The city of Dallas has a new slogan: Live Large. Think Big.
But the city’s outlook hasn’t always been so optimistic. “Dallas is one of those downtowns that everyone migrated out of,” says David Cassidy, a 20-plus-year resident and principal at Callison’s Dallas office. Indeed, during the 1990s, fewer than 300 people resided in the central business district. Today, that picture is much different as a visionary arts district, growing residential sector and healthy luxury retail offering place this city of 343 square miles on the verge of a rebirth. “In the last five years, there’s been a total transformation,” says Cassidy.
Now more than 6000 Dallas residents live in the central business district. New hotels, restaurants and nightlife venues are popping up, including Wolfgang Puck’s new Five-Sixty restaurant atop the recently renovated Reunion Tower and the W Hotel in Victory Park.
A driving force in this activity is a thriving downtown arts district that’s attracted local support, as well as world-class architecture (see sidebar below). This forward-thinking plan was set in motion 30 years ago when consultants recommended that Dallas relocate its major arts institutions, such as the symphony, opera and art museum, to take over a 68-acre stretch of parking lots and automobile showrooms on the northern edge of downtown.
The city’s retail offerings are anchored by Neiman Marcus’ original flagship, located in the downtown Main Street District. Just a short drive away is Highland Park Village, which was the nation’s first planned shopping center when it opened in 1931 and was recently listed as a National Historic Landmark. Its Mediterranean architecture and high-end shops, including Chanel, Hermes, Jimmy Choo and Carolina Herrera, make it a destination among the well-heeled. (See sidebar below.)
NorthPark Center, designed by Eero Saarinen in 1965, recently underwent a $250 million expansion, including a new 200,000-square-foot Nordstrom and an 88,000-square-foot Barneys New York. “NorthPark is so desirable that retailers go in with their best stores,” says Cassidy. The center’s clean and serene atmosphere is a backdrop for high-fashion tenants such as Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Burberry and Kate Spade, as well as modern works of art from the private collection of local art patrons Raymond and Patsy Nasher. “It’s like walking into a museum,” says John Von Mohr, vp and creative director at RYA Design Consultancy’s Dallas office.
The Stanley Korshak store, located at The Crescent in Uptown/Turtle Creek and designed by Philip Johnson, is another noteworthy shopping spot for its collection of quality goods and unique gift ideas.
While these shopping centers continue to draw crowds – from locals to international tourists – new activity is buzzing in the city core. Uptown, an area just north of the city on the other side of the Woodall Rodgers Freeway, has witnessed a burst of condo development mixed with hip bars, trendy restaurants and retail brands such as Ralph Lauren, Lucky and Vespa. “It’s an attractive destination for young urbanites seeking a healthy balance of cultural, social and smart retail options,” says Todd Rowland, retail director of design for Little.
Another up-and-coming area is Deep Ellum, located east of the central business district, where you can find an eclectic mix of night clubs, an underground music scene, artist galleries and tattoo parlors.
The 75-acre Victory Park, located to the northwest, is a burgeoning area centered around the American Airlines Center mixed-use development with housing, shopping, dining, entertainment and nightlife. More than $6.5 billion in new construction is under development in Victory Park and the area surrounding it, including the Woodall Rodgers Deck Park and a bridge project designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
As all of these projects come together, the Dallas of tomorrow may bear little resemblance to its current setting. “Dallas strives to be an international city,” says Little’s Rowland. “Its fashion and arts cultures have begun to merge, all within a dense urban sector that continues to grow.”
SIDEBAR: DALLAS ARTS DISTRICT
Three decades ago, plans were put in place to gather all of Dallas’ arts organizations in one central area, creating one of the largest contiguous urban arts districts in the country.
Construction began in the early ’80s and has led to the openings of a new Dallas Museum of Art, the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Nasher Sculpture Center and the Booker T. Washington High School for Performing and Visual Arts. The $338 million Dallas Center for the Performing Arts is scheduled to open in October, while the final piece – the City Performance Hall – will debut in 2010.
The 68-acre district also boasts world-class architecture, including buildings by I.M. Pei, Renzo Piano, Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas. (IRDC attendees can enjoy a walking tour of this district during the conference. Visit IRDConline.com for more information.)
SIDEBAR: HIGHLAND PARK VILLAGE
Located in a tony Dallas suburb, Highland Park Village is patterned after Beverly Hills. The Spanish Mediterranean-inspired architecture alone makes it worth the trip, but the mix of luxury brands and indie boutiques is a big draw, as well. With more than 200,000 square feet of retail space, the village is home to Chanel, Calvin Klein, Bang & Olufsen, Hermes, Scoop, Anne Fontaine and Ralph Lauren. Visitors can also grab a bite to eat, take in a movie or ride in a horse-drawn carriage. (IRDC attendees can enjoy a self-guided tour of Highland Park during the conference. Visit IRDConline.com for more information.)
SIDEBAR: LOCAL FAVORITES
We asked a few Dallas creative types to give us the inside scoop on where they go for nourishment, literally and metaphorically. Here’s what they recommend.
Jason Floyd, director, store development, GameStop
Dragonfly at Hotel Zaza, 2332 Leonard St., Uptown
Breadwinners Bakery Bistro, 3301 McKinney Ave., Uptown
Circa 2000, 5800 Legacy Drive, Plano, Texas
Threads Men Clothing, 2633 McKinney Ave., Uptown
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St., Fort Worth
John Von Mohr, vp, creative director, RYA
Nonna, 4115 Lomo Alto Dr., Uptown
Neighborhood Services, 5027 West Lovers Ln.
Gardens, 3699 McKinney Ave., West Village
Forty Five Ten, 4510 McKinney Ave., Uptown
NorthPark Center, 8687 N. Central Expressway
Todd Rowland, retail, director of design, Little
Kincaid’s Hamburgers, 4901 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth
Stanley Korshak, 500 Crescent Ct., The Crescent, Uptown
David Cassidy, principal, Callison
Javier’s Gourmet Mexican, 4912 Cole Ave., Highland Park
Sambuca, 2120 McKinney, Uptown
Stephan Pyles, 1807 Ross Ave., Arts District
NorthPark Center, 8687 N. Central Expressway
Nasher Sculpture Garden, 2001 Flora St., Arts District