[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2019! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at CandysDirt.com!]
When Eric Prokesh wrote this missive about the big changes afoot in the South Main development, he pulled from his walking tour with none other than Briggs Freeman’s own Lisa Logan. This wonderfully close-knit area offers tastes and sights unique to the south side of Fort Worth, and really speaks to the reinvestment the neighborhood has seen. Enjoy!
Walking South Main With Briggs Freeman’s Lisa Logan
The South Main development is one of those stories with so many threads that it nearly defies being woven into a coherent fabric. In fact, South Main is comprised of so many stories, any one of which is worthy of focus. Neighbor, Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s agent, and generally super-connected person Lisa Logan, whom we’ve met more than once on this page, suggested I take a look at South Main. To better grasp the explosion of growth, building activity, and shear, unleashed creativity, we decided to walk the area.
“Clay, my son, used to take boxing over there,” Logan said, pointing to one of the many brick warehouses “Five years ago there was NOTHING!”
Now of course, in hindsight, it’s impossible to look at all of the empty lots and vast stock of empty warehouse buildings located just south of town, in the already rejuvenating Near Southside, and not be hit over the head by the potential here. And among some familiar names, we were lucky enough to meet some of the energetic entrepreneurs who are a part of the dynamic spirit shaping this area.
Dynamic doesn’t begin to describe Tareka Loften, empresaria and owner of Loft 22 Cakes and Pastries. After a successful stint as a painter/sculptor — she still keeps her hand in — she attended the Cordon Bleu Dallas, took a risk, and opened her bakery. Over coffee and croissants, Lisa and I witnessed some of her unique creations take form.
“We only have 650 feet, two ovens, and one large cooler, but during the busy season in spring and early summer, we turn out six wedding cakes a weekend,” she proudly states.
Her bookkeeper tells me they had to endure nearly unnavigable streets in the early days. Three years later, rising rents are more of a concern. Still, a bridal shop opening across the street should funnel orders for beautiful, bespoke cakes Ms. Loften’s way.
“What do you get when you put together an engineer, a rock star, a cardiologist, and a designer ?” LTO owner Jana Clark asks me.
What you get is one of the anchors, one might say early beachheads, for the South Main development — 411 South Main Street. And here we run into some familiar faces, like Jamey Ice, co owner of Sixth Avenue Homes, and one of the co-owners of the 9,500-square-foot building that includes Alchemy Pops, LTO, The Greenhouse 817, and Winton and Waits. There is also The 411, a sprawling special event space — some of whose proceeds benefit Melissa Ice’s charity, The Net, an organization that provides support and training to the homeless and victims of human trafficking.
Building co-owner Jana Clark was brimming with so much information, energy, and charm, that Lisa and I found it difficult to leave her sun-drenched design studio. Jana’s experience as a buyer for Neiman Marcus shines in her eclectic and playful design studio and shop, which includes apparel and jewelry
“Did you guys get any support from the city for your renovation efforts?” I ask her.
“Tremendous support, like $20,000 of permit fees waived, tax abatements, and even a sign allowance,” she responds. “Still, with these older structures, getting code waivers, and dealing with ADA issues can slow construction down quite a bit.”
“All of this growth seems so spontaneous and organic,” I observe.
“There is such a concentration of talent and commitment to the success of this area. The amount of residential space guarantees South Main’s viability. A park, called ‘The Skinny’ will snake through the district,” she adds.
“And it’s a whole district, not just a street like Magnolia,” reminding me that many of the people active here got their feet wet in the redevelopment of the once shabby Magnolia Avenue.
Last stop and Lisa and I are three for three — meeting the owner of our third unique business. This time it’s Tina Howard, owner of Leaves Book and Tea Shop, which had been open only three days. The design is as refreshing as the product being served up. Walls are painted a delicious Farrows & Ball mint green. Vials of teas allow customers to take in the aromas of of all of the teas on the menu.
In addition to the existing lofts, there is construction in every direction you look including a massive new residential building to be called 300 Doors. So what is it really like to walk the area? South Main today, is a heady amalgam of building cranes, construction noise, empty buildings, empty areas, architect and other professional offices, loft living and unique shops. It’s a bit like a city energetically rebuilding after a war. Its diversity of use will guarantee its longevity and in future, will mark it as one of the most unique urban areas in the country.
Eric Prokesh is an interior designer whose work has appeared on HGTV, and in books and publications including D Home, Southern Accents, House Beautiful, and House and Garden. In January 2005, HG named Eric one of the 50 tastemakers in America and D Home has included him as one of Dallas’ Best Designers for 10 years. Having lived most of his life in Dallas, he now calls Fort Worth home and is one of our experts on beautiful Fort Worth Dirt. His own home on historic Elizabeth Blvd. has been featured in 360 West.