Last week, I saw an interesting article in the Urban Land Institute’s magazine on the re-urbanization of downtown Los Angeles. The article did a nice job pointing out the changes that have been taking place in LA and identifying the ingredients for success. These included a resurgence in housing, critical to enlivening the streets, new commercial development, and reinvestment in the community.
We have been seeing similar changes here in Dallas. Importantly, change of this magnitude takes time and we can often get lost in the things that still need to be done – and not celebrate our successes. If we look back to 2000, even though the suburban growth has taken the limelight, we have added more than 5 million square feet of office space in our downtown. While that is not a huge number compared to our 1980s CBD, it still represents a commitment to our urban core – which continues today given the construction we are seeing and companies choosing to stay or move downtown.
The UrbanLand article noted one of the most significant metrics was population growth. For Dallas, we currently have 43,200 residents living in the core area. In terms of change, this reflects 20,000 new residents since 2000 – an increase of 88%. Importantly, this urban housing commitment and investment continues given the 4,300 apartment units under construction, with another 2,000 in the pipeline. Also, similar to LA, our downtown residents are younger individuals and couples (56%), highly educated (73% have a bachelor’s degree or better), and are generally affluent ($109,000 average household income).
So, where does this leave us? “Re-urbanizing” our downtown is happening. Businesses see value in congregating in the urban core – and residents want to be a part of the live, work, shop, and play environment. As we look to the future, new (and repositioned) projects need to address these factors and be integrated with neighboring uses and with the street.