When banking executive Joseph Hernandez moved to Dallas in 1997, he quickly sized up the city and decided to put down stakes in Oak Cliff’s Wynnewood North neighborhood. “We looked at areas all over the city, and no place else seemed to offer the unique mix of period homes, organized neighborhoods and social interaction,” he says. “We still believe no place else compares.”
Nine years later, his commitment to the Cliff is stronger than ever — and he’s pulling out all the stops to make sure his adopted home gets its due. “Those of us who live here know why Oak Cliff is so special — we can just feel it,” Hernandez states. “Now, more than ever, developers are recognizing the potential of Oak Cliff and some may even call it the city’s hidden gem.”
A well-known neighborhood activist who makes no secret of his plans to run for elected office, Hernandez boldly proclaims that this is Oak Cliff’s decade. “We’ve got a significant amount of the city’s usable land mass — and a significant amount of the buying power — south of the Trinity,” he explains. “We have a huge opportunity here, both to bring in the development that Oak Cliff needs to meet the needs of its residents and to enhance the character of our neighborhoods.”
As projects like Lake Cliff Tower, Wynnewood Village and Pinnacle Park come on line, Hernandez, a former president of Wynnewood North Neighborhood Association, underscores the need for future development to strike a delicate balance between business considerations and neighborhood needs. “Developers are focused on our buying power right now in order to make the numbers work,” he says. “We need to make sure that we do our part to keep the focus on the fact that what draws people to Oak Cliff is its rich history and the charm of our historic neighborhoods. The fastest way to move the community forward is to be realistic about where we are, accept and acknowledge what we have to work with, and then we’ll begin to see plenty of positive possibilities.”
Hernandez seems well-suited for the job. As the President of the Fort Worth Avenue Development Group, he’s helped foster more than $35 million in redevelopment projects over the last three years. He also serves as Vice-Chairman of the Dallas Landmark Commission, working to protect and preserve historic neighbor-hoods throughout the city. “I often find myself just driving around a lot, and when I look at Oak Cliff, I see endless opportunity,” Hernandez says. “We’re on the brink of fantastic things.”
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