Frank Geis drove past it nearly every day for 14 years. Then it came to him one day. The much-maligned shopping center on Skillman between Oram and Lewis, once a thriving strip of shops and eateries such as Ashburn’s Ice Cream, was dying.

And where others saw imminent failure, Geis saw opportunity.

“I got tired of driving to Old Town and Snider Plaza to go shopping,” says Geis, a neighborhood-based commercial real estate developer.

With that in mind, Geis seized the chance to refurbish the slowly dilapidating area. After discussing his plans with the property’s owners, members of the Dines family, Geis began laying the groundwork.

“This area deserved better,” Geis says. “In one year, the center has gone from 20 percent leased to 95 percent leased.”

“The area is a good area, but people are going to have to support the retailers here if they expect them to stay.”

Among the center’s newest additions are the Brick Room, an upscale restaurant featuring steaks, prime rib, chicken and live weekend jazz; Fresco’s, a neighborhood-oriented produce market; and the Blue Conch (formerly Carpaccio’s), a casual seafood restaurant along the same lines atmosphere-wise as the Blue Goose and Aw Shucks.

“You’re dealing with a personal-touch feeling you don’t get anywhere else,” Geis says.

“These are individual owners, not chains.”

Geis says he would like to fill the last open space with an antique/eclectic furniture store, much like the type that seem to be popping up throughout the City.

“You no longer need to go outside the neighborhood,” Geis says.

“It’s not quite one-stop shopping yet, but it’s getting there.”


Service League Elects New Officers: The Lakewood Service League recently installed its 1997-98 officers. They are: Genevieve Dittmar, President; Kitty Ring, President-elect; Sandra Parton, Vice President; Gayle McKool, Recording Secretary; Darlene Calvin, Corresponding Secretary; Lisa Underwood, Treasurer; Margaret LaRocca, Parliamentarian; Tracy Baxter and Kimber Hartman, Solicitations; Sally Kuebler and Melissa McSpedden, Ways and Means; Shari Marrs Felton, Asst. Treasurer; Di McPherson and Kelly Secker, Placement; Barbara Rader, Park; Holly Davis, Newsletter; Mary Huntress and Brenda Butler, Party Book; Janie Kiernan-Montague, Publicity; Beth Sawyer, Lee Jones and Diana Lachica, Provisional Membership; Sara Starks and Sher Miller, Social; Vickie Thompson, Programs; Monica Terrill, Historian; and Nora Milner, Computer.

Service League Disburses Funds: The Lakewood Service League recently announced its annual disbursement of funds to local agencies. The League disbursed a total of $46,319 to 15 agencies. Among the agencies receiving funds: Greater Lakewood Shepherd Center, $2,500 for administrative support; VNA/Meals on Wheels, $3,000 for weekly meal program; D.O.T./Disciples of Trinity, $2,146 for adult/adolescent personal hygiene program; St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church/East Dallas Cooperative Parish, $2,500 for English language ministry; The Wilkinson Center, $5,000 for mother/child nutrition and health program; Woodrow Wilson High School Science Department, $2,600 for two computers for lab experiments, material reinforcement and extension activities; Jonathon’s Place, $2,000 for playground equipment; Our Friend’s Place, $3,000 for support of one resident between the age of 18-24 from Oct. 1997 to Nov. 1998; Firehouse Ministries, $3,000 for a van for after-school transportation to tutorial program; Juliette Fowler Homes, $2,000 for remedial instruction in core subjects to help residents get back on grade level, graduate from high school and become self-sufficient; Oak Lawn Community Services, $2,500 for client advocacy program; East Dallas YMCA, $3,000 for WAMI (Woodrow Academic Mentoring Initiative), which assists teens in making positive decisions that help establish patterns of academic, social, physical and spiritual needs; YMCA/Club Young at Heart, $2,400 for Wednesday Meal Program, Sept. 1997 through Aug. 1998; The Winning Network, $2,000 for E-Tech Computer Project, a computer lab in youth center where former gang members learn and eventually teach younger youths computer skills; Lakewood Service League, $8,663 for scholarship fund, endowment fund, park, fund-raising administration budget and Our Friend’s Summer Program.

Lake Spruce-Up: The Spruce-Up will take place July 12 beginning at 8 a.m. at the Bath House Cultural Center parking lot. Wear old clothes, gloves and old shoes. For information, call 972-622-SAVE.

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