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How Dallas is Throwing Away $4 Billion
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 18:00

How can downtown attract new investment? Swing a wrecking ball.

By Patrick Kennedy, CNU-NTX Board Member

As you undoubtedly know, the city of Dallas celebrated the opening of Klyde Warren Park in October. The green expanse stretching over Woodall Rodgers Freeway brought 44,000 visitors on opening weekend to the nexus of Uptown and downtown. A wonderful achievement, indeed. But what if I told you that for the same cost Dallas could have three or four more new urban parks plus generate $4 billion in private investment? All we have to do is get creative with a short stretch of highway.

IH-345 is the obscure official name for the sinuous, 1.4-mile elevated freeway that runs between downtown and Deep Ellum. It connects 75 to I-30 and I-45. It’s on year 39 of a 40-year lifespan and has already been repaired three times in the past 12 years. It has 487 fatigue cracks and spot welds. The Texas Department of Transportation has offered two recommendations: either keep repairing the old road or rebuild it entirely, at a price likely in the hundreds of millions. There is a third option, though, and it’s not getting the consideration it deserves.

As an urban designer, I’ve been thinking about this highway for quite a while. Two years ago, a friend in real estate development and I were critiquing the various plans for downtown. No proposal to date effectively flipped what we saw as an upside-down real estate market. Land costs are too high, and demand is too low. The costs are driven up by owners holding underdeveloped land as they wait for a windfall when the next high-rise condominium tower lands on their parking lot. And demand is low because freeways have funneled it away from the city, out to the suburbs. So my friend and I began a two-year study of the IH-345 area, its traffic patterns, and the potential for redevelopment. Our conclusion: the highway should be torn down.

Read the complete article in D Magazine.

 

 
Put a THERE there, "Dallas"
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 17:30

by Russ Sikes, CNU-NTX Board President

Two years ago, the Dallas power elite gathered to peer into our region’s future at Metromorphosis, an annual conference on the evolution of Dallas/Fort Worth sponsored by the Greater Dallas Planning Council.

Its theme was the emergence of Dallas as a Global City, and the mood was understandably self-congratulatory, but not smug:

Congratulatory because competition within the global economy is increasingly conducted among urban regions rather than nation states, and Dallas, we were told, had received a strong report card. In fact, we are on the Dean’s list.  While New York, London, Tokyo and others battle for valedictorian, “Dallas”, shorthand for the DFW region, now claims a place on the short list of 25 or so “global cities”, due in large part to our central geography and the key strategic connections of DFW Airport.

Not smug though.  Attendees sincerely fretted over our terrible grades in a few prerequisites to global standing, which in the sharp-elbows competition among cities could prove our undoing.  These problems include poor collaboration among civic organs in tackling deep-seated problems, the lack of any tier-one research universities, and a thoroughgoing sense of Placelessness.

The Dallas postcard is too blank, speech-makers said, arguing that a memorable brand is required to catch the attention of hyper-busy global executives.

Two years on, that blank is rapidly disappearing, as downtown sprouts parks and museums, transit and trails, and Calatrava bridges beckoning to shimmering Oz.  And if that keeps a red pin stuck on Dallas in corporate boardrooms, all the better.  But if Placelessness afflicts anyone, it is not global CEOs, it’s us; the 6.5 million people who call DFW home.

How is it that such a vast urban region has been developed with no sense of Place?  The answer lies in the generative pattern of development, the DNA of urban form.

 

Read more...
 

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to change the practices and standards of urban design and development to support healthy regions and diverse, complete neighborhoods. The North Texas Chapter (CNU-NTX) works to further this mission through education, networking, and outreach within our region.