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Jan 08, 2008



"who is going to move into these homes?"

Another question few people even bother to ask: where are the people who have been kicked out of these older apartments going to live?

patti haskins

My thoughts exactly. Where is all the new building of affordable housing hiding? Everything I see is for the "have mores". And where are all the people with lots of money going to come from to shop in all these new stores?


The developers of these Town Centers have a long term focus. The demographic trend of the North Texas area is clearly in favor of population growth, particularly in the medium to higher income brackets. More retail and higher priced housing is supported by the demographic changes predicted for North Texas over the next twenty plus years.

The displaced people will move into other neighborhoods which are less in-favor.

It is a normal life cycle of neighborhoods and cities.

East Sider

Dallas is already saturated with high-end retail. The retail components of these Town Centers will begin to fail.

Quentin Mendoza

I'm not saying it's intentional, but doesn't the idea of mixed-use development imply this sort of Manhattan-style development?

Jeff Siegel

I'm not trying to be flip, but those of you (including frequent Back Talk visitor Mike Davis -- http://dallasprogress.blogspot.com/2008/01/dallas-and-density.html) need to listen to what my commercial real estate guy said when I told him about the 20-year planning focus mentioned here. "Developers don't think 20 minutes into the future," he said.

Yes, we're going to see more density below LBJ and especially below Northwest Highway as long as the economics make sense. But that doesn't mean that every project makes sense. This is, as Ed Fox at SMU always says, one of the most over-stored cities in the country.

The other thing to keep in mind? High density works best when people can get around without driving. No one has yet figured out how to get us out of our cars. Which is Los Angeles, and I don't think anyone wants that here.


I would like to quiz your real estate buddy's comment about the 20-minute window. I think upon reflection he would backtrack quickly if put in a room with serious real estate developers, institutional investors, corporate real estate executives, and other players in the market. Real estate has evolved beyond what your friend describes. That may have been true in prior times when the SMU/Park Cities buddy system dominated the local real estate market.

"I'll take Los Angles growth. I would love for my modest east dallas bungalow home to be worth $1 million+ so I could cash out and move to montana.

High density is a relative term. Twenty years ago Dallas zoning meisters thought high density residential was 20 units/acre garden apartments. Most of the Town Center developemnts are muchkin-sized, especially using your LA comparison. Tearing down functionally dated apartments and replacing them with better designed/built properties is a net plus for the community. Dallas needs more high density developments to increase it's tax base and provide better services to it's residents. I am skeptical of what Ed Fox is saying. I.e. the retail developers don't know what they are doing?


In addition, density is the antidote to sprawl. If you want growth it has to be up or out....

Mark Guest

The problem is demand. As long as there is a demand for the larger stores to move into these Town Centers, they will continue to be built. However, in answer to some of the questions mentioned above, affordable housing is best when it is "hidden". The best affordable housing is not built in clusters, but built in a way that nobody knows they are there. In these developments, affordable housing needs to look and act the same. This creates "mixed-income" neighborhoods where people who can't afford the luxuries other people can but yet can live in the same neighborhood or "town center". When put in low-income housing you are telling them that they are less than and they will act like it. But, if you build the same unit with a value-engineered interior that looks just like exterior of the high-end interior next to it, then you allow multiple incomes to live harmoniously in the same area. Pair that with being able to work, shop, educate, and play in the same area in which you live and you remove the cost of an automobile. People in other cities with this type of niehgborhood live their whole lives without a vehicle. That's anywhere etween $5,000-9,000 per year that you don't have to spend on a vehicle. And, with the price of gas rising, that number will only continue to rise.
So,imagine having everything that you need within walking distance or a "re-vamped" public transportation system to take you anywhere in the city.
Now we're getting somewhere. So, how far do you want to walk? Five? Ten minutes? That's a quarter to a half mile walk. Anything more and you can forget people giveing up their cars. So, for this to be a reality, you need a town center within a mile or so of each other for it to be advantageous. Add to that the idea that once there are enough of them that they are not all major retailers, then you have space for family owned or small businesses called incubator spaces. You now have a location close to your home where you can do your own business. Can I say it just keeps getting better?
This is not Manhattan Style living, but Traditional Neighborhood Living. San Fransisco, Chicago, and even small cities like Ashville, N.C. Oak Park, Ill. and Portland, Or. etc. You want a local example in Dallas, look at Highland Park Village. Built in the 1930'3 it still works well as a nieghborhood town center an is a small part of what keeps those land values high.

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