- Anita Simmons, UDI

Uptown, Dallas continues to be the economic engine that drives Dallas forward; boasting some of the highest office rents and occupancies in the city as well as being one of the best multi-family markets in the region. With cranes filling the skyline and developments reaching record numbers, we (and 300+ other people) gathered to get the scoop on this continuously booming district.

Tuesday morning a panel of who’s who in commercial real estate development, including Neal Sleeper, President of Cityplace Company, Joel Behrens, Principal of High Street Residential, and Ryan Swingruber, Development Manager for Stoneleigh Companies, gathered for BISNOW’s first Future of Uptown & Turtle Creek event. Hundreds attended the breakfast event and President and Executive Director of Uptown Dallas, Inc., Nolan Marshall, began with an inspiring story of his recent move from New Orleans to Uptown, Dallas stating his many reasons to (the company hashtag) #LoveMyUptown is the experience and convenience for him and his family.

“My son loves to watch and ride the trolley,” Nolan said. “We walk to dinner, we trolley to Whole Foods, we walk to the park. I’ve even had the same tank of gas in my car since January 2nd.”

The future plans for the Uptown district continue to be forward thinking towards families. Mr. Marshall stated that the fastest growing demographic in the district belongs to ages 0-4. It’s no secret that Dallas is filled with millennials who want to enjoy urban living, however when the time comes to settle down and start a family the conversation of education arises sending some young families to the suburban areas.

Uptown Dallas, Inc., the district’s public improvement company, is on a mission to create more educational options and more diverse curriculum in existing schools, he said.

The panel which discussed Uptown’s future in commercial real estate development included: Joel Behrens, David Roehm, Neal Sleeper, Christopher Wein, and Ryan Swingruber, with moderator Bill Weinberg all had a common theme in which great things are happening in Uptown now and in five to ten years will be even more remarkable.

Joel Behrens discussed the three large projects currently underway in the area for High Street Residential and Trammel Crow Companies including the Park District development and M-line Tower along McKinney Avenue.

“We should enjoy where we are because this is a great city and I’m really excited about everything that is going on right now,” stated Behrens.

Neal Sleeper, President of CityPlace, made mention of the ever-popular topic of land recently purchased by HEB at Lemmon and McKinney, but it’s still unknown whether this will be a Central Market or perhaps “something more.” One thing Mr. Sleeper did say to rest assure residents is that, “Mutts isn’t going away anytime soon.”

With families and pet-friendly families wanting to stay in the popular urban neighborhood the panel also discussed the many amenities to Uptown, but noted that there’s still a lot of work to be done. Traffic, parking and pedestrian friendliness were areas of concern. As a board member for Uptown Dallas, Inc., Joel Behrens commented the recent success of Dallas City Council’s passing of a two-way conversion of McKinney and Cole Avenues.

“Change is difficult, but it’s important to look at the benefits and future of what this will do for the neighborhood,” added Sleeper.

Behrens stated, “It will have a long-lasting impact to the neighborhood making the area more pedestrian friendly, slow down traffic, improve retail and open up new opportunities up and down McKinney and Cole.”

On the topic of a neighborhood being and becoming more pedestrian friendly there’s goals to widen sidewalks and remove obstructions from sidewalks.

“The Uptown public improvement company, Uptown Dallas, Inc. thinks about Uptown every day and how to make it better and you can’t underestimate the impact and advantage of that,” Sleeper said. “There are so many things like landscaped medians, lighting, transportation, joint parking solutions and without them, Uptown would not be where it is today. It’s a tremendous advantage.”

As we all continue to look for what’s next to come, the panel insured us the growth of Uptown is far from complete. Uptown development will continue to be a driving force in the DFW and Texas market and with planning and forward thinking great things are on the horizon and that’s just another reason why we love our Uptown.