Katy Bussy has trouble identifying anyone in her neighborhood who won’t prosper from the fledgling Hollywood/Santa Monica Home Tour.

When seven of the historic 1920s-era homes near Samuell-Grand Park open their doors to the public Sunday, April 18, a long list of people and organizations will stand to benefit.

Start with the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas which will receive half of the proceeds to help stage its summer performances at Samuell-Grand.

Then there’s the Hollywood Heights Homeowners Association which will use its share to renovate aging Lindsley Park in the center of the neighborhood.

But it will be the owners of the area’s 700 homes who will be smiling the widest. Not only have their property values surged as a result of the initial tour last year, Bussy says, but a previously little-known neighborhood in the shadow of Swiss Avenue will continue to enjoy its own renaissance.

The tour, which is co-sponsored by Advocate Community Newspapers, is scheduled from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance and $8 on the day of the event.

The tour’s success – it attracted 700 participants last April – surprised even Bussy, a Hollywood Heights resident and real estate agent who co-chairs the event.

“The increased visibility for our neighborhood has just been incredible,” says Bussy, who has lived in the neighborhood for nine years.

“Hollywood Heights is a real jewel that people are just now starting to realize. The tour has really surpassed our expectations.”

Organizers are predicting a turnout of 1,000 visitors this year. Last year’s tour drew people from as far away as Fort Worth and the Mid-Cities, Bussy says.

What will they find is a walking map of seven homes and an English garden, as well as refreshments and guides who will describe the history and background of the vintage bungalows. This year’s roster of homes will be entirely different from last year.

The low-key event has brought a higher profile to the Hollywood Heights area, which was designated as a conservation district in September 1989 after months of effort by residents, led by Craig Reynolds and Rob Parks.

Hollywood/Santa Monica is set on 65 city blocks just north of Woodrow Wilson High School, bounded by the Santa Fe railroad tracks on the west and Samuell-Grand on the east. Homeowners area a mix of families, young professionals and seniors.

Exposure from the tour has boosted demand and interest in the area’s homes – most priced between $100,000 and $160,000, Bussy says – and set phones ringing among the neighborhood’s real estate agents.

“The tour has been a real boon for both homeowners and people in real estate,” says agent Scott Carlson of Whiteside Associates, an underwriter of the tour.

“It’s definitely made our jobs a lot easier.”

The Hollywood Heights tour is among six home tours in the East Dallas/Lakewood area, including trips through Swiss and Munger avenues. It’s also the youngest, but Bussy sees a long life for the event if all goes according to plan.

What sets the Hollywood Heights tour apart is its array of corporate sponsorship and charity emphasis, she says.

“There’s a certain amount of class to the whole thing, I think,” Bussy says. “We aren’t just interested in raising our property values. Charity is a major emphasis, because we want to make everything in the neighborhood better.”

The first beneficiary will be Lindsley Park, where the homeowners association wants to install walking paths, build picnic and play areas, and plant trees with some of the tour’s proceeds.

“It’s looking kind of scraggly right now, but we’re going to change that really quick,” Bussy says. “We want everyone to benefit from this event.”

For more information concerning the home tour, call Bussy at 328-8267.

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