“Griggs Park is one of the features that makes Uptown more sustainable. Uptown has a tendency to over-invest in private infrastructure and under-invest in public infrastructure,”noted District 14 Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston at the Tuesday ribbon cutting of Griggs Park’s new playground. “This will soften the hard edges that tend to be created in high-density neighborhoods.”
Clare Anne Whitfield and her husband, Jonathan, know what he means. They’ve lived in Uptown for almost 15 years and have seen the changes that have become what most of us know as Uptown today. In the early 2000s they purchased a small plot of land and built a Victorian-style home (to fit within the historic district’s regulations) where their son now has his dental practice while they live upstairs.
“Other than Klyde Warren, this is our only park. But Klyde Warren is so busy. This one’s more of a neighborhood park for us.” Mr. Whitfield often exercises in Griggs Park in the mornings and they enjoy bringing their grandkids out to the park. “We see lots of Millennials walking dogs in the early mornings and after work, but otherwise it’s pretty quiet.” More high-rise apartment developments are under construction just blocks away. “With the population growing in the next 5 years, it will even be more necessary to have parks like this,” says Mr. Whitfield.
Griggs Park is an 8-acre oasis with a basketball court, trail, benches, mature trees, lighting, and stunning skyline view. And now, a playground.
Construction for the new playground was made possible with donations from The Hillcrest Foundation, Baylor Medical Center at Uptown, the Theodore and Beulah Beasley Foundation Inc., and construction work was completed by Henneberger Construction Company. Owners and leaders from each company made special appearances at the ceremony including, Robert Beasley, Victoria Vanderslice, Jon Duckert, and Debra Phares.
The new playground marks the final installation in the overall park plan, a multi-million dollar, multi-phase renovation of Griggs Park led by Uptown Dallas Inc. The new playground is situated on the southeast side of the park. The basketball half-court, completed last May, in on the northern point.
Uptown Dallas, Inc. is the nonprofit management company focused on public improvements of the Uptown district, with emphasis on capital improvement projects, maintenance, mobility, public safety, urban design and marketing.
The organization’s new Executive Director, Nolan Marshall, began the ceremony holding his 18-month-old son, who then played on the equipment with his wife during the rest of the event. He’s clearly in touch with the growing “young family” demographic in Uptown .
In fact, one the fastest growing demographic segments in Uptown is ages 0-4 years old, at 11 percent.
Uptown is less than one square mile in size with 19,000 residents. The neighborhood has seen a 55 percent population increase just since 2015. “Not long ago, Uptown didn’t need playgrounds because there just weren’t many kids,” added Paul Simms at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Simms is the district’s appointed representative to the Park Board. His young daughter stood next to him during the ribbon cutting.
Uptown is Dallas’ premier live/work/play district, complete with grocery, restaurants, retail, residential (rent or own), commercial work, and great public transportation. McKinney Avenue Trolley has a ridership of 600,000-plus per year, and the Cityplace DART Station borders the district. The nearby Katy Trail will soon connect directly to White Rock Lake on dedicated trails and bridges for pedestrians and cyclists, and the area is in the process of becoming more bike friendly.
The stats reflect this family-friendly trend, with 85 percent of Millennials wanting to continue living in urban areas after starting families.
There are even several two- and three-bedroom homes for sale within a few blocks of Griggs Park, ranging from half a million dollars to just over $1 million. When you buy a place like this you’re buying the amenities that surround it, the proximity to downtown, and the vibrancy and culture that come with density.
Riley Nail and his wife have lived in Uptown for 8 years, and continue to enjoy the rich social life the neighborhood offers, even with their 3-year-old daughter and another on the way. “Our friends asked when we would be leaving Uptown, but you don’t stop being social when you have kids — integrating her into our rich social life here has been an education you just can’t pay for,” says Nail. “Uptown has become a lot more family friendly the last few years. We never saw kids much until recently. Now we see more family-friendly bars and patios with kids.”
The only thing that might make them move would be the school situation, but they have a few years until that becomes an eminent concern. And by then, their options may be better.
Uptown pays over $58.5 million each year in taxes to DISD. However, the only DISD campus located in Uptown is the Travis Vanguard Academy, a magnet school for grades 4 through 8. In 2016, Ben Milam Elementary added Uptown to its attendance zone. It is known to be one of the highest-performing elementary schools in DISD.
Three early childhood programs border Uptown: Holy Trinity School, Incarnation Academy, and Dallas Christian Academy. Uptown is also home to the Notre Dame School, which serves children with special needs. Their campus is just blocks from Griggs Park, and the kids use the park almost daily.
“With the surge and addition of families in Uptown, we’re thrilled and we see the numbers and demographics,” stated Katy Slade, UDI’s Chairman of the Board. “People are in search of a great, vibrant, urban lifestyle and they get that here in Uptown.”
In the spirit of family friendliness, Uptown Dallas, Inc. will be hosting their second annual Uptown Family Fest in West Village on April 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The free event includes balloon artists, face painters, music, magic, and more.