A warm reception greeted developers Jim Lake and Amanda Cross at the Waxahachie Downtown Merchants Association meeting on Wednesday morning.

Lake and Cross have purchased buildings formerly owned by Ellis County and are set to purchase the Rogers Hotel in downtown Waxahachie.

Cross said the plans for the property located at 114 S. Rogers St., which housed Citizens National Bank and the Ellis County Tax and Engineering offices, are for a restaurant on the first floor and two offices 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 will get a face-lift. Lake and Cross plan to change the entrance by moving it to the corner, add awnings, redo the windows and create a new facade.

By dividing 117 W. Franklin into two separate retail spaces, along with the other properties along Franklin Street will provide five individual retail spaces on the first floor of each the buildings with space for 12 condominiums on the second floors.

Cross and Lake also plan to make the area both in the front and back of the buildings on Franklin Street more pedestrian friendly. Large sidewalks will be constructed along the back of these properties to connect to the front of the buildings. This will create spaces to sell merchandise outdoors and set up tables and chairs. Around $2.8 million will be invested to complete these renovations.

Cross said that they want to put a restaurant on each corner of the development, so they are looking at possibly bringing in three big restaurants. One of the types of restaurants they are considering are a brewhouse that features a microbrewery or a winery.

Cross said they already have some tenants that are wanting to come down to Waxahachie and they are actively seeking other tenants who want to make downtown a success.

Lake said renovating the county buildings is not about bringing in tenants and making a profit. It is about making a longterm impact in the community that will last.

Lake added that he and Cross want the community to be a part of the plan for downtown Waxahachie.

Other redevelopment projects that Lake and Cross have been a part of include the Dallas Design District and the Bishop Arts District in North Oak Cliff. The Bishop Arts features more than 60 independent boutiques, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, theaters and art galleries.

“You guys have made this really feel like home. The people that we have worked with have been incredible and we can’t do it without the support from organizations like you,” Lake said. “Most of you are familiar with the Bishop Arts District but that (development) didn’t happen overnight. That happened over 15 years.”

Construction is estimated to take around nine to 18 months to complete and architectural work has already started.

The buildings that Lake and Cross have purchased from the county include properties located at 109, 111, 115, and 117 W. Franklin St and 114 S. Rogers St. They were set to close on the Rogers Hotel several weeks ago but legal action was taken by the former owner, postponing the sale. Lake and Cross have since come to an agreement with the seller, Southwest Securities, and will take over leasing and management of the Rogers. Once the lawsuit has been settled, Lake and Cross would close on the sale of the hotel. Around $1.2 million will be invested into the hotel.

Lake said they have prospects for almost all the vacant spaces in the hotel and expects tenants to start moving into the building within the next 90 days.

Lake said one of the first steps in the construction process is to remove the asbestos from the county buildings. Following the meeting Lake said they would be finalizing the asbestos removal contract.

After the presentation, the floor was opened up for questions. One of the merchants attending the meeting asked Lake and Cross if their development projects in other cities have brought in employment for other sectors of the city or area, such as industrial.

Lake said that has not been the case, but the development has created many new job opportunities. In Bishop Arts it has employed around 350 people.  

Another question from the merchants was if they have any interest in acquiring the three vacant lots on College Street. The buildings on these lots were destroyed by a fire in 2011.

Lake said he is aware of the properties’ availability, but has not focused on these because of the work needed for the other properties they have already acquired.

but not have focused on it because there is a lot of work to be done on the properties they have already acquired. Lake said it might of interest to them at a later date, as they want to do as much as they can on the town square.

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.