museum’s curator of earth sciences, says that from the first time dinosaurs have gone up for display in the 19th century, they have drawn major crowds at museums — always the most popular exhibits.

Which gives me an idea: every open house needs a star. Maybe triceratops would bring in the open house crowds and help sell a home. Problem is, most homes in Dallas might not be big enough to hold him… I’m sure I can think of a few!

Hang coats here...

Room for Triceratops

Tony and Candice's pad

Counting the Braxton-Hicks contractions over here at SecondShelters.com where we are about to launch a sibling blog called… CandysDirt.com. After much soul-searching, a few wine-laden focus groups, and a whole bunch of email, we have decided to do some organizing. (Ha! Then you get knocked up!) Vacation home news will rule on SecondShelters.com as it was originally intended to, and CandysDirt.com will bring you all the LOCAL DFW real estate news just like we did over on DallasDirt. Both blogs will live side by side, promise not to fight over the property line, and will be a click away up there on the BLOGS tab, see it? We are getting so much national traffic on SecondShelters.com now, and while out-of-state folks love Dallas, they tell me they prefer the focus to be strictly on the second home market. Meantime, I never could stop tracking Dallas/Fort Worth — who was buying and selling what  — I do it in my sleep. So the solution was to get preggers create a local clone.

So now, two blogs to double your real estate pleasure. Think of it this way: DallasDirt just got herself some big double-D implants.; she’s going to be bigger, better, and no sagging. Content will also be on You+Dallas, the Dallas Morning News’ Neighbors Go, and BubbleLife. Oh and also Pegasus News.

By the way, I have found that building a blog site is very similar to building a home. Start with a blueprint and go from there, and it is fascinating to watch the virtual walls going up. The only thing I am really bad about is the change orders, and I think right now my graphics team wants to kill me. But I cannot wait to bring you CandysDirt.com, updated daily, covering as much of the DFW real estate news and dish as I can crank out for all of us real estate junkies. Aficiendos. House porn addicts (oops). We’ll have the usual celeb gossip mixed in with news that I think you need to make smart real estate decisions in this town. Because as local a story as real estate is, we are all affected right now by the constant drone of depressing news on home sales. If sales are depressed in Timbuktu, it’s not local news, no, but guess what: buyers see that in a headline in Dallas and freak! That’s why it’s more vital than ever that I bring you the details, truth, and behind-the-headlines real estate news. And here’s how it can impact you:

A few weeks ago, I spoke to a large group of agents in Colleyville. Chuck Baudrau, senior lending officer at Supreme Lending in Keller, introduced me with a story I had never heard before. Chuck knows an agent in Dallas who says reading my blog (at the time, DallasDirt) actually helped her get a listing and sell the home. She had been talking to a homeowner in Preston Hollow not too far from Daria Drive who was interviewing agents. This agent had been reading my posts about the Bushes circling in on a neighborhood, and she told the homeowner they may want to wait until after the news breaks about the Bushes as it could affect their property value  — perhaps positively. The homeowners were so impressed with her insight they gave her the listing and she ended up selling the home.

I broke the news on the Bush home sale three days later.

Alan Peppard had the history of the Aikman property over on Highland in his column yesterday, and it brought me flash-backs of the day I heard, way back in 2004, that Aikman had bought an old home on a primo Highland Park corner. The story was that the house was not on the market, but Aikman went over and charmed the homeowner, Ruby Goggans, into selling for around $3 million. Great vision: he bought the lot before the market really heated up a whole lot, and hired starchitect Larry Boerder to design a 10,500-square-foot Mediterranean mansion, wrapped around a rectangular pool, says Alan.

Then jump ahead to 2008:  Cheryl and Brian Potashnik, (remember them?) were found guilty of a city hall corruption scandal that had something to do with commercial real estate and bribes. Well, they were Troy’s next-door neighbors! (Brian Potashnik was sentenced to 14 months in prison last fall.) Well, Aikman jumped right in and bought their 7411 square foot house and land for more than $8 million, according to my sources. (His loan was $5 million, according to records dug up by the Dallas Morning News.) He then demolished the Potashnik home and enlarged his own estate, adding a 1,045-square-foot cabana and a basketball/sport. And Troy had one of the biggest, most elegant spreads in all of Highland Park.

