Glass Kiosks, Mobile Vendors, Music, Art And Pedestrians: Your "New Look" Downtown?

Categories: Development

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Photos by Leslie Minora
Rusty Taco serves up dinner in the temporary urban oasis commonly known as Browder Plaza.
Last night was a bit of a tease. Just after 5:30 p.m., Browder Plaza (outside the Dallas Power and Light Flats on Commerce Street) was packed with pedestrians mingling, snacking on street vendor food and enjoying drinks purchased at a kiosk on the square.

City planners transformed the plaza into a fabricated, temporary mini-urbanscape (a bit like Park(ing) Day). What they called a "community forum and reception" was a delightful amuse-bouche and perhaps an indication of what's to come. The night sky dimming, the temperature ideal and the background music at the perfect level for talking, the perfectly and fortunately orchestrated evening was meant to celebrate the Downtown Dallas 360 plan, the strategy for revitalizing downtown and activating street life unanimously approved by city council in April.

The evening began in the Pegasus Ballroom of the DP&L building with an introduction by John Crawford, president of Downtown Dallas, Inc. "As goes downtown, so goes Dallas," said Crawford, who opened by saying he had talked to Mayor Mike Rawlings, a city manager and a councilperson about the 360 plan all within the last half-hour. People are "drinking the Kool-Aid," he said of the enthusiasm from the city. For the plan to survive and thrive, he stressed the importance of its public-private partnerships and long- and short-term goals. Quoting the "great philosopher Elvis Presley," he said, "We need a little less talking and a little more action."

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For more detailed presentations, Crawford introduced Dianiel Iacofano and Chris Beynon of MIG, the firm that crafted the 360 plan. Iacofano stressed the importance of creating city life that is conducive to a growing young and creative population as well as inviting to innovation. Dallas, he said, has several benefits (a diverse business base, low cost of living, relatively new infrastructure) accompanied by numerous challenges (significant unemployment, an overabundance of people working in construction and a troubled economy).

"We can't deny that we are in a very challenging economy," Iacofano said. "We have to have a plan," which is where Downtown Dallas 360 figures in. "We know things will pick up."

Beynon detailed projects already completed or underway: Main Street Gardens (which opened in November 2009), the redevelopment of the Statler, the planned mixed-use development at 1401 Elm, the Joule Hotel, the Omni Hotel and restaurants with outdoor seating, such as Wild Salsa and Pho Colonial, all "adding life and vitality" to downtown.

"It's fantastic stuff," he said.

Closing the presentations, Crawford said, "Ten years from now, wait till you see it." Then, after a short Q&A session, the crowd of about 50 walked outside and seemingly a few years into the future. White cubic enclaves (temporary versions of glass kiosks that are part of the 360 plan) lined the sidewalk, each housing a different vendor, including Dirt (local husband-and-wife florist) and Beyond the Box (which provides the food for several downtown locales, including Main Street Garden's Lily Pad Cafe). The Rusty Taco and Paciugo Gelato vended from adorable little carts.

While most of the people in the plaza were hold-overs from the presentation, a few from the neighborhood stopped by. Amy Bourdreaux, who lives and works at Third Rail, enjoyed dinner at a temporary table and said the plaza had "a really good vibe."

Kourtny Garrett, the senior veep at Downtown Dallas Inc., told Unfair Park that part of the 360 plan is to streamline the permitting process for vendors such as the Rusty Taco. It's "a bit cumbersome and a bit restrictive right now," she said. Then she pointed out the sleek wood-and-metal bench and black planter nearby and explained that these items are prescribed by the plan for the Main Street district.

A short time later, Garrett revealed the evening's planned surprise. A nearby vacant storefront had become a temporary viewing space for the bold and bright paintings of local artist, Steve Hunter. His work, and eventually the work of other local artists, will be showcased in storefronts around downtown to liven up the vacant spaces. The program is so new that when asked the name, Garrett called it the "yet-to-be-named pop-up."

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32 comments
Hungry
Hungry

Looks like Downtown_worker got his wish since Rusty is moving into the  Lily Pad at Main St Garden.

Charles Buford
Charles Buford

 MIAMI IS THE RIGH PLACE FOR THIS KIND OF ACTION

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

What everyone seems to be missing here is in the first picture up top, that couple actually has a stroller for their dog!  Seriously, you are pushing your dog around in stroller.  God help us all

3rd Wheel Marketing
3rd Wheel Marketing

There are parts of the plan I like and parts I think are a cop out. Jamming glass kiosks in front of older buildings seems like a cop out. Repurposing, refacing and restoring the buildings behind them is the long-term solution, popping up what look like green houses in Texas is slap-dash. They should look toward the Statler project as a guide... we seem to be pretty good at residential, but no one has the juju when it comes to repurposing for retail. 

The multi parking meters are a good idea, now we've caught up technologically with El Paso!

