DENTON, TEXAS: A town that is in dire need of architectural control and focus

Real Estate Agent with Bill Cherry, Realtor 0124242

Denton is a historic Texas city about forty miles from Dallas and a similar distance from Fort Worth. 

On January 20th, I wrote a letter to the mayor the Denton, Texas, which is the home of two major universities -- University of North Texas and Texas Women's University.  The mayor's public biography shows he is an attorney. The letter was not acknowledged. 

I believe that Denton residents and university officials should be writing and formally voicing similar opinions.  Here's the letter:

The Honorable Mark Burroughs
Mayor, City of Denton
(address redacted)
Denton, Texas 76205

Dear Mayor Burroughs:

My interest in Denton comes from having been a student at North Texas in the early 1960s and from meeting my wife, Patty, who graduated from there several years after I did.

In addition to good memories of those days, I have purposely kept in regular touch with many of my classmates and professors.  Sadly, only Leon Breeden and Ted Colson of the professors are still alive.

For the past five years, Patty and I have lived in Dallas.  I've been a real estate broker for forty-five years, and she is a retired school counselor.  Prior to moving to Dallas, we lived in Galveston where I owned a large brokerage firm and had other business interests.

My years as a resident of Denton mean as much to me as my time as a student at UNT.  I honestly loved that whole period, and I'll talk about it and tell stories about it at the drop of a hat.

Yesterday, I drove to Decatur to officiate as the arbitrator of a property appraisal dispute between a taxpayer and the CAD.  On the way back to Dallas, I thought I'd like to drive through the UNT campus.

Mayor Burroughs, frankly what in the world were the city council and citizens thinking when they allowed the property on the periphery of the UNT campus to go unbridled by architectural control?  That is the biggest mess I've ever seen in my travels throughout towns that have colleges and universities.

Allowing your city to take free-form shape, dictated by the whims of an insignificant number of property owners, I believe, has and is seriously hurting Denton's economic collateral.

I wish you and your council colleagues and friends would seriously study and address those issues, and do your best to reverse what has happened.  I'm not looking for a job, but I've had years of experience in inner-city redevelopment.  If I can help you any at all, let me know.

 Sincerely yours,

William S. Cherry




Dallas - Park Cities

Since 1964

214 503-8563







Comments (9)

Terri Onigkeit
Keller Williams of Northern Colorado - Fort Collins, CO

Not many would take the time to write a letter like this. You show where your heart is and that you care about the important things.

Feb 13, 2010 01:43 AM
Larry Lawfer
YourStories Realty Group powered by Castles Unlimited® - Newton, MA
"I listen for a living." It's all about you.

A heartfelt and concerned letter to a public official. They should respond and shame on them for not doing it promptly.  The question is what now?  Assuming a late and lame response from this official who does not get elected by you, and probably won't get any donations for his campaign from you there are options to be heard publically on the matter.  You are a seasoned real estate professional, why not get on an upcoming agenda where there are public hearings and make a good case for some controls.  I know you would knock this out of the park. Keep us informed.

Feb 13, 2010 02:21 AM
Don Eichler
Eichler Properties - Granbury, TX

Bill, It looks as if you may have a deep involvement in the changes necessary at Denton.  I have not been up there in years but I would like to know what is going on there.

Feb 14, 2010 09:56 AM
Bill Cherry

Can you imagine spray painting 100+ year old brick buildings flat black and spray painting the name of your "business" on the walls...having bare light bulbs above doors, fed electricity with indoor extension cords? 

How about tearing down a corner building, leaving the slab, and then putting a temporary fence around the property then leaving it to the weeds for more 2 years and counting

I've never seen such a mess. 

Feb 14, 2010 10:17 AM

The Fry Street area on the northeast corner of campus is a mess.  Thriving independent businesses were closed down, and for two years we have been looking at an eyesore.  Denton has so much promise, but when old rednecks own properties and don't care about the town...what are you going to do??

I would like to see a comprehensive plan between UNT and the City of Denton, to create college-student focused commercial districts around the campus.  This will draw not only more students to UNT, but improve the quality of life in Denton. 

Mar 08, 2010 02:31 AM
Bill Cherry

Susan, you're right on target!

All of that area around UNT should be put into a recognized historic district, overseen by an authority appointed by the Denton City Council.  The positive side of that is that the values would actually rise, and the taxing authorities would benefit.

If I recall, Denton has at least one of these designated districts.  I believe it is around and/or includes the square. 

Denton could be charming, but it'll never rise to that again as long as it's allow to ramble helter-skelter.

Mar 08, 2010 06:57 AM
Bradley Bowen
Keller Williams Realty - Denton, TX - Denton, TX

Bill- Denton's "Historic District" mainly includes residential area in between UNT and the square. The area on Hickory you are referring to was purchased by a developer, and I believe a CVS was supposed to go in there but locals have held it up somehow because the pharmacy drive-thru causes a zoning problem. That's just the rumors I've heard. Businesses that were previously there have since shut down (The Tomato) or relocated (Bagheri, Mr. Chopsticks). There is a new pizza joint on the corner of Fry St. and Hickory called The Crooked Crust which is popular with students, and the nightclub The Drink has been turned into Fry St. Public House, which is a restaurant/study area by day and bar by night. There is growing interest in commercial activity downtown it seems.

I know some stores around Denton may look run down, but it is a "college town" and some of that is its charm. I also wish you could have taken the time to park your car and walk through the actual campus itself, which is just as beautiful as ever, especially in springtime.

Apr 11, 2010 05:05 PM
Bill Cherry, Realtor - Dallas, TX
Broker & Wealth Coach


I really appreciate your taking the time to give us your thoughts.  I just see it through different eyes, I guess, so I don't find any of it charming. 

The campus has multiple architectural styles, has been crammed on too little acreages, and obviously has either 1) never had a master plan for development or 2) it has one that was compromised.  That, by the way, started with the design/building of the administration building and that was completed back in Pat Boone's day.  It had absolutely nothing in common with the other buildings on the campus.

Property/land around the school should be in a controlled district, and that means controlling 1) what can be torn down or architecturally modified and how, 2) what it can be used for 3) and how the facades can and cannot be decorated.  It also means a restrictive sign ordinance. 

Cars have been parked on yards dating back to before I first got there in the late 1950s.  What gives with that?

In the case of UNT, it is being wagged by the surrounding property owners.  That's an odd outcome because the property owners, in the main, would not be using those buildings as they are if UNT were not their neighbor.  If I were a regent, I'd be pushing for slowing the further development of the university until the school could be assured that the city would protect the state's investment by taking an active interest in overseeing the surrounding property.

And as an aside, when you get a permit to tear down a building, conditions for that permit should include removal of the slab, grading the land, landscaping and maintaining that landscaping until such time as a building permit is issued for its new use.  Go back and look at that mess that was left at the corner of Hickory and Fry.

For about fifty years or so my family owned commercial property in Denton.  Every time a tenant vacated, the city put us through the mill to make sure everything met current codes before they would issue a CO -- and the utilities couldn't be restored without the CO.  While I always supported that position, it is obvious to me that it is not one that is applied to all property owners.

About 10 years ago, we sold our stuff, and we did because its value had not increased to any degree throughout all of those years.  I don't have an opinion as to why.




Apr 11, 2010 11:21 PM
Paul Gapski
Berkshire Hathaway / Prudential Ca Realty - El Cajon, CA
619-504-8999,#1 Resource SD Relo

Well at least in Texas they dont get hit as hard as Ca or Fl.

Oct 27, 2011 03:14 AM