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November 27, 2012 - Leave a Response
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Is New Urbanism Catching On In Fort Worth?

October 4, 2012 - Leave a Response

Fort Worth has a rich cultural heritage and has done a good job of preserving that heritage. With one foot in the Old West and one in the 21st Century, Fort Worth is a unique candidate for New Urbanism and it should embrace the concept with open-arms. One attempt by Fort Worth to embrace New Urbanism is the Trinity Uptown project. Trinity Uptown is a large mixed-use development, north of downtown Ft. Worth, that will feature 3,000,000 SF of commercial space and approximately 10,000 residences. It will consist of a 33 acre lake with a boardwalk and 12 miles of flowing canals and public walkways. The lake, boardwalk and canals will comprise the heart and soul of Trinity Uptown and will ultimately connect the northern edge of downtown with the stockyards. There will be shopping, dining, and entertainment as well as office and residential. Over the next decade, it will become one of the most comprehensive examples of New Urbanism in the country.

Other attempts on the part of Fort Worth to embrace New Urbanism are Sundance Square and Near Southside.  Both Sundance and Near Southside promote walkable neighborhoods where a person might feasibly live, work, and play all within the same neighborhood.  This often requires that city leaders rethink and reshape zoning rules and regulations that tend to discourage New Urbanism.  Along this line of thinking, city leaders have introduced form-based development codes or guidelines.
But what is New Urbanism anyway?  According to Wikipedia:  New Urbanism is an urban design movement which promotes walkable neighborhoods that contain a range of housing and job types. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s, and has gradually continued to reform many aspects of real estate developmenturban planning, and municipal land-use strategies.  New Urbanism is strongly influenced by urban design standards that were prominent until the rise of the automobile in the mid-20th century; it encompasses principles such as traditional neighborhood design (TND) and transit-oriented development (TOD). It is also closely related to regionalismenvironmentalism and the broader concept of smart growth. The movement also includes a more pedestrian-oriented variant known as New Pedestrianism, which has its origins in a 1929 planned community in Radburn, New Jersey.
ImageNew Urbanism is catching on in cities across the nation.  Cities such as Fort Worth should lead the way toward adopting New Urbanism design standards, as well as embrace ‘New Suburbanism’.  The suburbs need to adopt the same ideas put forward by New Urbanism.  It’s doubtful the suburbs are going anywhere in Texas so it is important to address the same issues in the suburbs that are being addressed in the urban core.  This may seem in contrast to New Urbanism’s philosophy, but connecting the suburban areas and urban areas via linkages like commuter rail is crucial to the long-term growth of a city like Fort Worth.  If it means making suburban neighborhoods more walkable with open space and retail nearby, then applying New Urbanism principles in the suburbs is a good thing.  Smart growth in both suburban and urban areas is extremely important if progress is to be made toward the goal of reducing pollution and congestion.  Just like in urban areas, suburban areas could be designed to be more dense with narrower streets and more green space.  A meaningful approach to development, whether it is new development, adaptive reuse, or redevelopment, is crucial to a city’s survival, especially one that is growing as fast as Fort Worth.  In the case of Trinity Uptown, it will be nice to see the Trinity River become a part of people’s lives in Fort Worth.

Going Back to School

August 28, 2012 - Leave a Response

As returning students, Liana and I did not really know what to expect when we signed up for graduate school at UTA in 2010.  Returning to school required some getting used to but we got back into the swing of it pretty fast.  Of course, we were older than most of our classmates and we had a business to run, but like many of them, we stayed up late on several occasions completing real estate projects and assignments.  Fortunately, we had each other to lean on.  We completed many projects together over the last two years and even wrote several real estate blogs.  Below is a complete list of the coursework that we completed to earn the MS in Real Estate at UTA:

REAE 5311 – Real Estate Analysis
REAE 5327 – Advanced Real Estate Market Analysis
REAE 5334 – Seminar in Real Estate Appraisal & ARGUS Software
REAE 5321 – Seminar in Real Estate Investment
REAE 5314 – Seminar in Real Estate Development
REAE 5319 – Seminar in Real Estate Finance
REAE 5317 – Real Estate Construction Management
REAE 5320 – Texas Real Estate Tour
REAE 5313 – GIS and Property Analysis
REAE 5318 – Sustainable Development
REAE 5315 – Real Estate Trends & Issues
REAE 5316 – Adaptive Reuse & Redevelopment

