Dallas's Urban Regeneration Flies Beneath the Radar

Though "generally cited as an example of all the things you don’t want a city to be," Karrie Jacobs finds reason to believe that Texas's third largest city has taken to heart the "country’s newfound passion for all things urban."
June 12, 2012, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Spurred by a plan approved last year called Downtown Dallas 360, and "the bottomless capacity of local philanthropists," the city is embarking on efforts to increase the downtown residential population, expand multi-modal transportation options, and provide pedestrian-friendly streetscapes. Plenty of obstacles to establishing an urban utopia still remain, however, primarily in the form of an elevated asphalt noose encircling the city.

According to Jacobs, planners "offer few strategies for dealing with the constraints posed by the elevated freeways. Apparently, there's no local appetite for removing the highways, even in the interest of an improved urban experience. Indeed, at the same time that the city is talking about surrounding the Trinity River with parkland, it's planning to run a new toll road within the river's levees."

Although the challenges are immense, Jacobs lauds the effort to transform the city.

"While the attempt to make central Dallas walkable is something of a long shot, the desire seems genuine. And the fact that this is happening in a state not known for progressive thinking, and in a city built largely by and for the oil industry, suggests that this country's newfound passion for the communal pleasures of urban life runs deep, representing a generational shift that has the power to transcend political and geographic boundaries."

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Published on Friday, June 8, 2012 in Metropolis
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