But last November, Rhonda Aikman bought a home on Mimosa in Preston Hollow, where she is living currently. The day after I published that story (I know, brag brag) the Aikmans announced their separation. Sources tell me the girls missed the house. Troy told Alan he has no plans to leave the 75205 ZIP code.

What home do you think he might buy next?

The Dallas Morning News reports that thus far, the Dallas Central Appraisal District says property values overall are down about 3.5 percent this year…

“…not as bad a slide as last year and a possible sign that the market may be on the upswing, according to figures released Friday.”

Of course, as property owners come in and protest values, that percentage may decline even more. Which reminds me: I did not receive an appraisal in the mail, which means there has been no change in value on my home. The two appraisals I received on investment properties went up, which I am fighting. I have heard from many people that their values went up. So I wonder, whose went down?

The News also says County Budget Director Ryan Brown is anticipating a 4.5 percent overall drop countywide, which is not as much of a drop as last year BUT would still increase the county’s current $25 million budget shortfall by $4 million. So I guess all of us protesting are squeezing the budget.

The sunny side of this is, of course, a possible signal to stabilization of our market, at least in the Appraisal District’s eyes.

The Dallas commercial real estate market may not be as healthy as some fluffers would have us believe. The other night, Tina Brown told a packed audience at SMU’s Tate Lecture Series that every business is struggling today — struggling to stay afloat, struggling to figure out the new world of marketing via web and social media, struggling to figure out where the next big thing is going to be or even if there IS a next big thing on the 9% unemployment horizon. Case in point: Metropolitan Real Estate Investors LLC is struggling to keep up with their $180 million loan on Comerica Bank Tower in Dallas. Their account has been transferred to a special servicer due to a risk of default, according to Fitch Ratings and as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Now LA-based Metropolitan has the honor of being one of the largest, most highest-profile commercial real estate assets in North Texas to be “in trouble”. And at 1.5 million square feet, it’s a doozy.

Metropolitan Real Estate Investors LLC bought the third tallest tower in Dallas in 2006 for a hefty $216 million. All you have to do is see “2006” to know they paid peak price. The trophy granite high-rise was designed by architect Philip Johnson and his former partner, John Burgee,  and was built in 1987. According to the Journal, Metropolitan got a hefty $180 million mortgage, which they’ve been able to shoulder until now. But here’s the trouble on the horizon: a major tenant is not renewing its lease. That tenant would be Energy Future Holdings, which holds a lease until Sept. 14. Energy Future Holdings currently subleases its space to TM Advertising, who, according to the Dallas Morning News is giving a hand to Victory by moving down there. Probably got a better deal, too. TM has 200 employees.

So that leaves Metropolitan with no choice but to modify its loan, which matures in 2017. And here we fall into the Russian Roulette of real estate financing these days. The banks are trying to shed loans, not take on new and certainly do not want to re-negotiate to lower terms. Their goal is to increase reserves, not decrease, without getting the Feds on their case. So there you have it — a mess.

Reports indicate that Metropolitan’s net income in the Tower is short about 3 million.

The news even surprised George Roddy, president of Addison-based Foreclosure Listing Service. Roddy told the Dallas Morning News:

“I don’t think you can say that it means much of anything except for the fact that the commercial market has experienced a sluggishness in the last year or two,” he said. “Foreclosures have been up in the last year or two, and while they may have been leveling off, it doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods as it relates to commercial real estate.”

Commercial real estate foreclosure filings have been falling, down 3 percent from a year ago for the first five months of 2011. Compare that to a  whopping 63 percent gain in the first five months of 2010. But we are in no way out of the woods, yet.

In 2007, Comerica Inc. relocated its corporate headquarters from Detroit to Dallas and Comerica occupies the first five floors of the 60-story granite skyscraper, hence the name change to the “Comerica Building.” It was originally called Bank One Center until JPMorgan Chase acquired the Bank One Corporation in 2004, then it was called Chase Center until Comerica came to town.