Jack Matthews, Transforming Southern Downtown Dallas

Developer Jack Matthews in front of the Omni Dallas Convention Center hotel, when it was still under construction last fall.

News about Matthews Southwest’s plans for a 60-acre, $400 million mixed-use project in southern downtown Dallas gives me an opportunity to link to a story D CEO did on the company’s president, Jack Matthews, last fall. With SouthSide on Lamar, he pioneered development in the southern downtown Dallas area. It seemed an obvious play to Matthews, who had moved to Dallas from his native Canada. His peers in the industry didn’t share his enthusiasm:

“Normally if a developer does something stupid, people talk about him but they generally don’t talk to him,” Matthews says. “On this one, people were so sure I had done something stupid, they would tell me to my face—over and over again. I also learned what it was like to live and work in South Dallas, because the banking community was completely nervous about doing something there. I told a friend, ‘I have to succeed in South Dallas, because otherwise, people won’t believe in South Dallas.’”

SouthSide on Lamar remains one of Matthews’ favorite projects; not only did it generate “higher-than-average” returns, it also helped transform the area and sparked other developer interest in South Dallas. “If we’re not making money, I can’t keep getting investors to back us,” he says. “But I definitely don’t want to go through the world and have it only be about making money.”

Matthews has actively pursued other projects in southern downtown Dallas—including development of the Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel—since then. Now, he’s partnering with Toronto-based Tricon Capital Group Inc. to expand his vision for the area. The yet-to-be-named project will feature residential, commercial, and retail uses, and provide access to the planned Trinity Lakes, a component of the Trinity River Corridor Project.

Says Matthews: “This acquisition allows us to expand on our original vision for the redevelopment of the area that we started at South Side and extend it all the way to the waterfront.  We believe that our efforts here in partnership with Tricon will reposition the area to become one of the premier communities in downtown Dallas.”

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