Each year, more than 3,000 new residents move into The Village. Each month, more than 1,000 potential residents reach out to the leasing office for property information, says sales manager Jamie Prestage, a neighborhood resident.
If history holds, a select few of these new residents may still be living in their same apartment unit at The Village for the next 20-30 years.
There’s still a handful of Village residents who never left, some still there after more than 40 years.
Mike McWilliams says he was new to Dallas in 1977, and he was looking for an apartment to rent in his new city, somewhere close to work and fun on weekends.
“Someone told me that I ought to look at The Village, that there were a lot of singles who lived in The Village. I remember looking at other apartments around Park and Shady Brook. I was really impressed driving west along Southwestern with that long, four-lane drive with the huge median — that was an impressive site. So I moved in.”
That was 44 years ago, making McWilliams one of The Village’s most tenured residents.
“I would never have dreamed it,” he says. “I assumed I’d get married and move to a house at some point, and I never did. My work was always Downtown, and I didn’t want the maintenance responsibilities of a house. So I stayed.”
For 35 years, McWilliams lived in the same one-bedroom apartment in The Corners East. In 2012, he moved to a larger 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment in The Gate, which has a floorplan with a larger living area.
His first rent check back in 1977: $220 a month, which included water, sewer and electricity, plus $24 monthly for rented furniture.
McWilliams isn’t the only “lifer” at The Village.
In honor of six of its most-tenured residents, The Village named six leasing Mokes (jacked-up golf carts) after Ed, Linda, Randy, Shirley, Sandy and Earl.
The “Randy” on side of one Moke is Randy Austin, 69, who has lived in The Village since 1981 — first in The Corners, then The Corners East, then The Meadows and now in The Lakes.
“The only reason I moved is they kept tearing down my buildings,” Austin says, only half-joking.
“I love The Lakes because I look right over the lake and have a great view. We’re pretty lucky to have these green parks out here with ducks and squirrels and wildlife.”
Austin’s story is similar to that of McWilliams and others: He was new to Dallas and kept hearing about “this great apartment complex called The Village. They had tennis courts, a gym, the old Country Club — everything I could want. You never really had to leave The Village except to buy groceries.”
Over the years, he changed jobs along with apartment buildings, but moving out was never an option.
For the past 25 years (skipping a year due to Covid-19), Austin has gathered a group of kids living near him to teach swimming lessons in one of the Village’s smaller outdoor pools, generating a crowd of about 30 kids each week, along with about 20 parents, he says.
“It’s mostly just to let the kids get together and have fun,” Austin says. “I just started doing it on my own; a bunch of kids live here who wanted to learn to swim, and word of mouth got more people coming out all the time.
“The Village gets people from all over the world. A lot of these kids have been with me for 10, 12, 15 years, and now they’re bringing their kids. It’s also social for the parents, who sit around and talk, practicing their English. It’s just fun for the parents and kids.”
Austin says he has no plans to move. Everything he needs is nearby, and he’s happy with his life and his home.
“I never got married, have no kids and no pets, so I didn’t need a back yard. I have everything here I need to work out, swim laps, lift weights. Of course, when I first moved in, I didn’t think I would be here 40 years. I thought I’d be here a year or two and move on.
“They take good care of you here,” he says. “The landscaping is gorgeous: They’re always upgrading, putting in new plants and flowers. And if you call maintenance, they come and fix it within 24 hours. I guess that’s why I’ve stayed so long — it’s easy living.”
In 1988, the landscape for apartment complexes changed when Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits housing discrimination against families with children under 18, people who are pregnant or in the process of obtaining legal custody, and people with written permission of the parent or legal guardian.
Almost overnight, Dallas apartments that had targeted singles — including much of The Village and many other apartment buildings near the Five Point intersection of Park Lane, Fair Oaks Avenue and Ridgecrest Road east of Greenville Avenue — faced a sea change of leasing regulations.
Pools that had once been the province of singles became crowded with kids and families.
Over the years, many once-flashy complexes devolved into disreputable and sometimes dangerous collections of buildings, as occasionally remote property owners elected not to invest in building repairs and renovations and instead let their properties deteriorate.
The Village headed in a different direction.
Lincoln Properties continued maintaining, reinvesting in and rebuilding its community, Wright says.
The process of evolving and maintaining the apartment complex, updating or replacing buildings, continued over the years, with a sea change of development thought crystallizing around the construction of Upper East Side complex in 2013.
“You can see in the land planning the difference there,” Wright says. “The focus is on outdoor spaces, designing walkable amenities, the hard and soft programming of event spaces and using design to create spaces and ways where people were ‘forced’ to be social again.
“When we saw that worked, we decided to start planning the core of The Village (the area including the former Country Club building and surrounding acreage).
“Actually re-envisioning the entire Village started in 2009 after the redevelopment of The Dakota neighborhood,” Wright says. “Reflection, pause and thoughtful land planning went into our 2013 redevelopment, which took the 400-plus units of the 1974 neighborhood known as The Bluffs, and redeveloped it into a 330-unit neighborhood named Upper East Side.
“This neighborhood focuses on common-area amenity offerings such as an infinity pool and lap pool, event lawn, a private on-site coffee house, fitness center and community garden. The layout and design allows us to unite the ‘Upper East Siders’ by giving us space to host weekly happy hours, neighborhood meet-ups, a resident-run garden club and offer an onsite barista to those that choose this particular neighborhood to call home.
“This neighborhood served as a petri dish to see what works, what actually brings people outside of their apartment walls and gets them connected. It allowed us to see what would work on a larger scale so we could bring all Villagers to gather together.”
“Plans for the core of The Village redevelopment started in 2014, after rezoning, focus groups, Villager surveys and employee feedback, we started construction July 5, 2017, right after one last epic pool party at the Village Country Club.”