Tom Hicks puts his 25-acre Dallas estate on the market

Posted Friday, Jan. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Tom Hicks is scaling down.

The leveraged buyout specialist and former Texas Rangers owner has decided to sell his 25-acre Dallas estate, which he expects to eventually go for about $135 million, real estate agent Douglas Newby said Friday.

His decision to try to sell the biggest home in Dallas follows a tough decade for the once high-flying financier. Problems started when his firm's positions in telecommunications and South American investments soured a decade ago. He was forced to sell the Rangers and the Dallas Stars hockey team after defaulting on loans tied to the sports venture, and then he lost his half of England's Liverpool soccer club. Listed on Forbes magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans five years ago, with an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion, he was marked down to $1 billion in 2009 before falling off the rarefied compendium.

But Hicks isn't selling his Dallas mansion because of financial struggles, according to Newby. Rather, with the last of their six children having left home for college, Tom and Cinda Hicks are now empty-nesters and no longer need a main house, a guest house and a pool house that had an aggregate 42,500 square feet under roof, the agent said.

The Dallas Central Appraisal District values the Hicks estate, which adjoins former President George W. Bush's property, at $37 million -- nearly $100 million less than the asking price. But that doesn't faze Newby. He noted that since Texas is a state that doesn't require reporting dollar amounts of real estate transactions, districts have been known to under- and overestimate home values.

Once the estate is sold, Newby said, the Hickses plan to spend more time at their La Jolla, Calif., home, and are thinking of acquiring another home in Dallas.

Completed in 1939 in what Newby described as "classic French estate" style, the home was originally owned by an Italian cotton merchant, Count Pio Crespi, whose widow sold it to the Hickses 16 years ago. She was allowed to remain there even after the sale, Newby said. It was designed by Swiss architect Maurice Fatio, best known for Palm Beach mansions.

The Hickses poured tens of millions into restoring the 28,996-square-foot main house, and hired architect Peter Marino to build a 6,300-square foot guest house and 7,200-square-foot pool house in keeping with the original architect's vision, he said. Newby figured that the Hicks family made improvements that ran $2,000 per square foot, or $85 million.

"At $135 million, it's really good value. You can't replace the materials, architecture or the site," said Newby, who noted that the buyer of the huge Preston Hollow property will be just eight minutes from downtown.

With Bush right next door, the estate benefits from free security provided the former president.

"That means you don't have flybys when he is in the state," Newby added.

Although he has yet to show the house, Newby noted that some people with the wherewithal to purchase the estate likely already have toured it as guests of the Hickses.

While people from out of town or another country, might consider acquiring the land and buildings, Newby said there should be enough Dallasites willing to continue the Hicks family's preservation efforts.

"There's a real pool of people locally who would have the interest, inclination and resources," he said.

Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718

Twitter: @bshlachter

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