Request for Proposals – Main Street Garden Cafe


Downtown Dallas, Inc. is looking for a vendor to occupy the Main Street Garden Café space!  Priority will be given to those who can provide food, beverage, and fun activities to create a unique community environment.

Please CLICK HERE to view the full Request for Proposals and application form.

Proposal Submitted for Downtown Elementary School

Downtown School Press Release

With full support from the Board of Directors, Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI) has submitted a formal proposal in support of a Downtown elementary school to the Dallas Independent School District. After years of research on ever-changing demographics and demands Downtown, DDI identified education as one of the key areas of focus in the 360 Plan update, which was unanimously approved by the Dallas City Council earlier this month. In the proposal filed December 19th, DDI suggests bringing a Montessori Elementary School model to the urban core, which would uniquely utilize Downtown’s parks, museums, library and much more as an experiential learning campus. That recommendation results from research on what choice school model would have the most success Downtown, and is largely based on high demand and waiting lists for other Montessori programs within the District.

Downtown Dallas President and CEO Kourtny Garrett said, “Based on preliminary work by DDI’s Education Task Force from 2011-2013, plus over 18 months of community outreach through The 360 Plan update, it has become remarkably apparent that – simply — we need more great schools in Downtown,” said DDI President and CEO Kourtny Garrett. “This fact is particularly true when looking at the early childhood through elementary ages. Our resident base is maturing and surveys tell us people want to stay Downtown, but we need to provide them things, like schools, that make it a complete neighborhood in which to plant their roots.”

The Downtown Montessori School model is also unique in that it is proposed to also serve as a “commuter school,” open to both Downtown residents and employees. At around 135,000, Downtown is home to the largest workforce in North Texas. A recent survey conducted by DDI through some of the largest employers in the Downtown showed that more than two-thirds of workers with school-age children would be interested in enrolling their kids in a Dallas ISD elementary school Downtown. DDI is committed to using its members and connections to the community to provide numerous resources for the potential school, including exposure to the vast number of industries and professions in Downtown. The workforce enrollment is intended to complement what can be expected from the 11,000 residents within Downtown, and more than 50,000 in surrounding neighborhoods. DDI also expects to add 20,000 residents in the next 2-5 years. It is also important to DDI that the school be racially, economically and culturally diverse to ensure the organization’s vision of Downtown as an inclusive place is maintained.

DART and LYFT Partner to Start Pilot Program for On-Demand Paratransit

Dallas, Texas – November 2, 2017 – Dallas is testing out new paratransit options in hopes of providing easier access to transportation for the senior and disabled members of our community. Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has already brought in MV Transportation to help operate their paratransit services. Now they are combining forces to introduce a pilot program partnering with ride share company Lyft to provide on-demand transportation as part of their current paratransit system.

HyperFocal: 0If the pilot goes well, this program could help improve the convenience of getting the elderly and disabled citizens visiting downtown to enjoy all that we have to offer. We love to see the community enjoying the attractions within our many districts like exhibits at the Perot Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art or symphonies at the Meyerson Symphony Center.

Currently a majority of DART’s paratransit riders must request their rides a day in advance, but now through the pilot the program riders will be able to utilize the transportation when they need a last minute Lyft. Riders will also receive up-to-date alerts about their trip while still having the MV call center as a resource. “Being a part of these vital community transport programs is an important part of our mission to improve people’s lives,” says Yohan Bobcombe, Market Manager of Lyft Dallas/Fort Worth when discussing the excitement of the new partnership.

The three organizations involved show potential to be very successful in this pilot. For instance MV Transportation, Inc. is the largest private provider of paratransit services in the United States and is headquartered here in Downtown Dallas! Lyft also has a lot to offer even though they were founded as recently as 2012. In fact, they are one of the fastest growing rideshare companies in the United States. It is also encouraging to see that Lyft is so committed to effecting positive change for the future of our city.

Doug Douglas, DART Vice President of Mobility Management Services says that they want to ensure their “standards of quality are met for all individuals in the most efficient and cost effective way. Both MV and Lyft have been outstanding partners in meeting this expectation.”
We at Downtown Dallas Inc. will be waiting to see how the pilot program goes.

