UPDATE: Venterra COO notes ilume deal still pending; promises support for LGBT community


ilume Park

Venterra Realty’s Chief Operating Office Richard Roos said Wednesday that Houston-based Venterra Realty is “well aware of the GBLT community” in Oak Lawn, adding that while Venterra’s purchase of the two ilume properties on Cedar Springs Road goes through, the company will strive to be “inclusive and supportive” of the community.

Venterra is in the process of purchasing ilume and ilume Park, both of which were built by Luke Crosland’s The Crosland Group, and both of which have worked hard to be good partners to the LGBT community in Oak Lawn. Residents of the two properties received notices this week that Venterra intends to purchase the properties by the end of October, and that plans are already in motion to complete some physical updates and improvements right away.

Residents at ilume can expect new carpeting and painting in the hallways, restriping and power washing in the parking lot, a new bike storage area and “exterior metalwork repairs and paint. At ilume Park, the company will make enhancements to the dog park area.

Improvements at both properties will include new fitness equipment, new and improved tanning beds, remodeling in the offices and clubhouses including color and decor changes, new landscaping and ground cover, new pool furniture and outdoor sitting area furnishings, and updated Mac computers in the business centers.

Improvements such as these, Roos said, are part of Venterra’s focus on “quality of living and great customer service.” Venterra, he added, has “a lot of exciting things lined up” for ilume and ilume Park. He said that initial changes will be focused on the physical facilities and management and staff transitions and converting operations to Venterra’s management system.

(Dallas Voice has heard from numerous sources that most if not all of the ilume and ilume Park staff have received termination notices, but we have not confirmed that.)

Roos said that while Venterra is aware of the LGBT community’s prominence in Oak Lawn, “We don’t really understand all the nuances of the community” and its previous relationship with the ilume properties and management. He said he is aware that the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce is housed in offices at ilume at a reduced rate for rent, but that his company has not yet explored that situation and how it might continue.

“Our first priority will be to take care of those first level things [like the facilities improvements and management changes]. There are a number of second- and third-level things that will come later, and understanding how we can best work with the GBLT community is part of those second- and third-level things,” Roos said.

ilume opened in the summer of 2009, and ilume Park opened in 2013.

—  Tammye Nash

Venterra Realty purchasing ilume, ilume Park


A company called Venterra Realty is purchasing both the ilume and ilume Park retail/residential properties in Oak Lawn, and will be taking over the properties by the end of October, according to a notice sent out to residents and shared today with Dallas Voice.

According to the Venterra Realty jobs website, “Venterra Realty manages apartment communities in Texas, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee, encompassing more than 14,000 units.” The notice sent to residents indicates that Venterra owns “six other communities in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.”

The notice also tells residents that “shortly after acquisition” Venterra will be making a number of improvements to the properties. Residents at ilume can expect new carpeting and painting in the hallways, restriping and power washing in the parking lot, a new bike storage area and “exterior metalwork repairs and paint. At ilume Park, the company will make enhancements to the dog park area.

Improvements at both properties will include new fitness equipment, new and improved tanning beds, remodeling in the offices and clubhouses including color and decor changes, new landscaping and ground cover, new pool furniture and outdoor sitting area furnishings, and updated Mac computers in the business centers.

Dallas Voice has reached out to Venterra Realty for comment and will update this post as soon as we talk to them.

—  Tammye Nash

Cedar Grove brings back Drag Brunch this Sunday!

IMG_0021When Dish in the ilume announced it was closing in February, everyone in the gayborhood wondered: What will happen to Drag Brunch? Owner Tim McEneny told me in June, when the new concept, Cedar Grove, opened, that Drag Brunch would return … but didn’t have a firm date.

Well, now we do! It’s this Sunday, Sept. 25, with three-courses-and-a-show for $35. And you can also get lunch now every Friday from 11 a.m.–2 p.m.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Youth First art on display at ilume Gallerie

ilumeThe annual Youth First Art Show kicks off on Aug. 9 at the ilume GALLERIE, 4123 Cedar Springs Road, Suite 107, and runs through Aug. 12. Original art pieces included in the show center on the concept of love.

Meet the artists at a reception Wednesday, Aug. 10. Many of the youth in the art program use art as a form of therapy to cope with issues such as bullying, mental health struggles or a lack of family acceptance. Additionally, the art program has brought families together in support of their LGBT youth as they express their identity in a creative medium.

The Youth First Art Show was made possible through funding provided by the city of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs. Pieces on display are available for purchase. All proceeds from the art show will benefit Resource Center’s Youth First program.

—  David Taffet

FIRST LOOK: ilume’s new Cedar Grove restaurant

IMG_3137Dish has been gone since the winter, and now,  just as summer is about to officially begin, the space at the ilume is about to reopen. Cedar Grove is the reimagined version by Dish owner Tim McEneny. Design-wise, McEneny has gone for an urban forest of custom-made abstract tree branches. They frame the largely communal seating of the space, but also divide it to make an intimate dinner for two work as well as big gathering of friends. “It’s very European,” McEneny told me during a personal tour. The seating has also increased by about 50, allowing 212 diners and an additional 20 at the bar.

