November 24, 2017
Developer Jim Lake Jr., my nomination for Texan of the Year
If you travel the Woodall Rodgers Freeway in either direction, chances are you will pass a Jim Lake Co. project. Lake recently purchased the century-old Ambassador Hotel, which is near the historic Dallas Heritage Village in Old City Park. The Ambassador is the city’s oldest hotel. Although renovations for the building are still in the planning stages, Lake would like to take advantage of the Dallas skyline and is considering adding some mini-lofts.
Lake is a Dallas native who graduated from Baylor University in 1981 with a bachelor of business administration degree in real estate. In 1985, he joined his father, Jim Sr., in the real estate development business. Like his father, Jim possesses a generous heart and a remarkable work ethic, and his greatest joy is giving back to the community. I would like to nominate him as The Dallas Morning News 2017 Texan of the Year.
Lake is a trailblazer in the Dallas Design District because of his ability to transform obsolete warehouses into desirable spaces. As a result of lower rents and its proximity to downtown, the district draws the interest of creative types who have opened art galleries and furniture showrooms. Lake worked to change the zoning of the district to include residential property. In fact, his office is in the Design District near the Trinity Strand Trail, the Anatole Hotel, the Upper Room Church of Dallas and the Turtle Creek extension of the Trinity River.
Along with his business partner Mike Morgan, Lake fulfilled a vision to create a Memorial Park near their office on Manufacturing Lane to honor and celebrate the lives of the five police officers who bravely gave their lives in July 2016.
The Dallas Circle of Heroes was dedicated in July. These officers were protecting the public from a gunman who fired on them from windows located in the El Centro College complex in downtown Dallas. Each officer has a plaque with his name and a biographical summary. A sixth dedication stone describes the event. The park was made possible by working closely with Assistant Dallas Police Chief Christina Smith and Chief Ed Addison of the DART Police Department.
Downtown Oak Cliff, the Bishop Arts District, Kessler Park and other areas of North Oak Cliff are getting a completely new look thanks to the Jim Lake Co. and the City of Dallas. Less than a year ago, crime was a big problem in the Jefferson Boulevard area of North Oak Cliff. Development through the Jefferson Boulevard Restoration Project and the Jim Lake Companies has helped to virtually eliminate crime in that area.
Lake’s company has established new businesses there, and many of the new ventures reflect eastern U.S. and foreign cultures. In addition, Lake has taken on the herculean task of redefining the 12-story Jefferson Tower. The new businesses surrounding Jefferson Tower reflect many foreign cultures and ethnic groups.
For all of these reasons, Jim Lake Jr. is worthy of serious consideration for Texan of the Year.
Cordell Clark is retired and lives in downtown Dallas. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org