American Institute of Architects Dallas Chapter and Dallas Center for Architecture Select City Center Location for New Offices

Republic Center provides organizations with unique workspace, lifestyle and access opportunities

September, 29, 2017, DALLAS, Texas – American Institute of Architects Dallas Chapter (AIA Dallas) and the Dallas Center for Architecture announced today they will relocate their offices to Republic Center at 325 N. St. Paul, across from the planned Pacific Plaza park.

AIA Dallas was represented in this transaction by Eliza Solender of Solender/Hall.  Republic Center was represented by Kathy Permenter, Trae Anderson and Sarah Savage of Younger Partners.  The long-term lease is for 13,708 square feet of office, exhibition and meeting space on the building’s first two floors, connected by an interior staircase.  General offices will be located on the second floor, while exhibition and meeting space will be prominently on street level.  Exclusive use of an outdoor patio area offers additional opportunities for programming and entertainment.

“This new location offers our organization, totaling more than 2,000 members from 300 architecture firms, some truly unique opportunities our members have been seeking. We are creating a special workspace in a landmark building, expanding our programming, and further impacting the development of the surrounding community,” said Nunzio DeSantis, FAIA, 2017 president of AIA Dallas and senior partner at Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects.  “Our space in Republic Center is located in the heart of the city center near public transportation, has high street-front visibility and pedestrian traffic, and is directly across from what will be a special new outdoor space; Pacific Plaza.  We look forward to transforming this multi-level space and moving into the neighborhood next summer.”

“Finding the right space required us to balance many different requirements, and Republic Center was that proverbial needle in a haystack,” said Solender.  “It is easily accessible by members and the public; it is in a significant building with a lot of pedestrian traffic; it has a highly visible street-level location that can be used for classes, exhibitions and programs; and it is next to a soon-to-be-built city park.  Solender/Hall looks forward to helping AIA Dallas and the Dallas Center for Architecture celebrate the opening of their new offices sometime next summer.”

“Our owners listened to the needs of AIA Dallas and the Dallas Center for Architecture.  Together, we found an ideal solution to their challenges. Our partnership combines a great location, offering incredible exhibit space, as well as ample meeting and office space in Republic Center,” said Ms. Permenter. “Republic Center is a gem in the Central Business District and the partnership with these outstanding organizations will be a great addition to the tower’s tenant line-up.”

Jan Blackmon, FAIA, executive director of AIA Dallas and the Dallas Center for Architecture, added, “We enjoyed our time in the current offices, but the ability to add nearly 50 percent more space in a significant urban core building, in an up-and-coming neighborhood, offers an opportunity for us to truly impact the core of the city through quality-of-life oriented architecture and design.  AIA Dallas and the Dallas Center for Architecture see this new office as the perfect alignment of our workspace with our mission.”



AIA Dallas, the sixth largest chapter of The American Institute of Architects, empowers architects to excel and impact their practice, profession, and community. AIA Dallas has a membership base of more than 2,200 members and 300 architectural firms. Member efforts support professional development, education, advocacy, thought-provoking programming, and seven signature events. For more information, visit



The Dallas Center for Architecture works to encourage the conversation about why architecture matters to YOU. The Center seeks to foster the public’s understanding of the power of architecture to enrich our city and our lives through the programs, exhibits, and tours that the Center presents. For more information, visit



Since 1991, Solender/Hall has been specializing in the representation of small and medium sized companies and nonprofit organizations in the North Texas area. Find out more at or by calling 214.265.8200.

Interview: DDI Talks with Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax

Downtown Dallas, Inc. recently sat down with newly-named City Manager T.C. Broadnax, who started in the job back in January after several years as City Manager in Tacoma, Washington.  Read the full transcript below, and watch the video by clicking here.

DDI: You’ve had some time on the job now. Give us a sense of what your thoughts were going into it and what the reality has been and how those two things might be similar and different.

TCB: Some of my thoughts coming in, it’s a good thing. It’s measuring up to what I initially thought of Dallas. One, it’s a great city. It’s got great people. The organization is big and I knew it would take some time for me to get up to speed, but the employees have been very receptive to the change in leadership and what I’ve expected from a community as well as a city connection and partnership I think is about where I expected it to be, and it gave me great excitement in some respects because I love to find ways to build bridges and so there’s a lot of opportunity to continue to do that here so I’d say I’ve been pleasantly surprised, but excited about the upside for the city of Dallas.

