John Crawford: The Connected City—A Design Challenge

D Real Estate Daily: Blog

As the region’s greatest natural asset, the Trinity River Corridor has the potential to transform Dallas like virtually no other project in our history, or our future. Though a long-term vision, tangible progress on its redevelopment is evidenced by the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge, Audubon Center, Santa Fe Tressle Trail, Great Trinity Forest Gateway and Horse Trails, Moore Park Gateway and Pavilion, 10K Levee-Top Trail, Trinity Overlook, and the ongoing work on the Standing Wave. In addition, ancillary development has been catalyzed:  Trinity Groves and west Dallas have become one of Dallas’ emerging neighborhoods, and significant land plays have been made along Riverfront Boulevard. As the front yard to the core of downtown, how the Central Business District connects to, and interacts with, the Trinity is critical, to say the least.

Downtown Dallas 360, our strategic development plan guiding the collective vision for the future of downtown, identifies the “Reunion/Union Station” district as one of five key focus areas. The stated opportunity: “Establish a landmark mixed-use office and residential district that connects the Trinity River Corridor to the downtown core.” Yet, as the plan also presents, it is an area faced with great challenge: “Although it has many acres of developable land, the [area] is challenged with topographic changes, two viaducts, and a freeway interchange that prohibit the site from functioning as a contiguous district.”

So how do we reconcile the opportunity with the challenge in order to connect downtown with the region’s greatest natural asset? That is the question that spurred DDI’s commitment to the Connected City.

The Connected City Design Challenge is an open call for urban design strategies to connect the core of Downtown Dallas and the Trinity River. Run by the Dallas CityDesign Studio, in partnership with The Trinity Trust, DDI, and The Real Estate Council, the Challenge seeks bold solutions from professional designers, students and citizens. With two streams of entries, professional and open, a “no boundaries” approach is encouraged. Thus far in the process, the professional stream submission process in under way, with over 30 entries from across the globe submitted, narrowed down to three finalists who will be in Dallas this month for further work.

The process of first-round qualification review was fascinating. In addition to logical criterion like project team experience, diversity, and relevant work, two key benchmarks arose in the context of our mission at DDI and implementation of Downtown Dallas 360.

Can this team balance innovation with context? This is a challenge that will require a grand solution, a “bold move,” per the 360 directive. We have entertained planners from throughout the world over the years, and many have commented that they’ve never encountered obstacles of such proportion. A traditional project approach just won’t do. However, the grand gesture must also fit within the context of those things that define us as a city—a place that exudes great bravado while opening its arms with a warm, southern welcome. The final solution must also communicate between two highly contrasting environments, the intensity of the Central Business District’s built environment and the organic softness of the Trinity River.

Can this team create people places? To us, as the management entity of downtown Dallas, the actual use of the space is critical. Too often we have seen form trump function, leading to aesthetically stunning structures that are … lifeless. Downtowns, by definition, are about bustle, activity, community, and the convergence of neighborhoods and culture. One of the transformative strategies presented in Downtown Dallas 360 clearly addresses this principle, “Create vibrant streets and public spaces.” The tactics contained therein include: programming parks and plazas, enhancing streetscapes, increasing street vendors, and putting an outdoor café just about anywhere there is opportunity. The vision for the Trinity River Corridor certainly creates these vibrant places—many of which are beginning to come to fruition—therefore, its connection to downtown must do the same.

We’ve witnessed what the mending of two urban neighborhoods with an activated public space can do in the short time since Klyde Warren Park’s opening. People have been brought together, not just to visit the attraction, but to integrate experiences on both sides of the former chasm between the Central Business District and Uptown, spurring social and economic growth. The same opportunity, magnified one-hundred-fold, lies ahead when we connect the core of downtown Dallas with the Trinity River.
For more information on The Connected City, including upcoming lectures and related events, visit http://www.connectedcitydesign.com.

John F. Crawford is president and CEO of Downtown Dallas Inc. Contact him at crawford@downtowndallas.org.Image

Downtown Safety Patrol Officers Receive Praise from Visitors

Downtown Dallas, Inc. works daily to improve the quality of life for Downtown workers, visitors and residents by ensuring the neighborhood remains one of the safest in the city. The Downtown Safety Patrol includes 45 officers patrolling the streets, providing extra eyes and ears for the Dallas Police Department. Each year, Downtown Dallas, Inc. receives hundreds of emails praising the work of the Downtown Safety Patrol. We have listed a few of the recent testimonials from visitors below.

