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Q&A: Mike Nurre, the ‘mayor’ of Casa View

Decades ago people moved to neighborhoods like Vickery Place, Junius Heights and Munger Place because the houses had good bones but needed a little TLC. Now those property values are skyrocketing. Even neighborhoods on the outskirts of White Rock Lake, like Casa Linda and Little Forest Hills, are quickly becoming unaffordable. What’s left? Plenty, actually. As people continue to move back to the urban core, our opinions of what areas make up East Dallas are expanding. Property in areas like Casa View, with their affordable $200,000 price tags, are starting to look more desirable.

Many of us don’t know much about the Casa View neighborhood, where it’s located or what’s happening — or not happening — there. For decades one of East Dallas’ best examples of 1950s architecture has been mostly under the radar, but now some say the area has reached new prominence, which made the neighborhood a hot topic during the recent city council election. Mark Clayton won the election for District 9, partially because he insisted that Casa View needs to be a top priority in his district.

So where is Casa View? It’s an area well east of the Home Depot/White Rock Marketplace shopping center (Garland Road at Jupiter) that straddles Ferguson Road from Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway to Oates Drive. Smaller, older homes and strip shopping centers dot the area, which is unofficially “governed” by Mike Nurre, founder of the Greater Casa View Alliance. Nurre often is referred to as the “Mayor of Casa View” because he has a knack for showing up at political events to advocate for his neighborhood. Who is Nurre? What does he have to say about Casa View? And why we should care?

Can you tell me a little about Casa View?

The epicenter is the shopping center at Gus Thomasson and Ferguson. Long ago [in the ’50s and early ’60s] there was a Sears, a JCPenney and the pre-cursor to Walgreens. Of course, you had a solid, middle-class neighborhood. We’re probably 20 years behind the rest of East Dallas because there was no combined effort to improve the neighborhood before. We’re at a tipping point. Now we’re trying to promote that there’s more to East Dallas. There’s a heck of a lot people out here. When someone says East Dallas, people think M Streets and Lakewood, but it’s bigger than that. That’s why we’ve created the alliance, to set up a spokesperson. I’ve made it a personal effort to give Casa View exposure.

Why was Casa View such a hot topic during city council elections?

A lot of people think East Dallas ends at the Arboretum or White Rock Lake. Some people think it ends at Casa Linda. They forget there’s a whole lot of Dallas this way in Casa View and Greater Casa View. There hasn’t been a representative in the past 50 years from this side of the lake on city council. [The recent buzz] was an outbreak of a combined effort by me and others on the Greater Casa View Alliance and the individual neighborhood watches, to develop an identity and carry a message. Our mantra is: “Forgotten Far East Dallas no more.” So that was driven home.

[Mark Clayton] knows where his support came from. Just the other day at an economic summit Mark Clayton got up and spoke, and he said his first priority is Casa View Shopping Center and the Greater Casa View area, to improve relations with the center owner and to provide much-needed infrastructure. He always makes the point that other parts of the neighborhood are OK and that we need to focus on Casa View. We’ve been a squealing pig and no one has listened to us until now.

So what are the strengths? Why should we care about Casa View?

Who covers your flank? We do. We keep talking about the infill happening. If we’re going to get the middle class to move back into Dallas, we need places like Casa View. Where else can you buy a house under $200,000 in Dallas that’s 15 minutes from downtown? There’s so much potential, and we’re right here inside LBJ. A lot of the houses are fixer-uppers, but the bones are there.

We have some sizable neighborhoods. In Greater Casa View, we have about 66,000 people. The medium income is coming up some. The younger generation is moving in here. We utilize the shopping centers and things around here. If you go to Good 2 Go Taco on any given day, it’s packed with people. We have a lot of people who work out of their homes — artists and such. So I think the time has come for a little change. It is an overlooked, underserved area.

What are some of the challenges Casa View is facing?

We don’t have any first-tier shopping. You know the saying, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” It’s a vacuum. There’s nothing here. We just need somebody to say, “Hey, we’re here, and here’s who we are.”

How can people like Councilman Clayton help?

He has met with the shopping center owners to establish a public-private partnership, like, ‘If you clean up your yard, I’ll paint my house,’ you see? Really just to do the things that anybody needs, like working on infrastructure and crime issues, which are really down, and we’re very excited about that. But the infrastructure is horrible. You couldn’t use a wheelchair down there. We’ve just screamed about it — the curbs and the light poles. What he plans to do is work with us on the infrastructure under a public-private partnership, and just to champion our cause. It’s an evolutionary, not a revolutionary, change.

*This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.


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By |2015-11-19T10:23:05-05:00November 19th, 2015|All Magazine Articles, Launch|5 Comments

About the Author:

Brittany Nunn
BRITTANY NUNN is the Lakewood/East Dallas editor. Email bnunn@advocatemag.com