Growth In Most Major Cities Outpaces Suburbs. Except in Dallas, Where the Urbanists Are Losing

I was in downtown Dallas, cursing the other day. Traffic? No, one way streets. STUPID one way streets. Here we are trying to conserve fossil fuels and make Dallas a “walkable” city with bike lanes, the newest urban fad du jour. (Truth is, I’m sick of hearing about bike lanes. While I might ride on weekends all over the place, who the hell is going to ride a bike to work Monday through Friday, get all sweaty and smelly, in Loubies?) What happens is you end up driving twice as long to find a parking place, of which there are too few, wasting both gas and time.

Walkable Dallas? What a joke!

Then the U.S. Census Bureau released figures last Thursday estimating cities’ growth between 2010 and 2011. Eight of the 15 fastest growing cities in the U.S.A. spring from  Texas. Five — Plano, McKinney, Frisco, Denton, Carrollton — are in North Texas. You can so guess the others:

 1.
New Orleans
4.9 360,740
  2.
Round Rock, Texas
4.8 104,664
  3.
Austin, Texas
3.8 820,611
  4.
Plano, Texas
3.8 269,776
  5.
McKinney, Texas
3.8 136,067
  6.
Frisco, Texas
3.8 121,387
  7.
Denton, Texas
3.4 117,187
  8.
Denver
3.3 619,968
  9.
Cary, N.C.
3.2 139,633
10.
Raleigh, N.C.
3.1 416,468
11.
Alexandria, Va.
3.1 144,301
12.
Tampa, Fla.
3.1 346,037
13.
McAllen, Texas
3.0 133,742
14.
Carrollton, Texas
3.0 122,640
15.
Atlanta
3.0 432,427

Yeah, go Round Rock, Austin and McAllen. The study says that urban areas are actually growing faster than suburban areas across the U.S., EXCEPT in Dallas. We are opposite of what the rest of the U.S. is experiencing. Nationally, for the first time in a whole dang century, growth in most major U.S. cities outpaced that of their suburbs. Except in Dallas, where our suburbs out-grew us. Dallas grew only 2.1%

This is exactly the conversation I had with Scott Beck. Dallas, I told him, is not going to be this dreamy urban core with everyone congregated and claustraphobically clustered densely downtown. Dallas is growing like LA or (God help us) Houston, even kind of like lake-cinched Chicago with mini urban clusters, or depots. We have downtown with those dang one-way streets, the Arts District, Uptown where you can walk better than you can downtown, Oak Lawn, Preston Center, Lakewood, North Dallas where Valley View Mall will anchor as a new Mid Town. Later this month, you’ll find 30+ Texas food trucks serving unique  cuisines July 20-22 and every 3rd weekend of every month at Valley View Center at Dallas Midtown. Indoor and outdoor activities for everyone to keep out of the heat. Indoor: live music, beer garden, bounce houses, mechanical bull, carousel, vendor booths, art fair and more. Outdoor: bungee trampolines, radio give-a-ways and more. In far North Dallas areas like Prestonwood and Beltline will become a city depot. South of downtown, you have Bishops Arts, UT, Trinity Groves, South Dallas, east there’s the Deep Ellum,  Cedars and Southside. I know I’m missing some, so sorry, but you get it — Dallas is going to be more and more defined, I think, by its neighborhoods, not too unlike Chicago.

And you’re going to have to drive to get there, especially in August. I kiss my hybrid every day. I will only buy hybrid or diesel autos. We will drive, park, and then do some walking, as long as we keep Uggs and water in the car.

Between 2010 and 2011, Dallas grew 2.1 percent, according to the census. But this is the same story I’ve been writing: Dallas growth was outpaced by the northern suburbs of Plano, Frisco, and McKinney. They each grew by 3.8 percent. Even Denton, where the home squatters squat, beat Dallas, growing by by 3.4 percent. Even the city that is snuggled next to Farmer’s Branch, deemed racist and discriminatory for making it a crime to rent to non U.S. citizens, Carrollton , beat us by 3 percent.

Yet overall, the population in cities is expanding. Cities grew by 1.0 percent across the nation between 2010 and 2011. However, “large cities (285) tended to grow faster than the national rate at 1.3 percent. Large cities in the South (99 places) showed the largest growth at 1.8 percent, followed by those in the West (113 places) at 1.4 percent. Large cities in the Northeast (25 places) grew by 0.7 percent and the 48 large places in the Midwest grew by 0.6 percent.”

