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Old Posted Mar 30, 2011, 6:27 PM
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Editorial: Planning the Future of Downtown Dallas

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/ed...own-dallas.ece

Quote:
More people live in downtown Dallas than a decade ago. Its Arts District is the envy of other cities, and a brand-new convention center hotel is soon to open. New commercial development has sprouted around downtown rail and bus lines, and Main Street is a work in progress. As a whole, downtown Dallas offers far more today than during its dead years.

Nonetheless, the transformation is hardly complete, and Dallas is entering a critical next stage. On Wednesday, Downtown Dallas Inc. will formally unveil Downtown Dallas 360, a plan billed as a comprehensive roadmap for the next phase of revitalization of the center city. The Dallas City Council also will get briefed on the plan, much of which will require council approval and innovative public-private partnerships to finance.

This plan has been long in the making. Conceptually, it embraces many improvements this newspaper has urged. It wisely urges new efforts to attract middle-class residents, promote affordable housing, encourage more development around mass transit stops and increase convenient public parking. In specific, the plan targets five key areas for special attention and investment: Farmers Market, Main Street, Union Station, the Lamar Street Corridor and the South Arts District.

Targeting these downtown areas makes sense and, in many instances, builds on development already underway. In this way, the plan could help accelerate downtown’s transformation from an old-style business center into one that smartly combines business with pleasure. If done right, it could give downtown residents and visitors an enjoyable urban neighborhood accented by wider streets, outdoor dining and streetcars, better lighting and attractive greenery. On Main Street, for example, the plan encourages street-level retail, in part, by phasing out retail and restaurant uses from the underground tunnels and changing street-vending ordinances to attract carts and kiosks. This is long overdue.

Another goal is to have at least 25 percent of future housing development affordable to middle-income households. In the Farmers Market and Cedars areas, for example, the proposal calls for developing schools, parks, daycare services, streetscapes and other amenities to attract families. A master development agreement for the Reunion/Union Station area is another suggestion.

What’s critical going forward is thorough discussion of this effort, moving quickly on small items that can make a quick impact while exploring fresh ways to pursue and finance the longer-term aspirations.

Cities that fail to adapt to changing lifestyles and maintain a strong urban core run the risk of not attracting and retaining talented workers — or capitalizing on the benefits of density while remaining affordable and livable.
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Old Posted Mar 30, 2011, 7:38 PM
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Lightbulb

Planning is the easy part. Doing is the hardest. Dallas, all cities, needs to minimize regulations that restrict growth. It's one thing to make regulations encouraging growth, it's another to make regulations that stop or hinder growth.

Dallas has too many of the latter, and not enough of the former, then wonder why the type of growth they want isn't happening.
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Old Posted Mar 31, 2011, 3:48 PM
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^Agreed. Dallas though at least has some form of regulations in the first place. Houston just lets you build wherever and however you want. Our tunnel system is far more extensive than Dallas, and as expected, our street-level retail is in far worse shape than Dallas. The direct correlation is there... you can't bury your businesses and expect to have pedestrian activity in downtown. I salute Dallasites for at least being more progressive about a phase out, and I hope Houston would do the same.
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Old Posted Mar 31, 2011, 3:54 PM
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Dallas has some very good retail corridors, but a lot of the areas are still incohesive. Elm street has so much potential... the retail spaces are already there. You just have to drive out all the check cashers and other assorted shadiness. Main Street Garden is a jewel of a park, but it's in a dead zone for downtown. Hopefully more developments are happening to tie this half of DT to the rail corridor.
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