World of difference

"Gay-friendly" businesses carve a comfortable niche in North Oak Cliff

Gay migration usually bodes well for a neighborhood, says Randy Gross, senior associate for Hammer Siler George Associates, an economic development and consulting firm in Maryland. Gross recently conducted a study on the economic impact gay and lesbian people have had on the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. He estimated that the gay and lesbian community had increased housing values by $100 million and had spent $2 million in nearby shops and restaurants. That spending, in turn, created 22 new retail service jobs. The new battle cry for gays and lesbians could be "We're here and we've got money," he says.

"The point is that the income is there and [the new businesses] are directly related to the demand for retail and services," Gross says. "Some can be specifically oriented for the gay community. Some of it can be just hardware and stuff. Homeowners have more money to spend on those sorts of things."

Six new businesses that are either wholly or partially gay-owned or gay-friendly do not make Oak Cliff a suburb of Oak Lawn, however. Business owners are quick to say that the last thing they want is for Oak Cliff to become Oak Lawn South.

"I think everyone shares the hope that this doesn't need to be Cedar Springs," Farmer says. "We want everyone to come down here, and no one to feel uncomfortable. The neighborhood is everything.

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