Slowly, UT Dallas Is Turning Itself Into an Actual College Campus

UTDallasMascotTemoc.jpg
UT Dallas
Next step: a decent mascot.
UT Dallas has always been a university, i.e. an institution of higher learning where one can take classes and learn things and get an accredited degree. But it's never really been a college, in the sense of a vibrant campus-centered community. When I graduated five years ago, the ghetto of crappy student apartments along Waterview was the only thing anchoring students to campus. Most of the rest escaped to the sea of parking lots immediately after class.

Slowly but surely, that's changing. There are actual dorms now and a dining hall (http://www.utdallas.edu/residencehall/) that cater to the skyrocketing undergrad population (it's tripled over the past two decades). Pretty soon, UTD could add another puzzle piece with a mixed-use development just north of campus.

See also: The Dorm From Hell

The Dallas Morning News, which reported yesterday that the Richardson City Council approved zoning plans for the 13.3-acre parcel, describes it thusly:

Northside at UTD, also referred to as Comet Town, will be a mixed-use neighborhood featuring apartments, townhomes, shops and restaurants.

The concept plan for the project reviewed on Monday shows 284 apartment units, 16 town homes and 26,780 square feet of retail space. A pedestrian mall will connect the neighborhood to the future DART Cotton Belt Station. More phases are planned for the project.

The property is on the north side of Synergy Park Boulevard, between Rutford Avenue and Floyd Road. Calvin Jamison, the university's vice president of administration, said the school owns the land and will lease it to Wynne Jackson and Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions to develop and operate.

Comet Town housing will be open to the public but mostly serve faculty and graduate students, Jamison said. Rental rates are expected to start at about $1,600 for a 1,000-square-foot apartment.

Whether the development is the boon that it could be depends on execution and, it's probably safe to say, developers abandoning the godawful "Comet Town" moniker. Preliminary schematics presented to the Richardson council show developers considering several options for the facade, all of them in the Mixed-Use Bland style of architecture, and there is a bunch of parking.

UTDResidences.JPG

There's no doubt, though, that the apartments will be miles better than the ones along Waterview and that the lure of college kids with plenty of disposable time and income will inspire an interesting mix of restaurant and retail. All of this will serve the ultimate goal of encouraging more people to hang around on campus.

This is all in keeping with UTD North Campus master plan, which envisions a link to DFW Airport via the currently stalled Cotton Belt passenger rail line as well as a hotel, event center, and business incubator.

For this first step, Richardson officials also had the foresight to grant a variance allowing alcohol to be served as part of the development. They did, however, exclude bars from the list of approved uses, meaning UTD is missing out on the one inarguable prerequisite for becoming a real college: a dive bar where freshmen can get trashed with a fake ID and dollar pitchers.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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18 comments
dallas_DUDE
dallas_DUDE

BS logic like this is why college cost keep sky rocketing.  Every school keeps trying to be 'state-of-the-art' and attract every dumb 18 year old who can sign on an inflated student loan.


How about you focus on a quality and affordable education?

WylieH
WylieH

Why is this school called UT Dallas, when it is actually in Richardson?

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

What, you got a problem with a mascot made of Rape-Face?

pak152
pak152

so when do they get a football team???

NewsDog
NewsDog

Way to go. Screw the Grad Students again. (full disclosure, I'm a 1986 UTD grad)

When they first started building the 'apartments/dorms' along Waterview Grad Students lived there. But when it became a full four year school they kicked them to the curb so the new Freshman would have someplace to stay.   

EdD.
EdD.

Are TAs so richly compensated these days that $1,600/month for an apartment seems like a reasonable grad school expense, even with a roommate?

dsmallwood06
dsmallwood06

What college student can afford a $1600 apartment?!? That's more than my house payment!!!!

J_A_
J_A_

Whooosh!! Also, Synergy Park Blvd? Corporate buzzwords street name alert! Does it intersect with Strategic Initiatives Drive?

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

I continually wonder the exact same thing. Rename it UTR.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@WylieH  For the same reason New York University chose not to name itself Greenwich Village University.

WylieH
WylieH

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @WylieHExcept that New York University is in New York... and Greenwich Village is a neighborhood, so your analogy fails to hold.

losingmyreligion
losingmyreligion

@NewsDog @WylieH@warnerjamesrobinsonAnd the Dallas Cowboys play in ... Arlington. And the New York Giants and Jets play in ... New Jersey. It's pretty obvious why. You associate a team/school with the big nearby city because people can locate it that way (especially people from out of state who've never heard of your suburb) and because you want people in the big city to feel connected to your institution and support it. Can we move on now?

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