Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Dallas Design District becoming new haute spot for residents and businesses
Some say it's becoming the "new World Trade Center."
DALLAS Dallas’ Design District may be one of the newest neighborhoods in the city, yet it remains one of the least understood. Situated west of Interstate 35, the area is known more for its select destination restaurants and shops than the bustling community.
Nonetheless, this section of West Dallas is experiencing a boom. New businesses open every week and demand for housing has driven apartment prices up.
“We are one of the old, new kids on the block,” said Rudolf Valentino, a sales associate at Bernadette Schaeffler Collection, which opened last September on Hi Line Drive.
Valentino called the Design District “the new World Trade Center” because many firms are relocating from the 15-story artisan mini-mall to the Design District. The neighborhood is creating a cultural haute spot as well, Valentino said, as more internationally-based brands sets up shop.
The Design District is most easily characterized as the more chic and affluent cousin to Deep Ellum. The two connect fundamentally through a passion for the arts, though stylistically they differ — the Design District prefers a fine wine and gallery soiree to Deep Ellum’s live graffiti and concert experience.
Structurally, however, the neighborhoods mimic each other. Like its indie relative, the Design District has three main avenues — Hi Line Drive, Slocum Street, and Dragon Street — that form the epicenter of artistic happenings. The businesses here are, perhaps subconsciously, organized by category. Hi Line houses most of the area’s furniture showrooms, while Slocum specializes in antique boutiques. Most of the art galleries are stationed on Dragon.
Mary Honey, urban community manager of Trinity Loft, said many of those who live in the Design District are in fact designers and artists who want to live close to their offices (or sometimes even in a loft above). Others reside here to retreat from the furor of downtown.
“I think people were discovering [the neighborhood] two years ago, and now it’s blowing up like Uptown,” said Honey.
Opened in 2002, Trinity Loft was the Design District’s first residential living space. It currently sits at 98 percent occupancy, and Honey said that her cheapest space rents for 42 percent more than just a few years ago. Other residences, such as Alta Design District, Bell Design District, and Camden Design District, are riding at 92 percent capacity or above. 1400 Hi Line is currently 55 percent full.
Still, on a recent Monday afternoon walk around the heart of the district, the streets were placid and the sidewalks vacant. Camden resident James Lucente conceded that the neighborhood sleeps during the week and could use more “hang out” spots such as Ascension coffee shop, as well as more restaurants. But he attested that the relaxed vibe is what gives the Design District its charm.
“It’s this tiny sliver of kind of quiet, young professionals that don’t party as much to warrant being in Uptown,” said Lucente, a health care consultant at Compass Professional Health Care Services, within walking distance from his apartment. “It’s definitely got a rhythm to it.”Follow @tineywristwatch
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