DDI: Do you feel like you’re starting to get into the groove now as far as staffing and day-to-day stuff and how everything operates?

TCB: I do. I think probably about five months in I started to feel a little more comfortable and really feel like I had a lay of the land. I’m still working to better understand all the interests of my bosses, the city council, and figure out how I can improve my communication to really be better at making sure I’m meeting their needs. I think the time I spent early on out in the community talking to people about city hall and some of the things they’ve been challenged with have really laid the foundation for me as it relates to the things I need to work on. Having the bond program now behind us as it relates to establishment of it, we have to go out and really impart to people what’s in it to their benefit. The budget process is coming to a close and I’m looking forward to executing on the budget document and the plan so I’m excited. I think I’ve kind of hit the ground running a little bit and the pre-time before I started helped out quite a bit.

DDI: What are your priorities as you move forward into the end of this year and the beginning of next?

TCB: One of the number one priorities is to stabilize our public safety systems; police and fire particularly as it relates to recruitment and retention. I think getting to know our fire chief a little better – I haven’t spent a lot of time with him – but I’ve been very impressed with what he’s doing to try to bring our fire department along and modernize some of its practices. I think the recent hire of Chief Hall is something I’m excited about and will go far in, again, stabilizing building on our recruitment efforts and listening to ideas from her about retention. So, public safety and the safety and well-being of this community finding ways to make sure that those two systems are stood up correctly. Another priority is homelessness. A big issue obviously in Downtown; but also in some of the other districts. We’ve got quite a bit of that as well as panhandling, so it’s working with the new office we’ve created, Homeless Solutions, to figure out where the city is situated, how we’re spending our dollars, who our partners are figuring out how we can impact reducing the level of homelessness in the community. And then infrastructure. I think executing on the bond program if it is approved in November will be a big deal to ensure that we deliver and that the projects that we’ve laid out, that we can prioritize those to meet the needs of the districts as well as just being transparent about it so people can understand where we are at all times in the bond program. Beyond that there are some big things that I’d love to consider working on, and that is the establishment of a ten year strategic vision for the city and working with the community to do that. Then, really get a better feel for our land use and zoning on a citywide basis as well as improving our building permitting areas to be more efficient and responsive, particularly given the anticipated growth in this community.

DDI: If the bond is a success, are you excited that there will be the possibility for the citizens to see some of the improvements they’ve been demanding for a while – is that accurate?

TCB: I think so. It’s a big bond program; a little over a billion dollars. About 500 million plus in streets and obviously that’s something that our city council and I hear quite a bit about. It’s making a small dent in some of our deferred maintenance, but our building conditions out in the community especially those public spaces are important and I think we need to do a better job of maintaining those and improving those. Then we have a quite a bit in parks built into this budget, and again, that is what makes communities communities, so I’m excited about what’s in there. I think people will see visibly improvements that many of them have been asking for for quite a long time. I think the process that we undertook to establish the bond program and build on the prior conversations of the city council was very open and gave people an idea not just about what was going on in their district or what was lacking, but it provided perspective for what was going on in the entire city so people could truly see what some of the deficiencies were in other areas, where in fact they thought they had it bad they could look at other areas and see that there needed to be more dollars put there as well.

DDI: You are co-chair of our Downtown Dallas 360 update Steering Committee. How important is it to have strategic plans like that in place as you try to build a thriving urban core?

TCB: It’s very important. I think that plan is a great blueprint for what you need to do, and what you need to be working on continually in your downtown area and I think for the city having a partner like Downtown Dallas Inc. align with our staff and the strategies and the things that we’re working on particularly as we come into contact with other groups externally – but we can always navigate back to a plan – I think is important to us because it keeps us focused, but I think the biggest piece is that we’ve got to continually work together to WORK the plan. A plan is just a plan unless you put it in action. I think beyond just staff work and having conversations we have to put the resources to bear to get there and I think the plan provides that blueprint and I’m focused on ensuring that at least the city lives up to its side of the partnership and my team is aligned around that plan.

DDI: Mobility is one of the most critical issues. Whether it is bike, pedestrian, bus, rail – we just got the news about the DART alignments – so talk about that critical piece of getting people in and out and around the urban core?

