Downtown Dallas is now more than a decade into its renaissance, and positive news keeps rolling in. Here’s a snapshot of overall activity in our center city.
During the first quarter of 2011, we’ve announced decisions by both the Thompson Coe law firm and CB Richard Ellis to remain—and grow—in the downtown area. Redevelopment projects at 411 North Ervay (the historic Post Office Building), the Atmos Energy complex, 1600 Pacific (former LTV Tower), the Statler Hilton, and the Continental Building, as well as a new Intown Homes development in the Farmers Market, have all made headlines, signaling that this upward trajectory will continue.
Museum Tower construction is under way, The Park (Woodall Rodgers Deck Park) continues its rapid progress, the Omni Dallas Convention Center hotel is ahead of schedule, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is being built, and Belo Garden has officially broken ground. The City Performance Hall, the final piece of the internationally acclaimed AT&T Performing Arts Center is at the halfway point, and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge will be finished this year.
During the height of our most recent development peak, we’d count the cranes downtown as a gauge of prosperity. I’d say it’s high time to begin counting again.
Close your eyes and imagine downtown Dallas just 10 years ago. Our first adaptive re-use residential projects were just opening. Our city center residential population was just beginning to climb into the thousands. Nodes like Stone Street Garden were emerging. It was a time, like today, full of vision, strategy, and promise.
Now open your eyes to the reality that exists today, to the community that has been built in the city’s center. More than $2 billion dollars has been invested in the heart of our city. We have witnessed residential population grow in the Central Business District to more than 7,000 people. Throughout all of downtown we have more than 35,000 residents. Our employment population holds strong at 135,000, and we continue to be the largest workforce in North Texas.
Residents, employees, and visitors relax and recreate at Main Street Garden. First Baptist Church of Dallas is in the midst of a $130 million renovation. The Dallas Arts District drew more than 1 million visitors last year. Have you visited Main Street on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night lately? The District is buzzing with traffic with people from close and afar visiting our restaurants and entertainment destinations. And we’ve recently hosted three major national sporting events – the NBA All Star Weekend, the World Series, and Super Bowl XLV. Alhough the games were played miles away, the spotlight was shining on the skyline of downtown Dallas.
DART opened its Green Line last year, making it the largest light rail system in the United States. And the McKinney Avenue Trolley is extending—already under way is the Arts District extension, with funding secured for future expansion to Federal Street—ultimately connecting Uptown, the Arts District and the Main Street District.
What about education? With more than 30 schools of varying levels, some of our prized facilities include the University of North Texas System and the Universities Center at Dallas; El Centro Community College and their School of Nursing and Allied Health in the West End. Booker T. Washington High School continues to turn out record numbers; and in 2010, more than $12 million worth of scholarships were awarded to their students. The Pegasus School for the Liberal Arts and Sciences continues to be ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 10 high schools in the nation, and last year we welcomed Laureate Prep charter school, a prestigious Uplift Education program, to the West End.
We celebrate how far the center of our great city has come in just the last decade, and look forward to a continued evolution of a vibrant, active, sustainable, and inclusive urban core.
A successful heart is critical to the entire city, because as goes downtown, so goes Dallas!
John F. Crawford is president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc. Contact him at email@example.com.