AT&T is investing $100 million into the redevelopment of a four-block area in downtown Dallas that will include restaurants, retail, outdoor event space, and free public Wi-Fi.
The company dubbed the area the AT&T Discovery District, which aims to serve as a destination spot that will attract top talent to AT&T and serve the downtown community. The decision to make such a large investment assumes the city will approve proposed street changes to make the area more walkable and allow the company to build more green space. It will include wider, lit sidewalks, fountains, and landscaping. The company will present its plan to the City Planning Commission’s transportation subcommittee at 9 a.m. Thursday at Dallas City Hall. It requested final approval from the city by the end of February.
“Last year, AT&T looked at several locations inside and outside [of Dallas],” Mike Peterson, regional vice president of AT&T Texas External Affairs, said about the possible relocation. “We decided if we could work out a place with the city of Dallas, we would prefer to remain at our present location.”
Since then, the company has been working with Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the city, and Downtown Dallas Inc. to create a redevelopment plan to improve the area surrounding its headquarters at 208 S. Akard St. The plan, if approved by the city, is expected to begin construction by the end of the year and be completed by late 2019.
AT&T doesn’t foresee any pushback from the city. After all, it has been a major contributor to the community since relocating in 2008, doubling its workforce to include 5,800 employees and spending $5 billion a year on Dallas-based vendors. But it’s commitment won’t stop there, Peterson said. AT&T plans to hire 500 more people over the next couple of years.
“We know it’s a competitive environment to attract tech talent,” he said. “So we’re committed to what we’ve laid out.”
While most of the company’s $100 million investment will fund the exterior changes, a portion of the monies will also help the company continue the redevelopment of the interior of its offices. As part of the plan, the company has already opened a Starbucks on the ground floor of its headquarters, on the corner of Browder and Commerce streets, and is currently constructing a door to the street.
Downtown Dallas Inc. commissioned a traffic study that supports AT&T proposed street changes. The company listed the following four changes in a released statement on Wednesday:
- Commerce Street: Between Field and Ervay streets, reduce the number of lanes by one and expand the sidewalk to create a dedicated drop-off zone.
- Jackson Street: Close to vehicular traffic (with the exception of emergency vehicles) and convert to pedestrian only from Lane Street to Field Street. Convert to 2-way traffic from Lane Street to Cesar Chavez.
- Wood Street: Convert to 2-way traffic from Griffin to Pearl streets.
- Akard Street: Close and convert to pedestrian only from Jackson to Wood streets; convert to 2-way traffic from Wood to Young streets.