TCB: It is important and I think the multi-modal aspects of what you just mentioned are critical. I think we do a good job of sitting back and watching some of the big things that TxDot does, but what’s important to us is, OK, once you leave those major systems how does that integrate with your downtown? One of the things that we’ve done, at least that I’m recommending this year, is the creation of a transpiration department proper in the city to truly focus and drill down on those types of thoughts and discussions and work again with our downtown community and the broader community to figure out how we develop Dallas-centric discussions and focuses on transportation and how all those different modes of transportation come together and we ensure that we’re able to at least speak our voice at a table as it relates to not just reacting to what other people are proposing to do to our transportation systems.

DDI: Now that you’ve been in the urban core working here every day and have actually seen what’s gone on Downtown in the past decade, were you surprised at all at how much progress has taken place?

TCB: I was a little bit; but excited because I think we’ve still got room for a lot more advancement down here. I’ve been excited. It’s been – I won’t say challenging – but being new to navigate because I spend most of my time looking at a GPS, so I’ve got to be cognizant about where I’m going, but I think the progress that’s been made with improvements in transportation as well as just the living and people on the street in our downtown has impressed me, but again, I think there’s a lot more room for improvement if we continually focus on transit orient related development you’ll just see more of it in the city and the heart of the city. Making sure that we’re getting people in and out and there are various opportunities to use different modes of transportation I think we’ll continue in that stead and I think we’ll be fine.

DDI: Is there anything that has stuck out to you that has sparked you to think I’d like to maybe change that or improve that about Downtown?

TCB: You know I’d like to see more people on the street in the evening. I’d like to see us not, in my mind, shut down at 5 or 6 o’clock and I think any city manager would love to see that – now obviously that comes with its own challenges as it relates to people living downtown – but I’d love to see more of that. I would love to see us as a city begin to treat our Downtown more like a neighborhood, and I think we’re doing that. This evening I’m meeting with a group of neighborhoods from Downtown to begin that discussion and begin to treat and have discussions with them similar to our more suburban-type areas in the city. I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to have that focus that we’ll continue to be able to communicate and work to make sure that the city center is taken care of and cherished.

DDI: We’ve had great gains in residents downtown from 200 to more than 10 thousand now, but talk about the importance because I know it’s a big deal for you of diversity and access to housing in the Downtown area?

TCB: That’s obviously going to be a challenge based just on the economics of land and costs in our downtown, but I think we’ll continue to try to make sure that there is space for that and I know many of our programs, particularly the ones that the city funds, require certain types of levels of housing to be provided and we’ll continue that. I think we’re doing a study now that we entitle the market value analysis that will give us more guidance and ability to allocate our resources more wisely, particularly around the continued development here, but it’s very important and as we see more units I think ensuring that at least many of those units, some of them are affordable I think is going to be key to the success of Downtown.

DDI: Well, and to have more 2 and 3 bedroom units because there are more families here and education has started to come up. Talk about the importance of now that the people are here what you do from that point?

TCB: I haven’t given that THAT much thought, but obviously as the City Manager I probably should be thinking about that, but you’re right the diversity and the size of the dwellings is important and I think we’ve got an Uplift downtown and some things of that nature, so I get a little worried sometimes when I see the little ones out on the sidewalk with all the traffic, but I myself live downtown – I’m in a two bedroom – I wish I had a three bedroom – and so I’m going to be looking for a little larger space and I love all the access to all the things Downtown, not just my  job, but the availability of all the amenities so I think as we start to think about bringing different types of families into our Downtown we have to be cognizant of how they want to live once they get there and I think beyond the living, dwelling – transportation is so key and critical to get people out of their cars in a very dense area I think is important.

DDI: When you’re not in this office, what are some of the things that you’ve enjoyed about being a Downtown resident so far?

TCB: You know I haven’t been able to do THAT much, I typically get off pretty late in the evening. It’s just a little sight-seeing when I go through – I try to drive through different areas of Downtown to be more familiar. My weekends, quite honestly, I try to spend those with my kids, so spending time at the museums and the zoo and other things like that since I’ve been here have been pretty much my life if not watching a lot of those PG movies that come out; so that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing when I’m not at work.

DDI: How many kids — how old?

