Lou Reese, a major Deep Ellum property owner, died over the weekend while fly-fishing in Montana -- a passion of his, according to his biography on the Madison Partners Web site. Theresa Martin, Reese's assistant, says he suffered a heart attack Saturday and died Sunday; Reese would have turned 59 on July 21. At the moment, Martin says, a memorial service for Reese is being discussed, but details will not be finalized till Reese's family returns from Montana today. "I do plan to speak with family and find out what they'd like to do," she says, "and what actually happened." (Update: A family representative notes that Reese died of a ruptured aorta on Sunday morning. And the family expects a memorial service to be announced before the week's end.)
Reese, profiled in the paper version of Unfair Park in 2000 following a stint in federal prison for defrauding bank regulators and cheating the Internal Revenue Service, was among the first to begin stockpiling property in Deep Ellum. By his own estimation, Reese and wife Susan own some 900,000 square feet of property in Deep Ellum -- including the buildings that house Monica's Aca y Alla, Sol's Taco Lounge and Daddy Jack's -- and almost 150,000 square feet on Lower Greenville.
The properties, worth several million, are listed on the Dallas Central Appraisal District's Web site under several names, including SDL Partners and Madison Pacific Development. As Tom Korosec wrote in the Observer in June 2000:
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Reese was an understudy to developer Harold Shuler in the early 1970s and is credited with revitalizing much of the Greenville Avenue commercial strip and pioneering investment in the Deep Ellum warehouse district just east of downtown.
In 1983, when the two parted ways, Reese came away from their partnership with properties worth $15 million. He continued to invest on Greenville Avenue and moved aggressively into renovating small commercial buildings in Deep Ellum, assembling several complete city blocks. Today, those properties are held in several family businesses, housing such well-known restaurants as Angry Dog, St. Pete's Dancing Marlin, Baker's Ribs, and Monica's Aca y Alla. And he -- or rather, his family -- is still one of the largest landlords on Lower Greenville Avenue.
News of Reese's death comes just days after it was revealed that Beck Ventures was looking to acquire some 10 acres of land in Deep Ellum -- and though no specifics have been made public, as the deal's not done, it's likely that the Beck deal will include at least some of the Reeses' properties. On Monday night, Barry Annino, who's the head of the Deep Ellum Foundation and several of the Deep Ellum property owners' go-to guy, said he expected nothing to change.
"Lou's the idea guy, so I think nothing will change, other than the leader of the pack," Annino said. "Only, Lou had a lot of energy." --Robert Wilonsky