Fifty years ago, at the time of the DOWNTOWNDALLAS’ inception, Downtown was a bustling business, entertainment, and retail hub. Elm Street was booming with Theater Row; financial and administrative offices were thriving; and with more than 5.5 million square feet of office space under construction in 1958, Downtown’s foothold as the business center of the city was becoming well established. And DOWNTOWNDALLAS was there.
Created as the Central Business District Association, the organization’s mission was much the same as it is today, to ensure the successful and sustainable development of a vibrant urban core. Projects hot on the agenda included the unveiling of a plan for a “Central Expressway” and work with elected officials through the 1959 Mayor’s Master Plan committee. News headlines read, “CBDA Preparing For City of Future,” “CBDA Seeks Griffin Street Extension,” and “Better Downtown Aids All Dallas.”
Evidenced by the legendary commercial development of the next three decades, DOWNTOWNDALLAS continued to actively engage in providing a platform for successful projects. Through the late 1950s and 1960s, the erection of buildings like the Mercantile Bank, Southland Life, Republic Bank, and First National Bank began to form the Dallas skyline. This continued through the 1980s with record-breaking projects like Bank of America Plaza, the tallest building in the city. These buildings changed the skyline and firmly secured Downtown’s position as not only a commercial development hub but also the largest employer in North Texas, a statistic that remains true today.
Today’s Office Market
Over the last 18 months, Downtown has experienced a dramatic increase in corporate relocations. More than 40 companies made the decision to move to Downtown in that period, representing more than 6,500 jobs and more than 1.5 million square feet of space. In 2008, more than 3 million square feet of expansions and lease renewals occurred, and companies like Corgan and Hunt Consolidated made a long-term investment by building their headquarters in Downtown. DOWNTOWNDALLAS is committed to ensuring this momentum continues, with corporate retention and recruitment programs that highlight Downtown’s competitive rental rates, lifestyle advantages, central location, and mass transit.
In 1995, the Central Business District (CBD) was home to only 200 residents, at which time DOWNTOWNDALLAS led the effort to create the Intown Housing Initiative, resulting in Downtown’s first significant wave of residential development. Today, you will find more than 6,000 people living in the CBD and more than 30,000 in all 13 Downtown Districts. This month Mercantile on Main celebrated its grand opening and transformation from a 1950s office tower to a home for residents, retail, and entertainment. New construction is on the rise as well, with projects like One Arts Plaza, a property offering luxury condos, office space, and restaurants in the Dallas Arts District. With more than 14,000 residential units under construction or announced, Downtown has the potential to become home to more than 50,000 by 2011.
DOWNTOWNDALLAS works to ensure a positive quality of life for Downtown residents through
management of programs like the Downtown Residents Council, the 70-member Downtown Safety Patrol, and the Clean Team.
Downtown Retail & Entertainment
Downtown is experiencing a return of retail and entertainment, creating again a bustling street front environment. The area remains home to the flagship Neiman Marcus, which is now complemented by new boutiques and restaurants spurred in great part by DOWNTOWNDALLAS’ retail recruitment and retention efforts. In fact, a shopper can now enjoy more than 150 retail destinations and 250 dining options. Plans for further retail development are in the works, with additional incentives and cooperative recruitment strategies aimed at generating more than 500,000 square feet of retail throughout the Downtown area.
The Next 50 Years
Landmark projects on the horizon will transform what Downtown Dallas will be. The realization of DOWNTOWNDALLAS’ planning efforts like the Comprehensive Master Plan for Downtown and the CBD Parks Master Plan are coming to fruition as seen in projects like Main Street Garden (to be complete this fall) and Woodall Rodgers Park. DOWNTOWNDALLAS works closely with stakeholders on a plan to extend the Katy Trail through the CBD and in 2007 contributed $1.25 million to the development and renovation of five Downtown parks.
Arts and culture is another vital component to the urban environment, and DOWNTOWNDALLAS has worked with Dallas Arts District stakeholders in preparing for the next phase of growth in the district. Opening in 2009, the district will be home to the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, a world-renowned center expected to infuse the local economy with $460 million
annually and create 4,500 jobs.
DOWNTOWNDALLAS’ 2009 priorities, like those at the forefront of the organization’s agenda in 1958-59, further include transportation initiatives like the DART 2nd alignment, the planning of a streetcar system, and an updated area plan. Growing educational opportunities Downtown is also a crucial element of the organization’s work, building on the more than 30 schools that exist Downtown today. In fact, the historic Titche-Goettinger building is now home to the Universities Center at Dallas and University of North Texas, set to soon open the University of North Texas School of Law.
Yesterday, today, and throughout the next 50 years, DOWNTOWNDALLAS will remain dedicated to ensuring that Downtown is a vibrant neighborhood of residents, employees, and visitors – a hub of commerce and culture, a mecca for the arts – a destination for all.
More about DOWNTOWNDALLAS
DOWNTOWNDALLAS’ program areas include public safety, economic development, residential and commercial development, public policy, urban planning, transportation, capital improvements, maintenance, marketing, and special events. Most recently, DOWNTOWNDALLAS has:
Contributed more than $30 million to safety, maintenance, capital improvement, and marketing programs for Downtown in the last 10 years, including the employment of an 80-member Downtown Safety Patrol and Clean Team to ensure the area remains safe and fun.
Contributed more than $1.75 million annually to public safety-related programs.
Provided annual funding of more than $1.5 million for capital improvements and maintenance projects.
Been involved in producing more than 50 special events annually and supporting an additional 200 that
both promote the city and stimulate economic development of the Downtown area.
Spearheaded the effort to secure $477 million in capital improvement projects for Downtown in the
2006 bond election.
Funded a matching grant program for façade renovation that has granted more than $1.2 million,
leveraging more than $11 million in private investment.
Contributed $1.25 million for the development and renovation of five Downtown parks.
Created the first consumer-driven web site for Downtown at www.yourDspot.com, a resource for living,
dining, shopping, hotels, special events, and other entertainment-related information.
Facilitated the lease up of more than 250,000 square feet of master-planned retail in the last five years.