Check out the latest post on Downtown Dallas 360 from our guest blogger, Janette K. Monear – president and CEO of Texas Trees Foundation.
Downtown Dallas, Inc. and the Downtown Residents Council recently hosted a Downtown Dallas 360 District Visioning Workshop for Main Street District, Thanksgiving Commercial Center, Dallas Farmers Market District, Civic Center, Dallas Arts District, and the West End Historic District. There were over 100 residents, property owners, and business owners in attendance who showed a genuine interest in making Downtown a better place to live, work, and play. It was quite interesting to listen to the discussions in the different groups and what they reported back to everyone. What did they want? Well, the themes were very similar in each group…..walkability (and bike-ability), more smaller gathering spaces with seating, shade, trees, and cafes, diversity (families!), reasonably priced retail and housing, and more every day services like grocery stores and cafes. And the most common theme was the need for better and safer connections between districts. Oh for example, that daunting walk under 345 to get to Deep Ellum for dinner or for a festival, or trying to walk or jog to Dallas Heritage Village from the Farmers Market over I-30, or biking from Downtown to the Trinity River or Continental Avenue Bridge. I happen to live Downtown too, and couldn’t agree more with this active group of stakeholders. Thank you to those who took the time to come and provide very important input that will help form the update of our strategic plan, Downtown Dallas 360. Visit www.downtowndallas360.com for a calendar of events, updates from previous sessions, and links to the entire 2011 plan. Hope to see you at the next visioning workshop!
Downtown Resident and Downtown Dallas 360 Project Team
Check out this great blog from our friend Todd Howard: http://realestate.dmagazine.com/2015/07/todd-howard-protecting-neighborhood-treasures-as-we-plan-for-growth/
This week, the 360 team had another intense round of meetings focused specifically on coordinating with a long list of concurrent projects that have overlapping impact that will ultimately shape Downtown. These projects hold tremendous opportunity, and if leveraged – if translated from their inherent macro scope into to the micro issues that impact the livability of our neighborhoods – could move us beyond just striving to be a “21st century city” to an authentic physical and cultural shift that will place Dallas as one of the great cities of the world. Where to begin? The proverbial family dinner table, of course.
We started with CityMAP. The depth and wealth of information being gathered by the CityMAP team is remarkable. Facilitating over 60 community input meetings thus far, themes of what Dallas wants to be are emerging. In our goals for the final 360 product, we talk about the need for urban mobility principles to inform transit projects of all modes, from regional highways and the local street grid, to light rail, streetcar and trolley, integrated seamlessly with pedestrian, hike and bike paths and trails.
Exclamation point number one: CityMAP and 360 have the ability to gain this intelligence from Dallasites and work together to apply it to future projects at the local, regional, and state level. 360 provides a mechanism by which values and scenarios that come from CityMAP can be applied to the urban core, integrated through a public-private partnership already established in our planning process. Visions for “Expanding Transit and Realizing TOD,” “Creating Vibrant Streets and Public Spaces,” “Ensure Great Urban Design,” street classifications and a circulation framework are already established and adopted from the 2011 plan; it’s time to expand the principles into all fifteen districts and apply them to our regional system based on the values we deem a priorities for Downtown.
Exclamation point number two: Let’s work together to do some stuff now. Early in both planning efforts we’re already hearing about, say, guardrails that are too low on the Ervay bridge over I-30 between the Farmers Market and the Cedars, making what is otherwise a natural pedestrian connection, a frightening experience (I personally used to jog Harwood north from Corinth to Uptown back in my pre-children-Cedars-loft-living days. Not much better.) Another note: There is a gap in the sidewalk along Canton from the Farmers Market to Deep Ellum. This list of “quick wins” is growing; and sure, even pouring some concrete costs real money, but as we sit around the table it begins to become apparent that there are collective resources to leverage and will to make progress happen now.
