Neighborhood Spotlight: Design District’s Potential with Dallas’ Central Park at its Doorstep

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Photo by Amanda Popken
Houston St Viaduct – Photo by Amanda Popken

Have you seen the Design District lately?

From fine dinning, art galleries, furniture and fashion to a brewery, bowling and high-rise living – it’s become a real neighborhood lately. For those who live in this rapidly-changing district, one charm is surely the assortment of things to do – plenty of gallery openings, even a glass blowing studio and a great little coffee shop cafe. If you’re feeling adventuresome you could even walk or bike to the Continental Bridge and across to Trinity Groves for dinner! And of course there’s the Trinity River Park – if we play our cards right, we could be building the most expensive real estate in Dallas along that Trinity.

Photo (& bike) Amanda Popken's
On the Continental Pedestrian Bridge – Photo (& bike) Amanda Popken’s

The City of Dallas has made a strategic effort to incentivize development in the Design District. A Tax Increment Finance District (TIF) was created in 2006 to capture rising tax values as new projects were built, for use as developer incentives. Surprisingly though, of the $330 million in Appraisal District value created since 2006, $230 of it has been purely market-driven, taking no city incentives. Over 1,900 apartments have been built, 50,000 sq ft of hotels, 143,000 square feet of new office space, and 230,000 square feet of new retail/showroom/gallery/arts space in the Design District TIF alone.

This is strong demand. And many projects are waiting in the wings to secure their financing depending on the status of the tollroad project. You see, the Trinity River Park has the potential to be the Central Park of Dallas.

In New York, park-front properties command at least a 25 percent premium over properties a block away, with rents averaging $2,000/square foot upwards to $6,000/square foot. No, Dallas isn’t New York City, we may not get $6,000/square foot. This is just one example of public assets such as parks and plazas driving economic development. Just look at our own Klyde Warren Park.

There’s some good data supporting this trend. CB Richard Ellis has been collecting data on the impact of great public spaces on property values. Southwest Airlines is even investing in this value proposition to enhance its destinations, with its Heart of the Community grant.

Representatives from both organizations and from Klyde Warren Park will come together during the Congress for the New Urbanism’s Annual Congress in Dallas this April/May. The session “ Public Spaces People Love” (April 30 at 9 a.m.) covers some innovative community and corporate partnerships supporting the creation of public places that enhance great neighborhoods.

The program for the CNU conference will cover all sorts of similar conversations about the makings of a great city and quality neighborhoods. Conference registration is open to the public, April 29th- May 2nd in downtown Dallas, with tours all over DFW. has all the details.



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Amanda Popken

Amanda is a community strategist & economic development specialist focused on placemaking and urban design promoting, inspiring, teaching & engaging communities to grow their own social capital. She is President of Congress for the New Urbanism North Texas and can be found at

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