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LINC'd In, Or: Next Up, Trying to Really Connect Downtown Dallas with the Trinity River

If you've got time this afternoon you may want to dial up the meeting of the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee, which will hear from Dallas CityDesign Studio second-in-command David Whitley about "community and economic development" around the river. Not sure how much Whitley's going to get to talk about this: Most of the PowerPoint's about the West Dallas plan. But toward the end there are a few vague hints about what's coming as the city hopes to connect downtown and the river and "shape a new community along the old meanders and capitalize on current improvement efforts to create activity now."

I also see that Whitley's going before the City Plan Commission on Thursday to brief those folks about something called "LINC Dallas," which stands for "Leveraging and Improving Neighborhood Connections." Thursday's look-see promises big doings: a "briefing on the City's next large-scale urban design initiative." I called Brent Brown, head of the CityDesign Studio, to see if today's briefing and Thursday's talk are related. And, yes, they are.

The CityDesign Studio, he says, has just begun to look at five areas along the Trinity, on both sides of the levees, to see "how do you steward the dreams and interests of those areas and create something thoughtful and appropriate" among developments planned and possible. Those areas, says Brown, include Riverfront Boulevard, the Cedars, along the Lamar levee and the Tenth Street Bottoms and Cadillac Heights. (Now, perhaps, may be a good time to familiarize yourself with the 2005 Trinity River Corridor Comprehensive Land Use Plan.)

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"There are plans and public investment," says Brown, "but how do you galvanize those areas and articulate with greater clarity the opportunity there as well as the type of connections that can be beneficial? This is like the work we did in West Dallas; that's what it was about. We just hadn't named it. So we sat down and said, 'How do we communicate what we're trying to do? And at the same time we're working with Economic Development and Housing and engaging the public in urban design and planning. The question became: What's the next area? So we took a look around the Trinity and asked: How do you get from downtown to the river? That's the question everybody sees, but what's the answer?

"Yes, there are plans in place, but how do we talk about leveraging those connections? With LINC we're just beginning. For the last month we've been out meeting with folks, doing community engagement, briefing the council members in the areas affected. But this is the beginning of the beginning. We're trying to learn and understand what people have been doing and what they want to do."

Like he says, the beginning of the beginning. And it starts right about ... now.

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