Thank you to our Safety Patrol Officers for making a difference in Downtown Dallas!

“I was staying in downtown Dallas this past Sunday up until Tuesday morning for business and Latonja Hastings saved my identity and my job. I had lost my wallet with all my debit, credit cards, driver’s license and over $1000 in cash. Luckily there are honest people like Latonja Hastings, she found my wallet and was able to track down the hotel I was staying at, and then got the hotel staff to call my work back in Corpus Christi who then gave her my cell phone number. She immediately contacted me and directed me where to go to retrieve my lost wallet with EVERYTHING and every dollar still in my wallet. I felt the need to write this email hoping it reaches her supervisor to praise Latonja for being such an honest person. I’m sure she was just doing her job but anyone could’ve kept the money and put my driver’s license in the mail anonymously. I was so worried about how I would fly back with no driver’s license, and then end up in trouble with my boss for not being at work on time the following day. Latonja you saved me! I can’t thank you enough; the world needs more people like her.”

“This is email is being sent as a thank you to Downtown Dallas Safety Patrol Officer #46. My wife and I are visiting Dallas from Chicago for the weekend. On Saturday morning, we were looking for good recommendations on places visit and places to eat. Officer #46 was very courteous and more than willing to help us. On our way back to our hotel, Officer #46 happened to pass by us again and followed up with us on his recommendations. My wife and I were very pleased we meet this officer and he made our Dallas experience much more enjoyable. Please pass this information along to Officer #46 as well as any supervisor of his.”

“Hello. I am a student teacher. I was traveling through down town Dallas and became lost trying to find the Plaza of America. I stopped over near the 7-11 where two of your safety patrol officers were (Ms. Hastings # 33 and Mr. Guilroy #13). I explained to them that I was down there to take a state test and was all turned around and lost. They were so gracious and kind. Mr. Guilroy asked Ms. Hastings to help me out. She gave me great directions. She then stopped me before I pulled out of the parking lot and gave me even better directions. She took the time to go get a map from her bike and then showed me where we were and how to get to where I needed to go. She was very patient with me and both of them wished me good luck on my test”

“The reason I am writing this is to let you know what fine safety patrol officers you have on your department. I get really nervous when I get lost and especially in an area that I was unfamiliar with. They eased my mind and sent me on my way. I can only hope that all of the officers are like Hastings and Guilroy. They made me feel safe and comfortable and that is so important. I gave them a big thank you and a God Bless.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. We often hear so much of the negative things in life that we forget to let people know what a good job they are doing.”

Malika Crawford Elected Incoming President of Downtown Security Directors Association!

Malika CrawfordCongratulations to Malika Crawford, Downtown Safety Patrol Officer, for being elected as the incoming 2013 – 2014 President of the Downtown Security Directors Association (DSDA).

Crawford has been with Downtown Dallas, Inc.’s Downtown Safety Patrol (DSP) since its inception in 2004. She currently works as the Training Manager and serves as the liaison for DSP and the Dallas Police Department (DPD), City of Dallas Office of Emergency Management, Dallas County Office of Emergency Management, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Dallas Independent School District Police.

Crawford has also served as Assistant Treasurer and Treasurer of the DSDA, is a Certified Protection Officer and an active member of the American Society for Industrial Security.

The DSDA was created to foster an atmosphere of mutual understanding, cooperation and coordination among security management in Downtown Dallas in the areas of security, crime prevention and emergency preparedness. Downtown Security Directors meet on a monthly basis with DPD to review security issues and crime trends and analysis.

Downtown Dallas, Inc. works daily to improve the quality of life for Downtown workers, visitors and residents by ensuring the neighborhood remains one of the safest in the city. The Downtown Safety Patrol includes 45 officers patrolling the streets, providing extra eyes and ears for the DPD. Thank you to our officers for making a difference in Downtown Dallas!

DDI Honors Downtown Champion: Jeff West

Some called him a Downtown champion, others called him an artist and others will remember Jeff West as a savvy businessman. He was an active member of the DDI Board and Executive Committee. Here around the DDI office we will remember Jeff as the guy full of life. You always knew when Jeff was in the room. His laugh was contagious. He always seemed genuinely interested in what you had to say, he could always relate and he gave the best hugs around.

Jeff West worked behind the scenes for many years to better Downtown Dallas and improve the city’s arts. He died Monday at 54.  West’s work included 11 years as executive director of the Sixth Floor Museum and five years as managing director of the Dallas Theater Center. At the time of his death, he was working as vice-president at Matthews Southwest, the development company responsible for the Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel.

