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By Dan Noble, FAIA, FACHA, LEED AP, President and CEO, HKS, Inc.
May 10, 2017

What is it that makes urban life more livable?  What can we do to recapture the vibrancy of downtown Dallas? HKS has been thinking about these questions for the past 78 years and we believe that we can make Dallas one of the world’s great cities if we all work together.

Characteristics of great cities.

As a new member of the Dallas community, what can you do to improve our downtown and inner-city neighborhoods? We can take some cues from ideas that have worked in other cities like San Francisco, Minneapolis, Denver, Seattle and Pittsburgh:

  • Emphasis on parks, open spaces and the necessary connections that tie these spaces together.
  • Prioritizing the infrastructure and providing the financial leverage needed to maintain these amenities.
  • Creating density that contributes to street life and vitality.
  • Achieving a robust mix of people of different ages, ethnicities and interests.
  • Creating nodes of interest within walking distance of each other.
  • Effectively utilizing mass transit as well as alternative transportation systems.
  • Incorporating sound sustainable and resilience planning.
  • Enlightened public policy with an engaged civic community.
  • Economic vibrancy that promotes job growth as well as access to capital.

Dallas reimagined in the year 2027.

Let’s imagine what Dallas could be like in 10 years.  All it will take to make this future a reality is a few sensible policy changes and a willingness to share the message that strengthening the core of Dallas will make life better for everyone in the Metroplex.

  • A new mixed-use neighborhood with 20,000 residents emerges from what used to be a freeway interchange.
  • An integrated parkway stitches this new mixed-use neighborhood together.
  • A bond initiative, private investment and a tax increment reinvestment zone allows Deep Ellum to maintain its unique character and ushers in a new bohemian verve.
  • People now stream into the area for entertainment, restaurants, shopping and jobs.
  • Offices and residential space are going up all over the 245 available acres.
  • Uptown and Near East Dallas realize common synergies.
  • I-30 has been re-routed to the south, and there’s been development of boulevards to the east. There’s a greatly expanded Santa Fe Trail.
  • Old East Dallas amenities such as White Rock Lake, The Arboretum, Fair Park and Samuel Grand Park are now connected to the downtown necklace of parks.
  • Connection extends from Klyde Warren Park to the Farmers Market District along a green pedestrian and vehicular link on Harwood Street.

Together we can make the vision real.

Let’s get rid of the barriers that separate downtown from neighboring communities. Let’s move beyond the idea that Dallas is locked in some zero-sum competition with its suburbs. A lively downtown increases the value of suburban neighborhoods and makes the entire region more desirable. With a few sensible reforms, a shared vision and a commitment to unity we can realize Dallas’ potential.  Welcome!