The Continental Bridge was once the easiest way to get from downtown Dallas to West Dallas if you didn’t want to cross at Fort Worth Avenue/Beckley. But when the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge opened, the Continental Viaduct was all but obsolete. So what do you do with aging infrastructure and a growing urban population that wants more open space? You make it a park.
That’s what’s interesting about this conversion, which just opened ahead of the New Cities Summit, an urban-oriented conference that will host panels discussing some very heady issues that cities are facing in the 21st century. I’m pretty sure that it is no coincidence that the new bridge/park opened last weekend, and that the summit will kick off tomorrow with an opening keynote address from Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. The event is hosted in our spectacular Arts District, too, and I am sure that attendees will enjoy our many beautiful examples of cutting edge architecture.
Now, Candy and I just returned from the National Association of Real Estate Editors 85th Anniversary conference and let me tell you, urbanism was a big subject that was discussed by economists, brokers, builders, and city planners. As the Millennial generation hits the real estate market as a huge wave of first-time homebuyers, we’re seeing some startling trends emerge.
Millennials want to live in dense urban areas where they have access to mass transit, culture, shopping, and parks. It’s that last part that is proving a challenge for many cities like Dallas, which were planned as business centers, not necessarily residential areas. The dearth of open space makes life a bit more challenging, especially for the rising numbers of urban pet owners. Steve Brown has a story in the Dallas Morning News about how new urban developments are creating amenities to cater to these potential buyers and tenants.
But a weak job market, high student loan debt, and lending restrictions are making Millennials more likely to defer that first home purchase. As many economists told us this past week, we have an affordability problem in the U.S., with builders too skittish to build on spec and many condo developers requiring huge deposits and down payments before they turn dirt.
So these are some subjects you don’t want to miss as these incredibly smart folks presenting at the New Cities Summit head into town from tomorrow until Thursday. Check out the program for a full list of workshops and panel discussions. If you can’t attend, the Dallas Morning News will be live-streaming events.