TCB: I’ve got six year olds and a nine year-old and so I’ve got three little ones and they keep me quite busy. They’re enjoying being here and I’m enjoying the time I get to spend with them but I’ve got to find time to spend more time with them for sure.

DDI: But there are great things to do — the Perot and the Arts District — you don’t have to go far.

TCB: I do not. I enjoy it; again I am struggling with do I ever want to move from outside of the Downtown area, so that’s something I’m going through right now. But I’m enjoying my time here, Downtown is a great space and a place and, again, it can only get better.

DDI: There was a news conference recently regarding bike share and we’ve all seen the bikes that have popped up Downtown; what do you make of that being a kind of creative way to increase mobility.

TCB: I think it’s great, particularly when you see the private sector thriving without government intervention and I know when cities embark upon bike sharing programs you get a lot of strings, you get a lot of things that come with it and a lot of challenges and so it’s been exciting to see that bubble up on its own I think I am still watching; I think our council wants us to have a light touch as it relates to how we approach it  just to see if there are any negative impacts. I think one of my bigger concerns – and I’m always concerned about things – is just making sure that as we grow that industry, and I think it’s very popular and people enjoy it I’ve seen quite a few bikes – is that we don’t’ impede access for those who may be disabled, so that is really my only concern right now. I’m looking forward to working with those companies and working with my staff and council to assess how to continually grow that effort, but again I think that is the excitement of being in a downtown area particularly one that, it may be hot, but people enjoy getting out on their bicycles so I’m excited about it.

DDI: Through attending UNT you had some familiarity with the North Texas area before coming into this job. What was your mindset about Downtown, Uptown – the urban core prior to getting this position.

TCB: You know it’s quite different. It had been a while since I had lived in the area; obviously I went to school here in the early 90s – I came back and visited for a City Manager design academy in 2015 and had a chance to ride around the city and look at many of the things that had gone on in the past 5 to 10 years; Klyde Warren Park, the Arts District, it was pretty eye-opening to see the changes that had occurred downtown and my impression was only improved as it relates to the work that people had put in and the city managers and the councils and the community and when I got here again I was just excited because there’s so much human capital and assets already geared toward making downtown successful and people get it and I guess for me it was just making sure that the city is actively engaged and we’re listening and we’re finding ways to build upon the innovation and the thoughts that people have about what they want their downtown to be and again I’m excited to be here and excited to be the manager.

DDI: Dallas is a lot about partnerships. Talk about from the business community and organizations like DDI how those partnerships have made this what it is now.

TCB: That is one thing that, again, I heard quite a bit about in 2015 when I came. It was those public-private partnerships, it was the philanthropic community, it was the Downtown Dallas Inc’s and the other organizations that have a vested interest in making sure Dallas is successful. The business community has been I think one that I’ve heard has always stepped up when something needs to be done here, so I’ve seen that kind of rallying. I have not met a person yet who – has talked to me who has said I have no agenda, what I want to see is you be successful and Dallas be successful, so what is it I can do for you to help you? And I think that has been the exciting part and there’s a great wealth in this community and I think that there’s a lot of good people with heart for and loving for Dallas and I think that for me I won’t say is different as a city manager, but the overwhelming nature of it and the energy around that I think has really been impressive so there is not one thing in this city that I believe if we really come together and think we need to do that people wouldn’t be standing in line to see how they could help and I think as a city manager that is very very key in showing that you can at least orchestrate how you bring people together to do great things and big things for a city and I think for me as a city manager here I couldn’t be happier or more excited to be sitting here and working in an environment where people want to get better and they know what better is because they’ve seen it and they breathe it and they live it and they want to find ways to work together.

DDI: Do you think these partnerships puts Dallas at an advantage in attracting business?

