Downtown Dallas Inc. recently hosted a record-breaking crowd of 1,300 for its annual meeting, presented by Ernst & Young LLP, at the Dallas Omni Convention Center Hotel. This year’s theme is a true call to action: Invest Yourself!
Keynote speaker Carol Coletta, former CEO of CEOs for Cities and current head of ArtPlace, a national initiative to accelerate creative place-making across the country, said it best: “You can’t have a successful city without a successful heart—a successful downtown—and vice versa.” Coletta said the urban lifestyle is “no longer an anecdote or a one-day story in USA Today, it is a four-decade trend that keeps accelerating.” In fact, she said, 85 percent of millennials say they prefer urban living. But urban living is not limited to just young adults. Average American homebuyers are paying premiums for homes that have higher “walk scores,” meaning they have more destinations within easy walking distance, Coletta said.
We continue to see this trend in downtown Dallas. The resident population now sits at 7,000 in the Central Business District, and 35,000 throughout our 15 districts that make up downtown.
Coletta reminded us that sometimes this means you have to do some big relocation deals, like Comerica and AT&T; but as demonstrated by Tenet Healthcare’s move to downtown, most new jobs come from companies that are already in the community. She added we must also create “small wonders,” by building parks and public spaces, and taking care of the public realm by maintaining and sprucing things up. The next challenge is to join things up—connect things in a way that will make people want to park their cars and walk from place to place, or rely on transit to get them around downtown. “The choice is up to the people in this room; Downtown Dallas 360 is a good plan, but don’t wait too long to execute it,” Coletta said. “I look forward to seeing what Dallas becomes.”
Some of you have heard me mention the “funnel concept,” a phenomenon pushing economic vitality from the east and west coasts toward the center of the country, pointed directly at Texas, and even more directly at downtown Dallas. In that regard, it is apparent that Texas has, in fact, become the “third coast” economically, culturally, and recreationally, offering a quality of life second to none. More specifically, North Texas, Dallas, and our new downtown is the epicenter where much of the progress is focused. Having said that, to ensure continued progress, we take nothing for granted and understand the need to be solution-driven using our strategic plan, Downtown Dallas 360, as a vehicle to keep moving the ball down the field.
So are you tomorrow’s downtown champion? Are you tomorrow’s leader, willing to help us make downtown grand? 2012 promises to be a monumental year, with the opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Belo Garden, The Woodall Rodgers Deck Park, and the completion of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The call to invest yourself is urgent; we hope you will join us and others in making downtown a premiere place to live, work, and play!
Special Thanks: We would like to extend our thanks and congratulations to a woman who has been investing herself for years, Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm, who was awarded with the DDI Chairman’s Award. “Like my trainer tells me, the core of the city is like the core of the body,” she said. “If it’s not strong, the city’s not going to be strong, no matter how many bicep curls you do.”
Suhm knows: As goes downtown, so goes Dallas!