Three out of every five people in the U.S. live in incorporated areas.  Everyone else values togetherness:  “More than a third of the nation’s population (37 percent or 116.2 million people) lived in cities with populations of more than 50,000.

So what is it about Dallas that makes our suburbs grow faster than Dallas, faster than our urban core? The urban greens want to jam everyone into a richer, more fulfilling and they claim a more sustainable lifestyle with us all living in high rises. (Pray your neighbor doesn’t leave plastic on the stove.) We have pumped billions into a new arts district, are arguing over what to do with the Trinity River, and fighting about building yet another highway. If we build it,  they say, we are just giving more crack to the car addicts. But have you been to Costco when gas hit $4.00 a gallon? Everyone and their step-niece is there, pumping, filling trucks and Suburbans.

I think we won’t stop ’till we get to Oklahoma, honestly.

When I was a child, I worried about the farmland in between O’Hare Field and where we lived, near Elgin in East Dundee. Every year we went to the airport, and more development — homes, huge office buildings, hospitals — cropped up creeping further and further west hugging that tollway for dear life. My father told me I’d live to see the day when it all filled in. He was right: last time I was in Chicago in May, I drove west to Rockford, 75 miles west of Chicago. The farmland between Elgin and O’Hare is all but gone. Friends tell me people now commute to Chicago –the city 75 miles east — from Rockford!

How come, I ask the urbanists, people aren’t moving back into Chicago? (Houston is almost a dead tie for population, 2,707,120 in Chicago, 2,145,146 in Houston. ) Greater Chicago has lost 6.9% of it’s population since 2010. Rockford, Ill. has grown by 1.8%.  The city only expanded by .3%  in seven years, but sustained annual losses of roughly 20,000 in the last decade, when everyone moved to the outlying exurban areas of Will and Kendall counties.

Dallas is losing the urban battle. Even Atlanta is growing faster, what with Al Hill III and all. In New York and most major U.S. cities,  young, creative types say they are sick of commuting and are heading for the City Center, part of the reason why the only thing you can get a loan for these days is an apartment building, the next bubble, economists told us at NAREE. In Dallas, young people get married and live close in, maybe an M Street cutie or a mid-century in Oak Glen. But she gets preggers, they check schools, and zip they are off to the suburbs. They want a community, they tell me, where their kids can play in safety, they want good schools, and space. Go north you get a four-bedroom house for less than $300K, maybe a club in the development, and an hour-long commute. So what — get a nice fuel-efficient car and work from home two days. That, or the breadwinner flies off from DFW half the week.

Is the suburban lifestyle a relic from post World War Two,  subsidized by pro-sprawl policies and developer’s lobbyists? Doesn’t matter. They could save their bribes and lunches: at least here, people prefer the suburbs to the city.

 

0 Comment

  • I'm pretty sure the I-35 corridor between Austin & Dallas will be filled with houses before the northern one is – oh, wait, it already is, with Round Rock.

  • I'm pretty sure the I-35 corridor between Austin & Dallas will be filled with houses before the northern one is – oh, wait, it already is, with Round Rock.

  • You caught me in my editorial underwear, so to speak. But that's OK! I's rather get the story up than have it be perfect. (Kind of like going to the store without makeup.) I guess I still had a little bit of editing left on this piece. Really interesting topic, Eric, and you are right. Maybe our children will live to see that sprawl around I35 from Dallas to Austin. In fact, Austin to San Antonio is already almost there!

  • mm

    You caught me in my editorial underwear, so to speak. But that's OK! I's rather get the story up than have it be perfect. (Kind of like going to the store without makeup.) I guess I still had a little bit of editing left on this piece. Really interesting topic, Eric, and you are right. Maybe our children will live to see that sprawl around I35 from Dallas to Austin. In fact, Austin to San Antonio is already almost there!

  • If they check the schools in the M-Streets, they will stay.

  • If they check the schools in the M-Streets, they will stay.

  • DISD needs to do a better job of promoting their schools (and improving them). I ply my trade ( real estate brokerage) in the OakLawn/TurtleCreek/Uptwon neighborhood. I was substitute teacher of few years ago at Milam Elementary and was pleased by work they do there. The Arts Magnet High School is fine as well. More attention, though,needs to be paid to school board elections becasue that is what changes the schools and those schools will bring people back into Dallas.

