John Crawford: Retail Expansion Under Way in Downtown Districts

John Crawford
John Crawford

Retail development is in full swing in each of the 15 Downtown districts, with much attention on the Main Street District. The Joule’s $78 million expansion project, almost two years in the making, is just about complete.

Located in the heart of downtown on Main Street, The Joule now has two lobby entrances on both Commerce and Main Streets. Traffic LA Men’s was the first of the new high-end fashion spaces to open in March, with TASCHEN Library, TenOverSix, TenOverSix Presents, and Weekend Coffee not far behind. Up next is Traffic LA Women’s, ESPA, an 8,000 square-foot luxury spa, a Consilient Restaurant concept called CBD Provisions, and craft cocktail lounge called Mirth & Refuge. The Joule is, of course, still home to Charlie Palmer and Next Vintage wine shop. The expansion also brings a new rooftop terrace, penthouses and additional ballroom space.

In addition to the exciting restaurant and retail spaces being added to the Main Street District as a part of The Joule expansion, there are a variety of other new neighbors moving in on the block. Downtown Dallas Inc. and KRLD “Pulse of the City” special guests got a sneak peek (or taste) from newcomers Freshii, Fluellen Cupcakes (opening in July), and Hospitality Sweet, at a recent event hosted at Traffic LA.

And there are more coming—including Urban Orchard Market, Bar None Café and Urban Vineyard, all occupying the ground floor in the Interurban Building. Capriotti’s new location in the Mercantile Building is now open, and Wingbucket, on the ground floor of the Metropolitan, is slated to open this fall. There’s also no shortage of new coffee shops downtown, with the addition of Pearl Cup in the AT&T Performing Arts Center Information and Ticket Office, Weekend Coffee in The Joule, and Stupid Good Coffee at 1910 Pacific.

The Design District has also had its share of openings, with new showrooms being announced almost weekly, along with plenty of new food and entertainment venues, like newcomer Ascension Coffee, and soon-to-be neighbors Pak Pao Thai and Bowlounge.

In the Civic Center, plans were recently presented for improvements to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and the Omni Dallas Hotel, including 15,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, with 350 underground parking spaces. The hotel, funded with bond money, came in under budget when it was completed in 2011, which could provide funding for the proposed improvements.

Scott Rohrman, a developer with 42 Real Estate LLC, who has assembled more than 30 properties (including parking lots and buildings) in Deep Ellum, has seen more than 12 leases signed with restaurants, lounges and retail operations this year. Additionally, Deep Ellum has welcomed several new neighbors recently, including Work Bar & Grill, Glazed Donut Works, Twilite Lounge, Pepe’s Ranch, and Tanoshi Ramen (opening soon).

By now of course, most of you have heard about the exciting developments in the Farmers Market, which include significant retail and restaurant additions. The completed project will include recreational and dining amenities and showcase locally grown produce and goods. Just this week, we received the announcement that DF Market Holdings (principals Brian Bergersen, Blair Black, Janet Cobb, and Ruthie Pack), completed the transaction to take ownership and management of the Dallas Farmers Market from the City of Dallas. DF Market Holdings’ plan was inspired by the Downtown Dallas 360 Plan to revitalize the area’s physical, economic and social environments.

Victory Park developers are working to recruit additional retail in the area and are investing $30 million in overall improvements, slated to be complete within two years.  And we’ve seen similar stories in the remaining districts like South Side, The Cedars, West End Historic District and Uptown.

We continue to be optimistic about continuing these trends moving forward. The City of Dallas recently approved $9 million to implement portions of the Main Street District Retail Activation Strategy, part of the Downtown Dallas 360 plan. Funds will be used to assist property owners with activating their ground floors, with programs that address white boxing, ‘pop up’ tenancy, glass-box kiosk retail, and outdoor cafes. Criteria and details on the application process will be released this fall.

Be sure to tune into “Pulse of the City”, presented by the Dallas law firm, Munck Wilson Mandala LLP, our weekly roundtable radio program devoted to topics such as this one with a special focus on issues and opportunities associated with North Texas and Downtown Dallas. The weekly KRLD 1080 AM program is broadcast Sundays at 9 a.m. and can also be heard on demand.

John F. Crawford is president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc. Contact him at [email protected]


  • downtownworker

    Don’t forget Mercat Bistro next to Saint Ann. And looking forward to Savor at Klyde Warren Park when that opens.

    As for white box retail and pop-up shops, the city and DDI really need to target well-known, multi-unit brands who may be considering opening a downtown store but don’t want to commit to a lease: Urban Outfitters, Aldo and JCPenney, for example. Since they already have the inventory and marketing budget, their only expense would be labor. Of course, I would prefer to see brands like ZARA and Uniqlo set up at Victory or along Main Street.

    Downtown is on fire, but the real game changer would be for Target to open a new urban store here, and the icing on the cake would be a movie theater like Alamo Drafthouse. Can we get Tim Headington or Mark Cuban on that?

  • Mike Dunlap

    Bike lanes, street vendor permitting, 2-way street conversions, and other smart urbanism changes, please. Commercial development is nice. But taking downtown back from the cars that tarnish it is what smart cities are doing. And it is what will truly sustain the recent commercial developments.

  • Mike Dunlap

    Also, Houston, Ft Worth, San Antonio, and Austin (coming soon) all have downtown bike share programs. Where is Dallas on this? Citigroup is getting enormous marketing from the CitiBike program just launched in NYC. Barclays has had the same in London. Surely a Dallas corporation wanting to promote its green-friendliness and appeal to potential Millennial employees could be talked into sponsoring a bike share in Dallas, right?

    Either way, it’s really disappointing how far behind on this Downtown Dallas is.

  • downtownworker

    Another thing hardly mentioned anymore is critical mass. I know the Downtown 360 plan invented the “Greater Downtown Dallas” paradigm of counting the populations of Old East Dallas, Design District and Uptown as part of the downtown population, but the truth is we need 12,000-15,000 downtown residents inside the loop before we start to see a sustainable and vibrant neighborhood.

    Downtown Dallas Inc should work with the city’s economic development office to promote the development of parking lots into multifamily residences. Gables has a strong presence downtown, but why don’t AMLI and Post Properties have new downtown units in the works?