06 July, 2008

DALLAS RIDES DART TO GLOBAL CITY STATUS...CAN WE RIDE JTA TO THE SAME DESTINATION?



DART SYSTEM MAP
DART LRV TRAIN


DART: Helping Grow A Great Global City
By Gary Thomas
President/Executive Director
Dallas Area Rapid Transit

Tomorrow's great cities will have great transit systems, and a trip around today's 45-mile DART Rail System shows rail has the power to drive land use and urban development in exciting and environmentally friendly directions. Now, as we work to more than double the rail system, leading-edge transit-oriented projects are emerging up and down the lines. And it's clear we're making tracks toward a great future, not only for Dallas but the entire North Texas region.

The Greening of DART Rail

Between September 2009 and December 2010, DART's Red and Blue lines will be joined by the 20-station, 28-mile Green Line stretching from the South Dallas/Pleasant Grove neighborhoods, through the Dallas city center, then northwest to Farmers Branch and Carrollton.

When fully operational, the Green Line will link thriving Stemmons-area employment centers to the South Dallas/Pleasant Grove neighborhoods where residents will outnumber jobs 3 to 1 in 2025. Along the way, the line will serve Deep Ellum, Baylor University Medical Center, Fair Park, Victory Park, the Dallas Market Center, the UT Southwestern Medical District and Love Field Airport.

A 14-mile branch called the Orange Line will extend from the Green Line's Bachman Station in northwest Dallas to the Las Colinas Urban Center by 2011, and to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport by 2013.

Delivering A New Urban Lifestyle/Generating Economic Returns

While DART continues to attract new riders, it's winning the hearts of city and chamber of commerce leaders as one of the most powerful economic engines ever to come along.

"To say DART Rail's impact has been substantial for the Dallas region's economy would be an understatement," said Dr. Bernard Weinstein, director of the University of North Texas Center for Economic Development and Research. "It's a trend that's impossible to miss; the local business community certainly hasn't."

Beyond the jobs and direct economic benefits generated by construction of the system, DART Rail is dramatically changing the urban landscape with more than $7 billion in current, planned and projected transit-oriented developments (TODs) springing up around station areas.

In a November 2007 study, Weinstein and colleague Dr. Terry Clower project transit-oriented development near DART Rail eventually will generate more than $46 million each year to area schools, $23.5 million to member cities, millions more to other local taxing entities.


View an Adobe PDF version of the study, Assessment of the Potential Fiscal Impacts of Existing and Proposed Transit-Oriented Development in the
Dallas Area Rapid Transit Service Area (Nov. 2007). (Opens in a new window.)

Nowhere is that trend more impressive than at Victory Park on the northern edge of downtown Dallas. The $3 billion development by Hillwood Capital flanks American Airlines Center with a new W Hotel and Victory Plaza, the forthcoming Mandarin Oriental Hotel, designer residences, office towers and shops and restaurants. DART Rail and the Trinity Railway Express currently provide special event service to Victory Station.

"Pedestrian activity and access to the rail station have been part of our thinking from the beginning," said Howard Elkus of Elkus-Manfredi Architects, urban planners for the project. "There's no doubt that transit-oriented development is exactly what everybody wants these days - and, because the DART station was there, we were able to think in those terms."

Delivering the Transit Lifestyle

With DART Rail coming soon, communities with stations on the new Green and Orange rail lines are planning mixed-use projects to capitalize on the power of transit.

In Carrollton where there is no land left for large-scale subdivisions, city planners see TOD as the key to maintaining standards and services without raising taxes.

"Citizens have embraced the concept of redevelopment around the three stations, which will create a more urban lifestyle oriented towards the pedestrian with a mixture of high density residential, office and retail places," said Peter Braster, Carrollton's transit-oriented development manager.

In Dallas, First Worthing's Cityville at Southwestern Medical District has begun first-phase leasing of 263 apartments and 43,000 square feet of retail. Described as "an urban oasis - near the energy and excitement of Downtown Dallas," Cityville residents can easily tap that energy with the opening of the Southwestern Medical District/Parkland Station in 2010.

North Irving's Las Colinas Urban Center is seeing perhaps its biggest boom since the 1980s with much of that activity envisioned around the Lake Carolyn Station opening in 2011. The Lofts at Las Colinas have already opened with 341 units near the station site, and Water Street on Lake Carolyn promises a bustling urban mix of shops and restaurants, high-end condos and apartments, a boutique hotel and office space.

Rethinking the Inner City

Existing DART Rail stations continue to attract new development. Mockingbird Station, the region's first landmark transit village, is expanding with 23,000 square feet of new shopping and dining opening in January 2008. Matthews Southwest is bringing new life to downtown Dallas' South Side with The Beat, a 10-story, 75-unit condo project under construction next to the developer's successful South Side on Lamar community at Cedars Station.

Park Lane, a $500 million project under construction at the former NorthPark East complex at Park Lane and Central Expressway, will feature more than 330,000 square feet of office space, a hotel, more than 650 residential units and 750,000 square feet of retail - all with direct access to Park Lane Station.

In the heart of downtown at Akard Station, The Mosaic is pre-leasing at a steady rate while construction continues on 440 apartments in the former 31-story Union Tower complex.

"Quite a few people who come to look at our models say, 'Oh, the DART station is right here too,' " said leasing consultant Deborah Mock. "DART is one of the tools we use every time we show the property."

DART Rail has also attracted business to existing office space near the rail lines. After moving out of the CBD in 1992, the professional services firm KPMG returned a decade later, consolidating two groups in an office tower steps from St. Paul Station.

"In the past a number of companies elected to relocate outside of downtown because of the cost of parking," said Carl Ewert, executive vice president of The Staubach Company, which arranged the move. "Today, though, things are different. One of the key ingredients for the consolidation of KPMG back downtown is DART."

Connecting people to jobs, stimulating economic growth, creating opportunities in a growing global city - that's what DART is all about.

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The arguments rage to this date, "Should have never been built," "waste of taxpayer money," "Doesn't go anywhere," "Nobody rides it..." etc. Bottom line is we have it, and it is finally showing signs of life. Simple extensions to the Stadium, San Marco, and the area of Blue Cross in North Riverside would turn this little train around. Addition of Park and Ride garages and multimodal transit terminals at the end points would bring on the crowds. The video must have been shot on a Sunday Morning, as downtown is certainly as packed with life as any other major City on weekdays. Jacksonville is a city of Bikes, joggers, walkers, buses and cars, one almost wonders how the photographer managed to find this quiet moment.

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