The Greater Dallas Planning Committee recently honored the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce with its most prestigious award for Urban Design, Projects Completed, for the chamber’s work benefiting the Lakewood Shopping Center at Gaston and Abrams.

“In areas of urban design, this is like receiving the Oscar,” says Eloise Sherman, president of the chamber. Sherman accepted the award at a luncheon last month at the Crescent Court Hotel.

“It all began in 1974 when the City of Dallas came to us looking to ease the traffic problems at the Lakewood Shopping Center,” Sherman says.

“Abrams, at that time, ran right through the property, and their proposal was to broaden Abrams to a six-lane thoroughfare,which would have ruined the center’s complexion.”

So the chamber formed a planning committee, with Bob Burns as chairman, Artie Barnett as vice chairman and Sherman as secretary-treasurer.

The committee, along with the property owners and community residents, devised the master plan that is now the Abrams Road bypass. The project was completed a decade later, in 1984. The following year, Harrell Park and Abrams Parkway were completed.

“Lakewood Shopping Center is different from most in that there are 30 property owners, where most centers have one owner,” Sherman says.

“The fact that all these owners pulled together to devise and approve the plan, then raise the necessary monies, says so much for the community of Lakewood.”

In addition to planning support, the project received financial backing from shopping center property owners such as Corrigan Properties, the Golman family and Robert Grunnah Real Estate.

Neighborhood banks contributing were First Interstate, which donated $100,000, First National Bank of Lakewood, Grand Avenue Bank and Comerica Bank.

“Hundreds and hundreds of people, over the last 20 years, have raised funds in various ways to aid this project,” Sherman says.

The tab for reconstruction reached $750,000, which, Sherman reminds, “was a lot of money then.”

“It proves that Lakewood is a very special community,” she says.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.