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The Future Of Dallas-Fort Worth Might No Longer Require Cars

The DFW metro is projected to grow from 7.5 million people to around 9 million in the next 10 years, which would provide demand for all manner of real estate, insulating the DFW real estate market from softening that traditionally comes cyclically. It also could change the way the city is developed and organized.

DART in motion in Dallas

“The larger trend is the notion of how street fabric ties into living or office or retail in DFW going forward,” PegasusAblon principal Mike Ablon said. “We’re in a critical transition phase, where users want to be connected to the streets where they work or live.”

All over the region, from Downtown Dallas to suburbs like Plano, office and multifamily properties are engaging the street level in a way they never have before, in an attempt to create live/work/play neighborhoods. The change is geared toward attracting and retaining Millennials, but Baby Boomers and Generation Y may be drawn to it as well.

“Millennials are really just a vanguard for the greater constituency,” Ablon said. “People talk about Millennials more because on the surface, they tend to be a more discernible group set, but really the range of people looking for the more urban fabric is much broader than just the Millennial.”

Moving away from car-centric urban planning in such a spread-out metro as DFW requires improvements in mass transit, and while local governments are doing their part, the next step is for developers to build in a way that organizes the city around such transportation. State Farm, for example, built its new office campus at a DART station in Richardson, perhaps a vanguard for similar projects down the line.

Repositioning neighborhoods around transit and walkability is part of building community around residences and offices — an amenity in itself, one that is in high demand all over the country. Community-building and “collision” are also becoming goals in building offices themselves, a movement helped by the increasing prevalence of co-working spaces.


“Landlords who are looking to build the spaces they need to provide see the idea of creating interaction amongst the multiple tenants, like tenants in a co-working space, as essential,” HOK consulting director Curtis Knapp said.

Newer office buildings in urban areas are creating vertical campuses to simulate the atmosphere of suburban office parks, adding amenity spaces beyond ground-floor retail, like open, soft seating and multipurpose rooms. Rather than the enclosed offices and high-finished boardrooms of eras gone by, the current wave of design is to encourage interaction, and later, collaboration.

As traditional offices adapt to trends popularized by co-working, so too are co-working landlords looking to incorporate elements normally associated with large companies in order to attract a more diverse body of tenants.

“[Some landlords are] bringing corporate infrastructure as a buy-in option,” Knapp said. “If you were to rent a space in a co-working environment, then it comes with a 401(k) program and health benefits that are priced for a [larger workforce than an individual plan].”

As influential as co-working and increased street engagement are and will continue to be, their true impact will take years to be fully felt. Meanwhile, the continued in-migration into the Dallas-Fort Worth area will have a far more basic impact — more of everything. More people and more jobs means more demand in every commercial real estate sector.

“A classic cyclical market is set as if you have demand, then supply, then oversupply and softening, whereas now we have a more steadily run growth curve, which will be the largest indicator of where we are,” Ablon said.

Come discuss these trends and more at Bisnow’s Dallas State of the Market event at 500 Crescent Court on Thursday, March 23.

Related Topics: HOK, PegasusAblon