We learned a great deal about commercial real estate and would like to say thanks to professors, Dr. Forgey and Dr. Peterson, for helping us along the way.  For me, I must also say thanks to Liana.  She’s been a great study partner and has become a great spreadsheet creator, easily surpassing my expertise.  She’s not bad with a 10bii calculator either.  It’s been a lot of fun, we learned a lot, and we met some really nice people who I’m sure will prosper in the field of real estate.  Completing the program is a milestone and we are very glad to be done, but now comes the challenging part — putting what we learned into practice!

For help with commercial or residential real estate, please visit us online at BlueLeafRealty.com where the MISSION is to Deliver Remarkable Service.

Ranger in BLR Hat

August 21, 2012 - Leave a Response

Ranger in BLR Hat

Our MISSION at Blue Leaf is to Deliver Remarkable Service!

Liana Oram Completes Rigorous Program at UTA

August 12, 2012 - Leave a Response

Periodically, Realty Express takes a break from blogging about real estate trends and issues to congratulate one of its own.  This time the spotlight falls on Liana Oram, BlueLeaf’s cofounder.  She has just completed the final course, Construction Management, in the MSRE program at UTA, earning a master’s degree.  During the program, Liana completed a variety of courses focused on commercial real estate analysis, sustainability, and adaptive reuse.  She will graduate with honors, and has bold plans on how to implement what she has learned over the past two years.  Everyone at Blue Leaf Realty is very proud, so please join us in congratulating her on this terrific achievement.

Blue Leaf Realty Educates Real Estate Consumers in Tarrant County

July 26, 2012 - Leave a Response

Getting educated about the process and the marketplace is the most important step in the real estate process.  Scott and Liana Oram, Realtors and founders of Blue Leaf Realty, take educating consumers and clients to heart.  Both are former educators and both hold master’s degrees in education and master’s degrees in real estate.  They have designed real estate workshops for people in North Texas who have never purchased a home before as well as workshops for people who are investing in real estate to grow their net worth.  At day’s end, Blue Leaf agents believe that an educated client is one who ultimately makes smarter real estate decisions.  Whether you are buying or selling, please check out BlueLeaf’s website that outlines the FREE  Real Estate Workshops offered by Blue Leaf Realty and don’t miss out on this great resource.

Texas HOA Powers are Curtailed by 82nd Legislature

July 24, 2012 - Leave a Response

Are HOAs in Texas too powerful?  Many people think so, and apparently the 82nd Texas Legislature agrees.  As a Texas Realtor, I understand the value that HOAs bring to the table but too much power leads to abuses.

Fortunately, Texas has passed new laws that will keep the power of HOAs in check.  In Texas, a property owner’s association can no longer impose on a home owner’s right to:

Display the US or TX state flag (certain guidelines apply)

Install a solar energy device (certain guidelines apply)

Display religious items (certain guidelines apply)

Install shingles designed to be wind/hail resistant or energy-efficient (certain guidelines apply)

The 82nd TX Legislature also curtailed the power of the POA or HOA to foreclose by mandating judicial foreclosure except when the property owner waives the requirement in writing.  HOAs or POAs are an asset to a community but too much power corrupts.  As with any law or deed restriction, there are nuances.  Please check with your HOA and review the new laws for details on how these changes may affect your rights as a property owner.  Hopefully, these new laws will promote a more harmonious balance between POAs and the citizens that reside in affected subdivisions across Texas.  This is also a great victory for those who want to make their homes more sustainable and energy-efficient.  Good job 82nd Texas Legislature!

Rockin’ The River at Fort Worth’s Panther Island Pavilion

July 18, 2012 - Leave a Response

Panther Island Pavilion

What do good music and inner-tubes have in common?  On the Trinity River, it means fun for everyone.  For years, the Trinity River in Fort Worth has been an underutilized and often maligned natural resource, but positive change is underway.  For the 2nd year in a row, the Trinity River Vision Authority and its sponsors are brewing up a great time along the banks of the Trinity River at Panther Island Pavilion.  With four concert dates remaining this summer, it’s not too late to join in the fun by checking out a free concert and, if you like, going tubing on the Trinity.  Don’t forget your float and your sunscreen!

