Downtown Dallas wants new look as Uptown grows

Outdated buildings behind corporate relocations from city center to trendy district

Downtown Dallas Needs Facelift To Compete With Uptown
Downtown Dallas and Uptown Dallas (Getty, 75316serk, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

As large companies continue flocking to Uptown Dallas, local officials and developers are exploring ways to revamp the city’s downtown with new office space and affordable housing.

“Downtown needs new office space,” Lucy Burns, partner in Dallas-based Billingsley, told the outlet. “Uptown is getting a lot of it. Downtown needs some to continue to attract business – particularly groups that are moving here from other parts of the country.”

Downtown Dallas has more than 7 million square feet of vacant office space, most of it found in outdated buildings that have prompted businesses to jump ship in favor of newly built towers in the trendy Uptown area, the Dallas Morning News reported

Bank of America recently announced that it will relocate from its namesake tower on Main Street to KDC’s 30-story Parkside Uptown when it’s completed in 2027. CBRE is also planning to move its Dallas headquarters from downtown to uptown. 

To address this issue, developers have focused on repurposing older downtown office buildings for residential use, potentially totaling 4 million square feet of converted space.

Office-to-resi conversions have been the “secret sauce” for the city’s core, according to Downtown Dallas Inc. president Jennifer Scripps. She also mentioned that the development of new parks has attracted residents and workers to the city center, while helping to fill empty office spaces.

However, while thousands of new rental units have been added to downtown in recent years, most are not reserved as affordable housing. To combat this, developers are planning to convert the Cabana Hotel on the outskirts of downtown into affordable apartments. 

Peter Brodsky, chairman of Dallas’ Housing Forward group, stressed the importance of securing additional funding for affordable housing to ensure that the city remains accessible to its workforce.

“With the housing inflation that has happened in the region and the city in the last couple of years, we are going to continue to lose the people who teach our children, protect our streets, put out fires and provide nursing care if we can’t provide housing that is affordable for them,” he told the outlet.

—Quinn Donoghue 

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