DALLAS — The sightings have begun.
Crowds gather and cameras whir whenever the telltale motorcade of black SUVs weaves through the Preston Hollow neighborhood as former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, spend time there readying to move into their $2 million home and his new office.
Countless cars continue passing by the future Bush home to get a glance of the former first couples new digs, nestled in a neighborhood already decked out with "Welcome Home George & Laura" signs. A gate Bush paid for will soon block off the house, which could rack up $1 million in city-paid security a year.
The well-known couple could soon be seen nearby at restaurants, clothing stores, biking trails, church, even the grocery store.
Brad Creel hopes the two swing by his Celebrity Cafe & Bakery for a panini, a salad or maybe dessert.
"I think it would be exciting," said Creel, general manager of the cafe on Preston Road, about a mile from the new Bush home. "It would be great to meet them. I think theyd have a warm reception here."
Admittedly the clientele is about 95 percent women, but he said theres still much to offer for the former president, whose favorite food is Mexican. "If George likes a good piece of cake or cookie, he would definitely like it here," Creel said.
Elliotts Hardware on Maple Avenue also wants the former president to visit and maybe even come work as a part-time greeter.
The company not only mailed a personal invitation to Bush but also took out a newspaper ad touting the opportunity.
"Our greeters are a legendary part of our customer service," said Kyle Walters, Elliotts Hardware president and CEO. "And we are offering the position to Mr. Bush in all sincerity. We think it would be a great fit for him as he settles back into life in Dallas."
The Bush family is moving back into the same general neighborhood, but not the same home.
Before Bush became governor in 1995 and the family moved to Austin, they lived in Preston Hollow on Northwood Road. Now they are preparing to move into an 8,501-square-foot home with a cabana, storage building, detached garage and detached servant quarters at 10141 Daria Place. Word is they could move in by March.
But things have changed around Dallas in the past decade or so.
Central Expressway is wider now, theres a new homeless shelter in town, and Reunion Arena where Bush attended an Election Day-eve GOP rally in 2006 is closed. The Cowboys are moving to Arlington this summer, and construction on a new convention center hotel should kick off in coming months.
Other key changes: Dallas County turned Democratic in recent years. The sheriff, Lupe Valdez, is a gay woman. And two Dallas men filed the states first same-sex divorce case, but Attorney General Greg Abbott said it wouldnt be recognized in Texas since same-sex marriages are not acknowledged.
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