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Dallas Readies for Return of the Bushes

The city expects the Bush family to focus on charities and the Presidential library.

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DALLAS — Preparations are under way to build the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University; a new home has been purchased, and even a few luxury stores might get some business.

The Bushes are coming home to Dallas.

When the power and the burdens of the presidency shift to Barack Obama on Jan. 20, the former first couple will transition to the city where they lived before Bush became governor of Texas in 1995. It is a place where the President, whose popularity has sunk to record lows in polls, has both admirers and detractors.

“There is a small core group that is excited, a small core group that is furious, and the great unwashed masses don’t give a s---,” said Alan Peppard, a lifestyle columnist at the Dallas Morning News.

The core group includes people like Janie Condon, a member of the Henry S. Miller family, owners of the luxury Highland Park Village shopping center.

“Everyone in my circle is thrilled,” said Condon, a longtime resident of the staunchly Republican Highland Park neighborhood. “They are very integrated into society. People like him because he is real and friendly. Even though he is not a real Texan [Bush was born in New Haven, Conn.], we think of him as a Texan because Texas is all about being a straight talker and straight shooting.”

Obama won 57 percent of the Dallas County vote, becoming the first Democrat to win the presidential race here since 1964. And John Wiley Price, a Democrat and one of four elected Dallas County commissioners with administrative oversight, isn’t a Bush fan.

“It’s bad enough he’s from Texas, and now he’s going to come back to Dallas,” Price said. “It’s not as though his legacy is one we want to look to. It kind of puts a target on us.”

The Bushes have history in Dallas — they lived in the leafy, affluent neighborhood of Preston Hollow from late 1988 until moving to the Texas Governor’s Mansion in Austin in 1995. And it is to Preston Hollow they will return. The couple has purchased an 8,501-square-foot, four-bedroom home on a cul-de-sac of multimillion-dollar estates.

During their Dallas years, Bush owned 10.8 percent of the Texas Rangers baseball team — which he sold for a $15 million profit — and served as its face and chief promoter, providing a public platform to launch his gubernatorial campaign.

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