The historic corner of West Belt Line Road and Broad Street in downtown Cedar Hill may one day become more than a gathering spot for residents and visitors. It could turn into the place local entrepreneurs get their start.
“We want to make an impact in every community we go into,” said Amanda Moreno, partner, president of redevelopment at Jim Lake Companies.
The downtown construction project aims to turn forty-thousand square feet of real estate into a mixed-use development that will include offices, restaurants, residential, and retail space. Longtime residents may remember the area as the old Philips lumber yard and hardware store.
The Lake-Moreno team was selected for the project in 2018. At that time the cost was estimated to be $10 million dollars. Before starting, Cedar Hill Civil Engineer Steve Schell and Senior Construction Inspector needed to finish a Complete Streets project to upgrade streets and sidewalks—improvements that will allow today’s mix of pedestrians, bicyclists, motor vehicles, and future transit to coexist.
Then Covid happened. In addition to the general uncertainty of living through a pandemic, supply chain problems meant it was hard to reliably get construction materials. Add to that the steady rise of the inflation rate—which was just increased again by .25% on February 1, 2023—and the project didn’t get started until Fall 2022. The cost had increased to an estimated $14 million.
But Lake-Moreno—a team in business and at home—has seen the benefits of redevelopment. In fact, the couple has a track record of maintaining the integrity of an area’s history, while upgrading infrastructure and technology. One example is the Bishop Arts’ revitalization, which converted a rundown area that people stayed away from to one with walkable streets and sidewalks, plenty of restaurants and bars, a growing retail environment, and murals that give the area some of its charm.
Another success is the Rogers Hotel in downtown Waxahachie, which was converted into retail, restaurant, and office space. Amanda Moreno points to that project as an example of giving an area new life and new sales tax dollars. More tax revenue is expected to be a benefit for Cedar Hill too.
“We say we’re not developers, we’re redevelopers. I was an entrepreneur so I know how hard it can be to get started. That’s why we want this Cedar Hill project to create opportunities for local founders.”
Storefronts for founders, tiny home development
In the Cedar Hill redevelopment, which doesn’t yet have a name, the retail spaces will be next to each other, separated by metal dividers. Six-month leases will be available for founders looking to create their first storefront. Additionally, 14 tiny homes will provide living space on the top, and workspace on the bottom. Moreno says there’s so much interest in the concept that she’s had multiple offers to buy them, but they will be rentals.
The name of the Cedar Hill project is pending. Moreno is confident it will be 100 percent leased before completion — 14 months after the start date, which, barring more delays, is estimated to be around December 2023.
The story was updated on February 14, 2023, to include additional information about Cedar Hill’s Complete Street project. The Project Engineer for the Complete Streets project was Steve Schell. Mike Chapman, Cedar Hill’s Senior Construction Inspector also worked on the project.
Voices contributor Nicole Ward is a data journalist at the Dallas Regional Chamber.
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