An overwhelming 57 percent of Dallas County, Texas, voters embraced Barack Obama and his campaign for change. But President Bush and the First Lady apparently have found a friendly pocket in that blue county to make their new home.
The first couple, who had previously revealed their plans to move back to Dallas after leaving the White House, confirmed Thursday that they have selected a home in the affluent neighborhood known as Preston Hollow. The neighborhood, where the Bushes lived in the 1990s before moving to the governor's mansion in Austin, is home to estate-like properties costing millions of dollars—and an enclave where voters widely favored Sen. John McCain in 16 of 17 precincts.
The Bushes aren't saying exactly where they will live, but records show that the president's longtime friend and accountant, Robert McClesky of Midland, recently purchased a $2.1 million home on a street named Daria Place and placed it into a trust. Reached in his Midland office Thursday, McClesky told NEWSWEEK: "No, I am not moving to Dallas." He would not comment further.
The 8,501-square-foot home, on a previously quiet cul-de-sac, backs up to a creek and sits on a 1.1-acre lot. The home has four bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, an 896-square-foot servants' quarters and a 450-square-foot cabana. It was previously owned by Republican donor and Dallas investor Daniel Boeckman and his wife, Laura. Boeckman did not return a telephone call.
There is speculation that the Bushes may also be buying an adjacent property. Mary Candace Evans, the real-estate editor of D Home & Garden magazine, who broke the story of the home purchases on her blog Thursday morning, notes that the vacant house next door, a $1.6 million five-bedroom home, is set to close next week to an undisclosed buyer. "I'm speculating on the second house … [but] it's a very unusual way of titling it," says Evans, who suggests the adjoining property might be used to house Secret Service agents and create a larger perimeter around the Bush home. Records show that the home belongs to the estate of a deceased woman whose family also had a history of giving to the Republican Party. Family member Peter Northway, a Dallas advertising executive, said he couldn't comment on the sale.
Both properties back up to the sprawling 25-acre, $50 million estate of close Bush friend Tom Hicks, the Texas billionaire who bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in June 1998 for $250 million. Bush, a part owner of that team, received just under $15 million for his stake. (Coincidentally, Northway's firm, Core Group Advertising, cites Hicks's Dallas Stars hockey team as one of its clients.)
For their part, Bush's apparent new neighbors say they welcome their soon-to-be-former president to their enclave.
"I think everyone is just excited to have them move here," said Dallas lawyer Doug Fletcher, who lives across the street from the two lots. While Fletcher has had no contact with the Bushes, neighbors have seen people they believe to be Secret Service agents in the neighborhood recently, and everyone believes the buzz that the Bushes have chosen their cul-de-sac.
He said the lots in the area are surrounded by a quiet creek that is home to screech owls, hawks and coyotes. "We just sit in our backyard and enjoy the scenery," he said. Starting in January, the former First Family will be able to admire the same view.