Lee
Lee

The City could take a lesson from surrounding cities on the fees and the hassle for health permits for festivals and outdoor events, involving food service. Dallas is much more expensive and much more difficult to work with.

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

That was the surprise announcement? No more surprises please.

I'm hoping that Rusty Taco is taking an interest in downtown and plan to open something here soon. Maybe the restaurant at the Woodall Rodgers Park should be a giant RUSTY TACO :)

Doug
Doug

Oh wow....you're right...I was thinking that was the ugliest kid I'd ever seen.  My bad.

Guest
Guest

Go away, random anonymous internet troll with nothing positive to say.

O'Riley
O'Riley

That couple....a well known and liked couple in the downtown community, and their dog Millie, are reflective of the non-suburban style of downtown living....too cool for the burbs!!!

Mullen3
Mullen3

The Majestic should be turned back into a movie theater. 

Guest
Guest

Go to a bar, catch some live music, check out some art galleries?

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

I think glass-box kiosks are a good way to get people outside. Once enough people are outside staring at empty storefronts, some entrepreneur might say "hey, let's open a store" downtown.

P.S. I was hoping the surprise announcement would be a grocery store, corporate relocation, or whatever that Project Wall-E is. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

huh, wait random anonymous troll?  You mean the guy who actually has a registered login and is an esteemed member of the commenting family of unfair park.  did I hurt your wittle feewings by pointing out how ridiculous it is to push a dog in a stroller?  If you have read more than 1 of my comments here you would see that I have tons of positive things to say.  Now go troll somewhere else

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

WOW, they are well known within their community, bravo!  Im well known within my community as well, bc the people of my community see me at my neighborhood events so there.  Im special too, but if I caught any members of any community (dowtown/uptown/burbs/wherever) pushing a dog in a stroller Id call them out too.  I dont care who they are.

Sybils_Beaver
Sybils_Beaver

live music, in downtown?  that happens what once a month.  and art galleries?  What 20's something wants to go to a friggen art gallery...for fun.  The problem with downtown is its geared for the artsy money folk of dallas, none of which actually live in Downtown.  If they had affordable living with hip fun bars and restaurants and dives and decent shopping it might have shot, but for now it wont do

3rd Wheel Marketing
3rd Wheel Marketing

I rent storefront space in Deep Ellum. I rented the space because it was clean and move-in ready. Most of the space downtown is all cracked out and much too daunting to even think about moving in to if you are a small entrepreneur. I guess that's why they are bulldozing it, but that just gets the parking lot of america another lot...

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

hahahahahahaha, that moron changed his postings to anonymous.  So someone comes here to  call someone and anonymous troll, only anonymize their own posts, after the fact, because they got called to the floor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

looks to me from reading your comments on Fox news that you have the anger problem.  sheesh 

Jason
Jason

No.  He is always randomly angry here.  It's not a bad thing.  It's just him.  He's not a troll.  He is always on DO blogs (over 1000 comments).  He contributes to discussions and adds color.  And, actually, you have to give it to him.  I mean, the people have a dog in a stroller...  That is pretty funny.  I mean, I get the stroller thing.  If these people are out and about downtown all the time then maybe the dog gets tired.  Whatever.  Just slow down on the troll calling.  I see you've made over 8000 comments on the Fox News website.  That could actually be considered troll-like.

Wait.  Are you the person in the picture with the dog in the stroller?

Guest
Guest

Man....chill out. Shouldn't you be randomly angry somewhere else?

Guest
Guest

Jeez. That's one angry dude.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

hate to say it buddy, but I'd venture to say I get more respect here than you do.  anyways have a fun day and enjoy pushing your dog around when you take it for a "walk"

p.s. does your dog also wear a diaper?

Guest
Guest

Did he just say 'so there'?

Guest
Guest

You sound like you're respected no matter where you go. Kinda wish it wasn't in here though, buddy.

dub919
dub919

BINGO.

Listen, I'm a 20-something Downtown resident.  I love where I live.  However, as much as my wife and I love a good art gallery, you've hit the nail on the head.  Much like just about every other "improvement/revitalization" project in Dallas, "the artsy money folk who don't live down here" fund things they will use 0.01% of the time and will sit abandoned the rest of the time.

dub919
dub919

I believe Chase Tower has an Observation Deck...but, much like everything else in Downtown, it's closed by 5:30pm.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

Hopefully the New Perot museum will have evening hours .

The Majestic. Is not in use everyday . And would be ..A Majestic place to see Movie Do any of the buildings have observation decks Besides the Reunion tower Ball ?

 

Lee
Lee

You have put your finger on one of the principal problems in Downtown for 50 years. Allowing so many older buildings to be torn down for parking lots eliminated the kind of store front spaces that could have housed small restaurants, boutiques, service businesses, etc. Combine that bad decision with the fact that all the new buildings were not required to have store front space and you have the situation that still faces Downtown today.

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