West helped bring the American Film Institute brand to Dallas during the 3-year run of the AFI Dallas International Film Festival. That event is now known simply as the Dallas International Film Festival.

Downtown Dallas, Inc. President & CEO, John Crawford recalled West’s dedication to the city thru his work in numerous non-profits over the last 20 years in everything from the film festival to working to bring conventions to town.

“One of the marks of success is that you leave a place better than when you started.”  Crawford said.  “Jeff West accomplished that with all he did as an advocate for Downtown and the arts. It’s a sad day for all of us.”

Save the Date – DDI Spring Forum

Please mark your calendars for the Downtown Dallas, Inc. Spring Forum. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings will be giving a State of Downtown Address on May 24th at the Sheraton Hotel. 

He should have plently to say as we continue to celebrate a monumental year for Downtown. As you may recall from our Annual Meeting, 2012 is set to be a big year with the openings of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Belo Garden, The Park and more.

We hope you will join us in the celebration by again “Investing Yourself” in Downtown. How will you “Invest Yourself”? 

Season Greetings to Members & Friends of Downtown Dallas, Inc.

2012 is set to be another monumental year for Downtown and Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI), as we celebrate the completion of a number of significant projects. Dallas has been leading much of the nation in economic progress, and the trend is most apparent Downtown; from the construction and recent opening of the Dallas Omni Convention Center Hotel to our world-class Arts District. Openings like the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Belo Garden, The Park and completion of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science will add even more recreation, greenspace, culture and iconic architecture to our Downtown. Cranes will continue to fly high on new residential projects such as Museum Tower, Lone Star Gas Lofts and the Continental Building, as well as pivotal mixed use developments such as the Grand Ricchi at 1600 Pacific, 1401 Elm, 500 S. Ervay and the Statler Hilton.

After just over a decade since the creation of the first Tax Increment Finance district in Downtown, which signified a common vision of the public and private sectors of a revitalized city center, today we are celebrating the realization of urban life. It is a reality of employees living where they work, and working where they play; a reality of entrepreneurial restaurants, a vibrant night life, a resurging commercial office market, and landmark projects that have moved beyond “planned” to groundbreakings and openings. There is a new heartbeat in the center of our city—a new generation of employees, residents and visitors that are changing our environment. Downtown has shifted from a one-dimensional commercial office center to one of many facets – living, shopping, dining, working, arts, recreation and public transportation. We no longer gaze at Downtown through a rendering of the future – instead we can see and feel tangible successes on the streets every day.

For several years now, the change Downtown has been most noticeably pronounced in its residential community. Historic structures, mid-century office towers and new construction have become home to thousands of new residents in the City’s core. Looking back to 1995, the Central Business District (CBD) was home to only 200 residents. Today you will find more than 7,000 urban dwellers in the CBD, and more than 37,000 who call one of the other 15 Downtown districts that comprise Dallas’s city center their home. All of this has created an exciting vibrancy Downtown that is now attracting major companies as well.

There is no question Downtown is growing by leaps and bounds, and this is just the beginning. Downtown Dallas 360,  a new action-oriented strategic plan for Downtown, is in full implementation mode creating new public-private partnerships, focused heavily on activating our streets, developing transit oriented development (TOD), housing and parking.

One of the real joys of the Holiday Season is the opportunity to say “Thank you” and wish you the very best for the New Year. Happy holidays from all of us at DDI. As goes Downtown, so goes Dallas!

P.S. Mark your calendar for January 24 to attend our Annual Meeting & Luncheon. Go to http://www.downtowndallas.org for details.

John F. Crawford

President & CEO

Downtown Dallas, Inc.

Museum Tower Tops Out

The Museum Tower topped out as the construction reached the 42nd floor progressing toward a late 2012 completion date. The 42-story Museum Tower condominium building has been under construction for more than a year in the Arts District. The luxury residential tower won’t open its doors until next fall, but the high-rise has already made a big change to Downtown skyline.

The project’s General Contractor is Austin Commercial; designer is LA-based architect Scott Johnson; developers are Brook Partners principals Lyle Burgin and John Sughrue, with Turtle Creek Holdings partners Dan Boeckman and Gregg Greene.

The $200 million tower will have about 110 condos, starting at more than $1 million. Museum Tower is the tallest Downtown building constructed since the 55-story Chase Tower was completed in 1987. And it’s one of the tallest buildings under construction in the country.