As construction on this year’s Dream Street begins, we sit down with Fort Worth Magazine publisher Hal Brown, who’s seen the initial Dream Home concept grow exponentially over his 22 years at the magazine.
Hal Brown, a Fort Worth native, TCU grad, and publisher of Fort Worth Magazine (yeah, our boss), has witnessed the construction of more Dream Homes than you could count on your fingers and toes. So, to call him an authority on the matter would be an understatement.
With touring slated to begin on the second annual Dream Street in Montrachet in January, we decided to interview the best expert we could find to give us a rundown of the program’s history, why we do it, and what it means for the community.
FW: What was the initial concept of the original Dream Home? Why did it become an annual thing for Fort Worth Magazine?
Hal Brown: The first one was in 2000 in Mira Vista, and we did it for two reasons. One, it was editorial content that our readers identified with. We’re a lifestyle magazine, and one of the categories in lifestyle is shelter. People love to know what the latest and greatest in home design are all about. It was also both a revenue opportunity for us and a way to give back to the community through charities. We’ve worked with a number of charities over the years, and the home’s touring revenue goes toward their causes.
FW: How did the idea of expanding Dream Home into a Dream Street with three homes come about?
Brown: I’m actually going to give credit to one of our builders, John Atwood of Atwood Custom Homes. He was also a builder in the inaugural Dream Street, and he built our Dream Home in 2015 in Southlake. And that was one of our more successful houses that we have done. So, we went back to him and asked him if he’d be interested in doing another Dream Home. He then brought the idea [of doing three homes at once], and we thought it was a great idea.
Having three is the perfect mix. And having them all side by side, which is what we have again in Montrachet this year, makes it amazing. So that is our new structure, and it works.
FW: With the Fort Worth housing market, how do you see this growing?
Brown: Well, Tarrant County isn’t going to stop growing anytime soon. Unlike Dallas, we have annex ability to move out. And so more developments are going to continue to come, which provide opportunities. So it exposes new neighborhoods. That’s one of the benefits of the program — it exposes new neighborhoods to homeowners, and it highlights builders. So, we celebrate growth in Fort Worth. Our objective is to celebrate the city and make it better.
FW: So, beyond the revenue, why keep doing it every year?
Brown: It’s great editorial content. Our readers tell us it’s great. They love it. There have been people that have been to every single Dream Home since we’ve started. I talked to a guy a year and a half ago at a Jewel Charity Ball function, and he said, “I have every single copy of Fort Worth Magazine since 2000.” He literally has every copy of every one of our Dream Homes. I don’t even know if we have every copy here. So, we have people who love it.
FW: What personally is your favorite part of the process?
Brown: I think the touring itself. When it all comes together and you’re able to walk through this incredible home, and there’s a definite wow factor. One of the houses in Montrachet that we’re building is just now framed, and there’s a courtyard in the middle with a pool, which is a very unique design in Texas.
It’s just really cool. I mean, I can’t wait to see it. So, when it all comes together and you’re able to walk through them, you hear people on the tour say things like, “Wow, I want that in my house.”
FW: Why is a Wish with Wings such a great charity for Fort Worth Magazine to partner with?
Brown: Some people don’t know it’s a Fort Worth organization, a Tarrant County organization. It’s like Make-A-Wish on a local level, if you will. They grant wishes to kids with life-threatening illnesses. It could be a trip to Disneyland. It could be meeting their favorite athlete … whatever their wish is. When you read the stories, you get choked up.
They also do an incredible job of training people that work the house. When you go into a house, someone with a Wish with Wings meets you at the door, and if you have a question, they know what the answer is. They don’t say, “Oh, I have no idea. I’m just volunteering.” They’re able to tell you something about the house. They’ll be able to tell you about how this works.