Dallas Arts District: Empty by Day
There’s always a second side to a coin. While some of the sessions at the Urban Land Institute (ULI) meeting were inspiring, others demonstrated developers’ tone-deafness to the world around them. While proud of their achievements, few reflected on the effects of their developments.
“The Uptown Lowdown: Dallas’ Hottest Urban Market”
I suspect even the dead know how hot Uptown Dallas has become. It’s so hot, the area can even shell out for world-class architects, something Dallas skyline hasn’t seen in decades. In the 1980s every other architectural word seemed to be I.M. Pei or Philip Johnson. In the decades since, our skyline has been shaped seemingly by graduates of box-building school.
Crescent Court Lot an “Arrow” to the Future of Uptown
Crescent Development points out that the newly opened McKinney and Olive building, designed by Cesar Pelli, is “the first internationally acclaimed architect to design a commercial building in Dallas since the 1980s.” Not coincidentally, in 1986 Philip Johnson and John Burgee designed the Crescent Court, which kick-started the commercial transformation of Uptown. Sitting on a triangular lot, the Crescent seems to be pointing the way out of downtown.
And don’t get me wrong, Uptown has been a great story of urban renewal that has extended the core of Dallas northward. But at the same time, listening to the stories of its birth were squirmy. Attracting initial residents was difficult, as is often the case when downtrodden areas are renewed (we fear the poor). But the indifference and mocking of the area’s original residents was discomforting.
And again, I’m fine with mocking Uptown as having been full of used car lots, antique stores, and tarot card readers … they’re businesses. But listening to the derision towards the residents who’d called Uptown home was distasteful. We heard about developers cutting deals with “crack heads” on the corner and “showing apartments while stepping over chalk outlines on the sidewalks.” All of this seemed to be code for the people of color who lived in Uptown before the area was whitewashed by development.
Before you get in a snit, talk of crack heads and chalk outlines does not bring to mind white neighborhoods. It also doesn’t bring to mind middle or upper class neighborhoods. I didn’t live in Dallas at the time, but I knew what the speakers meant. Poor, black people.