  • DISD needs to do a better job of promoting their schools (and improving them). I ply my trade ( real estate brokerage) in the OakLawn/TurtleCreek/Uptwon neighborhood. I was substitute teacher of few years ago at Milam Elementary and was pleased by work they do there. The Arts Magnet High School is fine as well. More attention, though,needs to be paid to school board elections becasue that is what changes the schools and those schools will bring people back into Dallas.

  • I am confused – Dallas grew by 2.1%, whereas the national average for large city growth was 1.3%. So let me get this straight – Dallas grew at a rate 50% faster than that of other large cities nationally, yet all this article could focus on was to bitch about how the suburbs grew faster than the city? I would also point out that Round Rock grew about 25% faster than Austin – so to be intellectually consistent, you would also have to complain about Austin not keeping up with its suburbs growth too, right?

    Hey it's a good problem to have – to me it is simply indicative of two things – A) people are flocking to North Texas, and B) the burbs happen to be growing a little bit faster than the core. And why not? The land is still cheap enough and the commute tolerable enough to make those areas desirable. But don't you see? They are ALL – Dallas and its burbs – growing faster than other regions!

    Making Dallas a more walkable/livable urban residential destination is happening but it won't take place overnight. i think the Woodall Rogers park will certainly provide further fuel to the fire, and Warren is right about the schools.

    Let's all exercise a little patience please…..the more people that move to the area, the more the demand will ultimately grow for access to the city center.

  • I am confused – Dallas grew by 2.1%, whereas the national average for large city growth was 1.3%. So let me get this straight – Dallas grew at a rate 50% faster than that of other large cities nationally, yet all this article could focus on was to bitch about how the suburbs grew faster than the city? I would also point out that Round Rock grew about 25% faster than Austin – so to be intellectually consistent, you would also have to complain about Austin not keeping up with its suburbs growth too, right?

    Hey it's a good problem to have – to me it is simply indicative of two things – A) people are flocking to North Texas, and B) the burbs happen to be growing a little bit faster than the core. And why not? The land is still cheap enough and the commute tolerable enough to make those areas desirable. But don't you see? They are ALL – Dallas and its burbs – growing faster than other regions!

    Making Dallas a more walkable/livable urban residential destination is happening but it won't take place overnight. i think the Woodall Rogers park will certainly provide further fuel to the fire, and Warren is right about the schools.

    Let's all exercise a little patience please…..the more people that move to the area, the more the demand will ultimately grow for access to the city center.

  • @Ed: Great points. I need to be patient with downtown, just not a super patient person. It's great that we are growing and the rest of the nation is contracting. We must be doing something right!

    • I truly believe that Dallas is the place to be. Our Ats District, our new parks, downtown, and the truly wonderful Downtown homes that are slowly being discovered by my buyers is going to make urban Dallas the place to be, with, or without one-way streets. it will matter, because my hope is that people will truly be able to live downtown, walk wherever they want downtown, and make Downtown Dallas a place to call home.

  • mm

    @Ed: Great points. I need to be patient with downtown, just not a super patient person. It's great that we are growing and the rest of the nation is contracting. We must be doing something right!

    • I truly believe that Dallas is the place to be. Our Ats District, our new parks, downtown, and the truly wonderful Downtown homes that are slowly being discovered by my buyers is going to make urban Dallas the place to be, with, or without one-way streets. it will matter, because my hope is that people will truly be able to live downtown, walk wherever they want downtown, and make Downtown Dallas a place to call home.

  • I live in Bryan Place so I am all about infill and city center redevelopment. It's going to happen, not to worry….

  • I live in Bryan Place so I am all about infill and city center redevelopment. It's going to happen, not to worry….

  • Candy a correction it is the city of Farmers Branch and not Carrollton that passed the ordinance about renting to non documented immigrants. Love your blog will keep reading

  • Candy a correction it is the city of Farmers Branch and not Carrollton that passed the ordinance about renting to non documented immigrants. Love your blog will keep reading

  • Ohhhh fixing that right now. Thanks so much Mansur. Why my brain lumps Carrollton with Farmer's Branch I know not, the two are very different communities. And a piece on Carrollton is on my list of Real Estate To_Do stories…

  • mm

    Ohhhh fixing that right now. Thanks so much Mansur. Why my brain lumps Carrollton with Farmer's Branch I know not, the two are very different communities. And a piece on Carrollton is on my list of Real Estate To_Do stories…