Jimmy Ramey Reaches Next Real Estate Milestone

July 8, 2012 - Leave a Response

Blue Leaf Agent, Jimmy Ramey, figures out the recipe for success in real estate – delivering service that is so remarkable that people tell friends and family about their experience.  Referrals are the centerpiece of every successful real estate agent’s story and Jimmy’s story is no different.  As a result of earning his client’s trust and garnering referrals, Jimmy expects to exceed his goal for 2012.  As the real estate market in North Texas continues to heat up, Jimmy is positioned to take his real estate business to the next level.  Coming from the restaurant industry where great service is crucial, Jimmy understands how important it is to WOW each client with remarkable service.  “It’s always great to get a referral from a past customer — it lets me know that I’ve done my job,” says Jimmy Ramey.  “Many thanks to all my past clients and others who have referred me – referrals keep me busy and being busy is what I love!”  To learn more about how word-of-mouth marketing can take your business to the next level, check out one of Blue Leaf Realty’s favorite authors – Andy Sernovitz.

Self-Reliance in America

July 4, 2012 - One Response

The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson understood the true meaning of self-reliance.  On this July 4th, I’m wondering what it means to be self-reliant in America today.

Does it mean that I am entitled to live in a big house and drive a new car?

Does it mean that I swear allegiance to one political party or the other?

Does it mean that I follow a trail that others before me have made?

Does it mean that I am entitled to wealth and prosperity?

Or, does it mean, like the founding fathers believed, that I hold certain virtues to be so important that they are inalienable such as the ones mentioned in the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

I’ve always tied these inalienable rights closely to the idea of self-reliance.  In fact, I believe the founding fathers were filled with self-reliance when they drafted the Declaration and the Constitution.

To me, self-reliance is the underbelly of work – the side of work that seldom gets much credit anymore in America.  It’s not the flash of genius moment; it’s the moments leading up to the flash of genius where an inventor or scientist works at discovering something that has the power to change the world.  It’s not the moment when a business makes a profit for the first time; it’s the moments where the owners devote countless hours getting there.  It’s not the moment when a child walks for the first time without his parent’s help; it’s the moments leading up to that event where the child spends hours crawling in order to strengthen his muscles to the point where he can walk without help.  It’s not even the single moment when a team wins a championship by only a few points; it’s when the individual players realize that all those moments spent practicing have finally paid off.  Single moments in time are exciting, of course, but they are not the embodiment of self-reliance.  Instead, self-reliance is best expressed by the moments we don’t see.  The ones of failure and heartache that lay behind the moment of victory where a person simply refused to give up, refused to quit.

Ever wonder why an Olympic athlete cries when he wins the gold medal or sets a new world record.  Rest assured, it’s not the applause of the crowd or the promise of fame.  It’s because in that brief instant, in that single moment, the winner realizes and reflects on all the hard work that has led him up to that single event, that single moment in time when he uncovers his personal best.

In America, we too much cherish the event.  Instead, we should focus more on the sacrifices and hard work leading up to the event.  This is why self-reliance is no less important today than it was when our founding fathers created our beloved Constitution or when Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence.

Without a doubt, the Declaration of Independence is probably the single most important American document ever written and it’s always good, in my opinion, to review at least the first few paragraphs now and again, especially on the 4th of July.  In doing so, I always wonder about the ‘pursuit of Happiness’ part and how that is interpreted.  Although it sounds good, I’ve often wondered whether happiness was the best choice of words.  It sounds very literary, of course, but I wonder if what Thomas Jefferson really meant was the pursuit of Self-reliance. not the pursuit of Happiness.  Today, happiness is generally used to refer to a temporary state.  Obviously, this meaning of the word is probably not what Jefferson had in mind when he chose the word.  Read on and determine for yourself:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

…Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Self-Reliance.

I agree, it simply does not roll off the tongue as well, but for me at least, it completes the thought much better. On this 4th of July, think about how America could be a better place if self-reliance became a virtuous virtue once again.