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Questions and Concerns, But No Easy Answers, As Downtown Plan Takes Shape

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Just as I was sitting down 'round 12:30 this morning to sift through the February Downtown Dallas 360 presentation, I got a note from Patrick "Car-Free" Kennedy: Yes, matter of fact, he'd done the reading and finished his report. And since among the two of us he's the professional urban designer, well, let's go with his thoughts and forget I ever had any, which is easy to do at the end of this very long week.

To be honest, there's no easy way to summarize Patrick's estimable and wide-ranging thoughts on the myriad subjects addressed in MIG's February meeting summary or its massive presentation. I only hope MIG and downtown stakeholders are paying attention to his constructive criticisms as he suggests, among many concerns raised, they leave Main Street alone and fix instead "the streets that are actually preventing Main Street's success from spreading" or stop talking about luring retail and building around massive, overpriced catalytic projects till the density's high enough to demand such chatter. I'll grab but one paragraph and hope it entices you to follow:

Rather than thinking about pennies in revenue, we should step back, think a bit more broadly aka "outside of the box" (or our own buildings) and rather than watching another office tower shutter under the excuse that "it's not class A space," we can realize what the real cutting edge institutions and corporations are realizing: A VITAL, VIBRANT, SAFE, ATTRACTIVE STREET IS A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE IN DOING BUSINESS AND ATTRACTION/RETENTION OF TALENT. Recoup that revenue through leasing out the space you have above-grade and then multiply it by ten, then say it was all you and you need a raise.

Incidentally, you need not be a sideline spectator: In the past week, Patrick has set up on Facebook a group called Walkable DFW, the purpose of which, he writes via e-mail, is to provide "an opportunity for citizens or citizen groups to get pro bono advice regarding the type of information they need to know, who they need to talk to, how they can marshal support, and essentially arming them for approaching their elected leaders intelligently, passionately, collectively, and most important, not helplessly." So hop to, but remember: Walk, do not run.

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