Today is not only a new day in a new year, it’s also the first day of CitySquare’s change of leadership. Longtime leader/CEO Larry James has a new role as CEO Emeritus. Taking over the position of CitySquare’s CEO is COO/President John Siburt, who joined CitySquare in 2012.
According to John, “I know that I have some mighty big shoes to fill, but Larry has been an incredible mentor and has always been generous in sharing relationships. Plus, we are fortunate that he will be staying onboard as a leader and advisor in the position of CEO Emeritus. Larry is a wonderful role model for how to pass on your mission and vision so that it lives beyond you. We’re friends, partners and collaborators.”
For Larry, the past 26 years have been an ever-evolving mission to help the Dallas homeless find more than a sanctuary.
When he came on board, CitySquare was a “store-front food pantry in East Dallas known as Central Dallas Ministries.” But his vision was to “fight the causes and effects of poverty knowing that a home, food, health and hope were necessary ingredients for success and that, in order to help move folks out of poverty, all four had to be addressed.”
This plan wouldn’t take place overnight. In 2010 CitySquare opened CityWalk at Akard, which transformed a “previously defunct high-rise” into a mixed-income, mixed-use vertical neighborhood that includes one of 7-Eleven’s original stores. Despite its having six luxury condominiums among its 206 residences, CityWalk also has some units reserved as housing for formerly homeless people.
Recognizing the great needs of South Dallas, Larry orchestrated a plan for the 53,000-square-foot CitySquare Opportunity Center at the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard and Interstate 30, “where people could reach many goods and services ‘under one roof’.’” It opened in November 2015.
A year later, he expanded the project for the creation of The Cottages at Hickory Creek across the street from the Center. There, tiny homes were established where “people who have been on the streets for years and who may have been repeatedly hospitalized for addiction and mental health problems” could receive services to help them stay off the street.
As a result of the The Cottages’ success, an expansion is being planned that will use use shipping containers as homes.
In 2017, Larry oversaw the acquisition of the Forest Theater and adjacent properties “with plans to return it to its former glory, and to provide an education experience in the arts as well as a cultural hub for neighbors in the South Dallas/Fair Park area.”
While Larry “intends to remain active in bringing the project to fruition,” he acknowledges the fact that CitySquare’s mission is in good hands with John assuming the CEO position.
According to Larry, “Under John Siburt’s direction, CitySquare pivoted to accommodate the growing numbers of neighbors in need in the safest ways for our neighbors, employees and volunteers. We have continued our food programs, even including our summer mobile feeding program delivering meals to kids in low income housing without access to schools and other summer programs. Our housing programs are placing people in homes in record numbers.”
* Photo provided by CitySquare