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It's Paved With Good Intentions, But Is the Latest Downtown Plan on the Highway to Hell?

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Back in October, we spoke with Daniel Iacofano, the "I" in MIG, Inc., which the city hired to develop the latest downtown master plan known as Downtown Dallas 360. Though the study isn't due till June, a Friend of Unfair Park points out that on his thoughtful, hell-raising, attention-getting blog Living Car-Free in Big D, Patrick Kennedy earlier this week praised the idea of the plan but has already predicted its failure. Why so glum, chum? Because, as far as Kennedy's concerned, MIG may have good intentions, but it'll never be allowed to address the real issue that plagues real downtown redevelopment: "the inner ring highway loop." Writes Kennedy:

Highways do serve a purpose of regional and global interconnectivity. They are miscast on the local level and downtown economies are built on local streets. They are for macro-conveyance designed to reach macro destinations -- i.e. metro to metro. When applied at the neighborhood level, they do the opposite of building connectivity, but rather are subtractive of a city, where a local economy is defined by its interconnectivity.

The result is what [Lewis] Mumford and others have deemed the "anti-city." This is an appropriate term for the resultant overshoot towards car-dependence. Concerning downtown Dallas, the highways brought promise of economic development. What we are left with are surface parking lots, parking garages and vacant buildings. Cause and effect.

Iacofano spoke last fall of that enormous (and growing) emptiness, describing it as "a vast sheet of opportunity that can be drawn upon." He also said "the city of districts is alive and well in Dallas," and insisted Downtown Dallas 360 would be about connecting those districts into one "seamless" city. How? Transit-oriented developments, of course, as evidenced by its 179-page presentation on the subject. That should make Linda Koop happy.

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