young developer works to turn neighborhood eyesore into apartment showplace
advocate lakewood / east dallas
By Advocate Staff (http://lakewood.advocatemag.com/author/advocate-staff/)
Braden Power is giving credence to the idea that any property – despite its appearance,
location or reputation – can be transformed into a decent place to live.
During the past five years Power, 27, has renovated eight East Dallas apartment complexes
once considered neighborhood “eye sores”, and work has begun on his biggest project yet –
the renovation of the Lakewood Apartments on Gaston Avenue.
“This is like a lot of property in East Dallas – if it’s foundation and infrastructure is strong, then
you can make it look incredible with a little thought,” Power says.
Power paid $100,000 for the 30 year old Lakewood apartment complex in August, despite its
Inspectors with City Code Enforcement say the apartments were riddled with problems,
including rotted walkways broken windows, a swimming pool filled with stagnant water, a
leaking sewage system and roach infested living quarters. Less than a dozen people lived in
the 45 apartments.
Power was determined to buy the property even when the City ordered the complex torn
down. He closed the deal when a state district judge threw out the demolition order because
the City had failed to file the appropriate documents in the case. The Housing Crisis Center
advocacy group negotiated a deal with the former owner to pay $6,000 to relocate the
Power and his brother, Craig, say they plan to spend $1 million to renovate the apartments
into one bedroom 1,000 square foot apartments. The units will have French doors, hardwood
floors, 16 foot ceilings and private balconies. He hopes to open the apartments in October,
which he says will lease for about $700 a month.
Power says the location is ideal – between two beautiful homes and minutes from Downtown
and several historic districts.
Power grew up in a North Dallas suburb and graduated from SMU with a degree in Finance
and Real Estate. A friend from college told Power about some East Dallas property, and he
says he was immediately impressed with the area’s diversity and historical significance.
He bought his first piece of property soon after – a house on Reiger and Carroll. Power gutted
and renovated the old house and lives in it today.
“I’ve never wanted to go back to the suburbs since,” Power says.
“What’s exciting to me about this area is that there are so many different types of people – this
adds to the spice of a neighborhood.”
Mary Jane Beamon of the Old East Dallas Coalition, an organization dedicated to keeping our
neighborhood a healthy and viable community, says she welcomes developers like Power.
“We have to convince people that East Dallas is not all gunshots and trash,” Beamon says. “I
think the things Braden has gone are great.”
But Beamon’s approval is punctuated with a cautious warning: “I just hope he has the financial
backing that he says he has and can carry on with this project.”
The skepticism doesn’t surprise Power. He says he met for months with neighborhood
associations in an effort to convince residents the Lakewood Apartments should not be torn
down and that the complex would eventually be an asset to East Dallas.
“I went through five months of hell to get this thing going,” Power says. “If worse comes to
worse, and I were to die after spending $1 million, well, at least you would have a better
looking piece of property.”
“And anyway, there shouldn’t be any concern because I have the loan. I’ve done this for five
years; maybe they’ll believe me when I finish the Gaston project,” Power says.
Karl Goss, who specializes in community investment lending for Texas Commerce Bank, says
the bank loaned the money for the Gaston project because of the brothers’ track record in
“Just like a bank, an individual should take a look at a developer’s past work,” Goss says.
“It’s a better explanation of how someone will behave in the future.”
Goss says interest in East Dallas property has been on an upswing in the past several years.
He says he is always looking to lend for other projects in the area.
Power says he hopes his efforts will inspire other developers to invest in East Dallas.
“If you look at an aerial map of East Dallas, you can see this patch that connects everything,”
Power says. “Also, there’s the historic significance of it all. It’s all so aesthetically pleasing.”
“If the infrastructure and foundation are strong, then you can just about do anything with these
buildings – it’s not as hard as it looks.”