To Unleash Dallas's Building Boom, Tear Down a Freeway

Patrick Kennedy proposes an elegant and cost-effective way to deal with Dallas's aging elevated freeway and the city's "massive pent-up demand for walkable urban housing" - tear the sucker down.
January 30, 2013, 9am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The Texas Department of Transportation is considering two solutions for the aging 1.4 mile elevated freeway (IH-345) that runs between downtown and Deep Ellum: "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," argues Kennedy, "and it’s not getting the consideration it deserves." After two years of studying the IH-345 area, its traffic patterns, and the potential for redevelopment, he and a friend in real estate development have concluded that the best option is to tear the freeway down. He supports his position with an examination of the regional, local, short term, and long term impacts on traffic. 

"Just as the system of freeways has shifted population outward, removing IH-345 from downtown would draw people into the city. It would reposition 245 acres so that it could be developed into walkable neighborhoods that could be home to 20,000 new downtown residents. Right now there is only $19 million in improvements on those 245 acres, and the city collects a mere $3 million per year in property tax revenue. By removing the highway, restitching the grid, and creating developable blocks, the city would see $4 billion in new investment within 15 years and generate $100 million a year in property tax revenue, based on our economic impact analysis."

"In order to set off the kind of building boom required to meet the massive pent-up demand for walkable urban housing," concludes Kennedy, "we must flip the downtown real estate equation so land costs are lowered and demand is increased. To do that, we must leverage the commonwealth’s best asset: land. Forget the traffic."

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Published on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 in D Magazine
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