Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Video: Mayor Rawlings reveals plans to turn Jefferson Tower into retail and residential hub
The tower is just one in a series of plans to revitalize the Jefferson district.
OAK CLIFF The east wing of Oak Cliff’s historic Jefferson Tower currently sits vacant and gutted at the corner of Madison Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard. By the beginning of next year, however, developers hope it will be an epicenter of commerce that will drive foot traffic to the area.
Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Mike Rawlings unveiled a new plan to turn the nearly 110,000-square-foot space into a mixed residential, retail, office, and restaurant complex. The project is part of his GrowSouth initiative that aims to strengthen the neighborhoods and communities of South Dallas through infrastructure and investment.
“We don’t want to lose that specialness [of the Jefferson district], but we need new concepts,” Rawlings told the press Tuesday at a conference. “This is one of the most important projects in the city of Dallas.”
Built in 1928, the Jefferson Tower was Oak Cliff’s first high-rise and originally functioned as a medical and dental building. Jim Lake Jr., CEO of Jim Lake Companies commercial development firm, which is tackling the build out, said the renovations include adding 20 residential lofts on the second-floor wings as well as improving the ground-level spaces for new retail tenants.
Jim Lake Companies is working with architects from Good Fulton & Farrell to design inviting consumer-centric spaces with “dramatic entryways.” The complex is slated to include outdoor cafes, a music venue, and improved outdoor seating and lighting. While not all of the tenants have been contracted, one will be announced soon, a press representative said.
Construction on Jefferson Tower began in this month and is expected to finish in the first quarter of 2014, Lake said. Jim Lake Companies previously led the commercial development of the Bishop Arts District and the Dallas Design District.
Jefferson Tower is just one piece of a larger project to revitalize the area. Councilwoman Delia Jasso described future plans to turn Jefferson Boulevard into walkable plaza and street market modeled after Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain. She hopes to keep the traditional taquerías and quinceañera shops the neighborhood is known for, as well as add new businesses.
Mayor Rawlings said he anticipates Jefferson Boulevard will become the Main Street of Oak Cliff in about 10 years, once the area's streetcar rail is extended and construction is complete. He acknowledged the area is currently too crime-laden to achieve this goal. For that he is using a $50,000 donation from Lina T. Ramey & Associates engineering firm that will pay for extended police patrols around the district.
“There’s a lot to be done, but we’ve done a lot in the last year,” said Rawlings. “If we continue at this pace, Jefferson Boulevard can become the place we always wanted it to be.”
Check out a video of the plans to revamp Jefferson Boulevard below.
Jefferson Tower Model
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