At Jefferson Tower, a mercado and activating the alley

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Jim Lake Jr. stands in an under-construction loft apartment at Jefferson Tower. Lake’s transformation of the building includes a mercado and room for green space and food trucks at the back of the building. Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Jim Lake Cos. this summer hired Adamson High School standout and Georgetown University scholar Adan Gonzalez as an intern. Part of Gonzalez’s job was to reach out to Jefferson Tower’s Latino neighbors in an effort to find out what they want for the neighborhood.

That’s how Lake came up with the idea for Jefferson Tower Mercado, which he plans to launch this fall. The market, in a 7,000-square-foot space next door to Family Dollar, will offer small retail spaces for local artists, crafters and start-ups.

A worker paints the ceiling of a loft apartment at Jefferson Tower. Nine apartments will be available by the end of the year, and eight more early next year.
A worker paints the ceiling of a loft apartment at Jefferson Tower. Nine apartments will be available by the end of the year, and eight more early next year. Photo by Danny Fulgencio

The market will have entrances on Jefferson and at the rear of the building. That is part of Lake’s plan to activate all four sides of the tower. All of the shops and restaurant currently face Jefferson, and the other three sides are unused, which Lake thinks is a waste of space.

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He is working to buy a portion of the alley from the city, and he plans to create entrances to businesses and the 17 apartment lofts at the rear of the building. Also planned are green spaces, a barbecue pit area and parking for food trucks at the rear. The sides of the building facing Madison and Bishop have less sidewalk space, but Lake envisions offering spaces for pop-up shops on weekends.

The first new retail tenant since Lake bought the building last year, Small Brewpub, is expected to open soon. Leasing agent Chris Price also has signed an ice cream shop, which will take a small space near the office building’s entrance. And he signed a coffee roaster for a space adjacent to Small Brewpub.

“We’re being very selective about what’s going in here,” Lake says.

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The company has extended leases to longtime tenants Ramon’s Barber Shop, Gonzalez restaurant and a jewelry store.

The 17 loft apartments are under construction and for lease. The first nine, on the Madison side, are expected to be available by the end of the year. Eight lofts on the Bishop side will be available early next year.

 

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  • RompingWillyBilly

    A rule of marketing is that one can create a new delicious dish, give it a name and a price, and then translate that name to French in order to increase the price three times over. Indeed, one can go from English to French with little trouble, but not from English to Spanish. The idea of serving a niche market works as long as one doesn’t exclude any other culture. For example, you can create a Latino barbershop as a niche, but just as long as ones customers aren’t all Hispanics.
    These Mercardo things generally don’t work for this reason.

  • RompingWillyBilly

    The Bishops Arts District is just 2000 feet away. This commercial area of Oak Cliff has always been this way. When I was about twelve, this being back in the late sixties, my hippy uncle bought a mansion close to this area. His only furnishings within the house was a large log to sit upon that he had placed at the center of the living room. He had a dog named Fish in the back yard. The designers moving in are the ones who will be trying to utilize their art to make a profit.
    I just don’t understand your comment. This commercial district arose because, back in the day, there were long periods in which Oak Cliff was cut off from downtown Dallas by a flooding Trinity River. I guess your desire is that it not become exclusive like Uptown? As the situation is in Lakewood and Deep Ellum, there is too much historical significance about this commercial area for that to happen. Besides, most are expecting Uptown to spread to the Dallas Design District and to the Trinity Groves area of West Dallas.
    My concern is that the preservationists not inhibit the revitalization of Oak Cliff out even further to such places as Wynnwood Village and Edgefield.

  • LeAnn Lewis

    Great that he is keeping the older leases, extending the mercado etc: would love to see Indian food at some point. Psyched about the coffee shop.

  • np

    Please keep this a multicultural and economically diverse area. Don’t turn it into a Dallas Yup-Town for rich trendsetters. Oak Cliff is the last of it’s kind in pretentious Dallas.

  • Barbara Macleod

    So great to see this kind of activity in Oak Cliff. I make it a point to “Share” good Oak Cliff news on FB. It’s the PR gal in me, I guess! So tired of the old inaccurate perception of my neighborhood by people who don’t care to venture south to check out all the great neighborhoods, culture and activities happening here. Their loss I guess.

  • downtownworker

    Jefferson Blvd is a gold mine. Congrats to Jim Lake for starting something that will transform Oak Cliff forever.