It is a clear, and as @WalkableDFW pointed out to me, “obvious” alignment, for 360 and CityMAP to continue to work in tandem on a number of points – interface of regional and local traffic, urban design, and the relationship of mobility to housing, jobs and neighborhood development. So right now: so far, so good at the table.
Time was also spent on the Neighborhoods Plus Plan and Dallas Bike Plan, both city-wide efforts that will be incorporated into 360 as they relate specifically to Downtown. For example, related to Neighborhoods Plus, how do we preserve affordable and middle class housing in high density urban development, particularly as we approach an era of new construction (good problem: we’re running out of vacant buildings that can grab tax credits and other incentives)? Where is there opportunity to build nodes of neighborhood services? 360 calls “Diversify and Grow Housing” a transformative strategy, with a long list of how-to-get-there’s. We’re eager to continue that path and evolve it into today’s needs and economic conditions.
With regard to the bike plan, as far as 360 is concerned, we can’t get bike lanes in fast enough. Yet, there is an appreciation for yet another paradigmatic shift in the way Dallas thinks about cycling. According to Ashley Haire, the commuter cyclist is still a rare species; we are dominated with the spandex-wearing enthusiast and a sprinkle of weekend cruisers. That is shifting, undoubtedly, as we at DDI know firsthand from the demand for bike share, but it is hampered by our (un)willingness to trade on-street front door parking for a safe cycle lane. And side note, this is cool: Strava Heatmap .
A great deal of time, after highways, bikes and housing, was spent on high speed rail, quite timely given this week’s news, and related development interest along Riverfront.
But let’s save that for a few days and talk for a bit …
- What are some “quick wins” in your neighborhood that could be addressed with an alignment of volunteer, public, and private resources?
- Bike lane vs. valet and “in front of my house” parking? Go.
- For Downtown dwellers, what services are you missing? And how far are you willing to walk, ride (bike, public transit), or drive to satisfy that need?
- For non-Downtown dwellers who love Downtown, what is keeping you away? Housing type? Price? Services?
Finally, stay tuned to more on the last few weeks’ worth of work, as well as dates for upcoming 360 District Workshops. More opportunities to chime in.
Want to know how you can be involved? Join us at one of our upcoming 360 District Workshops or drop us a line to tell us how you’d like to be involved. You can sign up to be a volunteer, host an event or simply help us spread the word!
EVP, Downtown Dallas, Inc.
Downtown Dallas 360 Team Lead
Downtown Dallas Resident
Let’s start talking.
Wednesday night marked a special moment in Downtown Dallas: the evolution of the Downtown Dallas 360 plan. Nearly 300 sat in the audience at the Pegasus Room in the Dallas Power & Light Building for a conversation about wishes, hopes, desires, vision and pragmatic needs for Dallas’ urban core. There were residents, business owners, corporate and civic leaders – an audience so diverse that it surprised even those of us who live and breathe the business of our city every day. Many of Dallas’ long-time visionaries who were urban-before-urban-was-cool mixed and mingled with the new voices who are speaking – and acting! – loud and clear about the future of Downtown. Another surprise: the room was energized, hopeful and cooperative, which in light of the many passionate and polarizing issues that face us today, could have become an airing of grievances and strong-armed debate. Instead, it was a showing of love for our city.
For those who could not join us, here are some key points:
The Downtown Dallas 360 plan was adopted by Dallas City Council in 2011, so why go back just four years later? First, Downtown Dallas 360 was created as a dynamic document meant to be nimble and responsive to our transforming urban environment. Rather than saying, “we need a new vision” or “we need a new plan,” we are instead working the existing framework, evolving the plan into strategies relevant to today through 2020.
In addition, we (meaning the collective “we” of public, private, and community interests) have just done a lot. Progress is evident in the Dallas Farmers Market redevelopment, Main Street district ground floor transformation and the Lamar Corridor. We’ve connected districts with projects like Klyde Warren Park and the Continental Avenue Bridge, integrated parking technology, gone on road diets and impacted policy change to improve street activity with revisions to ordinances that encourage street vending and outdoor cafés. Just since spring of 2011, Downtown’s landscape has significantly changed. And there is an unprecedented amount of interest in Dallas’ urban core; from transformational projects like high-speed rail, D2 and CityMAP, to infill interest from developers, community organizations and the people who now call the center city home.
Wednesday night’s conversation was inspired. Daniel Iacofano, Chris Beynon and Alex Dupey with MIG stimulated dozens of comments from their presentation, articulated in one of their signature live recording exercises. Rather than recap it in exhaustive narrative, this is much more fun:
After the formal program, we broke into a neighborhood gallery exercise. Each of the 15 districts represented in the 2011 plan document were organized into dedicated space, exhibiting key recommendations and character sketches from the current plan. Through post-it note feedback, dialogue about the changing nature neighborhoods was encouraged: What’s new? What’s old? What do you want to see? What do you love? What do you wish? And if you could do just one thing … The responses were rich, personal and passionate (responses to each district will accompany this post):
In a debrief yesterday morning, Daniel, Chris, and Alex helped us begin to organize the conversation-starters, a process that will continue for the next several months. From the previous two days’ worth of meetings, it seems to boil down to two themes – mobility and livability. We want mobility principles that reflect the unique needs of urban Dallas, and for those principles to influence large regional transportation projects, as well as the local grid and its interface with the public realm. We want great street design that promotes multi-modal circulation, equalizing – or often prioritizing – access for pedestrians, bikes, and mass transit modes. We want to connect our districts and neighborhoods while preserving their authenticity, diversity, and character. And building a livable Downtown is critical. We heard a calling for more usable public spaces – places for kids to play, dogs to roam, and all ages to recreate – as well as building a smart city and integrating technology into urban life and design. Attention to urban design and preservation is a priority, and diversity of housing product and price is a clear need, responding to new demographics, like families, who are living (with more coming!) in the center city. With that comes attention to jobs, entrepreneurs, start-ups, essential services and schools. In fact, equal to the applause for comments related to I-345 were those calling for schools, schools – good schools – and more schools.
But rest assured, this is only the beginning.
Through October, the Downtown Dallas 360 project team will be reaching out through a coordinated effort with neighborhood organizations and community groups to continue the dialogue. We want to know what you already have in the works, what is needed and how 360 can help. How do you see your neighborhood defined? What is its relationship to adjacent areas? And what are the issues that are shared and tie us all together? Our friends at buildingcommunityWORKSHOP use the phrase, “neighborhoods are not static,” which could not be more true. So help us evolve.
In addition to workshops, charrettes, forums and other in-person conversation, this website is a key tool for participation. Email us your thoughts. Stay tuned for updates. And very soon, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP will unveil a new crowd-sourced neighborhood mapping tool that will launch in partnership with 360. For the past several years, they have been engaging communities around the city to identify, confirm and record neighborhood names and boundaries. Over 300 have been mapped thus far, recognizing that Dallas has shifted dramatically in recent years – its cultural, social, political and economic geography.
Here’s how it will work:
All of your input will then shape the technical work of the plan that will start later in the year. Rather than profess today what we think “needs to be addressed,” we are designing the scope of the project with all of you. So talk to us. Tell your friends to talk to us. Tell us if there are organizations or groups we aren’t reaching. Our list of neighborhood and organizational partners (to be listed on our website shortly) is meant to grow.
Finally, a word about this site and blog. The web site (still a work in progress, thanks for your patience as we work the kinks out) is where you can keep up with plan documents, presentations and find out about upcoming events. The blog will be populated with editorial posts by 360 project team members and guests along the way, and we hope you will talk with us here as well. This is our Dallas, our Downtown, and our opportunity to keep it moving forward.
Tag, you’re it.
Downtown resident and mother of two, Dallas Farmers Market District
Downtown Dallas 360 Project Team
EVP-Downtown Dallas, Inc.
We have likely all experienced our unfair share of art and film this past month with Dallas Art Fair, Dallas International Film Festival, Deep Ellum Arts Festival, Dallas Arts Week, and the loads of parties that came with those events. But have you been Downtown lately and really soaked in the arts and public spaces? It seems like temporary (and some permanent!) public art installations have been popping up everywhere Downtown. It’s perfect timing too with the Congress of New Urbanism conference attendees here this week to discuss and collaborate on the demand for walkable places (and even building a temporary park in Deep Ellum!). One of the greatest assets of a walkable, urban neighborhood can be the little surprises you find during your everyday routine. Whether biking or walking, you’re sure to come across these gems along the way – enjoy them while you can!
Here are just a few of the recent public art installations you can find as you roam the streets of Downtown:
The original Pegasus, fabricated by Texlite Signs of Dallas and once perched atop the Downtown Dallas headquarters of the Magnolia Petroleum Co. from 1934 to 1999, has a new home in front of the Downtown Omni Dallas Hotel. Installation just began and should be complete in May. The restoration and installation of the Pegasus is the result of a partnership between the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and Matthews Southwest. The two red flying horses measure 40 feet in length and 32 feet in height and are spaced 14 feet apart. In addition to a new derrick, weighing 12,000 lbs., and a new support structure, weighing 600 lbs., the flying red horse will incorporate a quarter mile of new neon light tubing and rotate upon completion.
SkaterBIRD is a new 22-foot tall sculpture by Brad Oldham (who also created the famed Traveling Man sculptures in Deep Ellum) atop the parking garage at 1200 Ross. Brad Oldham International moved into the ground floor of the parking garage in October – stop by and purchase your own smaller version of many of his sculptures!
The Encore Park Sculpture Wall “The Birth of a City” at 508 Park is a lost-wax bronze sculpture wall created by Brad Oldham and Christy Coltrin that features iconic and lesser-known visual stories unique to Dallas. These stories are told across ten 6-foot by 4-foot relief panels along Park Avenue and Young Street.
Mother Earth (#LookDallas) is a 6-foot photograph by Jeremy McKane that was installed at Main Street Garden in honor of Earth Day and will be up through Mother’s Day.
Photographer Richard Andrew Sharum has teamed up with five Downtown building owners to launch the largest street photography exhibit in Dallas history. Observe Dallas 2015 aims to portray instances of everyday life with unparalleled realism, and just received a $5,000 grant from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program. You can see the photographs at these five Downtown buildings through May 31st: 211 North Ervay Street, 800 Main Street, 500 South Ervay Street, 325 North Saint Paul Street, and 601 Elm Street.
The Consulate General of Mexico in Dallas has helped bring in Wings of the City, an exhibit featuring nine of Jorge Marín’s sculptures. The works have been placed in locations in and around Downtown. It is the first time for the Consulate to bring sculpture work to the city, and the exhibit was previously in Discovery Green Park in Houston. Our favorite sculpture, a pair of wings with space between them, is on display at One Arts Plaza, giving people a perfect ‘angelic’ photo opportunity!
One Meter at a Time is a pilot program of temporary public art coordinated by the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs that contributes to the visual enhancement of Dallas streets. Selected artists were commissioned to create site-specific public art on the exterior of a set of 10 parking meters in four locations in Dallas. Downtown locations include Elm Street near the Majestic Theatre, Dallas Farmers Market, and Deep Ellum.
Just recently, Downtown Dallas, Inc. partnered with an art conservator to restore the bronze sculpture at Cancer Survivors Plaza. And speaking of parks and plazas, you can find the infamous B&G sculptures at Main Street Garden and Pegasus Plaza as part of the #DallasBIG campaign, where you can put the “I” in BIG.
Of course I’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our visual and performing arts and the many beautiful and significant sculptures in the nation’s largest contiguous urban arts district – the Dallas Arts District, the Dallas Design District, Deep Ellum’s many colorful outdoor murals and street art, the iconic 30’ Eye sculpture by Tony Tasset on Main Street across from The Joule Hotel, the cow sculptures designed by Harold F. Clayton along the Trinity Skyline Trail, and the 30’ tall Bowler Hat sculpture in the Cedars. And ArtPrize Dallas is coming to Downtown – providing even more opportunities to be engaged in public art, complete with the ability to vote on your favorite – for 19 days straight come April 2016.
And if you need another excuse to get Downtown as quickly as possible, you should consider attending one of these upcoming events:
- Deep Ellum Instagram Scavenger Hunt – “Art Edition” on April 30th.
- Celebrate Downtown – a must-see tour of rooftops and historic places brought to you by Downtown Dallas, Inc. and Preservation Dallas on May 2nd. You can get tickets at preservationdallas.org.
- Homegrown Music and Arts Festival at Main Street Garden on May 9th.
On February 27th, more than 1,400 business, civic, and community leaders joined us for our Annual Meeting and Luncheon at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Despite the snowy weather, it was another great day Downtown as we were joined by presenting sponsor Oncor, and Southwest Airlines made a special announcement about new nonstop flights from Dallas Love Field and gifted the entire audience with $100 LUV vouchers! The 2015 Board of Directors was voted in and Jim Greer, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Oncor, took the helm as the Chair of the Board of Directors. Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI) honored Jack Matthews of Matthews Southwest with the Chairman’s Award and John Crawford, President & CEO of DDI, talked about the progress of the Downtown Dallas 360 plan’s implementation over the last four years. The audience also welcomed Daniel Iacofano, Ph.D., FAICP, FASLA, and CEO & founding principal of MIG, Inc., who spoke about ideas around a competitive 21st century, including the importance of Millennials, transformative infrastructure, technology, innovation space, and energy.
Downtown Dallas, Inc.
Downtown Dallas, Inc. works every day to ensure continued growth of the core of our city. Our efforts are based on three foundational principals – clean, safe and community – all of which are the essential building blocks of economic development. In addition, DDI has historically served as a voice and facilitator for coordinated planning that leverages individual efforts for the benefit of the whole of Downtown.
Enter Downtown Dallas 360
Adopted by Dallas City Council in 2011, 360 is our strategic development plan, built in partnership with the City of Dallas by workgroups of property and business owners; large corporations and small businesses; real estate and transportation experts; residents; and community organizations. 360 is a true culmination of what Dallas wants to see Downtown, and how we can all work together to achieve these goals.
360 has been one of the greatest influences and inspirations for Downtown development in the last four years, and the most important project for Downtown going forward. In fact, DDI’s priorities are set up to directly align with 360 strategies and implementation. The Plan has guided investment, development strategies, and the activation of our streets in a tangible way.
So, why are we talking about an “Update”?
Downtown Dallas 360 was created as a living document, so the update planned in 2015 by DDI and the City of Dallas will be more of a process of “working the plan,” evolving it into strategies relevant for the next five years.
Phase one of the plan provided a framework based on vision, five transformative strategies, and focus areas. These strategies then culminated in a tactical implementation matrix consisting of eight priorities and 67 action items, including timeframes, estimated costs, and responsible entities for each.
At the end of 2014, many of those 67 boxes were checked as “complete.”
Downtown Dallas 360: Progress
Downtown Dallas 360’s vision describes the future of Downtown Dallas as a complete urban center composed of distinct yet interconnected districts linked by an accessible multi-modal transit network, each offering a unique and diverse combination of places to live, refreshing open spaces, bustling street activity, successful business and retail, and dynamic urban experiences for residents, workers, and visitors alike.
“INTERCONNECTED” AND “DISTRICTS” are two key terms throughout this process. Through Downtown Dallas 360, we have shifted the mindset to one that understands that Downtown Dallas is no longer the “Central Business District” – it is a collection of neighborhoods that are (and should be) unique, but part of a symbiotic whole. And we are connecting those neighborhoods through projects like Klyde Warren Park, the Continental Avenue Bridge, Deep Ellum Urban Gardens, bike lanes, a trail network, public transit, and work through the Connected City Challenge.
We then come to 360’s focus areas. Progress is evident in the Dallas Famers Market redevelopment, Main Street District ground floor transformation, and the Lamar Corridor. 360 outlined visions, and in some cases, specific site plans and ground floor urban design treatments for the areas, all of which are coming to fruition.
The residential increase Downtown is astounding. With over 40,000 living in the greater Downtown, as defined by 360, and more than 5,000 units under construction today, there is little doubt that the center city is fueling Dallas’ growth. We’re diversifying the market as well with more affordable projects coming online, something we will continue to strive for in future development.
Projects defined as catalysts by 360 like the Statler, 1600 Pacific, One Main Place, and 1401 Elm are underway, taking almost all of our remaining large vacant building stock off the market and activating it with hotel, residential, and retail use. In addition, great projects like Mid Elm Lofts are restoring our smaller building stock and infilling with great uses like restaurants and coffee houses to complete blocks and create an authentic human scale experience.
Helping to guide these projects and ensure, as 360 says, “Great Urban Design,” we worked in partnership with the CityDesign Studio on the launch of the Urban Design Peer Review Panel, a remarkable group of design professionals advising projects so they engage and interact with the public realm in a meaningful urban way.
We’ve also integrated parking technology, gone on road diets, and impacted policy change to improve street activity with revisions to ordinances that encourage street vending and outdoor cafés. D-Link continues to increase ridership, the MATA extension will open this spring, and bike lanes are expanding. Zipcar is in the market, and the first leg of our modern streetcar will be operating this year.
And don’t forget about those little things that make a big difference – streetscape enhancements, new sidewalk furnishings, and incremental improvements to sidewalks, streets, and parks.
Yet it is also time to address those boxes that aren’t checked yet and ask, “why?”
Downtown Dallas; Forward Momentum
There are a few issues we know are necessary to address in the next phase of 360. One is to simply reaffirm the vision. At its core, the 360 vision is about Downtown Dallas as a collection of distinct, authentically urban districts, connected by accessible transit, diverse housing, open spaces, and vibrant streets, which is still very relevant. It comes down to livability and connectivity.
This next phase of the plan will be hyper community-centric. In the coming months, each district and neighborhood will be deeply engaged to assess needs and ask how the 360 vision translates today. Each area of Downtown is at a different point in its development with unique conditions necessitating an understanding of already moving efforts, community desires, and neighborhood relationships. The priorities, strategies, and tactics of 360’s evolution will be shaped collectively from there.
What we suspect is that the next phase of 360 will use its existing framework to address several key issues that apply to and connect all neighborhoods. One is mobility. Another is housing. A third is parks and open space. In addition, Downtown has matured to a point where a focus on growing opportunities for education, particularly preschool and K-12, is imperative to retaining and growing a strong resident base; and this is tied in intimately to the rising innovation, tech, and startup communities diversifying and strengthening the city’s economic base.
Those are all connecting and common issues to the entirety of the city’s center. In addition, we anticipate the need will surface for a series of neighborhood efforts, primarily focused on urban design and public realm, walkability, and activation. In several areas of Downtown, related work is underway, so we will spend time auditing and recognizing that work, incorporating and leveraging it for mutual benefit. It will also be important, as we did with the focus areas in 2011, that areas of catalytic energy are identified to maximize current activity. The high-speed rail corridor, Trinity/Riverfront, Cedars, Design, and Reunion districts are great examples that present substantial investment with opportunity left to realize.
The most important point to note is that Downtown has been realized into a place. It is no longer a “9 to 5” office park, but instead, we are realizing the 360 vision, and working with the community, stakeholders, and policy makers — all of you — as we continue to work the plan. The evolution of 360 will protect our progress and continue forward momentum.
In order to do that, our partnership with the City of Dallas is imperative. DDI and the City work cooperatively every day, and advancing 360 is a large part of that mission.
The best is yet to come.