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Downtown Dallas Has Lost Its Competitive Edge, But A Dedicated EDC Could Lift It Back Up

Downtown Dallas continues to lose office business to its neighbor to the north, and at least one developer believes the antidote is to add new buildings.

Last week, Bank of America announced it would ditch its downtown digs for a new building facing Klyde Warren Park. Chase Bank is also leaving downtown in favor of Uptown, as is Goldman Sachs.

Developers Peter Brodsky and Lucy Burns joined Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax in a discussion moderated by Grant Moise of the Dallas Morning News on how to tackle struggles downtown.

The challenges downtown are twofold, Billingsley Co. partner Lucy Burns told a packed auditorium at a Downtown Dallas Inc. event earlier this week. The office that exists today is aging and becoming obsolete, and commute times make it difficult to convince workers to make the trek downtown.

“Downtown needs new office space — Uptown is getting a lot of it,” Burns said. “Downtown needs some to continue to attract businesses, particularly those that are moving here from other parts of the country.” 

One way the city hopes to score more corporate relocations both downtown and beyond is through its recently formed economic development corporation.

Up until now, Dallas has leaned on the regional chamber to advocate on its behalf, but developers say having a dedicated EDC will allow the city to compete with its suburbs.

“We need an entity outside of the city government that has a city of Dallas jersey on, not just a regional jersey,” Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax said at the event. “The region can’t thrive if the core isn’t thriving, and Dallas is the core of the region, and downtown is the core of the city. It’s in everyone’s best interest for Dallas to win.”

Approved by city council last year, the EDC will not only support and promote business development in Dallas but also act as a public developer. The group is looking to hire a CEO.

“I think it’s long overdue,” Broadnax said of the EDC’s creation. “We’ve got to do our best as a city to support them but also let them get their own sea legs and get out there and do the things their peers are doing to fight the good fight for the city of Dallas.”