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Dallas Wants to Develop Some of Those Empty Parking Lots Around DART Stations

The exceptions, like Mockingbird Station, prove the de facto rule in Dallas: many light rail stations are surrounded by little more than unused parking spaces.
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A DART train downtown. Photo by Kelsey Shoemaker.

DART has long touted its light rail stations for their potential to spark what planners call Transit-Oriented Developments, or TODs, in which housing and restaurants and movie theaters and other businesses sprout up around public transit hubs. And yet it’s the exceptions, like Mockingbird Station, that prove the de facto rule in Dallas. Many DART stations are surrounded by little more than empty parking lots.

City and DART officials are aware of this, and have in recent years taken a more serious look at how to motivate development on top of all that empty concrete.

The Dallas City Council on Wednesday agreed to a deal—or “memorandum of understanding”—with DART that would allow the city to market six rail station-adjacent sites to developers. (DART’s board of directors will vote on the same memo next week.) With the exception of Royal Lane in North Dallas, the rest of the locations are in Oak Cliff or southeast Dallas.

The six Transit-Oriented Parking Lots that the city will pitch to developers are:

  • Buckner Station
  • Westmoreland Station
  • Hampton Station
  • 8th and Corinth Station
  • Royal Lane Station
  • Lake June Station
Something other than a parking lot would be really nice here.

DART owns the land being marketed here, and if the city gets a good pitch from a developer, Dallas will have to negotiate an agreement with the transit agency for development to kick off.

City staffers briefing council members on Wednesday made clear this was just a first step. Many of the specifics have to be ironed out, including what exactly the city would like to see on these six sites. (Other than more affordable housing, which it seems like everybody wants to see.) And there are plenty of other DART stations in Dallas hosting enormous empty parking lots that are not among these six sites.

But this is a significant step in the right direction for all the Transit-Oriented Development fans out there.

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