Developer Jim Lake announced at Wednesday’s Waxahachie Economic Development Council meeting that he and Amanda Cross have reached an agreement with Southwest Securities to take over the leasing operations and management of the Rogers Hotel.

On July 29, Lake and Cross closed on the purchase of five downtown buildings formerly owned by Ellis County.

“As you know we have closed on the county buildings. We were ready to close on the Rogers Hotel several weeks ago but there was legal action taken by the former owner that postponed the sale,” Lake said. “We have developed a great relationship with the seller, Southwest Securities. Yesterday we basically came to an agreement with the seller that we are taking over the leasing and management of the Rogers Hotel. So we will be able to market that space together with the county buildings. As you know those spaces are ready to go — they just need a good operator.”

Lake said they have already moved their offices into the hotel. Once the lawsuit has been settled, Lake and Cross will continue their efforts to purchase the hotel.

The buildings that they have purchased are located at 109, 111,115, and 117 W. Franklin St and 114 S. Rogers St.

Cross and Lake have had success in the past with the development of the Bishop Arts District in North Oak Cliff. According to its website, the Bishop Arts District is home to more than 60 independent boutiques, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, theatres and art galleries.

“When I visited downtown Waxahachie I was amazed by the beauty – I was blown away. The city has done a terrific job bringing in developers like Jim and I. People are under the impression that Waxahachie is so far away. The reality is that is only 25 minuets away from Dallas. Waxahachie, I believe, is like a sleeping beauty. It is so beautiful and it is just waiting to be developed,” Cross said. “I don’t want to say that it is going to be like Bishop Arts. I believe that it is going to be better than Bishop Arts. The whole city staff, the city council and the mayor have made this possible. This is not Jim and Amanda’s vision; this is the whole community’s vision. We are so excited to work with everyone in the community.”

Cross said the city has done a lot of work to make a redevelopment like this possible by getting the zoning, parking and sidewalks in place. Lake said that architectural work on the former county buildings is underway and they are preparing to do some demolition work on the inside of the buildings.

The plans for the former Citizens National Bank Building and Ellis County Tax and Engineering offices, located at 114 S. Rogers St., is that it will have a restaurant and office space. The restaurant will be on the first floor and two offices will be on the second floor.

The building located at 117 W. Franklin St., that housed at one time Guaranty Bank, Waxahachie Bank and Trust and finally the Ellis County Clerk’s Office, will get a face-lift. Lake and Cross plan to change the entrance to the building and place it on the corner, add awnings, redo the windows and create a new facade. The changes will provide four individual retail spaces on first floors for the buildings along Franklin.

Cross said the first floor of the other three Franklin Street edifices will remain retail, but the second floor all four buildings will be turned into space for 12 condominiums. Cross and Lake also plan to make the area both in the front and back of the buildings on Franklin Street more pedestrian friendly.

“I think that Waxahachie has so much potential when you realize that it is only 25 minutes from downtown Dallas. The one thing that was so important when we came here is that we did not just want to do one building,” Lake said. “We want to do as much as we could to have an impact. We are not in here for three to five years. We are here for the long term.”

At the July 26 Waxahachie City Council meeting the council approved two chapter 380 agreements to help with the restoration of the former county buildings and to get the Rogers Hotel up and running.

The first chapter 380 agreement was for a $450,000 forgivable loan that will be forgiven in steps for the former county buildings. Once renovations are completed and a certificate of occupancy is issued the city will forgive 50 percent of the loan. After the buildings are 50 percent occupied another 25 percent will forgiven. The final 25 percent will be forgiven after the buildings are 90 percent occupied. The city also will abate taxes on the property for seven years. Lake and Cross estimate they will invest around $2.8 million in the buildings renovations.

In the second chapter 380 agreement, the city agreed to abate up to $50,000 of property taxes for five years for the Rogers Hotel property.

“We just feel so blessed. You don’t know what it feels like to have this opportunity from our side. It just really means a lot and this feels like home to us,” Lake said. “I want you to think about how some of these county building look right now. You guys have the before picture — I am looking forward to the after picture.”

Follow Andrew on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AndrewBrancaWDL or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AndrewBrancaWNI. Contact him at andrew.branca@waxahachietx.com or 469-517-1451.