Arts South Coming Into Focus in Dallas

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Sunday, Apr 22, 2012  |  Updated 11:10 PM CDT
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An area of mostly vacant land on the eastern edge of downtown will be transformed into an neighborhood with shops, restaurants, offices and housing.

Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com

An area of mostly vacant land on the eastern edge of downtown will be transformed into an neighborhood with shops, restaurants, offices and housing.

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An area of mostly vacant land on the eastern edge of downtown Dallas is the location for an entire neighborhood soon to move off the drawing board.

The Downtown 360 plan approved by the City Council on Wednesday calls the neighborhood "Arts South."

It lies between a Dallas Area Rapid Transit Pearl Station and the Dallas Arts District west of the Central Expressway.

Developer Spire Realty has quietly acquired about 13 acres of parking lots and small buildings there for a project it calls The Spire.

"We're really not building an office building or a residential building. We're building a neighborhood," said Jon Ruff, a Spire executive.

Plans call for shops and restaurants located at the street level of high-rise buildings, which would include office and residential space above.

Artwork and a model of the neighborhood show wide sidewalks along a privately constructed street with lush landscaping that would provide a pedestrian path between the DART station and the Arts District.

"We intend to be a vehicle for people to get from this station up into the Arts District, through this park-like atmosphere," Ruff said.

Spire is recruiting a lead tenant, hoping to break ground on the first building in the development early next year.

Additional buildings would follow over a period of several years.

The Downtown 360 plan includes a long list of strategies to revitalize the center of Dallas, divided into several sections of the downtown core.

It was drafted for the city in cooperation with a property owners group called Downtown Dallas Inc.

The group’s leader, John Crawford, said officials hope projects such as The Spire would help attract more visitors downtown.

"Not only do we want them to just come down for one time and turn around and go back, we want them to come back and come back again," Crawford said.

The Arts South area in the 360 plan also includes the old Crozier Tech High School, a historic building near the Pearl Station that has been abandoned for years but is protected from demolition by the city.

Crawford said there is also new interest in a mixed-use development including that iconic building.

"There's a number of people actually talking about doing it," Crawford said.

Passengers at the DART station said they welcomed the changes.

"It's a little bit vacant, somewhat of an eyesore, what I see now," said Waylon Oliver.

"This is the Arts District, so we need as much attention for downtown as we possibly can get," he said.

More: Click here to see the entire Downtown 360 plan

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