It’s not just the atmospherics that got an overhaul. The menu was created by executive chef Taylor Kearney to appeal broadly to the community.

“Frankly, Dish was too powerful for the neighborhood,” McEneny explains. “It was good for special occasions or once a week, but we want people to stop by on their way out for the night, grab a drink and quick bite and still have money for the rest of the evening.” For instance, every day will offer a 2/4/6 drink menu — some draft beers on tap for $2, a selection of well drinks for $4 and some premiums for $6.

Only a few food items are over $20, McEneny said. “There are 22 items called ‘snacks,’ which is a sharing section. Then there’s the ‘bread and bun’ — that’s burgers and sandwiches, but also pizzas. Then what we call large dishes. And it’s mostly food we grew up with.”

The popular drag brunch will be back eventually… probably. “I’d say yes, but not right away,” McEneny said. “We’re still working out things, and it will be very hot in July and August, but I expected we will bring it back right after Pride” in September, he said.

Nevertheless, fans will still recognize a lot of things. The bar hasn’t actually moved, although they extended the front door all the way to the property line so it feels more centered. And the bathrooms are — as they have always been — unisex: One door, different stalls.

“We’ve done this for six years,” McEnery said. “My daughter goes to the University of North Carolina. I’ve said, ‘Let me show the governor there how it’s done.'”

Service will begin at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and be open seven says a week (dinner starts at 4 p.m.). Cedar Grove will also be open for brunch Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Check of some first look photos below, and look for more here next week.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DISH in ilume closing


DISH interior

DISH, located in ilume on Cedar Springs Road, is closing Monday, Feb. 29. The restaurant will relocate, but the new location has yet to be determined.

Cedar Groves, a casual restaurant with an American menu and creative and vibrant design is set to open in its place in May 2016, according to a press release received by Dallas Voice. Executive Chef Pete Harrison will run the kitchen. Harrison has been at DISH Cedar Springs for 6 months. Prior to that he was at Hotel Zaza, Capital Grille and Dakota’s.

DISH Preston Hollow continues to0 do well and will remain open.

—  David Taffet

Chamber, ilume developer pledge reward funds for info on Oak Lawn attacks

crosland veddaOfficials with the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce announced today (Friday, Nov. 20) that the chamber has pledged $2,500 to be added to the reward offered by Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects responsible for recent robberies and assaults in the Oak Lawn gayborhood. Luke Crosland, owner of The Crosland Group that developed the two ilume complexes on Cedar Springs Road, has promised to match that with another $2,500.

Chamber President and CEO Tony Vedda said he is optimistic that the additional reward money will motivate anyone with information on the 12 crimes that have occurred here in the last three months to come forward.

“It is our shared hope that we can come together as a community with our voices and our resources to catch whomever is perpetrating these crimes,” Vedda said in a statement released this afternoon. “Our businesses, patrons and residents have a vested interest in preventing further incidents.”

Crosland said he, too, is committed to finding justice for the victims, and that he wants the community to remain vigilant.

“We have continued to invest in private armed security for our properties, as safety is a top priority for our members, tenants and customers,” Crosland said. “This neighborhood is a wonderful place to live, shop and celebrate, and we are dedicated to finding the culprits.”

The money from the chamber and Crosland will be added to $10,000 in reward money already pledged to Crime Stoppers with help from Resource Center and Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano.

—  Tammye Nash

Tacos y Mas readying to open at the ilume

tacosymasWe’ve known that Tacos y Mas was taking over the space at ilume vacated by the ill-fated Xamach for a while, but it looks like the doors are about to open (they tell us a mid-September launch date it planned — just in time for Dallas Pride). Not only is the signage up, but so is the menu of $2 Mexican street tacos and $3 specialty tacos, plus combo plates, burritos and more. And everything is under $10. It looks like a good fit for the gayborhood, especially if the hours are late enough for the impulse buy for clubgoers.

Tacos y Mas is a Dallas institution, having started nearly 20 years ago in a tent, and for a long time being simply a small taco stand at the corner of Lower Greenville and Ross avenues. But in recent years, the company has expanded — up the street on Greenville to the old Quesa-D-Ya’s space, as well as North Dallas and Plano. Bring on the tacos! And check out of Food Issue this Friday, in print newsstands and online!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Crosland Group make huge donation of gay-themed books to Oak Lawn Library

booksDallas developer Luke Crosland, whose company The Crosland Group is responsible for ilume and ilume Park, has marked a gift of more than 6,000 volumes of LGBT books to the Dallas Public Library. The collection will be stored at the Oak Lawn branch in the heart of the gayborhood.

The donation was originally housed at the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Florida.

There will be a presentation of the books during Pride Weekend. Due to space limitations, not all volumes will be on display, but will be available to be checked out.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Xamach is open at the ilume

photo 2

Chile relleno

It’s been about a week, but the soft opening of Xamach (“huh-mosh”) — a Mexican bistro and bar in the ilume — is fully underway. Named for a Mayan term, Xamach is the newest edition to the Cedar Springs dining scene (which we wrote about here), and serves mostly Central Mexican- and Yucatan-style cuisine, such as chile rellenos, pictured, and cochinita pibil. It’s open for lunch and dinner.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones