I’ve come to realize that sometimes over here at DOWNTOWNDALLAS we get so caught up in DOING, that we neglect to TELL you about all of the progress being made Downtown on a weekly basis. News abounds on the big things like the Trinity, Woodall Rodgers Park and Convention Center Hotel, but what about the day to day issues that collectively make just as great of an impact? Robert Wilonsky, over at Unfair Park helped us out on Friday by giving readers a few tidbits of Downtown news to chew on over the weekend. And now with a blog of our very own (!), I just can’t help but to add a few more details as my first contribution.
Main Street District FOCUS Retail Initiative– Indeed, we cheered in June when the Dallas City Council approved an additional ~$1.5 million for retail development in the core of Downtown. These funds complement the previous retail investment in the district that has turned on ground floor space and brought tenants like Jos.A.Bank. DOWNTOWNDALLAS, as the “marketing and leasing partner” with the City, will administer and manage the FOCUS program with guidance and recruitment assistance from Neiman Marcus. As of the hour we are in the process of meeting with landlords in the qualifying blocks, creating an implementation plan, and per Karl Zavitkovsky’s comment, together we will evaluate each deal on a case-by-case basis, then take to Council. Details of the program after the jump. However, one clarification to previous news coverage – the tenants listed represent just some of the targets we are aiming for on a national basis. The overarching goal is to create a diverse district of national, regional, local and service retail that is unique to Downtown.
Downtown Area Plan – The City’s effort (with cooperative management by DOWNTOWNDALLAS) to create an Area Plan for Downtown is being led by Moore Iacofano Goltsman, Inc. out of Berkeley, CA (authors of such notable Downtown plans as Downtown Denver and Downtown Los Angeles) and local sub consultants URS, DeShazo, Tang & Associates and Brown & Co. While we have experienced great success Downtown in building vibrant “nodes” over the last decade (Uptown, the Arts District, Main Street, Victory Park – and those emerging like the Farmer’s Market, rebirth of Deep Ellum, and the Trinity), we have fallen behind on building connectivity, both in the physical and emotional sense. One primary goal of the Plan – build these connections.
Furthermore, stacks of “plans” and “strategies” are piling up (Parks Master Plan, CBD Comprehensive Transportation Plan, Inside the Loop, Trinity, D2, Streetcar – believe me, our office is the hub) along with projects moving forward from the 2006 capital improvement bond election. While each individual plan is critical, an urgent need has emerged to synthesize these efforts, and ensure implementation moves forward with one cohesive vision. Therein lies another goal – guarantee all of the moving pieces are being planned in such a way that will maximize development potential and provide the most optimum quality of life for residents, employees and visitors.
The end product, to be delivered next summer, will be a “manual” (for lack of a more eloquent word) for the next five to ten years of Downtown vitalization. Our entire makeup has shifted from a ‘dead after 5pm’ environment, to one that has been humanized, evidenced by two of my favorite anecdotal marks of success – the emergence of the hot dog guy and our urban dog population. Yes, we’ve made it, my friends! Well, we’re at least peeking over the tipping point. This Plan will help us, as Downtown managers, continue to push beyond the curve.
Many more “goals”, “strategies” and “needs” are being assessed – diversity of housing, recreational space, streetlife…even (yes!) the tunnels. But before the outline is formalized, I hope you will save the date for October 12 (time and location TBD), when DOWNTOWNDALLAS and the City will hold a community forum to garner your input on important elements of the Plan.
The Hamiltons – The two-man catalyst for Downtown’s redevelopment (Overstatement? I think not!) will open their latest project, Aloft, this week. As for their work on the Atmos block, like many projects Downtown, let’s all keep hoping for lenders to start opening their pocket books again soon.
Videoboards – Last, but not least, we anticipate installation of video boards to begin just after the first of the year. Enough said.
More on these, and other topics from me to come at least weekly so you can follow the daily grind here at the DOWNTOWNDALLAS world headquarters…