Dallas has been built by bold, civic and business leaders—many of whom worked in commercial real estate. Today, there are several things we can do to make the city truly great. In 2012, someone in our real estate community needs to (in no particular order):
1. Tell bankers not to build any more bank branches. I don’t think I’m alone in this line of thinking, but I really believe my two teenage kids will never set foot into a bank branch building—ever. All of their banking will be done on something we generically refer to as a “smart phone” (which will be way smarter and way smaller, way soon). Stop now, before we have a bank branch building bubble bust.
2. Tell the Nasher Family and their partners at Macerich to acquire and manage every viable mall in the world. Having shopped at NorthPark basically since it was built, what the owners have done over the last few years to make this so much more than just a shopping center is nothing less than pure retail genius. Ray Nasher is certainly smiling down on his baby.
3. Tell architects and planners to keep dreaming big. I got chills when I drove by the new Perot Museum of Natural History last week. My 19-year-old said it was the coolest building she had ever seen. The striking contrasts of shapes and forms in the downtown area given to us by Thom Mann, Robert Stern, I.M. Pei, to name a few, are beginning to make our urban core eclectic and worldly. And soon, all will be more accessible via the exciting Margaret Hunt Hill Calatrava Bridge, an elegant statement in design, form and function.
I also marvel at all of the good architects and planners are doing to help us tend to our environment and to the future of where we live. These are the people that figure out to how save our natural resources, but yet live, work and play in spaces inconceivable even just 10 years ago. We need their focus, their talents and their vision.
4. Tell the movers and shakers in downtown Dallas “thanks” and to keep moving and shaking. I know John Sughrue and his partners may have trouble sleeping some nights, but let’s give a big thanks to all of his team for thinking big, when thinking big was not in vogue. Like it or not, Museum Tower will forever change our skyline and, just like Dallas, it is bold and creative. And while we are looking at the skyline, let’s give a big thank you to visionaries like Trammell Crow, Ray Hunt, Bill Creswell, Ross Perot Jr., Forest City and so many before them, for making our downtown what it is today.
But let’s not stop there: Join me in giving thanks to all the arts patrons, sponsors, and donors who have made our Arts District the envy of cities worldwide. When completed and accessible via a world class, pedestrian-friendly deck park, our downtown will be transformed forever. Let us all be thankful for these men and women of vision and charity.
5. Fix the Dallas Independent School District. A concerned homeowner once asked me: “Is there anything you can think of that would make home values in the Park Cities decline? ” I answered: “Yes. A 1250 average SAT score in the DISD.” (This was said back when 1600 was a perfect score.)
I have been around DFW a long time, and I know for a fact that there are a number of extremely smart business people in Dallas who could be tapped to fix our public schools. Mayor Rawlings is off to a well-intentioned start, but the problems are so deep and ingrained, we need to set politics aside and start over. The DISD is a big business: we need to run it that way—and I know we have the talent to do it. With everything else Dallas has going for it, give us a top public school system, and we will indeed be the undisputed center of the free world.
So, these are my five simple musings for the new year. I have a strong feeling, however, that there are a lot more out there waiting to be vented. So, what are you waiting for-vent away in the comments section! You’ll feel better, and you may even help make Dallas an even greater city!
Chuck Dannis is co-founder of Crosson Dannis Inc., which provides real estate appraisal and consultation services for many of the nation’s largest real estate lenders and owners. Contact him at email@example.com.