TCB: I think it does. Just the simple things that I think companies look for whether that’s DFW Airport or Love Field and our access to nonstop flights and can fly pretty much anywhere in the world and proximity to that, I think just our transportation network whether it rail or interstates I think just the overall Metropolitan area and the size of it and diversity of housing and living opportunities beyond the city of Dallas, but I think also just our downtown and the availability and opportunity and just because we’re Dallas in some respect and we’re the big dog it is a magnet for attracting high-quality companies, but I’d say on our part as a city my thought on that is we still have to improve as an organization on how we reach out and touch and the things that we do that impact business – our building and permitting areas and finding ways to be more efficient; our workforce readiness and development aspects, making sure we are on the cutting edge. We have so many colleges and universities in this area that we have to have some considerable thought around how we grow them continually to be putting out and pumping out students that are for the types of businesses that we want to attract and or retain and it’s those types of things that you get to work on as a city manager to figure out how do we see around corners to be ready for opportunities and I think we’re positioned well to do that and we can only find ways to refine how we do it to find ways to attract more and better.

CRE Opinion: Why Modern Streetcar is Important for Downtown and the City

As reported by D CEO here.

By: Kourtny Garrett and Dustin Bullard

This month, we will be faced with many critical choices related to public transportation in Dallas. Routes, funding, and priorities will be discussed and debated, ultimately making decisions that will have generational impact. Among these is the proposed next phase of Dallas’ modern streetcar system, currently operating from Oak Cliff to the southwestern edge of Downtown. Continuing to expand today’s system is a top priority for Downtown Dallas Inc. (DDI) as we plan for the future of our center city and its connectivity to all of Dallas.

Current Status

The current modern streetcar line, the “Dallas Streetcar,” was envisioned to be the bud of a comprehensive system that would better connect the urban neighborhoods of our city. Modeled after many great cities with aspirational qualities for our future, it also evokes Dallas’ past, a time when streetcar added to the depth, density, commerce, and experience in downtown—growing and connecting neighborhoods in Oak Cliff, Fair Park, South Dallas, East Dallas, and what is now Uptown and Knox-Henderson.

Today, an immediate opportunity exists to take the next step toward recreating that fully expanded system by connecting the Oak Cliff line of Dallas Streetcar through the core of downtown to the McKinney Avenue Trolley. Called the Central Dallas Link, the proposed line provides the necessary connections for further extensions, and with a $90M price tag comes a sooner-rather-than-later (est. 2019-2020) funding potential from the Federal Transit Administration and matching funds from DART. This is in addition to the benefit of expanded transit access to some of the highest job and housing concentrations in Dallas in the midst of unprecedented growth, catalytic development potential, and opportunity to enhance a sense of place in downtown.

The Central Dallas Link has four potential alignments undergoing study [see graphic] with ultimate decisions made by the Dallas City Council and DART Board. Of the four, DDI has previously supported the “Elm-Commerce” alignment, but with the recent emergence of a stakeholder-supported preference for a Commerce Street subway for the DART second light rail alignment (D2), factors related to construction, service coverage, and ridership are important to consider. Comprehensive planning is imperative with the many unique opportunities in front of us, from highway tear-outs to bike plans, however regardless of the specific route of the Central Dallas Link, two things are important: one, we must seize this immediate opportunity to advance a project that is long overdue and essential to advancing a larger system, and two, we must start planning future phases of that larger system now.

Vision and Value

In 2011, The 360 Plan, our strategic plan for Downtown and its connected neighborhoods, emphasized the importance of streetcar and introduced desire lines for a fully built-out system:

As the center of the city and one of the region’s most prominent employment centers, downtown is the place where freeways, arterial roads, commuter rail, light rail, bus lines, and trolley cars all converge. However, despite this range of transportation, most of the emphasis is on the automobile and there is a lack of connectivity between these different modes of travel…A modern streetcar network can be the glue that binds downtown’s established destinations together and the framework along which new development can rebuild the fabric of the central city.

The update to The 360 Plan, due out this fall, builds on this vision and provides a framework for further mode diversification by enhancing pedestrian, bike, and public transportation options, and stressing localized, high capacity, frequent, and reliable service.

The value of streetcar has been proven throughout the country, from established systems like Portland’s to new systems like Kansas City’s, which according to reports, has generated more than 2.4 million trips since its opening in May 2016. In Dallas, streetcar will similarly support existing and future growth. Since 2010, the central area of Dallas, including downtown, has continued to drive the highest rate of population growth in the city and remains the largest employment center in the region. Sustaining and amplifying this base of jobs and housing is greatly dependent on a robust multi-modal transportation network that creates inter-area connections that deliver equal access to housing, jobs, entertainment, education, services, amenities, and recreation.

