Southlake Developer: Downtown Dallas Has No Soul

Frank Bliss is executive vice president of Cooper & Stebbins, which developed the phenomenally successful Southlake Town Square. Even as large as that project already is — the size of downtown Fort Worth in terms of acreage — Bliss said they’re still only about 35% finished with their vision. In particular, they have more office and residential offerings in mind.

When I asked his thoughts about Downtown Dallas, he was quick to answer: “Downtown Dallas has no soul … Dallas never planned for a soul.”

To reclaim its soul it needs a true center. As do many others, he cites the construction of the tunnels years ago as one major mistake, sucking away the street life.

He thinks the Woodall Rogers Deck Park, along with the Arts District, has a real chance to become the city’s center by uniting what we now think of separately as Downtown and Uptown into one neighborhood. He praised much about Uptown, but criticized Victory Park for not creating any housing for “regular folks.”

Bliss is also skeptical about the prospects for development around Cowboys Stadium. “It’s never been proven,” he says, that sports stadiums jump-start development the way that city leaders hope they will when they vote to fund these buildings with tax dollars. “The people who come here” — he said, referring to the Cowboys Stadium in which we sat — “They aren’t the ones who want to stroll the neighborhood shops and restaurants.”

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