The Design District is an industrial-chic enclave known for its fine-art dealerships, sleek furniture showrooms and colorful stores selling high-end textiles. Cutting-edge art galleries display works by leading contemporary artists. A diverse food and drink scene ranges from diners serving Southern comfort fare to happening gastropubs and buzzy, chef-driven restaurants.
During the 1970’s, Jim Lake, Sr. partnered with Mike Morgan on purchasing and reconstructing a 131,000 SF building into what is now known as Trinity Market Center and began growing their company, including hiring Jim Lake Jr. upon his graduation from Baylor University in 1985. He joined the brokerage division of the company, and soon after began purchasing property, acquiring 800,000 SF over a ten year span.
Due to the lower rates and proximity to downtown Dallas, the Design District quickly drew the interest of creatives who opened art galleries and showrooms. Jim Lake’s experience redeveloping industrial warehouses into ideal designer showrooms inspired him to create the premiere design center, International on Turtle Creek. Originally a parts manufacturing operation for Harvester International, the large warehouse at the corner of Turtle Creek and Irving Blvd sat vacant for ten years before Jim purchased the building for his latest redevelopment project. He divided the warehouse in half, creating a center lane to allow for better sized showrooms, more natural lighting, and head in parking. The design center quickly filled with notable names in the design industry, attracting attention to buyers, which led to the sale of International on Turtle Creek in early 2016.
Behind the scenes Jim Lake Jr. and Mike Morgan worked tirelessly to change the zoning of the Design District, allowing for more flexible parking requirements, patio and landscape adjustments, and the ability to have permanent residents live in the district. Upon the successful implementation of Planned Development 621 (PD 621) in the early 2000’s, Jim and Mike began work on their pioneering project, Trinity Loft. The first residential building in the district, Trinity Loft features ground floor retail, live/work spaces complete with garages and work studios, in addition to standard apartment units. The project set in motion an extensive move into the area from residential builders eager to model the success of Trinity Loft, and the district now is home to thousands of residents. The Dallas Design District is now a Dallas hotspot for restaurants, studios and art galleries, and residential complexes. Jim Lake is considered a trailblazer in the district because of his ability to see rundown and obsolete warehouses and redevelop them into highly desirable spaces.