Furthermore, streetcars are a proven transportation option that can reduce dependence on auto usage, especially for those making “short trips” within the central Dallas area or looking for complementary service to bus or light rail. In fact, in a recent study focused on a 2.5-mile radius of downtown (the geography of The 360 Plan), GPS data showed that nearly 20 percent of all trips never left the study area, instead moving between neighborhoods like Main Street to Deep Ellum, West End to Dallas Farmers Market, the Cedars to the Arts District, and so on. Streetcar gives an alternative to making these trips by car, thereby reducing automobile dependence, lowering congestion and parking demand, and improving walkability.

Finally, as a locally serving system, streetcar has tremendous placemaking potential. The investment in streetcar infrastructure can have transformational impacts on the public realm, creating more humane corridors that are proven to spur additional private investment and street life.

Economic Impact

Current study of the four proposed alignments includes a Comparative Economic Benefits Assessment conducted by HR&A Associates, commissioned by DDI. In cooperation, operations, maintenance, ridership, and cost recovery models are being led by DART and the City of Dallas. These studies will inform alignment preferences by all parties to be determined in concert with D2 LPA determination over the next 30-60 days. Regardless of the route, preliminary analysis of the economics proves streetcar as a net positive, as any of the four alignments:

  • Increase the number of blocks with transit adjacency by more than 100.
  • Deliver ¼ mile or less new access to rail transit to more than 62,000 current employees.
  • Better connect our entertainment districts and benefit tourism, serving more than 3,100 hotel rooms and 800,000 visitors, with a spending potential of over $136 million yearly.
  • Equal a commercial real estate premium. Projections show streetcar could have a positive net impact on leased office space, ranging from 0.5 million square feet up to just over 1 million square feet, depending on the alignment, with a corresponding increase in jobs, and an average $50 million increase in value.
  • Positively impact residential growth by stimulating more units and greater assessed value at a possible $17 million high, building Dallas’ tax base.

The Time is Now

For more than a decade, DDI has continued to advocate for the establishment and growth of a streetcar network. Strengthening multi-modal mobility options in our center city will enable us to be economically competitive, attracting new residents and talent who expect and are accustomed to high quality, well-connected urban environments. The importance of moving forward with the Central Dallas Link now cannot be stressed enough, with immediate attention also paid to the full network—north, south, east, and west—that will deliver a vibrant and robust system in the future that reconnects us with the past, for downtown and the city.

Kourtny Garrett is president and CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc.

Dustin Bullard is vice president of public space and design at Downtown Dallas, Inc.

CRE Opinion: Education Resources in Our Center City

In making Downtown Dallas a complete neighborhood, education options of all levels have become a top priority for DDI.

By: Kourtny Garrett

Published in D CEO


I am a parent of twin 5-year-olds who will be in kindergarten next year. We live downtown. Where can I send my kids to school?

That was the opening question, and not a hypothetical one, that I posed last month at our Downtown Dallas, Inc. board meeting to a panel including Dallas ISD District 8 Trustee Miguel Solis, Dallas ISD District 2 Trustee Dustin Marshall, and Uplift Education Chief Administration Officer Ann Stevenson. It is also a question I get more and more often, not only from my downtown neighbors, but also from corporate decision-makers who are chasing the talent pool who craves urban living.

At the beginning of this year, Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI) realigned our priorities to take a more integrated approach to building our center city. One that has risen to the top is “Fostering the Growth of Complete Neighborhoods.” This includes thoughtful urban planning efforts that grow and diversify housing choice downtown, including product type and price point, while at the same time complementing it with essential services like grocery stores and dry cleaners, parks and cultural assets, and accessible, multi-modal, and efficient transportation. And yes, schools.  It’s not just about a race to build the most units or lease the greatest amount of space. What will sustain our urban core in the long run is filling in the gaps between towers to create complete places.

And education is a gap. As downtown’s pioneering population has grown and matured in recent years, demand has risen for more education options at all levels. We are “aging”—establishing careers and having kids—and we want to stay downtown. From 2000-2010 the number of 25-34-year-olds in the central business district (CBD) grew by 185.6 percent. I won’t make assumptions about anyone else’s life, but I know what I was doing at age 34, and those near-kindergarteners are the starting point for this piece. Furthermore, talent retention and recruitment have never been more important due to the increase of companies staying, growing, and moving to our urban core. So, our education platform at DDI is a simple brick and mortar strategy: We need more great schools in downtown.

