360 Meeting Window #2 Recap: What Comes of Simply Sitting around a Table

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!

Kourtny Garrett
EVP, Downtown Dallas, Inc.
Downtown Dallas 360 Team Lead
Downtown Dallas Resident

Another reason why you should venture outside of the tunnels for lunch

Jaime, DDI’s new event coordinator extraordinaire, is hot on the horn right now chasing a tip from our good pal Robert Wilonsky –  apparently Cirque du Soleil is planning quite the stunt at Thanksgiving Tower tomorrow.  Word on the street is that sometime around the lunch hour Spidey-style antics will ensue…  Emerge, tunnel dwellers!

Check out the YouTube sneak peek at Unfair Park.

Happenings…

Greetings DDI followers!

We’ve been running full throttle here at the Downtown Dallas, Inc. world headquarters for the last several weeks, so let’s dive right into the updates…

Downtown Dallas 360

Consultants MIG returned to Dallas for “Meeting Window 7” at the end of May, presenting Downtown Dallas 360 progress to multiple working groups and the steering committee.  At the same time, we  launched the Downtown Parking Strategy (approved by Council in April) with particular focus from MIG sub-consultant Kimley-Horn.  At www.downtowndallas360.com you will find a post of the master presentation used at these meetings, with a recap summary to be posted shortly.   But a few of my personal take-aways:

  • BE BOLD!  (or “Don’t be timid” to steal a quote from my urban hero, Brent Brown)  In contrast to previous sessions when feedback was consistently based on setting “realistic” goals and prioritizing – the tone seemed to shift, stressing that the creation of 360 is our opportunity to aim high.  Perhaps an indicator that the frugality of the last 24 months  is shifting?  Do I dare say we are becoming more hopeful?  The specific reference in this case was discussion regarding potential deck parks over I-30, ala The Park (Woodall Rodgers Park).  Can we fund and sustain another project like Woodall?  Tell me what you think.  (As a Cedars resident, personally, I say yes!  The connection is critical…)
  • Tunnels, tunnels, tunnels.  Yes, friends – start those comments now!  Obviously, this is a consistent question that we here at DDI field daily.  But today, we find the time is right to examine innovative solutions of repurposing (bike parking?  storage?  fiber optic paths?) and incentivizing tunnel dwellers to emerge .
  • Parks.  We love our greenspace and there is no denying what Main Street Garden has done for the Main Street District.  But with greenspace comes management, maintenance and programming  (see below for the Main Street Garden updates), begging the question – could Downtown become “over parked” with current plans?  Should we look at a better mix of the typology of our greenspaces (see this part of the presentation on the 360 site), creating more usable, neighborhood places?  Envision pocketparks, playgrounds, basketball courts, more space dedicated to our canines, etc…
  • Gateways.  We’ve all seen the designs of overpass treatments with dramatic lighting, artwork and better pedestrian connections – all great things.  But I love, love, love this idea – a skatepark around Good Latimer, seaming together the east end of the Main Street District (Harwood Historic District area) with Deep Ellum.  Already in the works over yonder is “Pillar Park”, more artwork and lighting in the already uber-cool DE Art Park.

Many, many more big ideas have emerged, but we have much to get to in this one little post, so I’ll leave you to check out the 360 site for more.

Main Street Garden – the scoop.

  • Yes, we have discovered that the stainless steel in the Tot Lot is too hot!  Ever sat on a black leather car seat?  In August?  In Texas? In Shorts??  Well, we certainly want to ensure every aspect of the park is 110% useable, so we’re working closely with the Park & Rec department to come up with a solution, quickly.  In the interim, parents, please mind the caution signs going up this week.
  • The Lily Pad is poised to open – just any minute now!  A complicated permitting process is being addressed as we speak, so you’ll soon be able to grab your multi-grain muffin and coffee on the way to the office.
  • PLAY at the Park.  We went out yesterday with the Downtown YMCA folks and tested out kick ball, frisbee and volleyball for upcoming field days and sports leagues (who says this job isn’t fun?).  Dates to be announced soon.
  • Vandalism reports.  Yes, unfortunately some no-gooder attempted to break in to one of the restrooms.  In all seriousness, however, the matter was quickly addressed by the Dallas Police Department and Downtown Safety Patrol and camera footage is being reviewed to identify the suspect.  Patrols from both forces have been increased.

