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The CityDesign Studio and the Future of West Dallas
by Jerome Weeks 11 Feb 2011

The Dallas Planning Commission has approved guidelines for West Dallas – now that the Hunt Hill Bridge may prompt major redevelopment there. But can profit-hungry development be directed? Can the older neighborhoods be preserved? We ask Brent Brown, the head of the Dallas CityDesign Studio, about the future of an area that includes train tracks, chickens wandering unpaved roads — and long-established Hispanic families.


Last week, the Dallas Planning Commission approved the ‘urban structure’ guidelines for West Dallas that the CityDesign Studio had developed over a year of meetings with neighborhood groups, developers, designers, landowners and area industries. The CityDesign Studio was formed in 2009 as a public-private partnership with a grant from the Trinity Trust Foundation. The idea, as the studio’s head Brent Brown tells Think TV, is that urban design could help resolve what have traditionally been ugly political stand-offs when it comes to redevelopment (i.e, homeowners and neighborhood associations vs. developers and real estate speculators). Everyone has met around the table in these meetings — discussing what they want, what can be done by the city, what will happen down the road and when.

Redevelopment is almost inevitable in West Dallas, regardless of what happens to the disputed tollway that’s supposed to run inside the Trinity River levees. The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, which is scheduled to open later this year, has been the target of a lot of ‘bridge to nowhere’ jokes. Yet it will make many of the 470 acres in West Dallas more accessible, more convenient — in effect, closer to downtown and thus, more valuable. If nothing else, the bridge will mean greatly increased traffic coming through an area of older, single-family homes, warehouses, empty lots and railroad tracks — an area that most Dallasites have simply zipped by on I-30.

Art & Seek on Think TV talked to Brent Brown about what could be done to preserve La Bajada and Los Altos, the older Hispanic neighborhoods — the guidelines’ first priority. We asked why street design could help the area, where artists fit in this project and what does ‘incremental growth’ and ‘cultural re-mapping’ mean.

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  • Norma

    The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is a fantastic design, and together with future expansion or renovation of Singleton Blvd, would be expected bring great opportunities for West Dallas and Dallas at a whole.

    I was wondering if Brent Brown has noticed a long forgotten bridge, that if renovated to look prettier would also give Dallas great boost also. The bridge is located on Stemmons Frwy between commonwealth Pkwy and I – 35, HWY 183 split. That bridge is in a major thoroughfare and is seen or used by thousands of people each day while commuting or traveling in Dallas.