Wednesday, January 1, 2014
5 developments in Dallas to look forward to in 2014
You'll see plenty of changes to travel in DFW.
DALLAS Late December is a great time to look back and think of the best restaurants, most scandalous moments or any other excuse to make a “best-of” list for Big D. And why stop now? But for something different, let’s focus on the year ahead and think about some very important transportation, infrastructure and real estate developments that’ll take Dallas to the next level. From projects that began more than 100 years ago to ones that were just dreamed up in the Internet age, here are my top 5:
5. Transformations of Victory Park and West Village
While these two unrelated developments won’t technically be finished until at least 2015, we’ll get to see significant progress toward the completion of Victory Park (one new tower and two apartment communities open, with more set to open in 2015 and beyond) and West Village (one new residential tower completed and The Richards Group’s new office tower topped out). For Victory Park, this could mean a critical mass of residents who will shop and dine at establishments that repopulate the infamous recession-plagued ghost mall. For West Village, it’s the end of a story that began with the real estate crash of the 1980s and a western twin to Cityplace Tower that never materialized. The Uptown halo will finally cross Central Expressway, and perhaps people will even rediscover Haskell Avenue as a preferred route to Fair Park.
4. Modern and vintage downtown streetcars
A new vintage streetcar named Betty will join the clanky fleet of McKinney Avenue Transit Authority trolleys through Uptown with expanded service downtown. Significantly, the trolleys will no longer end their route behind the Dallas Museum of Art but will make a stop right in the middle of Klyde Warren Park, continue to the DART station at Pearl and loop back up along St. Paul.
To complement the vintage cars, a new modern streetcar unlike anything ever seen in Dallas will connect Union Station downtown to Methodist Hospital in Oak Cliff. The Houston Viaduct, which was completed in 1910 with the intention of someday transporting people via streetcar, will finally do what it was intended to do.
3. New parks and trails
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say the Trinity Strand Trail will do more for the Design District than what the Katy Trail did for Uptown. Phase 1 opens in the spring and will take joggers and bicyclists from Oak Lawn to Farrington Street along the natural course of the Trinity River, which is lined with the backs of countless derelict buildings from the warehouse era of the district. It’s not hard to imagine these buildings reoriented toward the trail and filled with restaurants, beer gardens and shops. In fact, because fewer people live in this area than along the Katy (i.e., fewer NIMBYs and, thus, noise complaints), the Strand Trail could one day be our version of the San Antonio Riverwalk.
And while not as much of a game-changer, next summer should see a reopened Continental Bridge linking downtown to Trinity Groves, except this time as a long pedestrian plaza with postcard views of the Large Marge and inspired by New York City’s High Line.
2. DART service to DFW
DFW International will end 2014 by joining the ranks of airports with rail service to their downtowns, as next December the Orange Line finally reaches Terminal A. It’ll be the end of an era for DART, which has spent the last decade building out its light rail network while neglecting its strategy for customer service and ridership maintenance. While there are other system expansions in the works including Blue Line to UNT Dallas in 2016, DART can certainly begin to wind down its construction era after this is built.
1. Goodbye Wright Amendment
Possibly the most significant thing to occur next year in Dallas will be final nail in the coffin of the Wright Amendment, which prohibits non-stop direct flights from Love Field to many states, on October 13, 2014. Without getting too technical, this will mean a huge increase in traffic at the city-owned airport and more choices for passengers who once only had DFW International as their only practical choice for flying to New York or Los Angeles. While Southwest will control a vast majority of the 20 gates there, Delta is already advertising direct flights to La Guardia and others starting in October. The 1979 law can be put to rest and a new era of aviation starts right here in Big D.
There are many other great things to look forward to in the coming year -- including Pecan Lodge in Deep Ellum and a revitalized Lower Greenville -- that didn’t make this list; however, the theme of things coming full-circle after decades of planning was hard to resist. Tell us what you’re looking forward to the most in 2014.