Why You Need to Know Her:
Because she developed one of Uptown’s hottest mixed-use projects, Gables McKinney Ave, and she’s working hard to ensure that other developments in the neighborhood are not only sustainable, but also memorable.
A Dallas native, Harvard grad, and urban planner, Slade joined Gables Residential in 2007 at the age of 26. She developed properties in Austin, Houston, South Florida, and California before taking the lead on Gables McKinney Ave. With 222 luxury apartments and 17 townhomes built around and on top of a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods store, it’s the first project of its kind in North Texas.
Along with bringing a much-needed grocery store to Uptown, it’s changing the fabric of the neighborhood, serving as a gathering place for those who work and live in the area and prefer a pedestrian lifestyle.
“The Whole Foods is a community spot for people,” says Slade, development director for Gables. “I see folks who bump into each other and are networking at lunch and the same with after-hours. There’s a tap room with 24 beers on tap. It’s a great way of being part of a community.”
Slade’s past development experience helped pave the way for drawing up plans for Gables McKinney Ave, a project that kicked off in 2012 and will be completed in early 2016. Slade says she met with Whole Foods early on, working on rezoning and market timing for the store at McKinney Avenue and Routh Street. “That level of puzzle-piecing is fun,” she says.
Because half of the project falls in the State Thomas historic district, Slade and a neighborhood design committee worked closely with residents to learn about their concerns and ensure the project could meld with the community. “That was a really involved process, but we needed to work with the neighbors very carefully,” she says. “What came from it was very successful.”
Slade has spent countless hours building relationships, serving as chair and CEO of Uptown Dallas and a board member for the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority, Preservation Dallas, and The Real Estate Council Foundation. Uptown Dallas also manages the Uptown Public Improvement District, for which Slade serves as an executive board member, chair, and CEO.
“What I really like about Katy is she recognizes the importance of the public realm,” says Neal Sleeper, a fellow PID and Uptown Dallas board member and president of CityPlace Co. “A lot of people, when they develop buildings, think about their individual building site and what goes on their site, but don’t give much attention to the front of the building and how it impacts across the street. She is very aware of the public realm and its impact on the area, including walkability, which is a big thing to those who develop in Uptown.”
Slade says Uptown has the bones in place to be attractive to people of all ages.
Slade says Uptown has the bones in place to be a walkable and livable community that’s attractive to people of all ages, not just younger urban dwellers. Making it memorable is her goal. “I think it needs more focus on pedestrians so it’s a nice place to walk,” she says. “More businesses will come in for daytime business, and more people from all socioeconomic backgrounds will want to be at this place as an activity.”
Slade and others are looking at traffic patterns throughout Uptown and proposing changes for a better balance between cars and people.
Her interest in the “built environment,” which explores how the physical aspects of where we live and work can have a positive influence on communities, led to a master’s degree in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania. “I’ve always been interested in how cities work and how buildings will be around for decades and decades,” Slade says. ”We need to be careful of what we’re doing.”
That philosophy led her to Gables Residential, which is known for building in established, premium neighborhoods and for contributing to the area around its investments through careful and thoughtful development.
“I’m from Dallas originally, and I wanted to be back in Dallas and to take what I learned and do it in Dallas,” Slade says. “I love this city.”