4 Things That Shaped Downtown, And 4 More That Could Do It All Over Again
The Downtown Dallas that existed in 2000 is not much like the one that exists today. Downtown has transformed from vacant skyscrapers to mixed-use and from a few hundred residents to a few thousand. Here are four things that have transformed Downtown, and four more poised to do it all over again.
Four Things That Shaped Downtown
1. Outside Capital
Investors coming from outside North Texas understand the revitalization happening Downtown — they do not need convincing to keep bringing capital, CBRE senior vice president Jack Gosnell said at Bisnow’s Urbanization and Future of Downtown event last week. It is Dallas residents who are slow to accept the new Downtown, Gosnell (here with CBRE's Cameron Gosnell, his son, and Elizabeth Herman) said.
2. Public And Private Development
The combination of public and private dollars Downtown make this market dynamic, Spire Realty president Jon Ruff said. He has seen nothing like that relationship anywhere else in North Texas. Of the 180 developments happening Downtown, about 100 are private, and the rest are a combination of public, city and infrastructure developments, Downtown Dallas Inc president and CEO Kourtny Garrett said.
Larry Hamilton (here with Worth Ross & Associates’ Steve Shephard) has flipped several properties Downtown, including the Lorenzo Ascend Hotel (which is moments away from delivering), Mosaic, Lone Star Gas Lofts, Dallas Power & Light, the Davis Building and the Aloft Hotel. Granite will soon deliver Factory Six03. Alterra International’s Alto 211 has been renovated from its original 1958 roots. World Class Capital Group redeveloped 717 Harwood with lots of amenities and services. These developers prove that smart development is not just about getting product on the ground, but about using a city's history to build for the future.
4. New Development
Hall Group has been at the forefront of new development in the Arts District. After opening KPMG Plaza in 2015, Hall Group has two more phases planned in Hall Arts. More office space, a residential high-rise and a boutique hotel are planned for future phases, Hall Group director of leasing Kim Butler said. And ground-up buildings are not the only noteworthy developments. New green space, like Klyde Warren Park, shows the city's dedication to creating a Downtown experience, rather than a string of office towers.
Four More That Could Change Downtown All Over Again
1. Dallas Independent School District
More than 135,000 people work and 10,000 people live Downtown. Plano schools are the one thing we do not have in Downtown Dallas, Ruff said. But the less acclaimed reputation of DISD is still making progress. Education is a big part of Downtown’s complexity and authenticity, and it is evolutionary, Garrett said. City Lab High School will welcome the first set of students in August through DISD’s public school choice initiative.
TxDOT’s hard look at the aging highway system Downtown is mostly talked about in the context of tearing down Interstate 345. It would be a challenge to balance regional and local needs upon overhauling the easternmost highway of Downtown proper, Garrett said. But many — including Butler (here with Dowdle Real Estate president Lynn Dowdle) — cannot help but imagine what tearing down I-345 would do for the connectivity of Downtown, the Baylor District, Deep Ellum and East Dallas. It is an ugly surgery to take on, but the result is commerce, Gosnell said.
After the DART board voted to fund both the second downtown light rail and the Cotton Belt rail line last October, the conversation has shifted to how the underground subway will impact Downtown. Though financing both projects has been a hot button issue, the future looks brighter since President Donald Trump has campaigned hard for infrastructure upgrades. Garrett (here with Dallas Regional Chamber's Jessica Heer and DDI's Amy Tharp) said it is time to think about where the stations will go and how they will integrate with a walkable Downtown.
4. Reinvesting In '80s Buildings
Dallas is one of the few cities still doing urban revitalization, Ruff said. Many of Dallas' iconic 1980s skyscrapers — including Fountain Place, Trammell Crow Center and Thanksgiving Tower — are getting significant capital investments to upgrade and renovate, Garrett said. AT&T announced in October that it will spend $100M on upgrades for its Downtown HQ and add 1,000 workers.
Here are panel moderator PMRG vice president Shea Byers, Ruff, Garrett, Butler and Gosnell.