Commercial Real Estate

Dallas Has More Vacant Land Downtown Than Any Other Major U.S. City

Why sprawl, if there is still plenty of potential to reinvest in the city core?

Urban infill development is the term given to downtown land, parking lots, or otherwise undeveloped sites that could be repurposed into vertical buildings. Of the country’s 25 largest cities, Dallas has the most urban infill opportunity, according to new research from Yardi Matrix and PropertyShark.

Dallas has 86.4 urban infill acres in downtown, more than every other major U.S. city. Las Vegas, Austin, San Antonio, and Phoenix also had large blocks of vacant land. Across all 25 major metros, 584 acres of developable land, sized .5-acre or larger, exists.

In contrast, Dallas has built more than 8.5 million square feet of real estate since 2013, second only to New York’s 29.6 million square feet.

Source: CommercialCafe

From the report:

Our research showed that major metros in the South, West, and Southwest harbor the most vacant lots in their urban cores. While it is not surprising that these cities have utilized the advantages of spacious geography to expand their boundaries outward, it invites the obvious question: Why sprawl, if there is still plenty of potential to reinvest in the city core? The answer to that may be more complex than we can approach in this one article, but what we can do is look at the numbers.

In the South, Texas is king—208 acres of undeveloped land are scattered across the central business districts of Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston. The least dense CBD in Texas, as well as on our 25-city list, is Dallas, with vacant lots in the urban core adding up to 86 acres. During the past five years, 8.5 million square feet of property has been built in the Dallas central business district—second only to construction activity in NYC, recent Dallas developments included housing, office space, parking, retail, and hotels.

In addition to the research, a survey of about 1,500 people was conducted across the 25 metros. Of respondents, 82 percent said the most needed types of development are affordable housing projects, such as apartments and homeless shelters. (Thankfully, Dallas is having those tough discussions.) And 77 percent said housing and parks are their most desired additions to their cities.

Across all 25 cities, respondents said that walkability should be the top infrastructure improvement, including public transit and bike lanes. Interestingly, in Dallas, residents said they’d rather ride a bike than walk, drive or take a bus. While there’s been increased interest in building more bikes lanes throughout Dallas, the city currently has 56 miles of bike trails and 26 miles of bikes lanes planned and under development.


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  • Kyle Reese

    I would like to say that I’m a native of Dallas and would love to see more bike lanes in the city. The one running along victory park on Houston St is fantastic for easing my (occasional) commute into downtown. I was recently in Denver, and there I used a bike to get around on main avenues. There are lanes that could be two lane roads but the bike paths get the one and it’s a one lane road. Is this going to happen in Preston Hollow? No.

    But if you get Downtown and Uptown to do this and connect with Deep Ellum, this could be a bike friendly city, and not just to the rich dudes on the road bikes around White Rock. Dallas is in weird conundrum. We want the urban core of Denver and so many of us were raised to want space and a house, especially if we have children.

    As a final, BS, qualitative judgement, for the city itself and how taxpayer dollars are spent, I think you gotta go downtown, deep ellum, surrounding areas. It will be great – once I’m too old to enjoy it, ten years from now.

  • RompingWillyBilly

    As Dallas has had a significant surrounding central Dallas area for going on seventy years, one has to look outside the freeway loop. The reason for this was the building of the river’s levee system. Look at a map of the area at all that urban stuff snaking along the Trinity River. From the freed up land, three of the largest real estate companies were created as a result. They were Vantage, Lincoln, and Trammel Crow.
    The Stemmons Corridor created as a result of flood control has to be the largest downtown hidden out in plain sight. Problem is, it is made up of mostly low rise.
    And lets not forget that yesteryear’s old downtown of mostly empty office buildings is no longer the city center. That designation goes to the area in and around the Crescent.
    Main Street in central Dallas has moved from Main, to Ross, to Woodall Rogers, to where it stands today along Mc Kinney Avenue. That designation now appears to be moving further north towards the Katy Trail.

  • Kris Norvet

    …because the city has done nothing to incentivize property owners to develop, sell or lease at reasonable prices, so the lots sit vacant. It’s called “Luxury Blight.” SEE: NYC’s Bleeker Street