I’ve lived within 5 miles of our urban core since moving to Dallas in the fall of 1983. All of that time, I lived east of downtown. I love the diversity, character, and vibe of East Dallas. Many of the first residential areas to be developed in Dallas are east of downtown. East Dallas is also home to some of our most cherished civic entities: Fair Park, The Arboretum, White Rock Lake, and Tenison Park, to name just a few. It contains in-town neighborhoods that can be affordable, transitional, established, and upscale.
Development east of downtown heated up substantially in 2016. Henderson Avenue is competing with the renaissance of Lower Greenville and Deep Ellum as a dining and entertainment magnet. Many of the top new restaurants in Dallas for 2016 are in these three areas. Ross Avenue, Live Oak Street, and Gaston Avenue are becoming dense housing arteries, connecting the older neighborhoods to downtown. A dense, eclectic inner-city quality of life, public amenities, and cultural institutions can all be found here. I suspect that dynamic will only intensify in the years to come. A whole new demographic is discovering East Dallas and downtown. I see this discovery continuing and expanding through 2017 into 2020 and into the next decade.
As you move westward into downtown, you see the development in an even more accelerated state. In fact, there are too many developments to name them all: 2000 Ross, The Union, Park District, Arts District Tower, Bleu Ciel Living, McKinney & Olive Tower, Virgin Hotel, Rolex Luxury Tower, and Flora Lofts are some of the many new buildings under construction. There are more construction and redevelopment projects downtown than there have ever been, and it’s in the commercial, retail, hospitality, and residential markets in equal parts.
Knitting all of this together are the parks and the public domain. The leaders and planners of our city now realize that moving people around Dallas is only a part of the equation; an even bigger possible variable to consider is the quality of life within the city and, specifically, the inner core of Dallas. There is now talk of tearing down Interstate 345 and stitching the area from Ross Avenue to Deep Ellum back into downtown. A second downtown DART line as a subway is in planning. Carpenter Park, Pacific Park Plaza, Harwood Park, West End Plaza, and Farmers Market are being envisioned as a connected web of green space—not isolated, one-off public venues. We now have a more informed DART board, a city council that is behind making the inner core strong and energetic, and a private sector that is willing to pitch in and help make these dreams real.
All of the suburban cities in this Dallas-Fort Worth area of 7 million people would benefit from a strong center of gravity, a strong urban core, and that dominant core is Downtown Dallas. We have momentum, we have vision, and now we have economics on our side. I believe we will continue to see creative developments in downtown and East Dallas. I also believe that continued and accelerated development in these two areas is the tipping point to realize the city we know Dallas can be. And I’m eager to help out where I can.
Dan Noble is president and CEO of HKS Inc.