Lake Life Without the Responsibility?

Highland Park couple acquire Lake Cypress Springs Marina

One Highland Park couple’s latest venture might just be the ticket for Dallasites who want the access and relaxation of lake life, but don’t want the responsibility – or the mortgage.

Chances are, you’ve seen Jason Craven’s work as the owner and founder of the landscaping company Southern Botanical if you’ve ever been to the George W. Bush Presidential Center, Klyde Warren Park, or Southern Methodist University, for instance.

But more recently Jason and his wife, Jennifer, have embarked on a new venture – they’ve purchased the Lake Cypress Springs Marina in Mt. Vernon, and are re-imagining it to be a communal, year-round space with a new name – Cypress Cove.

“We want to create a place where families can come and enjoy the lake experience without the hassle, all the hard work is done, you just have to come and enjoy,” the two said.

The Cravens have already started Phase One of their plans, and have their sights set on beginning construction in early 2021. In addition to a full-service marina, the destination will offer a lodge with 12 rental cabins, The Kitchen – a lake-front restaurant, and The Market for grab-and-go meals.

“Over the past 11 years we’ve seen the Marina have two different owners and we found ourselves and our friends constantly saying, ‘I wish the Marina had this or did that,’” said Jason. “Everyone hoped someone great would buy it but no one did. I’ve had about 50 people come up to me since and say I almost bought the Marina too.

“It may be equal parts inspiration, COVID recovery and mid-life crisis, but someone had to get stuff done out there and who better qualified than me?” he added.

The couple is also introducing The Cypress Club, which will allow visitors to purchase memberships at various levels for the Cove.

“Having been a homeowner on the lake for 11 years, I’ve seen firsthand how the marina has struggled over the years due to seasonality,” said Jason. “By offering memberships we can provide year-round stability with programming, entertainment, great food and more.

“We believe this will make the lake a more inviting destination for the local community and lake homeowners, as well as those that want to have the lake life experience, but haven’t had the opportunity.”

The two said their family had enjoyed their time on the lake, and look forward to showcasing it to a new group of visitors.

“There’s nothing that compares to our family’s time on Lake Cypress Springs,” said Jennifer. “We’ve made so many memories and friends through the years, and I know our circle will only expand as we embark on this new chapter with Cypress Cove. It’s going to be really special.”

Our conversation with Jason Craven follows.

It seems like especially during this pandemic, more families are looking for something they can do that is a decent drive from home, but also NOT home. Do you think that is part of the appeal of the marina?

Craven: Many of my best memories as a kid was visiting my grandparents lake house and I wanted the same experience for our children. When we bought in 2009 we had two very young kids (5 and 3) and one on the way.

Interestingly, it was the financial collapse and the great recession that followed that prompted me to do this. Tragedy has a great way of reminding us what our priorities should be and I think this situation is no different. With 2020 being a challenging year as a whole, and people not being able to travel as they normally would, I think families were eager to find places where they could create meaningful memories outside of their own homes.

Our kids have grown up going to the lake, and the memories and friendships we’ve created there are irreplaceable. We want to create a place where families can come and enjoy the lake experience without the hassle, all the hard work is done, you just have to come and enjoy.

What made you want to make this purchase?

Craven: Over the past 11 years we’ve seen the Marina have two different owners and we found ourselves and our friends constantly saying “I wish the Marina had this” or did that. Everyone hoped someone great would buy it but no one did.

I’ve had about 50 people come up to me since and say I ALMOST bought the Marina too. It struck me on a trip to Montana while staying on White Fish Lake as well as several others. They had great places to stay, great food, activities, boat rentals, etc.

I’ve always been a doer, in fact, my friends have an acronym they use to describe my style, GSD – gets stuff done. It may be equal parts inspiration, Covid recovery and mid-life crisis, but someone had to GSD out there and who better qualified than me.

Describe some of your plans.

Craven: We’ll do this by building cabins, renting boats and watercraft, providing experiences not just at The Cove but in the community as well. We’ll have a new restaurant in late 2021 / early 2022, beautifully designed modern cabins, great food, drinks, and entertainment. It’s going to be a slow, methodical process but no detail will be missed.

What has been the most exciting part of this project?

Craven: I have to start with what we plan to be for the community because that’s most important. We believe the purpose of business is to serve the community it’s in. The way we’ll do that is offer great employment to those in the community, and help support the local schools and charities by our gifts and service. The other thing we are excited about is allowing people to experience the lake life and build memories with their families.


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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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