It's easy enough to make a new development look lively and inviting in computer-generated renderings. Throw in a couple dozen people strolling along a broad, tree-lined sidewalk and dining on restaurant patios, all brightened by a warm evening glow, and voila: You have a thriving, modern commercial and residential hub.
But what happens when you build the thing only to discover that those optimistic sketches glossed over serious design flaws -- poor traffic and pedestrian circulation, a lack of appealing, accessible, and affordable retail and restaurant space, life-sucking expanses of concrete all around?
Victory Park, that's what.
See also: Victory Park Is Getting a Makeover
The city of Dallas has learned a lot in the 15 years since the project was built. "When this originally went in, the base of knowledge about how do do mixed-use in Dallas was ... let's say ... less," Karl Stundins, a redevelopment manager with the city, told The Dallas Morning News in April.
The fruits of Dallas' hard-won experience were on display earlier this year when it unveiled a technical study -- complete with pretty new renderings -- showing how the area around the American Airlines Center might be revitalized.
The changes called for in the study were ambitious. There would be more parking garages, a couple of new mixed-use office/retail buildings and a "retail pavilion" on a currently vacant lot, which would house a mix of shops, restaurants, a movie theater and maybe a grocery store. But first, the city will try to fix Victory's pedestrian problem.
That process is set to begin in May, according to a briefing scheduled for Monday before the City Council's Economic Development Committee, when work will begin converting Olive Street and Victory Park Lane from one-way thoroughfares to two-way streets.
In the process, the $2 million project will widen sidewalks, add crosswalks, and generally make it more pleasant for pedestrians to linger. The cost will be covered by Trademark Property, which will then be reimbursed using city TIF funds. That, the city hopes, will pave the way for another $100 million in private investment. It's gotta start somewhere.
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