Ramon Rodriguez feels kind of "fenced in."
The 90-year-old Dallas man refused to sell his house to Fort Worth-based Overton Bank and Trust, a community bank with $740 million of assets.
Now, it won't be long before the Texan's home is enveloped by a U-shaped bank branch.
Overton Bank tried to buy Mr. Rodriguez's land as part of its plans to build a drive-through branch on a plot in uptown Dallas. The land included Mr. Rodriguez's house, where he's lived for 50 years. But when Mr. Rodriguez wouldn't budge, the bank decided to build around him.
The controversy has given Mr. Rodriguez some national media attention and, soon, some new neighbors. But neither he nor bank officials seem upset by the frenzy. When the branch opens this year, bank officials even want their neighbor to cut the ceremonial ribbon.
James M. Johnston, president of Overton Bank and Trust Dallas, said the two parties are comfortable with the new arrangement.
"He's a delightful gentleman, and we have a lot of respect for his rights," said Mr. Johnston. "This has all been very pleasant and very respectful. We hope he's our first customer."
Although Mr. Rodriguez didn't accept the bank's $68,000 offer to buy his house, he remains open to better offers. "I never said I wouldn't sell," said Mr. Rodriguez. "The bank didn't offer me a good enough deal."
Mr. Johnston, who said that the bank had intended to use Mr. Rodriguez's land for a parking lot, called the situation a "hallmark" of changing times.
"This area was the center of a Hispanic neighborhood, a very vibrant neighborhood that people had pride in," Mr. Johnston said. "But most have moved out now ... it's in transition from a residential area to an upscale commercial neighborhood."
The bank decided to go ahead with its plans instead of looking for a new site because of the ideal demographics and street layout of the area, he said.
Michael Finley, an urban planner for the city of Dallas, explained that "Little Mexico," as the neighborhood was once called, had formerly been a center of Hispanic culture.
"Now there's hardly any of the neighborhood left," Mr. Finley said. "For the most part it's office towers and mid-rise residential buildings. The flavor of the old Little Mexico is long gone."
At the end of the day, Mr. Rodriguez and his only companion-a dog named Baby-seem more concerned about the traffic in front of the house than the banking machinery and signs that will soon surround it.
"In 1948, this (street) was just a little alley," he said. "Now it's a six-lane, and people use it like a racetrack. Oh mercy, they come down here like I don't know what."