From 2000-2010, the number of children ages 0-4 grew by 55.6 percent in the CBD. The projection for the next decade, from 2010-2020, predicts a similar trajectory at 45.7 percent growth. Then it slows to 27.9 percent from ages 5-14. The correlation with entering kindergarten is probably not accidental. Within the 2.5-mile radius of the Downtown Dallas 360 Plan geography, from 2000-2010, all age brackets between 0-19 declined by double-digits, but the story is a bit brighter from 2015-2020, as projections show modest growth of 2.7 percent. That said, we know that number can, and should, be higher.

Despite the undeniable need for more schools, it’s important to note the resources that are available today. We have options, great options. There are more than 30 schools of all levels within about two miles of downtown. So, when I asked the opening question to our panel about what I’m to do with my kids right now, there were answers.

Ms. Stevenson spoke about the Uplift Preparatory System, with 17 schools throughout Dallas and a mission to provide quality education in communities that are underserved with a focus on college preparation. In the downtown area, Uplift’s International Baccalaureate-authorized Luna Campus is split between the West End (K-5) and Deep Ellum (6-12), and will add pre-kindergarten in the 2017-2018 school year. Another charter school option, Pegasus School of Liberal Arts & Sciences, provides K-12 education through a highly experiential curriculum that utilizes all of downtown as its campus.

Trustee Solis was instrumental in the decision to locate CityLab High School in downtown, which will open this fall with its first class of 100 freshmen students. CityLab’s mission, fit perfectly for an urban campus, “is to establish an open enrollment inner-city high school where students use the city itself as a classroom to engage with the diverse social fabric and neighborhoods of the city.”

CityLab is just one creative way Dallas ISD is rethinking its approach to education downtown. Trustee Marshall’s district includes Ben Milam Elementary, located at McKinney Avenue and Fitzhugh Avenue, which, with the help of many neighborhood advocates, is now the school serving most of Uptown and downtown Dallas, giving our downtown families new options. Milam also offers pre-kindergarten, and is in the Alex W. Spence Middle School and North Dallas High School feeder pattern, with traditional as well as Talented and Gifted curriculum options at Spence Middle School. In addition, the incorporation of Public School Choice has allowed families to have better access to schools that are more streamlined to particular interests, including STEAM, Leadership, and Personalized Learning curricula. Schools of choice have also opened up geographic constraints, making schools like Solar Prep Girls STEAM Academy just north of downtown an option for many families.

In addition to CityLab, El Centro College, and Dallas ISD have a partnership in Lassiter Early College High School that allows students to graduate with high school diplomas and 60 or more college credits, in some cases qualifying for an associate’s degree. And, of course, downtown is home to the award-winning Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

First Baptist Academy also serves as a pre-k-12 option for private school. Preschool and early childhood development options are available at many downtown and nearby faith-based institutions, adding to a handful of traditional daycare options. Additionally, the T. Boone Pickens YMCA is growing its programming for children.

Downtown’s higher education institutions are robust and growing as well. Within downtown and a 2.5-mile radius more than 18,000 students are enrolled. The El Centro College campus celebrating 50 years, includes a rich core curriculum in addition to its specialty programs such as El Centro’s Center for Allied Health, Center for Design, and Food and Hospitality Services Institute. El Centro is also proud to be an HSI, a Hispanic Serving Institution. Downtown is also home to UNT System and UNT Dallas College of Law, as well as the Universities Center at Dallas and its partner institutions, including UNT, UNT Dallas, Texas A&M Commerce, and University of Texas Arlington. In the Cedars, the Bill J. Priest Institute for Economic Development provides workforce and business development training. DDI is also working with nearby campuses like Paul Quinn College to continue to grow the talent pool and opportunities in the center of our city.

I’ve chosen to live downtown with my family for a number of reasons. I live in a place where we spend our time enjoying life with front door access to art, recreation, food, events, and spontaneous run-ins. My children are exposed to a richness of culture, diversity, innovation, and history, supported by a community striving for the same. And now, as we weigh our options for education, the long-term viability of staying here feels pretty good.