The mid 90's was actually my first time ever visiting Dallas so I've noticed a number of changes since then. I can tell it has grown quite a bit, or at least it seems like a lot more people and much busier now then ever before. Downtown is still a bit dead, but from what I seen of it in the past, there has been some improvement. My surprise is how large the downtown area is, but not much activity. Still I think its nice and ripe to become great, look at what has happened in Fort Worth and it's surrounding neighborhoods.
Back when I first visit DART rail had only began service about a month I had arrived, and I was looking forward to taking a ride on it . It was really short at that time and covered only the downtown area if I remember correctly.
Since then I'm amazed at how quickly they have expanded their system. If I lived in Dallas I would certainly take advantage of using it.
There are things I like about the DFW metro, cost of living (easy living) is one of them. But I can't see myself ever living there as I love being on the coast and I'm not crazy about the long hot summers.
As far as the sprawl yep that is a problem, but there are some options. If I had to live in this metro Dallas would certainly be my first choice, and it would be the neighborhoods in Dallas Oaklawn/Turtle Creek or around the Lemmon Avenue - McKinney Avenue intersection, Greenville or Lower Greenville as I love those older neighborhoods. Also Highland Park, University Park, that is if I had some wealth.
2nd choice would be Fort Worth downtown area or adjacent neighborhood in the Cultural District, and along 7th Street.