This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Lakewood Heights neighbor is saving homes from the wrecking ball by restoring them as rental properties.

Patrick Donlin has lived and bought homes in the neighborhood for nine years. In 2011, he moved to a duplex in Hollywood Heights and rented the other side. He saved his money and bought another duplex next to neighbor Liz Simmons, famous for her holiday lights display, Electric Lizzyland.

“I took all these Christmas lights and put a sign that said, ‘Ditto’ pointing toward her house,” Donlin said. “I got really active doing the Easter parade and really liked Hollywood Heights because of the neighborhood feel.”

He wanted to retain the architecture that contributes to the personality of the neighborhood. So, through his company, Mr. D Property Management, he bought more properties, competing with developers who wanted to tear down the buildings. He did that with his own home and office, the former Buddhist Center at 1722 N. Hall St.

At one property, it took three dumpsters to remove rooster coops, degreaser machines, buckets of oil and paint and years of garbage stored in eight 55-gallon drums.

His rental properties are modernized with interior upgrades, such as new appliances, but they also stick to strict renovation guidelines outlined by conservation districts.

“Saving these places is fun,” Donlin said. “That’s what makes them cool, and that’s why we need to retain it.”

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.