Friday, September 28, 2007

Big D - D for Development

Today I had an opportunity to see what downtown Dallas looks like in the daylight and I can safely say that our nation's fourth largest metropolitan area really lacks a true core. Don't get me wrong, 125,000 people work in a variety of small, classic midrise buildings to some impressive, modern skyscrapers. However, there's a significant lack of attention paid to landscaping and general "curb appeal." According to their website, there are less than 3,000 residential units located in the CBD. There appears to be an effort in an area called the West End that's tucked into a corner of the CBD. It's an old warehouse district that's been converted to offices, restaurants and bars. The interesting thing about this area is it's somehow generic feel. I can't tell if I'm in the Old Market area of Omaha, a section of Lodo in Denver, or Pioner Square in Seattle. These areas have become so alike as though General Properties or Simon developed them and Dallas adds to this feeling by allowing chain restaurants to overrun the area. Regardless, it's a start in a CBD in need of variety and excitement.

Fortunately, once you cross the central expressway you come to the Uptown area complete with multi-story apartments, condos and highrise condominiums and hotels. This area has what the new urbanists refer to as the "there there." It has a sense of place that draws many people to it for it's interesting shops and restaurants as well as it's scale, density and cleanliness. The multitude of apartments in the area draw thousands of young professionals to the area in droves and it is this sense of place that I'm pretty sure is what's missing the most in our beloved Duke City.

At the beginning of the decade, Mayor Baca made a commitment to downtown revitalization that set the city abuzz with excitement for rebirth. That sense of place has slowly developed with the ABQHigh loft apartments but unfortunately, there has been little effort to build upon that success. HDIC tried to cash in on the trend by jumping directly into the condo market across the train tracks without realizing that 100 apartments does not constitute a market. Developer after developer have come to build more and more for-sale condos but what all these developers fail to recognize is that it takes youth to create the type of urban community that most people desire...and youth aren't looking for mortgages, just a comfortable and exciting community be a part of.

1 comment:

Mario said...

You are so right. ABQ is not ready for half million dollar lofts and such. Create some exciting mid-rise rental communities that are safe and have all the amenities the young professional desires, and then the true revitalization begins. Keep up the good work Tim, Dallas has done some things right and some wrong, maybe through your findings we can avoid many more mistakes in our CBD! Thanks for keeping on top of the blog in your new city.