Another destination for your morning buzz..
Mercantile Coffee House is set to open at The Merc at the end of this month – featuring Intelligentsia Coffee and Yogen Fruz frozen yogurt.

Some new faces at DDI
Meet C.C. Gonzalez-Kurz, Community Relations Manager and Shawn Corcoran, Interactive Developer/Designer.  They have swallowed the kool-aid and are now part of the DDI team.  Know ’em, love ’em.  Bio’s, obligatory headshots and interviews coming soon…

And one last sidenote for all of you passionate urbanites – I highly recommend picking up this month’s edition of Dwell, which is focused on “Megacities”.  It also includes great articles about urban parks, interesting freeway interventions and demographic forecasts that continue to bode well for downtown growth.

~Kourtny

Meet DOWNTOWNDALLAS Board Member: Sandra Doyle

Name:  Sandra Doyle

Company: Atmos Energy Corporation

Length of Involvement with DOWNTOWNDALLAS:  member for 3 years, 8 months on the board

What committees or task forces are you currently involved in with DOWNTOWNDALLAS?:  Annual meeting committee and working on some forum sponsorships.

What is your favorite spot Downtown?:  That is a tough one; there are so many… My newest favorite is the Winspear, oldest favorites are the Dallas Public Library and Neiman’s… especially at Christmas, Stephen Pyles dinner and wine tasting!

What is one thing you would like to add to Downtown?:  Grocery shopping for those making Downtown their home.  I know it is a chicken or egg situation where the stores are waiting for the population and vice versa

What is your favorite memory Downtown?: As a child in the 50’s riding the bus with my Grandmother to the library and then to the soda fountain at H.L. Greens. Going downtown at night during Christmas and looking at all the window displays.  As a teenager, dressing up and going to the Zodiac room with my mom and girlfriends; we thought we were so grown up!  Special occasion dates at the Ports O’ Call at the top of the Southland Life Building.  And then there was learning to drive in 1967.  Our Drivers Ed teacher took us downtown and said, “If you can drive here, you can drive anywhere in the world”!

Why is it important to you to be a member of DOWNTOWNDALLAS?:  To support others who are working to help preserve the legacy of the downtown area while planning for future growth that will maintain its prominence as a global destination.  Although Atmos Energy is not located Downtown, we definitely believe the mantra, “So Goes Downtown, So Goes Dallas”.  We understand it is vital that we support the health of the Downtown area and the City of Dallas and, it’s just the right thing to do!

Want to see your face on a big screen?

Want to end up on the big screens at our annual meeting March 2? In 10 words or less tell us…

1. What the Creative Class (Google it!) is to you
and/or
2. Where there is evidence of it in Downtown Dallas.

Video submissions can come from individuals or companies/organizations and can send to marketing@downtowndallas.org or upload to yourDspot.com! Deadline is Wednesday at 5pm. We will play all videos during our luncheon!

For event info visit http://www.createdowntowndallas.org.

-Kristy

2010 Priorities

Every year we come up with our annual Program of Work, a set of goals and benchmarks to determine our success.  We break it down into our priorities and then ongoing tasks.  The difference is our priorities are items that are unique to that specific year, like 2009 we had the opening of the AT&T Performing Arts Center and Main Street Garden, so those two huge projects determined about 3-4 months of our workload.  The ongoing tasks are just that, things that we do day in and out of any given year that will never change, picking up litter, promoting downtown, etc.

Below is a link to our 2010 Priorities.  Let us know your thoughts!

2010 Downtown Dallas Inc Priorities

-Kristy